Category Archives: Tips and tricks

Amsterdam Alternatives

I’ve written this piece last year for Travel Between The Pages. A recent post I read about a trip someone else made to Amsterdam reminded me of my own work. Amsterdam, like most major cities in Europe is filled with things to see and do. But most people only do the stuff 99% of what “all the other people” do. Amsterdam has a big advantage – its quite small. So you can “tick off” the top attractions (Rijksmuseum, Vondelpark, Red Light District, Anne Frank) in a single morning, and then be “free” to experience the city at a leisurely pace. And I have a couple of suggestions for you.

Travel Between The Pages

This guest post is from Rotterdam resident and blogger Michael Afanasyev. You can follow Michael at his own blog Small European Country

Amsterdm-stedelijk-museum-130313-2

Amsterdam alternatives

Every major tourist destination has the “big ones”, the things everybody wants to see – like South Africa with the Big Five. Amsterdam has the Big Three. I mean, everybody goes to the Anne Frank House, visits the Rijksmuseum and takes the canal tour, right? Unfortunately, the popularity of these hot-spots tends to bring them down, too. To make the “experience” suitable for the masses, the attractions (yes, Anne Frank is also an “attraction”) make themselves suitable for mass consumption, in what I call the McDonaldsization of travel. I am not a huge fan of Amsterdam myself – to me it is a bit like a sleazy Disneyland. But over the years I’ve learned to appreciate the Amsterdam behind the touristy facade and discovered Amsterdam…

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Unorganized Europe – tips on how to enjoy Europe on your own terms

I’ve never been on an organized tour in Europe. And I honestly do not understand people who go on these tours. Well, some people at least. If you’re in your 50’s and enjoy wearing name tags, then its the right thing for you. Or if you’re a Chinese or a Russian and don’t speak a word in another language, then I totally get why booking a bus tour is the way to go. I even understand why Americans who only have 10 days off a year would think that swooshing through 17 countries in a week is a good idea (it’s not – Best of Europe in 21 days? Best of Europe’s highways and tourist traps, perhaps). But there are so many young people out there with lots of time and little money on their hands who nevertheless pay a premium price for something like this:

This mad schedule offered by Contiki will take you to 8 countries in 12 days!

European Discovery
From Amsterdam to Rome to Paris, you won’t want to miss a thing. In fact, sleep will probably be the last thing on your mind!

Sleep will probably be the only thing on your mind as you are dragged to a new town every day, and spend an average of at least 4 hours on the bus daily. More than 100 Euro per day and drinks are not even included! What I understand least is that it’s the same crowd that rents a motorcycle and crosses the back-roads of Laos for weeks, hitchhikes across Africa, stays in an Indian ashram for half a year, but when in the most civilized, tame continent they suddenly feel the need to be taken by the hand and fast-forwarded as if chased by ghosts. I honestly can’t think of a more exhausting and unsatisfying way to spend your vacation. The only explanation I can come up with is that people who book these tours want to get drunk in as many cities as possible. But surely there are cheaper ways to achieve this noble goal?

The rushing is not limited to organized tours though. So many travellers, young and old, wreck themselves with travel schedules from hell. 15 countries in 30 days, 10 countries in 12, 5 cities in 3 days – there’s no limit to the self-inflicted travel misery. Sure, I am a fortunate person. Blessed with a sufficient amount of paid leave and living within easy reach of Europe’s best. But its a lifestyle choice most of all things. I see my vacations as an opportunity to relax. Spending endless hours in transit (and traffic), checking in- and out of hotels every day or two, queueing up to see the endless must-sees is just not my idea of relaxing. When on holiday (and in daily life) I try to choose quality over quantity. And so can you – here’s how to enjoy your (European) vacation

  1. Set up base camp

    No, you don't always have to go to 4000 meters for a free place to sleep in Europe

    Not all base camps must look like this

    Even if your next destination is only a 100 km away, packing, checking out, dragging your belongings, checking in and unpacking still eats a whole day off your vacation. In most of Europe distances are (relatively) small, trains are fast and border controls non-existent. Setting up a strategically located base camp will enable you to explore a whole country, if not several countries, just by doing day-trips. Of course, I’ve done the ultimate move and set my base camp in The Netherlands for the past 12 years already, but that’s an extreme case.

