My EPIC Three Weeks Trip in Europe on a Budget


My epic trip in Europe was only a fantasy at some point. But soon it was a reality that would forever live in my memories.

When it was decided that I was among the people selected to go to Sweden for an exchange program with KTH Royal Institute of Technology, I was beyond ecstatic. I wrote all about how this happened here: how I got on my journey to Sweden.

When I was in Sweden, I knew I had to take advantage of the Schengen visa and explore more countries.

I ended up visiting 15 countries over the next 6 months. See the full list here: Countries I have visited so far.

This included a three weeks trip to 10 cities in 9 countries, a weekend in Greece, a bus trip to Denmark and Norway, a cruise to Finland and a week cruise to Russia and Estonia.

This article is about the 3-week solo trip as it was one of the most epic things I have done in my life. The planning of the trip was fairly simple. I had a list of cities that I wanted to visit. After a lot of research and deduction. I ended up with the top ones.

There are three main aspects of travelling to a new place: Transport, Where to Stay & What to Carry.


What I have come to discover is that transport while travelling has two very key factors, Time & Money.

If you have money, you can book the fastest routes and save time.

If you have time, you can book the longer routes, with more exchanges, and longer layovers, but you will save money.

Often the case is that you have more of one than the other.

I had recently discovered which offers cheap transport. They include buses, ferries and flights between destinations and also tell you the layover time. When it comes to time vs money, Kiwi gives the best of both worlds.

In my case, my most abundant resource was time and therefore, I went with the second option. I was travelling on a budget.

As you will soon find out as you read, there are some advantages and disadvantages of travelling on a budget. For instance, some long layovers were epic, like my visit to Gdansk, while others were nightmarish, like my layover in Warsaw.

In the end, if you are travelling on a budget, you embrace the good, persevere through the bad and make awesome memories and great friends along the way.

Where to Stay

When you talk about where to stay, the first thing that comes to mind is a Hotel. However, there are very many other options.

Again, two key factors apply here as well, Money & Comfort.

If you have money, you can book the most luxurious and comfortable hotels. We are talking 4-star and above. Hello 7-star.

If you are on a budget, then you have to lower your standards of comfort to save money.

The budget options include:

  • staying in hostels,
  • 2-star and below hotels,
  • motels,
  • couchsurfing,
  • house sitting, etc.

As I said, I was travelling on a budget and since I had already stayed in a hostel in Athens, and it went pretty well, I decided to stay in hostels in all the cities.

Another saving plan I used was that I chose to travel between the cities at night, this saved me both money on hostels and maximised my time to explore each city. Again, this also has its own advantages and disadvantages.

I used to book all the hostels. After a few bookings, you are eligible for 10% or 20% discounts in some places.

What to Carry

This might seem like a trivial matter, but it is very important and it saves you both time and money.

I had done a lot of research and discovered that there are two types of travellers. There is the occasional vacationer and the more curious explorer.

A vacationer usually goes to a very specific destination for a specified amount of time. They can afford to carry whatever they need on vacation as most times they will just need to keep the luggage in one hotel until their departure date.

The curious explorer however is a different case altogether. In most cases, depending on the freedom they have, they only have a general idea of where to go and they plan the next destination on the go.

If you are more of an explorer than a vacationer like me, you should only travel with one piece of cabin size luggage. A backpack is preferable, but you can also carry a small suitcase. You should only pack a handful of items that are necessary, such as 3/4 pairs of pants, 5/7 t-shirts/shirts, 7 undergarments, 3/4 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of shoes (one open and one closed), 1 jacket (the size depends on the weather), 1 light towel. This is a give-or-take list. There are many minimalist packing articles a quick google search will give you a lot of options: Here you go.

Why Pack Light?

  1. It saves time spent waiting for luggages in airports and bus stops.
  2. It saves money since bigger luggages tend to require additional costs especially for short flights and busses.
  3. You will never lose your luggage on flights.
  4. Most hotels/hostels offer laundry services for free or at an afofrdable rate.
  5. You can always hire/buy special clothes or equipment whenever you need them. (Sometimes you never need any extras)
  6. It gives you the freedom of movement.

Need I say more? In my experience the benefits of packing light outways the disadvantages.

My Three Weeks Trip Begins

As a curious explorer, I had the liberty of planning on the go, but as a person, I love having a general but flexible plan. That, combined with the fact that I am a solo female traveller on a different continent, made me plan where to stay and transport in advance. The spontaneity in me would have to be fulfilled in another way.

Using and, I booked my stay and transport between the 6 cities I had planned on visiting (Rome, Venice, Vienna, Prague, Berlin and Amsterdam). The routes I took added 3 cities for layovers (Gdansk, Cologne, and Copenhagen), and I ended up visiting 1 other city (Bratislava), making it a total of 10 cities.

I packed what I needed to carry in my backpack (which was a master’s graduation gift from Emma😍) and nothing extra. Side note: Emma, the backpack you bought me is now worn out, I need another one for my future travels😁, cheza kama wewe😌.

I was finally ready to start my three weeks trip. At this time, I was too excited for words. I bid farewell to my roommate and headed to Stockholm Central Station, to begin my adventures and misadventures.

Stockholm, Sweden to Rome via Gdansk, Poland, the Trip starts

Monday 16th Dec 2019 08.00 hrs – Tuesday 17th Dec 2019 10.00hrs

I started the trip by taking a bus to Stockholm NYO airport. It is not the main airport and thus is a bit far from Stockholm.

The first part of the journey was a flight from Stockholm NYO to Gdansk GDN airport by Ryanair. The flight was quick and comfortable. The arrival time at Gdansk was at 09.55 HRS, and the next departure would be at 23.30 HRS.

This gave me a full day to explore this city that I had no idea existed before booking. I wasn’t too worried about the nighttime since I was sure I would find a restaurant to wait at near the bus station or something.


My first impression of Gdansk was great. I was awe-filled by this city that I could barely pronounce.

Trip to Gdansk

The beauty about Gdansk is that everything you need to see is within walking distance of each other. I wrote a detailed article on the top sites here: Top Things to do in Gdańsk Poland.

I had coffee at a Starbucks, watched street musicians and took lots and lots of awesome pictures.

My day was awesome and I ended up loving the city so much that I wished I had more time there.

However, there was one downside with my plan, it was winter time which means that darkness came up at around 16.00 hrs (4 pm) and most of the places closed early. I needed to find a place to relax until my departure time. I searched google maps for the direction of the bus stop.

The area around the bus stop was a different part of town that was a distance away. The area looked vibrant enough from the maps so I thought it would be good to go look for a place to wait around there, so I would not have to rush when the time came to board the next bus.

When I got to that area, I was shocked to find out that it was more of a business district with large office buildings, which were long closed.

I stood stranded, checking around to find a place that would be good enough to rest. By this time it was totally dark even though it was only 5 pm, and it was pretty cold. Luckily I had prepared for a winter trip and I had a heavy coat on. And to my delight, the area was well lit.

I found a McDonalds near the bus stop where I spent roughly 3 hours watching reruns of big bang theory and also ate dinner.

After leaving the joint, I still had 2 hours to kill. I came across a gym and decided to check it out. I ended up getting a free guest pass, which allowed me to exercise for a while and take a well-needed shower.

Gdansk became a favourite city of mine. I plan to go back one day and spend more time there.

Gdansk to Rome

To get to Rome, I had to take a bus and a flight. The first bus took around 5hrs to Warsaw Modlin airport, and then a 2 hr flight to Rome Ciampino airport.

Rome and Vatican City, Italy

Tuesday 17th Dec 2019 10.00 hrs – Thursday 19th Dec 2019 22.35hrs

In Rome, I landed in the Ciampino airport that is about 40 minutes train ride from the city centre.

I wasted no time getting to the train station and securing a spot by the window. I was screaming inside as I could not believe that I was in Italy😱😱😱😱😱.

Once I got to the hotel, I realised It was too early for check-in so I asked If I could leave my backpack in storage somewhere.

This is the other advantage of packing light. I had a smaller foldable bag that I would use to carry my laptop and other valuables around and I could just leave the backpack in the hostel.

Before arriving, I had booked a walking tour, that went by the most popular sights and so I had something to do. I met a group of travellers from different parts of the world, and we dined together (although I may have offended the chef by not being able to finish that pasta😩) and had a lovely evening overall.

