Budget travel in the offseason?

Feb 20th, 2003, 05:32 PM
  #1  
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Budget travel in the offseason?

Hi all,

I'm a somewhat experienced traveller - not expert, but I started in 1999 with a trip to Italy on somewhat of a lark, and was smitten.

I have travelled every year since then, and have now been to Belgium, France, England and Spain as well. Most of these trips have cost me $2,000-$3,000 per person - not counting food and shopping.

Last summer I saw an article in Newsweek about RIDICULOUSLY low Europe trips in the off-season.

I'm talking about under $800 per person airfare/hotel for 6+ days.

MOST of these packages seem geared for London/Ireland/Paris.

Here's my situation. I got engaged this Christmas and have been considering getting married in Europe. (Let's ignore the paperwork and details, I have a plan for that.) My parents and her parents could pay their own way if we keep the trip reasonable. But I don't want to put a financial strain on our siblings and a few close friends, so I would pick up the tab for several people. Therefore, I would like a BUDGET package. I figure if I get hotel/air then they could afford food (Hey, McDonalds value meals are $6 most places in Europe last I checked!) and entertainment/tours.

I originally had in mind Paris, as it is one of the destinations with LOW PRICE packages, but quite honestly, I'm not going to spend my travel $ there right now with the current political situation. (Belgium is out too! <grin>)

Italy sure looks nice for a variety of reasons. Neither her family or mine has been there, and Italy's political support is solid (even if not all their citizens agree) and that matters to me. Plus, Italy is beautiful and the weather there in the Nov-Jan timeframe is going to be better.

So... my question: Have any of you travelled in the off-season to Europe/Italy? If so, what kind of packages did you find and do you have any recommendations for BUDGET tour packages? How was the weather? Am I missing some other excellent European destination for that time of year? (Greece?) Any general advice?

Thanks in advance for any help!

-Tom
Tom_Steele is offline  
Feb 20th, 2003, 05:45 PM
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Ridiculously low at under $800 a person for 6 nights hotel and airfare to Europe? I don't think so.

Right now I have airfare for two at $506 apiece and hotel per night average of $55 a night in France for the last few days of April and into the first two weeks of May. That's more shoulder season than low.

That's airfare and hotel for 15 nights at a little under $2000 for two people. It's not London and Rome for two weeks, but it is Paris 3 nights, Lyon 3 nights, then the rest in smaller French cities: Ales, Puy-en-Velay, Montlucon & Clermont-Ferrand.

Maybe the only thing ridiculously low is my 2-star standard for hotels.

Shop around, if you're willing to do some work and not be in the heart of every major tourist city you can do better than $800 apiece for a week.
indytravel is offline  
Feb 20th, 2003, 05:51 PM
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Thats the kind of info I'm looking for - but WHERE do you find those kinds of deals.

BTW, I am stating MY real costs. I found a package that is $399. But then there is $99 air tax, and another $150 to fly out of my area to the "$399 airport," which is usually NY or Boston.

Thanks for the pointers so far!
Tom_Steele is offline  
Feb 20th, 2003, 06:05 PM
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Since you are comparing the package you think is so low at $800 to your $2-3K, I assume you spend that kind of money for only a week? I travel solo, so no split hotel costs, don't really stay in 2-star hotels any more and don't spend that much money, so I don't understand that.

I just think it may not be a good idea to plan a wedding around a particular company's travel package. It just sounds too complicated with logistics. In low season, a person can easily go to many places in Europe and spend less than that just by booking things themself. I think you are right, the best deals are often London and Paris (from the US), but in winter airfare might be $400, and a modest but not crummy hotel room $60 a night per person in major cities. That's about the same as those packages you are talking about, but would give someone much more independence and leeway in dates, arrangements and places to stay. In short, I wouldn't worry about the package thing, it can be done at that right independently.

You may have a plan for getting married somewhere in Europe, but I think you should concentrate on just choosing your locale and dates you want, not to me planning a wedding (even modest ones need plans for a place, officiant, etc) and then figure out the budget later. As long as you don't pick the most expensive places, it shouldn't be a problem.