  2. Think of your goals
    It’s so trivial but true nevertheless. If your goal is, indeed, to get plastered in as many destinations as possible – go with it! But don’t try to combine it with cultural aspirations (well, getting plastered is a part of most cultures, but you know what I mean). Think of the things you really want to do and tailor your trip to suit those aspirations. If you’re on a tight budget – go to the Balkans rather than Scandinavia. Yes, you can enjoy Scandinavia on a tight budget, too. But it probably will require a lot of camping and not everyone’s up to it.
  3. Choose the right transport

    During Chrismas vacation bicycles get stuck not only in traffic

    Obviously the wrong choice of transport here

    For you and for your trip. I can’t stand long bus rides so I try to avoid those. But there’s more than personal favourites to it. So, if you are hopping between major destinations, a flight is a good budget option in Europe. If you don’t mind the trip taking a bit longer, and being perhaps a bit more expensive, the train is a good alternative. And if you’re in a party of 3, driving a rented car is probably cheapest. But it’s not all there’s to it. Driving takes an effort, and high-speed trains take you there in a whisker. For example, going from Madrid to Barcelona takes more than 6 hours of driving, but less than 3 hours by train. Can you drive this bit? Yes, you can! But it makes little sense to do so unless you plan to stop along the way.

  4. Limit your destinations
    This can not be stressed enough. An excellent recommendation is a minimum of 3.5 days per destination. But that’s a minimum. If you go to bigger cities, and plan day-trips to other places and/or the country side, I would suggest 5 days at least. As an example, if you intend to spend 5 days in Paris, you can probably fill your schedule completely just with the city. But even if you’re fed up with Paris after a couple of days, you can still take a day to visit Fontainebleau, and a day for another city (Dijon is just 1.5 hours away!). Better still, rent an apartment in Paris for a week, and don’t let that stop you from going to the Loire for two days, spending the night in a Chambres d’hôtes along the way, before going back to the city. The total will be probably cheaper and surely more efficient than separate bookings.
  5. Keep things optional

    The Narrenturm was probably not the happiest place to be in

    Is a former madhouse in Vienna a “must-see”? I sure enjoyed the visit

    I always try to remind myself that there are no must-sees. So what if I haven’t seen whatever that is that’s on “everyone’s” list? Its my vacation and I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, cry if I want to… Sorry, I got distracted. I’m not going on vacation to tick off a bucket list, but to enjoy myself. And to me that involves more leisure time and less obligations. I do my research, but view the resulting wish-list as “options” rather than “musts”.

  6. Optimize you trip
    In retail marketing they call it “cherry-pickers”. The term refers to customers who are coming in, buying the items on most attractive sale and leave, not tempted by the overpriced trash presented at the check-out. Be a “cherry-picker”. With open borders and short distances, Europe is an excellent place to optimize. No need to think in terms of “countries” – if an activity or a landscape is better/cheaper elsewhere – go there! Let the example of Cousin Avi be your shining light:
    Doug the Head: [referring to England] We’ve got sandy beaches…
    Avi: So? Who the fuck wants to see ’em?
    See what I mean? There are many reasons to go to England, but why would you stick around for the beaches when Ibiza is only a two-hour flight away?
  7. Try to be flexible
    Booking ahead your entire trip makes sense if you have only one or two weeks. But if you have a month to spend in Europe it’s rather unnecessary. What if you hear of a place you really want to see? Or if you would like to stay longer where you already are? Can’t do, because you’ve already booked elsewhere. By setting your beginning and end points and perhaps booking one or two nights there, you’ll be free to choose your next destination as you go. And no, it’s not difficult or expensive. You’ll just have to be flexible about it.

I’ve written a series of posts about the different regions of Europe, and listed what I think a region is best for, when is the best time to go, how to get around, why you shouldn’t go there and where to go if you only want to spend one week in the area. Perhaps this summary can help you choose and plan your next European destination:

And if you have comments on how you optimize your vacations, I’d love to know.

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Filed under cycling, Europe by region, Tips and tricks, Travel, Work

If I did it – how would I plan my Eurotrip

Europe is a tough continent to travel. Especially visitors from overseas are often surprised and sometimes overwhelmed by Europe’s diversity in cultures and climates and the distances in Europe are only relatively small. Expecting a compact, more or less uniform continent, they find themselves stressed on time and confused by the little differences that can make life on the road difficult when hopping across borders. Europe can be tough on budgets, too, but I already devoted a few posts to this topic – see here.

