Having spent nearly half of the past two years abroad, on trips to Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Turkey and my beloved Holland, I've picked up a few tips for independent adventure/budget travel. This is travel that doesn't involve travel agents, package deals or organized tours, on which all decisions are made by you. It's the kind of travel that makes me feel alive and creative; I hope you'll share my passion for it!
On all my recent journeys, I've traveled solo, but was rarely alone unless I wanted to be. My best experiences have been in Amsterdam, but that is probably because I love everything about the place and what makes it tick. What's your favorite city and why do you love it?
I'd like to share some of what I've learned in the past few years with other travelers, starting with my first three tips for adventure/budget travel of a baker's dozen. If you can't wait for future posts on this blog, you can access my 13 top tips for independent adventure/budget travel from a link at http://wordgeisha.com/WGblog2008.html.
Do you have a tip for solo adventure travel on a budget? I invite you to share it with me and my readers; let's establish a community of like-minded globe-trotters! And with that invitation, I give you my first three tips from my top 13:
1. Don’t be afraid to go on your own! With all the resources in print and on the Internet, planning and booking an affordable trip without a travel agent or tour company is now easier than ever. Whether you organize yours down to the last detail (not recommended) or leave some things open to serendipity, it’s simple to research and reserve transportation, accommodations and even entertainment via the Web and travel guidebooks—based on personal interests and stamina. For reservations on the fly, travel with a laptop or find Internet cafés throughout Europe and Eurasia.
2. Be creative with flights. It may be cheaper to book an overseas flight to London, Dublin or Frankfurt rather than flying directly to your final European destination. From any hub city, it’s usually easy to get to other destinations affordably via independent, no-frills airlines, e.g., Ryanair, easyJet and Pegasus. All these airlines have user-friendly websites that make online booking a breeze. Two cautions:
a. They often fly to small, out-of-the-way airports, so you need to factor in the time and cost of getting to your final destination;
b. You’re limited by baggage weight and amount restrictions, so pack accordingly...lightly…or be prepared to pay a hefty overage charge or be bumped from a flight (as I was) if you have more than one carry-on.
You can also save time and money by flying “open jaw” (into one city and out of another), avoiding a costly and inconvenient return to your starting point.
3. Use local transportation. Unlike Southern California, Europe is easy to get around via plane, train and bus. From Nice, I explored the French Riviera for pocket change, hopping on and off luxury coaches that travel between cities; in Turkey, I toured via comfortable, air-conditioned buses locals use, for far less than it would have cost me in gas or tour services for the same journey. Many European cities, e.g., Paris, London, Amsterdam and Madrid, are easy to get around via metro, tube and tram. By learning local transportation systems, you’ll save hundreds in taxi fares and/or escort-tour services.
Thanks for visiting. Watch for my next three tips soon!