Whenever I come back from a trip overseas, my friends are so excited to hear about my travels but usually can’t quite grasp the stories I tell. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to experience a language barrier, or to describe the way the cities are laid out, or to see what grocery stores could actually be selling (it’s not plastic food everywhere!)
The United States is so big and full of its own variety from state to state, so most of us travel around our own country when we want to go on vacation. Some of my own favorite places include Los Angeles, Charleston and New Orleans!
However, I think everyone should at some point travel to a different country, if only to realize there is an entire world we don’t know much about if we stay in our safety net. But many people think it’s outrageously expensive and almost scary to take that first step. I wanted to share a few things to let you know it is possible and even reasonable!
***** Note- My experiences are all in Europe so far, although I hope to travel somewhere completely new soon
1. Flights out of America are getting cheaper with budget airlines
WOW Air and Iceland Air are currently offering all-inclusive packages to fly in and out of Iceland at super cheap rates from the United States and to major cities around Europe! Norway and Thailand are two other countries getting on board with similar strategies, offering discount flights that encourage travel through their respective countries.
Expedia and similar websites won’t include these airlines on their lists, so you’ll have to dig a little deeper to find these kinds of deals.
The key to getting cheaper flights is being flexible about when you want to leave and what city you want to fly into.
*** I recently flew into Paris by booking a cheap flight from Nashville to Boston (where WOW air flies out of) and into Paris from Iceland. It was around $800 total to get from Nashville -> Boston -> Paris and back!
2. Trains around Europe can easily take you from country to country
My personal experience is traveling around Europe so I can’t speak for everywhere, but the best cities aren’t always the most talked about. Paris and Rome are great, but some of my favorite places include Salzburg, Austria and Torino, Italy.
You can take a fast train from France to Switzerland to Italy no problem, as well as most anywhere else you want to visit. The cost is usually around 60-100 euros if you’re doing a few hours at a time.
(There are cheap flights across Europe if you have the time to include one in your trip timeline).
3. Look for alternatives to hotels, like hostels or airbnbs
I have always found a hostel everywhere I’ve stayed so far. They are a great option for the budget traveler. I would recommend always getting a private room if you don’t want to share bunk beds with strangers, but many of these private rooms are functional (although much smaller than what us Americans are used to), convenient and usually have helpful staff at the front desk. Use hostelworld.com to look up what hostels are in your area.
– EXTRA TIP- look up which hostels are available at hostelworld.com, then go to the hostels actual website to book. They sometimes give you better deals for booking there because hostelworld takes a cut!
4. Do your research! See which places give you the best local experience and AVOID tourist prices
Tripadvisor, yelp, The Lonely Planet
There have been multiple times when we were traveling that we just wandered into a restaurant and then realized it was tourist pricing or not the best experience. Every time we look up a place’s reviews we slap our foreheads and tell ourselves this is the way to go! Save yourself some money on mediocre experiences and make sure you’re at a place worth the time and money!
5. Ask a friend who’s well traveled or been where you want to go-
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. These kinds of trips can be once in a lifetime experiences, and other people who have done it can give their own valuable advice for what to do or not to do. Why not go to the same place they have been if they have raving reviews and you’re up for anything?
There are a couple ways I’ve traveled that I’d scream “don’t do it!!!”, restaurants that gave me a true authentic family experience, and cities that gave me the view of a lifetime. When you gain a love for traveling, you want to share it with others, so don’t be afraid to ask!
If you have any questions about traveling to Europe in particular, I will do what I can to help you out. Thanks for reading and happy travels!