So what makes Europe such an attractive continent to travel in? First of all, of course, the history and culture. Europe’s museums, galleries and historical cities are like nothing else in the world. It is also a relatively easy and safe place to travel, with police in almost all countries being a reliable, friendly force and excellent public transport throughout most of the continent. Also, the geographic location of Europe and the quality of indoor attractions make Europe attractive in every season.

My Eurotrip is taking me over 10 years already. After I moved to Europe, I’ve travelled quite extensively around Europe. Not that I need to leave the Netherlands for great travelling, as these pictures clearly show:

My most recent travel - Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn, residence of the Dutch Royals for 3 centuries.

My most recent travel – Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn, residence of the Dutch Royals for 3 centuries.

Autumn in Europe has its charm for sure - this is the Bergse Bos, near Rotterdam.

Autumn in Europe has its charm for sure – this is the Bergse Bos, near Rotterdam.

Castle? No, a student dorm in Delft.

Castle? No, a student dorm in Delft.

This is why I'd go to Europe in May

This is why I’d go to Europe in May.

Ever heard of Zutphen? Neither did I.

Ever heard of Zutphen? Neither have I, until recently.

Basilica of Our Lady, Maastricht - a magnificent Romanesque church.

Basilica of Our Lady, Maastricht – a magnificent Romanesque church.

Het Vrijthof - another great site in Maastricht ;-)

Het Vrijthof – another magnificent site in Maastricht 😉

Of course, living in the Netherlands, with excellent connections to pretty much everywhere, makes it quite easy to travel. But I still haven’t visited even half of Europe’s countries! Not that it is my goal, but I still was surprised when I did the counting. Nevertheless, I consider myself quite a seasoned traveller. Having written about splitting Europe into bite-sized travel regions, I found myself thinking – how would I plan my Eurotrip if I went now, with all the knowledge I gained over the years?

Based on years of experience, I would firstly say that while Europe has a lot to offer in the winter, I’d definitely go in the summer, as May to September have the best weather and travel is just so much more fun when the sun is out. Personally, I’d go in May and June – July and August are rather sweaty and many places can and will get crowded. The water in the seas and lakes is much warmer later in the summer, so if you’re a swimming fan, take it into consideration. September may easily be the best month to travel in Europe, but autumn might take an early turn to the worse – the odds are just so much better in May-June. Also, for a full Eurotrip I’d take at least two full months to explore Europe’s best. To me it makes no sense going all the way from Asia or America for just two or three weeks of quick, unsatisfying dashes across borders and between cities.

So where would I go? If I would be coming from North America, I would surely make a stopover in Iceland first – or, if I plan to be leaving Europe to North America after my Eurotrip, I’d reserve a few days for this beautiful island at the end. Then I’d go to London. The British Empire where the sun never used to set is long gone but its spirit is alive and well in the greatest Imperial Capital in the world. From London its a smooth ride on the Eurostar train to the continent, where I’d take the connecting train from Brussels to Maastricht, to spend some time in the rolling hills of Limburg. If I had the time and money for an extra week, I’d spend it all in Amsterdam (yes, a whole week and its not too long by any standard). Within 2 hours ride from Maastricht are about a dozen airports – one of them will surely have a cheap flight to Barcelona, for a week of R&R in the sun (probably much needed after 3 weeks in North-Western Europe in May). From here, I’d fly out to Switzerland (or, if budget is limited, to Italy or Austria), spend a week in the mountain valley of my choice, and take a train across the Alps to Vienna, from where I’d wind down the Donau, city-hopping the Central European capitals sitting on this great river. I’d end up in Belgrade, and take the spectacular train ride to the coast of Montenegro, to celebrate the summer with the crowds. If I could find a good connection, I would fly out to Georgia and eat my way through the Caucasus, or go back to Belgrade and take the long train journey to Kiev. Of course, if I’d be in Georgia, I’d take the opportunity to board the ferry to Odessa (its only 60 hours). Yes, Ukraine is in an unrest, but hell – this is where European history is being made as you sit on your behind reading this! Finally, tired as I would be from all this travelling, I’d settle in a small Baltic country for a week, allow myself to catch some breath and sort out the amazing pictures I would surely have gathered in these weeks.

The best part is – I have already done most of these things. And so can you. Perhaps not in one summer, but then again why rush? I feel very privileged to have been able to travel that much, and have absolutely no intention to stop. Hope my suggestions can inspire you as well.

