Friday, August 10, 2007

Cheap European Travel

10 Ways to Keep Europe Within Reach

It's been a couple of years since I've done a summer vacation in Europe, but it's something I'd like to get back into the habit of doing. For a while there, it seemed like I was always celebrating July 4th in France, but I just loved it! I did a lot of my traveling back when the dollar was strong, but nowadays, the same trip would cost me a lot more money. This NY Times article gives 10 tips to help you save a few bucks when going to Europe, and a few are things I used to try to do myself:

  • Fly a low-cost airline: I saved money by going to London, often using frequent flyer miles earned from business travel, and then taking the cheapo airlines like EasyJet and RyanAir that fly from there to various locales in Europe.
  • Stay in cheap hotels: I stayed in some very modest small hotels. If you are used to American hotel standards, you might find some European spots a little spartan, but sometimes the small, cheap places are family-owned, friendly, and very picturesque. Also, the other people staying there are more likely to be an interesting mix of nationalities, I found.
  • Avoid airport taxis: I would sometimes take the subway to JFK airport in NYC, and then try to use public transportation to reach my destination. I would also buy unlimited daily or weekly travel passes for public buses or subways whenever possible.
  • Cheap meals: I often ate picnic-style dinners bought in local markets, instead of eating in restaurants. It's wonderful to be able to buy fresh fruit, bread, and other items each day-- take advantage of it!
  • Telephone charges: I've always had a cell phone that offered international roaming. Even at $1 or more a minute, that's cheaper than using a hotel phone. And once I bought a pre-paid SIM card and put it in my phone, so it was like having a local phone and saved me a lot of money on local and incoming calls.
  • Free stuff: as the article mentions, there are lots of museums and things that are free. I also just enjoyed walking and exploring and sometimes found that I could see wonderful art in places like churches, which don't charge for admission.
  • Tax refund programs: I rarely found that I wanted to shop. Even when I was visiting Europe a lot, I didn't think there was much worth buying that I couldn't get at home, and I didn't want to lug around a lot of purchases. But occasionally, I bought things that I knew I wouldn't find elsewhere, including a pair of shoes that were the equivalent of about US$300 at the time, I think. I don't remember exactly how it worked, but I got some piece of paper that I then took to a booth at the airport and received a refund on the GST tax I'd paid-- it was a significant savings.

Check out the article for lots of great suggestions!

1 comment:

uzvards said...

Prepaid SIM cards for cell phones are definitely the way to use telephones in Europe. But you will need a GSM cell phone, and not just any GSM phone, but the one capable of working with both GSM1800 (European standard), and GSM1900 (American standard, used by AT&T and T-Mobile).