One day I want to kiss my husband under the Eiffel tower. One day I want to walk along the Great Wall of China. One day I want to eat pasta in Rome until I can’t button my jeans. An example of the continuous conversation I overhear many admit as they dream of their ideal vacations. One day is too far away, my friends! One day could be today. I have so many friends and family members that have never been outside of the country or even own a passport for that matter! Traveling is probably everyone’s dream, but yet many feel as though it’s far out of reach! Well, it isn’t, and sometimes you have to book a trip and see what happens! Let me start by stating the past several times I traveled to Europe; I went alone! Not for work, not for a romantic getaway or even a college adventure with buddies but just me along with my journal. The experience at first was daunting, but I managed each time with much effort to overcome that fear and replace it with growth. While on each of my journeys, I was fortunate to cross paths with some of the most amazing people; who now developed into lifetime friends.
I know what you’re thinking, but Felicia I don’t make money like you. Honey please I’m a single mom of two boys, and my bank account isn’t impressive at all. With that said, I choose to spend my money on experiences rather than material things. One is only truly rich not by what they own but what they have experienced and seen. In other words, I don’t drive the most beautiful car or get my nails done every two weeks. There are many things I let go of so I may welcome and say yes to others. I say no when needed so I can yes to things that are important to me; such as time alone in another country, or traveling somewhere I want to show my children. It’s not out of reach if you plan accordingly and do your research!
Okay so let’s get to it. These are the three things I do when booking a trip:
- Pick the right TIME. Timing is everything in life, and for traveling, that’s no exception to this rule. Some seasons are higher than others. For example, it’s cheaper to go to Europe in the winter. It is cold, with some restaurants closed for the season; which is a bummer but who cares you’re in Europe! There’s still plenty open, and all the historical monuments are up and running as long it isn’t a holiday. I have always traveled to Europe in the winter, and I have yet to say I didn’t enjoy myself.
- STAY at hostels. Now I know this isn’t for everyone, but I don’t mind hostels. I have stayed in mixed-sex dooms, female dorms, private rooms, and each time I haven’t had any issues. Think about it if you’re in Europe why pay a fortune for a nice hotel room when you’re gone all day?
- Prioritize a MUST-SEE sights list! I do this to form a budget because most of the things I want to see are free. If you are traveling to Europe for the first time, the best thing to do is walk and tour everything! Get a sense of how different the European lifestyle is to America. With that in mind, I recommend picking which sites you don’t mind spending money on and prepaid for them BEFORE you leave! It’s usually cheaper to pay on their website than in person at the ticket counter. Plus some historic sites require a reservation; I learned that the hard way.
I recommend these websites.
- For Airfare: Skyscanner for traveling aboard, Alaska if flying domestically, or Ryanair if bouncing around Europe. Skyscanner searches for the cheapest flight, and I always get great deals on there; such as my one-way trip to Rome for $250. Alaska Airlines is incredible; I have never had an issue when flying with them, and I have their credit card. (This is a bonus tip, but I LOVE my Alaska miles credit card. There’s no international fees and each year on my anniversary of when I signed up I get a free champion fare ticket.) Ryanair is not a fancy flight, but an affordable way to get around Europe if you don’t want to take the train. I took a trip from London to Scotland for about $40.
- Hotels/ Hostels: Hotels.com; I love this site because you get a free night after booking with them ten times. Hostels.com for international hostels it’s an excellent clean website that’s easy to read.
Remember fellow travelers, try to book everything in advance and take about $100 in the country’s currency with you then get more money out of the ATM once you arrive. It’s always cheaper to get money once your there from the ATM; don’t exchange money at the airport, it’s ridiculously pricey.
Have fun and if you want me to elaborate on anything I wrote about in further detail then send an email. Bon Voyage!