Europe On My Own: My first family trip abroad


After a long time I am coming back to BCMTouring. This time with a travelogue from Europe. Some teasers to start with.


The Thought!

The thought came suddenly; so sudden that for a while I considered it as a fantasy. But once it came, it remained there, refusing to budge. Slowly but surely it directed my further energies in its direction. It nudged me, but by bit, to overcome all the hurdles to reach its destination. It persisted long enough to become a thorough plan for my first tour abroad, to Europe. The land of incredible efficiency and cleanliness (Germany), of amazing architecture and culture (Salzburg), of the high mountains and panoramic vistas (Zell am See and Kaprun) and finally but not the least amazing, Prague – where you can walk from one corner of the city to another, where you meet amazing people eager to help and where you feel truly at home after a bit intimidating efficiency of Germany and Austria.

I will try to provide all these details and others in this travelogue which I hope you guys will enjoy as much as I did doing it.


Once the thought to go on a Europe tour overshadowed all other plans; we started hunt for a good tour package. I approached Thomas Cook and got details of few itineraries. They looked good and in the beginning I thought we would go with them.

Then another thought struck: lack of flexibility in such package tours. So we started exploring other options. I found a good option in Pick-Your-Trail but again I was not fully convinced as cost was going higher. So one fine day, during our regular morning tea session,

I suggested Veena: “Let us go on our own”. For a moment she thought that I was kidding. She told me that this is not India where we can just pack our bags and go. But I persisted and we started thinking what would go wrong. I researched the web for blogs, including BCMT, from independent travelers and found that the most important part was to get a Visa. Rest, I thought, I could manage.

Having got confidence in our multiple internal discussions that we can do it, one morning I booked the return ticket to Europe and committed myself for the trip. It was going to be a long preparation before we would board the flight to Munich, our port of entry.


New Member
Looking forward to read your trip diary.
The thought has come suddenly to me as well...I am planning to visit next year. Hopefully, your information would be very helpful!
Amazing pics!


Looking forward to read your trip diary.
The thought has come suddenly to me as well...I am planning to visit next year. Hopefully, your information would be very helpful!
Amazing pics!
I will try to put all details to help fellow travellers.


Sorry guys for being late on this. Was busy with office work in the last weeks. Here is the continuation:

My all other holidays were in India so I could afford to go on my own and do the touring. This was different; new countries, new people and new ways of moving from one place to another.

The first task was to select the countries of visit. During our initial discussions this was mostly Western Europe of France, Belgium and Holland. Later however we moved toward Eastern Europe. Main reason was cost as well as considering it is less developed that its western counterpart.

Germany came as a choice as I am interested in the World War 2 era and wanted to get the firsthand experience. Austria was more Veena’s choice for Salzburg and the Alps. Prague came as an obvious choice since we had heard it was very beautiful. In Austria we initially decided to do Salzburg and Vienna but later dropped Vienna in favor of the more panoramic Zell am See and Kaprun; Veena’s choice, and we were glad that we chose it.

Once the cities were fixed, we started looking for the AirBnB places. This part was interesting and we spent a lot of time, especially our morning tea time, to check the places. We booked the AirBnBs in three cities except Zell Am See, where we booked a hotel. Main reason being this was our first AirBnB experience so we did not want to put all our eggs in one basket. In the end it was the AirBnBs that gave a fuller experience than the hotel. But the hotel in Zell Am See was also good so we did not regret.

Earlier I planned quite early where I would be going for holidays. It was easy as the places were in India and mostly in North as I am a mountain man.

This time however, my son wanted to go to Goa. He had always wanted to go to Goa but till now it has not materialized. We went umpteen times to Konkan but Goa is still pending.

As his SSC exams finished however, my son started pestering for a trip abroad as we had not been outside India before. The first destinations that came to mind were the nearby countries. I and Veena always wanted to go to Bhutan. Other options were Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. I did not want to go to Singapore. After a brief enquiry with friends, one suggested Almaty in Kazakhstan, which is a good Skiing destination. Once the thought of an abroad trip crept in, it was difficult to focus on domestic ones. However Europe was still not in picture. Not yet.


Getting the Visa

When we finally zeroed on Europe, getting the Visa was the most difficult part. I had already booked the tickets so the trip was committed. We were worried what if the Visa is not approved we would loose a lot of money in flight cancellation. So I started researching all the required documents and the best country to apply for entry. After much research, I finalized Germany. I also understood the importance of the covering letter and prepared a detailed covering letter for all.

Once everything was in order I booked a date with VFS Global, the Visa handling partners for most countries and we reached at the given time to their office in Mahalaxmi, Mumbai.

The entire process was long but smooth and we were out of the office by 4 PM. Since we did not have out lunch we ate at the roadside stall and then went to Mumbai for sightseeing.

The Visa approval came immediately on next Monday and I went to their office to pick up the Visa (the mailer cost was too much at 1800Rs) before 4 PM. Yay!!

All in all the Visa procurement took much less time than we had expected.

Now we could finally start shopping and packing. Veena was happy and so were the kids!


After the main hurdle of Visa was over, everyone started planning shopping cloths that would be needed for the trip. Veena had a jacket on mind, Sagarika wanted some cloths, Aniruddha had sunglasses on mind and I wanted a couple of T-Shirts. These items were duly procured over various shopping trips to Viviana and Korum malls in Thane.

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Sagarika at the Van Heusen shop. Actually the shopping was for me :)

We had enough bags at home so we did not buy new ones. Also we had decided to travel light so that each member should be holding not more than two bags; one trolley and one handbag.

As the date of departure came near things were packed in their respective bags. Veena and Sagarika did most of the packing.

On the day of departure, I called my regular taxi driver to drive us to the airport and we set off at 7 PM on 5th of May 2018 for our first overseas trip.

Some pics on the departure day.
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Sagarika had arranged all her "pets" so that they have a good time in her absence :)

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Aniruddha ready to leave

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All ready to go

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On way to Airport

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Some snacks before boarding the plane
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When the airplane landed at Munich airport, we let a collective sigh of relief. It was a tiring journey. The Lufthansa flight was very uncomfortable. Munich, though, greeted us with lot of sunlight and a mild chill, a chill similar to the hill stations of India in summers. We took in the scenery and started toward the departure area for immigration and collecting our baggage.
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At Munich Airport

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At the baggage collection

I had purchased the airport group ticket which allows a group of up to 5 people on any of the city transports. There is another group ticket which covers a smaller area which we took for our other travelling days. Immigration was easy and the immigration officer did not ask many questions. We were beginning to like Germany.

After collecting our luggage from belt 5 we went out in the sunny Munich morning. We were officially in Germany; first time out of India and on our own. Our adventure had started.
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Outside the airport in the Sunny Munich Morning