Tomorrow I’m heading back to Europe for some bioarchaeological fieldwork. While prepping for fieldwork and subsequent vacation, I’ve been thinking about helpful travel tips I’ve learned through previous adventures.
First, I am a budget traveler, therefore, I’m always looking for cheap deals. Our family Europe trip in April was a result of me hearing about cheap round trip tickets to Dublin. In November, I called some family members as ticket prices dropped to $350 round trip from Seattle to Dublin. They were on board instantly and our tickets ended up being a total of $1500 for 4 people, with insurance.
Though our tickets were round trip to Dublin, we also decided to visit the U.K., Italy, and Greece. Travel within Europe is very cheap, so our thought was to get there then go wherever we wanted. I mostly booked through Ryanair and booking.com. Split between 4 people housing was typically cheaper. In all, we paid about $1700 per person for housing, round trip tickets, some tours, and travel within Europe. I’m always learning more when it comes to budget travel and want to one day master travel hacking, but for now I do what I can and always research new ways to keep costs down.
Typically, I don’t buy sim cards for my phone while abroad. I’ve always relied on Wi-Fi for blog posts, travel research, cabs, and general entertainment on long rides. For the most part this has worked for me in Northern Europe and Japan. I had more trouble using Wi-Fi in Rome. There were plenty of Wi-Fi spots, but many times we were told they weren’t working or they just wouldn’t connect.
On our trip in April, I tried booking.com for the first time. This site shows apartments and hotels, much like Airbnb. Many hosts want to call or send a text message at check-in. So if you don’t plan to have cell service make sure to contact them in advance to set up a plan. I loved the accommodations I was able to find on this site and look forward to using it for future group trips. Travelling alone, however, I usually find better deals on hostelworld.com.
I tend to get lost at least once a trip. In 2015 I ran around London at 4am trying to find the airport shuttle and on my latest trip I got lost the last night in Athens with a dead phone. Usually I try to keep on track by using Google Maps (revolutionary, I know). However, since I don’t pay for international data I can’t pull it up whenever I’m already lost. What I do now is map the route in my Wi-Fi zones and then use it as a guide. Google will keep tracking your location on the map so you’ll be able to tell if you’re staying on the route without using data. I got into the habit of pulling up Google Maps every time I was in a new spot to at least find my hostel for the first time.
In Dublin we had to plan a last minute place to stash our luggage. Our train departed a few hours after checkout and we didn’t have the option to check our luggage at the apartment we rented. Instead of carrying our luggage around, we found a place near the train station to hold our bags (Tipperary House). We paid €5 per bag to check it in and they let our lost bag be delivered there by the airline while we sipped whiskey at the Jameson Distillery. So, if you don’t have a luggage storage option wherever you’re staying, just do a quick Google search to find your alternative options.
I hope to make posts similar to this one in the future. I learn so much every time I travel and love being able to help my friends and family travel cheaper, easier, and more frequent.