Vatican City (Smallest countries in the world)

The following day I had a ticket to Vatican city museums where I marvelled at Micheal Angelo and Raphael’s work for the better part of the morning. My companion was Rick Steve’s audio guide which made it all better. That evening I decided to visit all the fountains I could and later went to an Irish karaoke pub and belted my lungs out in front of strangers.

The following day was my last day in Rome as I would be taking the train to Venice that night. One of my roommates from the hostel, now a new friend from India and I went for a tour inside the Colosseum (One of the Seven world wonders), which was lovely. My new friends and I parted ways afterwards. I headed back to Vatican city, this time to see ST Peter’s Basilica. The Basilica is magnificent. Later that evening I passed by another chapel on my way to pick up my luggage from the hostel.

Rome was like a dream. Everywhere I went felt like I was living hundreds of years ago. You can read about the top places I visited here.

I walked all day and barely slept at night. This would come to bite me in my behind soon.

Apart from the top touristy sights, I hang out with new friends every night, and had an interesting conversation about race, with the receptionist at my hostel.

Rome lived up to its name.

Rome to venice

I took the train to Venice at 22.35hrs. The train was your standard European long-distance train. They checked our travel documents in the middle of the journey, which was the only time it happened.

When I got to Venice, it was at the metropolitan called Venice Mestre and not the Island. to get to the Island, I needed to take a bus and a water bus. I took a coffee in a restaurant in the station as I waited for sunrise.

Venice, Italy

Friday 20th Dec 2019 05.00 hrs – Sunday 22nd Dec 2019 22.20hrs

When I got to the actual Island, my breath was taken away. Venice is an old town that has survived thousands of years. It is on the verge of sinking but it still holds onto its glory. No cars or bikes are allowed. To move around people use the water buses that traverse through the many canals.

When I got to my hostel, it was too early for check-in. This time though I was too exhausted so I opted to pay a little extra for early check-in and I took a well-needed nap.

Late in the afternoon, I started my official visit around. I missed a walking tour that I had booked so I decided to walk on my own with the help of my Rick Steve’s app.

On Saturday evening I decided to check out the hostel bar. I had a nice cocktail and soon joined some fellow travellers on the dance floor. I ended up making friends with two of those people (Yeta, Argentina & Youssef, Morocco), and we would spend the next day exploring Venice together.

The following day three of us spent the day walking around, taking pictures of the flooded saint mark square and having an awesome meal together.

Venice to Vienna

My new friends took me to the bus stop where I took the bus to Venice Mestre. From there I took another bus for 9 hrs to Vienna. I slept the entire way there across the seat. Before I knew it, I was in Vienna, Austria.

Vienna, Austria

Monday 23rd Dec 2019 08.00 hrs – Thursday 26th Dec 2019 21.45hrs

Vienna was different from the places I had been. It was a typical metropolitan with its own unique style.

When I got to the hostel, the first room I had been allocated had half-naked men, smoking up the room like they owned the place. So I ran back to the reception and asked for another room, which they graciously gave me. I slept for the morning and only started my rounds in the afternoon.

After visiting the impressive opera and the 500-year-old cathedral, I passed by the massive Christmas Market that was full of colour. Afterwards, I went back to the hostel. This time, I bought cooking stuff instead of spending a lot of money buying food in restaurants.

In my room, I made friends with one of my roommates who had come from Egypt and she ended up inviting me to join her and her friends for a day trip to Bratislava, Slovakia.

Day trip to Bratislava, Slovakia.

My new friend and I met up with a lovely Egyptian couple and another lady from Vienna, and together we boarded the bus to Bratislava.

I love how you can take a bus ride, visit another entire country and back when you are in Europe. No border patrols, no immigration stops, just freedom of movement.

Bratislava’s old town was quaint and inviting. It had an awesome bridge and it was overall lovely.

Unfortunately because darkness came at around 3 pm, a lot of places closed early and so we had to look for a place to shelter from the rain that started. We ended up at a posh hotel near the bus station, where we ordered expensive coffee. But it really was worth it in the cold.

Back in Vienna, I still had two full days left to explore the beautiful city. I went to all the hot spots, all the castles and took awesome pictures. I also met some other new friends who had been visiting from France. And to my surprise, one was them was Kenyan. We had planned to meet up at one of the castles to explore together but we missed each other.

