Financial crisis or not, travel to Europe is steadily on the rise. Unfortunately, so are prices (especially if you're from a non-Eurozone country) and Europe on $5 a day is a (very) dim memory. A cup of coffee in Switzerland can leave you reeling, as can a sit-down meal in Scandinavia. If you don't book way ahead of time, a flight between two European cities can cost $1000, and even a continental long-distance bus ride can have you quaking in your hiking boots if you don't do your research.
The good news is you don't have to mortgage your house or cash in your college fund to visit Europe! I've pulled together some cost-cutting tactics for you: no one should be deprived of experiencing Europe because of money.
Before you read on, I have a little favor to ask: how do you spend Christmas? I'm preparing next month's ezine and I'd like to feature Christmas customs for those of you who are away from home - or just curious. I've already heard (through Facebook) from the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, so I'd love to hear from across Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa... Just send me the top 3 Christmas traditions in your country (and, why not, your family). Write a sentence or two for each, and click here to send them to me. And don't forget to include your name so I can mention you!
Women on the Road NEWS: Contents for Issue #46
- How to travel cheaply in Europe
- What's New on www.women-on-the-road.com
- Questions anyone?
- My free travel writing course - LAST CHANCE!
- Most Popular Posts Last Month
- Travel News from Across the Web
- Cause of the Month: 7 Billion Actions Campaign
Get ready before you go
You'd be surprised at the special promotions certain destinations put on. Some cities have amazing discount cards that combine attractions with transport or food with lodging. Check each city's website before you go, and have a look at this site for a few ideas. Don't underestimate what you can do for free - museums on certain days, bicycles in certain cities, markets, concerts, art, architecture, parks and gardens, special events - just search online for the city + free (or free activities or free things to do) and see what comes up. You really can do things on the cheap - find out how my friend Gigi managed cheap Paris travel on under $15 a day just to see what's possible. Don't forget Europe is huge - so offset some more expensive destinations with a few cheaper ones like Romania or Bulgaria and especially these days, Greece (not to mention that that they desperately need your tourist money!)
Get a rail pass
One thing that hasn't really changed since I was a student is the Eurail Pass: for one global price you can ride the train from two weeks to three months in a single country or a group of countries, and all for just a few hundred dollars. If you choose the right trains you can save a night's accommodation by sleeping on the train and arriving at your destination the next day (like the overnight train from Lausanne to Venice, for example). Remember - it's for non-European residents only. If you live in Europe, check out the Interrail Pass. If you're a train addict (I am!) the best site for any kind of train travel is Seat 61. And make sure you read the fine print - some rail passes cover other types of transportation, like boats across lakes and the like.
Stay in hostels
A favorite of travelers to Europe since the sixties is the hostel, although today's luxurious wifi-equipped sparkling clean rooms bear no resemblance to the grotty bunkbed dorm rooms for ten that I stayed in as a student. Now, you can have clean sheets and even your own bathroom if you so choose, although that would no longer qualify as a budget option (but much much cheaper than a hotel, in any case). You can start your search at Hostelworld. If hostels aren't your thing and you want a hotel, try these bargains at Eurocheapo.
Or in other inexpensive places
If hostels just aren't for you there are plenty of other budget accommodation alternatives. The best-known and most popular these days is couch surfing and the like: you join a club (usually for free), list your profile, and start hunting for places to stay (also free). There are 77,500 Couchsurfers in France, more than 30,000 in Italy and 12,000 in Sweden, just to give you an idea. If you'd rather be more independent why not become a housesitter? Enjoy luxury accommodations at the best budget price of all - free! There are a few hitches, like staying in a place long enough and qualifying (not to mention the odd bit of pet caring or gardening) but a fabulous way to see Europe on the cheap. If you're traveling outside the school year, in summer, some university campuses will rent out their dorm rooms. My final suggestion - if you're staying anywhere longer than a few days, rent an appartment along with a friend or two you might have met at the hostel. This article by fellow traveler Nomadic Matt should do the trick. I've done this in several cities and was always glad I did.
