Guest Author - Julie Fredrick
Do you have the desire but not the dollars to take a European vacation? There are many ways to travel on the cheap while enjoying yourself as much or more than the "tour package" travelers! This article focuses on the transportation side of a European vacation.
If you have not already, make the internet your best friend. Do you have your heart set on a particular destination? Sign up with discount travel websites such as www.sidestep.com or www.expedia.com. Most offer e-mail notifications of price reductions between the cities that you specify. Be patient. Generally, airlines do not discount popular destinations more than 3 months out. Fortunately, many large cities have more than one airport in the region, and flights into the smaller (or farther) one are often far cheaper, and often have cheap shuttles into the city.
When traveling to Europe, do not fret if you cannot find a great fare into, for example, Rome. Consider a flight to London, and then take one of the numerous low-fare inter-European airlines (Ryanair, Easyjet, Jet2, or Wizz Air to name just a few). There is a discount airline for nearly every European country these days.
Destination is typically the first step in planning your itinerary. Why not let the deals determine where you travel? Many websites allow the potential traveler to see current deals on flights. For example, pulling up www.travelzoo.com or www.clarkhoward.com/shownotes can alert you to rock-bottom fares that must be booked within a few days or expire without notification. By thinking outside the box, you are likely to be pleasantly surprised.
For example, my husband and I were considering a trip to Ireland when a great deal to Poland was announced. We discussed it that evening and booked the tickets the next day. We then planned our trip around our destination, and it was one of our most memorable trips to date.
Most Americans feel the need to rent a car when abroad, but I have found that, generally speaking, public transportation is safe, cheap, and readily available. It also allows the traveler a more intimate view of local life.
Hiring a driver for the day can also save time, money and frustration. Better yet, walk your way around a city. Self-guided tours are available at nearly every tourist information center, and offer walks or a combination of walks and public transportation covering a range of interests, from market to gastronomic to cultural tours.
In short, if you are willing to think outside the box, and become a traveler instead of a tourist, you will find that many more doors will open to you and welcome you into a completely new and exciting world of travel!