I also made sure to visit the spot where Eliud Kipchoge finished a marathon in less than two hours. As a proud Kenyan, it was my duty.

Vienna to Prague

From Vienna, I took a bus. The journey was around 5 hours. The bus was pretty cosy, packed with a TV on each seat, a coffee maker and a snack bar. It was a nice way to travel. I watched a couple of reruns of some shows before I tried to catch some sleep. I wished it was a little longer.

This was one of the times when my nighttime travelling worked against me. I arrived in Prague at 2 AM, I was lucky enough that the town was lit as I had to walk 10 mins to the nearest night tram stop. Luckily, the tram stop on the other end wasn’t too far from the hostel.

Prague, Czech Republic

Friday 27th Dec 2019 02.30 hrs – Monday 30th Dec 2019 03.30hrs

When I got to the hostel, my luck had run out, as I was told that they are no rooms left and therefore I could not get a bed for the early morning/night. I had to wait for my check-in at 3 pm the following day.

As it was 3 AM, I could not just leave my bags and go exploring as I did in the other cities, so instead, I set myself up on the lounge couch, which luckily wasn’t at the entrance but on a basement floor where the kitchen was. I shamelessly made myself comfortable and slept there until around 8 AM that morning.

As usual, I left my bags in storage and went to explore the ancient town.

Prague is different from the other cities. When you get to the town centre, you feel like you have been transported to 500 years ago. Everything looks ancient as if the years haven’t passed.

The oldest bridge looks ancient and many people marvel because of it.

I met two sisters from New Zealand and their friend and we had a lovely chat. They invited me to go dancing but I had just washed all my clothes except a tiny dress that I was wearing at the time.

Prague was awesome but it was probably my least favourite city. Through no fault of its own. It is just a preference so please go and judge it for yourself.

Prague to Berlin

From Prague to Berlin, I took a bus for almost 5 hours. I arrived in Berlin in the morning. It was the same bus company, RegioJet that has snacks, hot chocolate and tv.

Berlin and the new year

Monday 30th Dec 2019 08.10hrsWednesday 1st Jan 2020 21.22hrs

I loved Berlin from the moment I stepped foot in it. I wished had more time to explore. Unfortunately, it was very expensive and therefore I could only afford to stay for two nights.

Berlin has one of the toughest histories in the world. It has gone through many things yet it still stands as one of the best cities in the world.

Its rise and fall, and rise again is an inspirational tale.

When you walk along the wall and through the Jewish memorial, a heavy heart grows in remembrance of the people who suffered and lost their lives during the Hitler regime and the days of the Berlin wall.

Away from its sad past, Berlin offers a great variety of sites to see and activities to do.

My highlight was the New Year celebration. A free event on a first come first served basis with numerous entertainment and an awesome display of fireworks.

A great event to make new friends and dance the night away to german music even without understanding a word.

When I left Berlin, I vowed to go back and I hope I will. One day.

I also met up with the Egyptian couple from Vienna. We happened to be in Berlin on the same day and decided to have a meal together. Yet another magic of travel.

Berlin to Amsterdam

This was the only trip that I did not book using I booked the Geman train which was more convenient for me. The train ride was around 11 hours.


Thursday 2nd Jan 2020 08:35hrsSunday 5th Jan 2020 13:30hrs

The first thing I did on arrival in Amsterdam was sleep. I was exhausted beyond words and I was sleep-deprived. Later in the day, I went shopping for cooking stuff and also explored some must-see sights.

I went out for a night, hitting a karaoke join and a dance club. I talked to some people there but didn’t really make any friends.

Being in the Netherlands was a dream come true. Ever since I was young and read about the crops in Holland, I always said that the country I wanted to visit the most was Holland. And there I was. I was thankful and I couldn’t believe that dream came to pass.

I bought a key chain to remind me of it.

Amsterdam to Stockhom via Cologne and Copenhagen

Sunday 5th Jan 2020 13:30hrs Monday 6th Jan 23.30 Hrs

My trip may have ended in Amsterdam but the adventure did not end there.

I had a long layover in Cologne, the only problem being that it was at night. At first, I searched for things to do around there but I soon realised that I was out of options.

