So you wanna go to Europe, but you’re short on cash. Your worldy friends tell you that you HAVE to go to Europe! You haven’t lived ’til you breathed the rain of Paris, France, or walk the streets of sunny Barcelona!
Wanna the know how to really do it? Listen up.
In my opinion, any kind of travel is hindered due to one of two things: airfare and lodging. Airfaire can be quite a burden, I understand. What with the current strikes with Northwest, Delta heading outta here, what can one do?
First, depending on where your departure point is, find out if you can save money by taking the bus (Grayhound), or the train (Amtrack), to a location closer to your destination. For example, when I left Minneapolis to leave for the U.K., I took the Grayhound buslines to Chicago, and then flew out to London, Gatwick from there. It saved me about 300 dollars per ticket.
Though the grayhound can have it’s own burdens, that’s 300 dollars that you can use at the coffee shops of Amsterdam.
Next, don’t depend on the “classic” airlines, like Northwest, see what other air liners are out there. I suggest British Airways. You can fly to the UK fairly cheap.
Alright, so you have your ticket to London, but now you’re stuck in the UK, and want to get out to greener pastures. Northwest? No, don’t even GO THERE! For whatever reason, travellers fail to relate to youngbloods that there are two excellent, economic airlines out there (only service in Europe). Rianaire and EasyJet. How does a flight from Spain to the UK for 20 Euros sound? Pretty excellent, hey? Well, they can give you some pretty steep rates if you have a lot of luggage, but hopefully (if you’re reading this), your a fiscal conservative and are just bringing a rucksack along.
Second, lodging. I can’t help you here if you only frequent ‘five-star’ hotels, but if you don’t mind chilliing with the natives, check out Hostels. Also, there are many websites where travellers, like yourself, can find people (around the world), to host you for free. Check out the Lonely Planet Website (and their Thorn Tree message board), you can get many excellent tips on how to save your money.
To prove my point, I travelled in Europe for approximately 40 days, and because I ‘net-worked’ (with friends and random hosts), I paid for only four night of stay. Not only did I save cash? But I met some really beautiful people that could open up their hearts.
Do’s and Don’ts (Chickenscratching’s Opinion)
DO visit Toulouse (or any of Southern France)
DON’T visit Paris (unless you at least attempt to speak travelling French)
DON’T be afraid of the gypsies in Spain
DO expect that your bag will be stolen in Spain
DO visit the coffee shop, The Gray Area (Amsterdam)
DON’T visit the UK (unless you’re of the utmost wit)
DON’T wear a fanny pack
DO take in the lovely wines available in Spain and France
DO drink Sangria
Really, you want to travel to Europe? It’s not much harder than travelling to Utah, Colorado or Hawai’i. I truly believe that as citizens of this World, we owe it to ourselves to seek out everything and anything we can; it is essential in order to understand our brothers and sisters. Not only that? But it gives under-ager’s of the US a chance to hit the bars, the liquor stores way ahead of time (21 will be anti-climactic for me, I’m sure).