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Can you travel Europe on 5 dollars a day?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a series of articles about how to travel Europe on a budget. But never have I mentioned what I consider “budget”. Accidentally, a couple of days after finished the last article in the series, I’ve stumbled upon a post on the topic. It turns out there is this book, an old book, called Europe on 5 Dollars a Day. Its a guide book, the very first published by Frommer, back in 1957. Apparently, it is a very influential book, and people still try to follow the routes around Europe proposed by Frommer, getting all worked up about how expensive everything’s become (like a room at the Ritz in Paris).

So what’s the score – can you, indeed, still travel Europe on 5$ a day, and if you can’t – how much do you need? In the first part of this post, I’ll deal with the 5$ issue, and in the second part, give my personal, unbiased and statistically validated opinion on what is the budget that you’ll need to travel in Europe anno 2014.

Part 1 – can I travel Europe on 5$ a day?
Well, if you only hitchhike or walk, sleep on people’s couches, sneak into museums and steal food, you can. But that is an answer to the question “can I live as a bum in Europe?” not “can I travel Europe?”.

There are, in fact, 2 issues with the  “can I travel Europe on $5 a day?” question. Since its $5 from back in 1957, there is 1 – the inflation that has to be taken into account, and 2 – the exchange rates. Estimates of inflation vary, depending on the way of measuring it and what you are actually buying. The variation is rather extreme, as $5 in 1957 is worth between $31.50 to $171.00 today. If you’re interested in the details, you can check http://www.measuringworth.com/.

Comparing exchange rates over half a century is even more difficult, as many currencies have been devaluated, merged into the Euro or disappeared all together, sometimes with the issuing country, like the Czechoslovak Koruna. The Swiss Frank is a rare example of a European currency which has not been subject to all these perturbations. In 1957 you’d get 4 Swiss Franks for 1 dollar, and today you get just one. Comparing exchange rates with the Euro is more challenging. Taking the German Mark (DM) as an example, we’ll see that $1 would buy 4.2 DM in 1957 and today $1 buys 0.75 Euro (or 1.5 DM) – about 3 times less!

So taking the exchange rates into account, to get what you’d have for $5 in Europe in 1957, you’ll need $100 to $500 today! I don’t think that counts as “budget travelling” anymore. Another issue with attempting to travel the same routes as proposed by Frommer in 1957, is that most places mentioned in Europe on 5 Dollars a Day have been closed and the ones that survived became hugely popular with $-rolling American tourists thanks to that very book! This popularity has driven prices beyond general inflation rate and, in fact, beyond any reason. So, no, you can’t travel Europe on $5 a day. Well, perhaps if you only visit Moldova.

Part 2 – What is the minimal budget to travel Europe?
Not $5. That was made clear in Part 1. And in fact, since I live in the Eurozone, and most travellers in Europe spend at least part of their travels in Euro countries, I’ll stick to Euros if you don’t mind. The exchange rate you can find yourself at Oanda.

Back to the budget – can I travel Europe on 25 Euro a day? Yes, you can! It will take some effort – booking tickets in advance and avoiding expensive cities (Paris), countries (Switzerland) and regions (Scandinavia). Also, to stay within this tight budget you’ll probably have to do a lot of Couchsurfing and cook most of your own meals.

Spending an average of 50 Euros a day you’ll have a bit more comfort and choice. It will still require planning and self-control, but on 50 Euros a day you can buy yourself an ice-cream if you want to, go to a museum even outside the free hours and there is no reason why you’d have to avoid whole regions – just don’t buy alcohol anywhere in Scandinavia, as it will butcher your budget right away.

Conclusion – no, you can’t travel Europe on $5 a day. But you don’t need $500, either. Depending on your luxury standards and destinations, between $25 and $100 will probably do just fine.

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Europe as a budget destination – part V – what to do there?

In the first post of this series, I’ve bundled the travel issues into 5 categories: “Where to?” , When to go?”, “How to get around?”, “Where to sleep?” and “What to do there?” Having dealt with the first four questions, I now get to the best part – the fun stuff to do in Europe on a budget. Now I know Europe is famous for the amount and quality of attractions, like museums, churches, beaches etc. And you can save, for example, by visiting several museums in one day on a city pass, by doing what I call a “museum run”. However, when on a budget, its nice to have a few fun options that cost virtually nothing. The following 3 are my personal favourites.

