For Budget Travel, Europe Remains a Popular Destination
Receiving over 470 million tourists in 2010, Europe continues to be one of the top travel destinations in the world. Yet despite its popularity, many people who don't live near the continent maintain that cheap travel to Europe is simply not possible. It's time to debunk this myth. For knowledgeable travelers interested in budget travel, Europe is a fantastic option.
Before you begin searching for European vacation deals, you'll want to ask "what am I willing and not willing to sacrifice in the name of saving money?" This is an important question. While some have no problem with the idea of camping across Europe, others may refuse to sacrifice a hotel's comfortable bed and private bathroom. Laying out your own ground rules before you plan will help determine the extent of your budget-saving options.
That said, here are some suggestions for cheap travel to Europe:
2. Take a repositioning cruise. Back in December I mentioned a cheap repositioning cruise from Miami to Barcelona is sailing this coming May for a very reasonable rate. Of course, you'll still have to organize return travel.
3. Look for airfare through specialty agencies and portals. I've been using 1800FlyEurope.com for years and have been very happy with their service. They even have a newsletter that keeps you updated on the latest travel offers. Travelzoo also has an excellent newsletter packed with travel deals, many for Europe. This spring has already seen airlines put Europe on sale, creating some exciting opportunities to travel Europe cheaply.
4. Before you get to your destination, research the public transportation options. In larger cities, buying a long-term (ten-trip, three-day, etc.) pass will save you money.
Of course, getting to your destination is only one aspect of budget travel. Europe is a big continent with numerous types of accommodations. Your options include:
• condo rentals
• couch surfing
Some of these options are certainly cheaper than others. Arranging to sleep on someone's couch will always be kinder on your budget than renting a condo. That's not to say that condos don't make sense for the savvy traveler. For example, I found a nice one-bedroom condo rental in the heart of Brussels, Belgium for a very reasonable $540 (€380) a week. You could easily pay more than that on a hotel room.
You could also stay at any of the popular youth hostels in Europe as a way to save money. HostelWorld.com has long been one of my favorite portals for finding hostels, featuring a clean interface and helpful reviews by previous travelers. If you want to get a little more rustic and go camping in Greece, for example, then you may want to visit EuroCampings. This site features thousands of campsites across Europe and includes customer ratings and prices, making it an easy and fun option for those wanting to travel Europe on a budget.
Finally, let's not forget to cover cheap eats in Europe. Finding tasty food for cheap can be daunting for some, but it's generally easy to do if you stick to the local cuisine. "Europe is famous for a great variety of street food – all cheap and delicious," says AOL Travel contributor Annemarie Dooling, who mentions the crêpe stands of Paris as an example. As far as finding some of the best budget food options, I still like to use TripAdvisor.com when I don't have a guidebook with me. The one problem I do have with the site is more often than not the mid- to upper-tier options are rated, but the budget options are mostly ignored. The Frankfurt listing for budget food demonstrates this well with only five restaurants listed in the budget price range. Still, there are valuable reviews and suggestions to be found at TripAdvisor, making it easier for you to travel Europe on a budget while enjoying the best food around.