How To Travel To Europe This Summer, On The Cheap

Traveling is expensive most of the time and even more so during global inflation and worldwide shortages, stemming from Covid-19 and the Ukraine war. But there are ways to travel on the cheap(er) by either doing things differently, doing your research and/or booking differently/better.

Here are a few ideas for traveling across the Atlantic:

  • find the cheapest times to leave—this has become more difficult now that ‘everyone’ works from home and can technically travel ‘off-peak’ (if such a thing exists anymore). However, statistically there are days that will be cheaper, such as Tuesdays and Wednesdays and August 23. Do your research.
  • avoid arriving or traveling on holiday ‘pinch points’—whilst you might be aware of school holiday dates in your own country, don’t forget to do your research about holiday dates in your destination—to avoid them. In the U.K. for instance, this is the weekend of 23/24 July whilst across the English Channel, it is much earlier. In France, kids are breaking up for summer on the weekend of 1 July. These are the dates when queues will be longer and security lines interminable. Think ahead, for prices too.
  • avoid checking luggage where possible—industry experts across the U.S. and the EU keep saying that more and more luggage will be lost this summer because of airport strikes and staff shortages. You don’t want to spend time tracking your luggage down so travel light, with just one suitcase, if necessary, instead of two—fewer clothes perhaps, but 50% less room for holiday upsets.
  • aim low—that is to say, that after two years of being forced to stay at home, is there really a need to plan a trip spanning three continents, many flights and several hotels? It just adds to the stress, bureaucracy and makes more room for error (not least, because of the different Covid-19 travel restrictions across Europe). Stick to one country, get a direct flight (where possible) and don’t plan to drive far. For instance, road trips in the south of France in the summer are always at least twice as long as in winter and add into the mix the strikes which are planned in the U.K. and France on their respective transport systems, you don’t want to spend ‘revenge’ summer vacations stuck in traffic.
  • book using deals and check low-cost travel options—there are, for instance, two new low-cost air carriers flying between U.S. destinations and European hubs, such as PLAY and French Bee. They both launched with deals to promote the new routes. The Telegraph has also reported on how to travel across Germany, for instance, on a train fare that costs—in total—less than £10 ($12). Again, do your research.
  • reserve, reserve and reserve early—in a world of shortages (staff, food, rooms, hire cars) it is always best to book in advance for everything. In France, for instance, that means right down to every lunch—if you want to eat something that isn’t frozen first.
  • change the nature of your holidayThe Guardian offers five interesting ideas for vacationing on the cheap, such as home swaps, staying in a Highland bothy (it’s free) and working your way around the world.
  • finally, how and who to pay—it’s always worth paying on your credit card, so that you have another course of action for cancelations. Also, package trips could be a better option, as tour operators are duty bound to sort out a way to get you to your hotel if your flight is cancelled and you booked both directly through them.

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