This is where Europe outdoes itself. While airline prices are creeping up, there are plenty of no-frills airlines with new fleets and unusual routes. The ones with the broadest routes are Easyjet and Ryanair, although their irritating habit of charging for everthing from checking in a bag to choosing a seat is encouraging some customers to desert back to scheduled airlines - which are working hard to beat discount prices. Yesterday I saw a fare from Geneva to Barcelona on Swiss Air Lines for under US$20, while the comparable discount airline fare was considerably higher, so always check special promotions. You might be pleasantly surprised! Try Harefares for airports NEAR your destination or WhichBudget to fly from A to B.
Ride the bus
The bus isn't in fashion anymore but to get to some parts of Europe it's the best ride you'll find, especially away from mass tourism sites. Eurolines will take you across Europe with some amazingly cheap bus passes, Megabus will get you all around the UK, and Busabout reaches out to Western Europe (though not Scandinavia). Always compare with the Eurail Pass though! Buses may not be as comfortable or fast as trains but they do take you off the beaten path, sometimes for a lot less than the train.
Be picky about seasons
The busiest season in Europe is summer (July-August) followed closely by Christmas and the skiing season. Busiest also means most expensive (not to mention most crowded) so avoid this if you're on a tight budget. The shoulder season is cheaper - say May, June and September. But for real bargains invert your seasons: go to Greece and Italy in winter for example. Just be aware that not everything is the same each season. In some countries, shops and restaurants close in summer; in hiking and skiing areas villages virtually shut down in November; in summer destinations winter weather may bring travel to a standstill.
And if you want to look at a classic - possibly a bit outdated but one of the first budget sites around - visit Art of Travel.
Our Facebook community is growing by leaps and bounds - please come and join us! Post about your travels, ask a question, share a link or photo, or just say Hi
Meet up on Twitter @womanontheroad to hear about my travels and tell everyone about yours.
Share your experiences with the rest of us by writing a page for Women on the Road!
- I lead the way this month with My Round the World Travel Adventure. Vicki shares her Adventures of a Lone Traveller, and this wonderful note from Agnes appreciates some travel inspiration!
Ask me a travel-related question! (If your question isn't about travel, please send to me through my Contact form - and don't forget to include your email address. Many of you write with no name or address - so don't be surprised if you're not getting an answer!) Here's what came in the mailbag this month...
- Tara is calling on expats in the Middle East for some help
- It's Chris's first time in South America and she'd welcome advice
- Helen is a senior who wants to live in a travel trailer
- Hadeel wonders about the challenges of solo travel to Istanbul
- How can I volunteer long-term in Ireland, Laura wants to know
- And a special note to author Stephanie (you know who you are :-) who asked for a book endorsement - I can't get back to you because you didn't include an email address!
Connect by linking to my website from your own blog or site.
And when you visit women-on-the-road.com, please don't forget to click LIKE in the left-hand column!
My Best Travel Reading Picks
The Solo Traveler's Handbook
This compact tome by Janice Waugh is the quintessential guide to solo travel written by a woman who didn't start traveling solo until her husband died a few years ago. If you're wondering whether you can start your travels later in life, Janice says you certainly can. She writes with compassion and energy and mixes great practical advice - take only one bag, easy ways to meet people and how to fight solitude - with her own adventures, whether in Cuba, Chile or across Europe. If you love lists (I do) she has plenty of them, including such gems as Sixty Tips for Solo Safety and 15 Signs You've Had Too Much Alone Time. And best of all, Janice has a great sense humor. I read the handbook in a single sitting and chuckled all the way.
The Art of Solo Travel: A Girl's Guide
Are you a young woman traveling solo for the first time? If you don't know where to start, or if you're a bit apprehensive, this feisty, congenial, well-designed and clever e-book will tell you everything you need to get out that door and on the road. Find out how to save for your trip, break the news to your loved ones, take care of those last-minute jitters, and even how to deal with coming home. It's compact, light and to the point - no padding like so many other e-books. Author Stephanie Lee, an architect turned traveler, says you should "Embrace your individuality and sense of adventure." I couldn't agree more!
Video 101: Tips and Tricks for Awesome Visual Storytelling
If you want to hang on to your best travel memories, get them down on video. Never shot one before? My friend Lisa Lubin can help. She's a television journalist and producer who won THREE Emmy Awards for her broadcast work (and spent several years traveling solo around the world). She just released a superb ebook that sums up her approach to video: figure out your story, make it human, plan your video ahead of time, use interviews, write to complement the pictures and edit it all together. If you're keen to develop your video skills but can't afford a course because of money or time, let Lisa show you how it's done. As a special treat to readers of Women on the Road News, she's offering us an exclusive $10 discount on her book, so don't forget to use this discount code when you order: solowomen.
If you love to travel and love to write, have you ever thought of writing to pay for your travels? Writing paid for my own travel across several continents so I know a bit about the writer's life and what editors like. I'd like to help you achieve your writer's dream so I've pulled a lot of my knowledge together for you in a free online course called the The Travel Writing Magician, available exclusively to readers of Women on the Road News.
This is available for a limited time only!
This course has been available to readers of this ezine for over two years now but beware: it will only be available until 1 December! After that it will be taken off the market in its present form and available only on Kindle and you will have to pay for it.
So if you've been toying with the idea but haven't got around to it, just sign up and get it in your mailbox in seven easy daily installments. Work the self-help assignments on your own and see how your writing improves after just one week. You'll never know if there's a travel writer lurking inside you until you try!
1. Travel Packing List
2. International Travel Nursing
3. Female Travel Companions
4. Stay in a Monastery
5. Overseas Jobs
6. Best Time to Visit
7. Travel Accessories for Women
8. Cheap Ways to Travel
9. Very Cheap International Flights
10. Travel Writing Jobs
How to Make Friends While Traveling Solo
The First Timer's Guide to Train Travel in Europe
12 Career Skills That Travel Will Improve
Tips for Staying Connected While Traveling
Dealing with Unwanted Attention in Asia
Top 10 Under-rated European Destinations
Airline Fees: What's Next?
Three of the World's Best Walking Tours
Your Hotel Room Safe: Not as Safe as You Think
What Does Off the Beaten Path Really Mean?
For food lovers...
Osaka's Local Food Scene
Feed Me, Hong Kong!
Kansas City: BBQ Capital of America
Eating Your Way Through the Marais
In Rio de Janeiro, Juice Bars that Are More than Juice Bars
Hot Dog. Signed, Chicago
...and lovers of other arts
If You're Visual
Scaling Sand Dunes in Magnificent Mozambique
Three Ways to Get Culturally Immersed in Dakar, Senegal
8 Confusing Things About Japan
36 Hours in Bern, Switzerland
7 Ways to Experience Uruguay
Walking the Historic Center of Quito, Ecuador
Traveling Solo in Granada, Spain
7 Billion Actions Campaign - please join and make the world a better place!
The world's population is officially 7 billion people as of 31 October. For some that's too many, and for others there's plenty of room for more. Wherever you stand on this, a world of 7 billion can be beneficial if it's planned for properly.
Individual actions are needed—to think, live and engage one another differently, and to manage this growth responsibly. Our increasing global population will affect us all and it is everyone’s business to do something about it.
This milestone is an occasion to recognize and celebrate our common humanity and diversity and that's what the campaign is all about: a renewed global commitment for a healthy and sustainable world.
We each have the opportunity and a responsibility to make a world of 7 billion a better place for all of us. It's easy to join, and it's fun!
To join the campaign visit:
7 Billion Actions
And for more information:
People and Possibilities in a World of 7 Billion
It's Christmas time - wherever you are in the world
(c) 2007-2011, Leyla Giray. All rights reserved. Women on the Road News is published monthly. Reproduction of any material from this newsletter without written permission is prohibited.