02.05.2018 - 02.05.2018
If you think you cannot afford to travel think again!!
If I can do it you probably can too.
Choose your travel companion wisely - sharing accommodation costs is a major saving.
We set an intention of an average of Fifty Dollars a day for lodging and food.
Transportation and attraction fees were extra.
You could, in fact, do it for less if you stayed in a dorm in a hostel or used CouchSurfing.
We traveled in Europe between 28 Sept, 2017 and 13 Dec, 2017: 75 days.
1. Travel in low or shoulder season. Hotels will likely be cheaper, the lineups to attractions won’t be as long and the cooler weather will be more energizing.
2. Take advantage of discount airlines. In 2017 we used Norwegian Air (excellent), Wizz Air (really good deals) and Vueling. In 2012 we used Ryan Air (very strict one bag rule but very reasonable).
3. Only take carry-on luggage and research the size allowances. Norwegian Air allows two pieces of carry-on (one has to fit under the seat) which is nice and Wizz Air did not strictly enforce its one bag rule but this is no guarantee that they won’t do so in the future!!
4. Use an accommodation booking site. I used Booking.ca a lot in our 2017 trip and we stayed in several apartments, some were fabulous and all of them were decent. I try to stick with a review score over 8 out of 10 and read the reviews carefully.
5. Pack an immersion heater so you can boil water in hotel rooms without kettles. Not expensive and takes up very little room. Nice to have a hot drink or cup of soup sometimes.
6. The Balkans, Eastern Europe in general, Malta and most of the Iberian Penninsula are affordable.
Note that most of the Balkans are very much cash only, not credit card friendly. There are ATMs everywhere so not a problem and many accept the Euro - if they don’t then money changers are widely available. Of course if the town is quite small take cash in the local currency. We managed in a small village in Albania where there was no ATM as most vendors would take the Euro and do the conversion but we still had a need for Albanian currency, the Albanian Lek.
7. Buy bread, cheese, sliced meat, fruit, etc. at the grocers and make your own simple meal.
8. Lunches in restaurants are typically cheaper than dinners. Food for us was not going to be the highlight of our trip and fine dining was not a priority.
9. If Norway is on your itinerary check out minipris train fare online - the Man in Seat 61 is a great resource for all train travel.
10. If, like me, you are a senior remember to inquire about senior’s discounts for transportation and admissions. You could research this online also.
Travel is personal and our itinerary reflects our interests as well as our budget.
We started out in Norway - home of my ancestors. We had never been to Prague, a popular destination. Our stop in Germany was sentimental and practical as we caught a low-cost flight from Nuremberg to Belgrade. We have a friend in Serbia and have been there before but Belgrade and Novi Sad were new to us. Loved it!
We spent 35 days in the Balkans, six were on the Adriatic coastline.
Kosovo and Sarajevo and, indeed, Skopje were very personal.
Albania is an interesting and beautiful country - blessed with a long coastline and the Albanian Alps.
We stayed one week in Malta which has an enviable climate, The Mediterranean Sea, and a resort vibe. It was ‘on the way’ to Spain.
We were in Spain from 24 November to 11 December. Five of those days were no cost since we volunteered to teach English and received free room and board. Look into doing this if you go to Spain. Just google ‘volunteer to teach English in Spain’ - the only prerequisite is being a native English speaker - you don’t need a degree or a certificate.
With carry-on luggage the space for souvenirs and gifts is limited. Jewellery is lightweight and compact - Amber, ohrid pearls, and silver filigree tucked neatly nto my bag.
Scarves and pashminas from Bosnia and Malta changed up my look - adding a bit of colour to my black and grey wardrobe.
In Norway we received gifts from our relatives, pillow covers, a Bible, a wee wooden house. When we boarded in Gatwick every pocket of my jacket (4) was stuffed with the overflow and I was dressed in several layers - which worked out well once we landed in winter-y Calgary.
Christmas Markets - since we were in Spain and the UK in December we brought back Christmas ornaments, shortbread and plum pudding.
Best discount airline - Norwegian Air
Best food for low price - Serbia
Best prices for accommodation - Balkans and Malta
Best prices for souvenirs - Malta
Travel is fun and good for the mind. If you think you can’t afford to travel think again.
If I can do it almost anybody can!!