  • Go hiking
    Europe is the best continent for hiking. Period. Nepal, New Zealand, New Mexico, all are great hiking destinations, but hiking in Europe is just so much easier. Every country in Europe, large or small, offers a vast array of well-marked hiking trails of every degree of difficulty and length. There are fully equipped, clean campings all over the place. If you don’t feel like camping, a mountain cabin is usually available. And if you’re tired of hiking, civilization is just a couple of hours away even in the remotest parts of Europe. This doesn’t mean you will hike among hordes of people (like on the Around Annapurna trek or on any of the Great Walks of New Zealand). Even slightly off-season (in June or September), in a bit less touristy areas (Pyrenees or Scandinavia) or on not-the-most-popular-paths you will be mostly by yourself. Best part – hiking is for free.

    Europe is ideal for hiking

    Hiking is for free even in expensive Switzerland

  • Take the tram
    The tram is my favourite vehicle and is a distinctly European mode of transport. Trams are virtually non-existent outside Europe. Unlike the metro, the tram runs above ground, so you don’t get claustrophobic. Its on rail, so it doesn’t veer like the bus does (buses always give me nausea). You’re inside a tram so you don’t get wet like you do when cycling. Finally, the tram offers a great view with zero effort, and tram routes usually go through cool parts of town. Buy a day ticket – it’s a great (budget) way to get to know a city. Just hop on, ride all the way to the suburbs, step out at the end of the line and have a walk in the park – usually there is a park where the line (and the city) ends. Then go back to the tram and go back. If still in the mood, repeat, using another line. Congratulations, you’ve just had a great day of sightseeing for about 5 euros. Probably met a few locals on the tram, too.

    Tram crossing the Erasmus bridge in Rotterdam

    Tram crossing the Erasmus bridge in Rotterdam

  • Have a break
    Yes, this one is, again, not unique to Europe. But while backpackers all over the world spend their time in hammocks, the ones in Europe seem to be rushing from museum to church to party, with never a dull moment in between. European distances are, indeed, relatively small and the attractions are innumerable, but taking a day or two off your travels is as good an idea in Europe as it is anywhere else. Give yourself a rest – the museum will still be there tomorrow, the church has been there for 800 years and will wait, and you still have a hangover from yesterday’s party. Stay in your hostel (or with your Couchsurfing host), have a walk in the neighbourhood without actually going anywhere, read a newspaper in the local library (most have newspapers in English) or a book, even if its your Lonely Planet guide. Perhaps you might end up reconsidering your next destination or decide to stay longer where you are at the moment. Having a break can and probably will save you money, short- and long-term.

    A book store in a former church in Maastricht

    If you don’t have a book – why not buy one? A visit to a local book store can be quite interesting, even if you don’t end up buying anything. Especially if its anything like this one, located in a former church in Maastricht.

    This sums up my series of posts about budget travel in Europe. As usual, if you have any tips of your own, or anything to add to the ones I wrote, you’re welcome to leave your comment here. Happy travels!

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Europe as a budget destination – part IV – when is the best time to go?

What’s the best time to visit Europe? This is probably the biggest nonsense question asked about European travel. Any Google search on the topic will result in a virtually infinite amount of forum threads explaining why its a nonsense question, like this one, for example. Answers by Europeans can be summarized as 1- “Europe is pretty big, so it depends on where you go”, 2- “It really depends on what you want” and 3- “Any time is good”, none of which is really helpful. What if you are a budget traveller then? How can you time your European travel to keep your budget from going over the roof?

  • Go in the summer
    If you’re on a budget, travelling in the summer is pretty essential as the good weather allows you to save quite a bit. Thanks to the good weather, you can save for example by going camping instead of booking a hotel, or by having a picknick in the park rather than having lunch in a restaurant. Sure, you can do that “off-season”, too, but its much less fun in the cold November rain.
    But summer is the high season?! The sad truth is, that in Europe, there is no real “high” and “low” season. Prices of food, hotels, train tickets and attractions are rather season-independent all over the continent, so you’ll probably pay the same in November as in August. Yes, the months of July and August are the busiest time in Europe. Fortunately, European summer is more than just July and August – in Scandinavia, for example, May is the driest month and the Mediterranean is still warm even in October. Europe, as I said, is pretty big, so outside famous tourist-traps like Venice or Paris its just fine in August, as better weather helps spread the tourists over larger areas. Actually, even in the most heavily touristed places its really not that crowded if you just take two steps off the beaten track.
  • Go while you’re young
    Isn’t budget travelling for young people anyway? What’s so special about going to Europe while you’re young? As it turns out, there is a catch here. Asia and South America are relatively cheap anyway. Even if you’re travelling with children, you can still have a great time in Thailand or Bolivia and not go bankrupt. Europe is a whole different story. In Europe it takes a bit more effort to travel on a budget. I’m not saying its impossible to camp with a family and you sure can go couchsurfing in your 50’s, like my parents did. But as a young person you’re slightly more likely to hitchhike instead of renting a car or to crash on someone’s couch for a few days. Plus, significant youth discounts, like 35% off the Eurail pass are available to youngsters living in or visiting Europe.
  • Go when you’re a student
    Don’t say “I’ll go after I graduate”. Don’t wait until you save more money. Go while you’re still a student. Why is it a budget move? Because your university can help finance your semester abroad, because there are special discounts for students on pretty much everything, because you will spend more time away and thus save on settling costs. Because your program may actually include travelling around. Because student parties have cheap booze. And because its great fun.
Young European students camping in the summer. This could be you. Should I say more?