I don't go to Europe in winter because I prefer better weather for my hard-earned vacation time (which is more valuable to me than the difference in air fare), but I don't think any place in Europe is going to be nice weather or balmy in the winter.

I think it's pretty easy to put together a "package" of air and hotel for that price in winter just using basic resources. Air fares are always on sale in winter, you can find them on regular web sites. Hotels are easy to find at that rate from standard guidebooks and the internet -- just look for 2 star hotels or such.

Some of the cheaper places I've been (in central/eastern Europe) will tend not to have the cheapest air fare, so you don't come out ahead really. Now Spain might be an idea as you can often get cheap airfares there (at least from where I live you can, to Madrid for example) and I've heard you can easily get cheaper hotels there, also. Actually, I think you can easily get cheap hotels any place outside the real big cities. Even in very popular areas of Provence, I've gotten nice hotels for $50-75 a night, in peak season.
Christina is offline  
Feb 20th, 2003, 06:29 PM
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Several of the major airlines offer packages in the off-season. Usually airfare and 5-6 nights in a 2 star hotel in Paris, London, and maybe another large city. These package deals run $700-800 and are offered November through March. Continental Airlines, for one, has these programs.

Regards,

Jinx Hoover
_jinx_ is offline  
Feb 20th, 2003, 06:39 PM
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Jan and Feb are the cheapest months to Europe. Nov is cheap, but not as cheap.

There are some small B&B's. Some have only 2-10 rooms. How about renting the whole place? They may welcome your business in February.
Hiroshi is offline  
Feb 20th, 2003, 06:49 PM
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Under $800 for a week in a European city including airfare ?? oh yes! Have been to London, Moscow, St Petersburg and going to Paris in March for < $800.
Check out Go-Today.
auntgrapes is offline  
Feb 21st, 2003, 05:15 AM
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Hi Tom,
I was just wondering, before you get very far along with this plan, have you asked your fiancee' if she wants to be married in Europe?
ira is offline  
Feb 21st, 2003, 05:31 AM
  #9  
scumpy
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Tom, you should be reading this site daily if you are not already. Today they have a lot of Europe specials, but many of them have to be booked real soon, like within days.

http://www.msnbc.com/news/bt-front_front.asp?ta=y

 
Feb 21st, 2003, 04:46 PM
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I've actually travelled to Italy in May for less than $1100 including airfare, 7 nights in decent hotels, and a train transfer (first class) from Rome to Florence. I've travelled to Spain in November for $800 including airfare, very nice hotels (7 nights) in Madrid and the coast, and a flights between Madrid and the coast.

And, believe it or not, I booked both through a real live person travel agent. You might want to check with one, at least for kicks so you have a basis for comparison.
hleesa is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2003, 04:20 AM
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TOM: check out www.go-today.com. Some of their offseason to Italy trips:

ROME: 6 nights (air, hotel, transfers, breakfast) starting at $599 flying out of New York.
FLORENCE: 4 nights (air, hotel, breakfast) starting at $546 from NYC. VENICE: 4 nights (air, hotel, breakfast) starting at $549 from NYC.
"A Taste of Italy" - ROME/VENICE/FLORENCE: 6 nights from $849
TISCANY & FLORENCE: 6 nights from $799
ErinS is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2003, 05:16 AM
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Tom--Packages even in winter won't necessarily get you the deep discounts but when asking about a package remind them that you are booking for a group. Most will comp 1 package for each 8 to 15 in a group, depending on the Company, but you have to ask. Also if you do it on your own, most hotels will give you a discount for a group and for staying a certain number of days. You usually have to contact the hotel directly and haggle over the price, but they will deal especially with a group. Airfare deals this far out from your trip won't be discounted until the fall so that is when I would start looking for air. Check out sites like frommers.com for companies that offer package deals and ricksteves.com for hotels and then haggle with them. Afterall a group should get you some sort of discount.
Also IMHO Venice fits the bill for Italy for all the above and as an unforgetable place to get married.
cbo86 is offline  
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