I stayed at the airport for 10 and a half hours. I was bored out of my mind for the best part. Now that I think about it, I should have used the layovers to write articles. I guess I know better for the future.

At one point, I decided to go to the washroom. The one near me was a bit dirty so I decided to search for one that was cleaner. I was exhausted and did not want to carry my backpack across the airport. I took the laptop bag and left the other one there.

Almost got arrested

Now, you know how they announce in airports that you should not leave your luggage unattended? Well in Europe they mean business.

When I was in the bathroom, I had an announcement for a bag that sounded like mine. I quickly finished my business and walked towards my bags only to find 4 armed police officers and a police dog surrounding my bags.

When they asked why I had left the bags and what was in them, I quickly told them it was just clothes and some foodstuff and that I only left them to go to the loo. At this point, I was scared shitless.

After a lecture on listening to warnings and that I wasted resources in terms of the time of the officers, they check my ID and gave me a stern warning and let me go.

I was so thankful that they did not give me a huge fine as I was already broke from the travels or worse arrest me.

As soon I was in the clear, I quickly decided to go to my gate and stay there until boarding time. I chose a nice spot, stretched across three chairs and slept like a log until it was time to board my plane.

In Copenhagen, I had a full day to explore. However, I was too exhausted and since I had already visited the city before, I chose to stay at the airport. I picked a table in a Big Square, ordered a burger as I was already hungry and basically set up shop. I watched, slept and chatted on my phone until it was time to board the train to Stockholm.

When I was finally in Stockholm, there was a huge sigh of relief from the exhaustion, and an equally big scream on the inside for the epic trip I had just completed.

Lessons Learnt

There were many lessons I learnt during this trip that the only justice would be to write a separate article for them. Which will be coming soon. The one I will highlight is about fast travelling.

What is Fast Travelling?

Fast Travelling is when you travel in and out of destinations too fast. The advantage is that you get to see many places. The disadvantage is that it is exhausting and you never get to really visit a particular place. You basically shuffle through popular sites and call it a day.

My 3-weeks trip to 10 cities was certainly a prime example of fast travelling. I stayed in cities for 3 days and 2 nights and would use the third night to travel.

In the first cities, I spent days exploring, walking for hours, and the nights dancing for hours,

Needless to say, the exhaustion would quickly catch up to me.

That was why I ended up sleeping during the day when I arrived from my night trains or night buses.

I learned that I did not like fast travelling. For starters, I did not get enough time to really enjoy the new places I went to. I, therefore, decided that when I finally started my RTW, I would give each destination enough time.

I also needed to cut down on the nightlife. In each city, maybe go out one of the nights and sleep all the other nights.

Fast travelling may work for some people but it definitely isn’t for me.

Awesome Highlights from the Trip

  1. Gdansk
  2. Trip to Bratislava
  3. Meeting a lot of friends
  4. Berlin’s new year party
  5. Overall solo trip

Major Hiccups During the Trip

  1. Almost got arrested at Cologne Airport
  2. Sleeping on the couch in Prague
  3. Stupid money mistakes
  4. Trying to do everything and see everything which left me too exhaused to enjoy the last destinations well
  5. Expensive airport food
  6. Wasting time in layovers when I would have written articles for my blog


My trip was epic. Every adventure and every misadventure make up a good story. I could not capture all the memories in this article. Luckily, I met so many people from different parts of the world. I ended up with open invitations to visit countries I had not even dreamed of.

Invitations I had planned in cashing before Covid-19 hit. But such is life.

I highly recommend solo travel.

Travelling alone gives you the freedom to do whatever you want. You only ever need to consider your needs. And you are open to making new friends in every place you visit.

This trip confirmed my passion to travel and gave me a direction on how to travel.

A little advice, find a way to remember places you visit. For me, I buy fridge magnets. It is a way to remind me of the places I have been to when I am home.

I would still take cheap flights and long layovers but I would handle them better. This time though, I will not opt to travel at night anymore as I realised that it made me tired.

I am working very hard to change my time vs money equation.

I decided to release this article before venturing into my new chapter as a tribute to how awesome the trip was. And how important it became in my life.

Thank you for reading and I hope you will keep reading about my new adventures and misadventures that I will write about in the future.

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