Young European students camping in the summer. One of them could be you.

Next time – my tips on what you can do for fun in Europe if you’re on a budget.

What are your experiences? When do you suggest is the best time to travel Europe if you’re on a budget?

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Europe as a budget destination – part III – how to get around?

An essential part of travel is… the actual travelling. Unless you’re on a city-trip, at some point you probably want to get from A to B. Admitted, some routes are more spectucalr than others, and not all ways of transport are equally pleasant. But getting around can be part of the joy of travelling, and even in Europe it doesn’t have to be expensive.

  • Take the bus
    The major destinations in Europe are well-connected by budget airlines and the excellent European train network is rightfully praised. However, in some parts, like the Balkans, bus is the major mode of transnational travel. But even in better-connected parts of Europe the transnational buses of Eurolines are a very valid alternative for the budget-minded traveller. For example, say you want to travel from Amsterdam to Frankfurt. The cheapest flights are at least 90 Euro, train tickets start at 59 Euro but the bus costs just 25 Euro! Sure, 8 hours by bus is longer than 6 hours by train, but it does save you 35 Euro. And on shorter routes, like Amsterdam-Brussels, the margin is even greater (9 vs 29 Euro for the cheapest tickets and the train is only an hour faster).

    Eurolines bus (credit: Wikipedia)

    • Rent a car
      What? Renting a car? How’s that a budget mode of transport? Well, under certain conditions it is. First of all, if you’re going to remoter destinations, or off the beaten track, renting a car can be even a necessity. Secondly, since trains in Europe can be quite expensive, if you travel in a group, or moving around a lot, renting a car can turn out to be cheaper than train or even bus. “Group” doesn’t mean you have to squeeze 5 guys in a small-sized vehicle, the break-even group size is usually between 2 and 3. This means that even for a couple, renting a car can be a budget option and if there’s 4 of you, don’t hesitate to rent. Finally, car rental is about the only thing in Europe that is cheaper outside the peak season of July-August, and the differences can be significant. Check the prices in different months – it might pay off to postpone your travel by a couple of weeks, to save hundreds of Euros on the rental vehicle.

      Rental car in Borgarfjörður Eystri - Iceland's remotest point

      Our (budget in the off-season) rental car in Borgarfjörður Eystri – Iceland’s remotest point. We’ve visited the local church. It was for free. And unlocked.

      • Hitchhike
        This is for the more adventure-minded travellers. For women its probably not the best idea to hitchhike alone even in the safest countries. Generally, standing by the roadside with a board or the thumb up is not a good way to hitch a ride. Go to a gas station and engage in conversation with people you want to give you a ride. Smile a lot. Learning a few words in the country’s language, even if only saying “Hello, how are you”, is essential for breaking the ice. Ask people politely where they are going and if they would be ready to take you with them. While hitchhiking took me once from Vienna to Eindhoven in just 10 hours, be prepared for the worse – like getting stuck on a dead road for a whole day. Fortunately, in the modern hyperconnected world, there are special websites like www.carpooling.com or its local sibling www.mitfahrzentrale.de, where you can find a ride in advance (maybe while paying part of the gas costs). Additionally, Couchsurfing groups are a great way of getting in touch with other travellers, that may want to join you in hitchhiking, share gas costs or just give you a ride. Happy hitchiking and stay safe!

        Not the right way to hitchhike

        Not the right way to hitchhike

        Well, now you know where in Europe to go to on a budget, how to find a cheap place to sleep and how to get from A to B. Next time – the all essential question of when to go if you want to be able to travel Europe for 30 Euros a day (and I promise not to forget to tell you what you can actually do in Europe on a budget).

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