If you live on a tight budget, you might think you can’t afford to travel. But I’ve found that you can make it through Europe on just $80/day, if you plan carefully.
If you want fancy hotels, you will not be able to make it. But if you are willing to stay in hostels, you can. Some hostels are as nice as fancy hotels.
Hostels offer everything from a $100/night private room with ensuite bathroom to a $19/night bed in a dorm room with a shared bathroom down the hall. They offer co-ed, female only or male only options.
The best thing about staying in hostels is the people whom you meet. In Paris, I shared a room with some girls from all over the world with whom I will be friends forever.
Of course, some hostels can be a bit sketchy. I’ve heard stories of theft. Someone stole my phone my first night in Paris. It was my own fault. I accidentally left my phone on my bed. By the time I got back it was gone. But most hostels provide comfortable beds and lockers where you can lock up your stuff for safe keeping.
Some hostels provide a partying atmosphere with an onsite bar, live music and plenty of activities, while others are more quiet. It is easy to look online to pick one that best suits your needs. The website bookings.com offers discounts after your third booking with them. Most sites provide pictures and a list of amenities.
My favorite hostels are Generator Hostels, which can be found in many countries. They have reasonable prices, central locations and many services.
I suggest picking a hostel with free wifi throughout the building and not just in the public areas and with power outlets for each bed. Otherwise it is hard to recharge your equipment.
Also, try to book a place with free breakfast. Some have better breakfast than others. The French take food very seriously so the breakfasts in France were so amazing: fresh, soft baguettes and warm croissants, real fruit, ham, tomatoes and more. Some hostels only offer cereal and canned fruit. You can usually take an extra bit with you to have for lunch as well.
As for transportation, there are some great deals on “around the world” flights. Several airlines offer discount pricing as long as you travel all in one direction.
Once in Europe, I recommend taking the train. You can purchase a Eurail Pass for about $1,000. There are several different passes to choose from. I got the one that is for three months and is accepted in over 10 different countries. You then pay a small booking fee for each train you ride.
The United Kingdom does not accept the Eurail Pass, but trains in the UK are very reasonable, depending where you want to go. First class on the train is amazing. A first class Eurail Pass is only a few hundred dollars more and well worth every penny.
There is more legroom than standard class, and the stewards serve you at your seat. The food, if you don’t bring your own, can be a bit pricey though. A sandwich can cost $9, but on a lot of the trains your food is included in the cost of the booking.
On the train, you get to watch the world go by outside your window, so you feel like you get to experience a bit of each place that you go through, instead of just flying over the top of it.
It amazed me how each country has its own classic architecture. The unique colors and structure of the houses, the different trees and landscapes.
The value of traveling abroad has made me grow as a person in ways I never imagined. I now have a deeper appreciation for other cultures.
I know now that we are all actually more alike than we are different.
by Cynthia Lee Sinclair, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter