Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

I've finished my plans & here's how the low $ is affecting my trip plans

Notices

I've finished my plans & here's how the low $ is affecting my trip plans

Old May 11th, 2005, 09:57 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,237
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've finished my plans & here's how the low $ is affecting my trip plans

I'm posting this for those of you who who are also budget travellers (if you're a 4* traveller, you probably can stop reading now) who are vacillating about visiting Europe because of the state of the dollar. What I found is that with lots of planning time via the internet and through books we can still take a trip that sounds pretty close to what we would have planned in the past when the dollar was a lot stronger. Obviously, we've made some compromises on what normally might have been first choices, but other than that, it is seeming like it will be an interesting trip at not too terrible a price.

We've been hooked on Europe and for the past 6 or 7 years have been making one to 2 trips a year. The state of the dollar this year really made us reconsider, and we thought about lots of different destinations such as Asia or South America, but those airfares are also quite high. Finally we decided to go for Europe if we could find a reasonable airfare and a reasonably priced country. Since we have already been to a number of places in both Western and Eastern Europe but still have a lot of places on our hope-to-visit list, we based our destination decision on availability of cheap airfare. My first thoughts were to go to Turkey or to re-visit Romania which we absolutely loved. However, high airfares cancelled out any savings we would have realized once there.

Airfare seems quite a a lot higher than in the past. After many hours of searching I finaly found a really good deal. We leave next week from Minneapolis round trip to Barcelona. Tickets including taxes are $525 each, and I only booked them a month ago. I spent hours and hours searching for tickets, but it finally paid off.

Out of our 15 nights we are only spending 3 in Barcelona. Lodging there seems quite high, and I couldn't find anything in my preferred price range that had availability and sounded appealing. Our standards aren't too high, but we were looking for clean, good location, and AC because we have heard that Barcelona is very noisy and we didn't want to sleep with the windows open. I was ready to compromise and book a highly recommended place that no longeer had any en-suite rooms left when I decided to try Rooms to go. com which is a last minute booking agency that helps owners get rid of excess rooms, so you can book no further out than 21 days. I found what appears to be a great apartment in a prime area with a marked down price from E150 to E69 a night.

The rest of our trip is in rural northern Spain and southern France where, with one exception, we have booked self-catering apartments or houses. So 2/3 of our nights are going to be in self-catering places. We have rented houses for a week in the past and have enjoyed being able to spread out and have a kitchen for meals if we choose to cook or reheat. This time, since it is before peak season, we found owners who are willing to do rentals of shorter than one week. We've found that the grocery stores and butcher shops often carry great take-out food that just needs to be warmed up. Frankly, last summer in the Loire valley we got sick of eating out all the time when the meals weren't all that terribly great. We are budget travellers who don't spend $35 or more per person a night for dinner, so the choices thus become more limited and rather repetitious. Obviously we'll eat out too, but this gives us another choice, and we'll be saving money on food too. Overall, our nightly lodging is going to average out at $73. In the past I used to say we could travel for an average nightly rate of around $60, so this is a bit higher but not a trip killer.

We have a small air-conditioned rental car for $325 for 12 days for everything, including CDW, excess insurance, extra driver etc. The fact that we can drive a manual transmission helps to greatly reduce rental costs.

Last summer we took a 9 day bike trip in the Loire Valley and looked into another bike trip this summer, but the prices were too high to justify. Our compromise was to find 2 locations where the owners know about biking and rent out bikes and give advice on day trips. This way we'll get our taste of rural Europe biking without paying the high costs of an organized trip.

So, all in all, it is doable if you want to do it. But, it seems that this year I had to spend much more time in researching in order to make this trip happen at a price that we are willing to pay. If you want to do it, go for it.

julies is offline  
Old May 11th, 2005, 11:02 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,281
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for writing, I enjoyed reading. We travel alot like you do, look for bargins, food is not a big deal.

We also went to the loire last sept and stayed outside Chinon. Thinking about going to Brittany this year. Have you been to Brittany?

eric502 is offline  
Old May 11th, 2005, 11:19 AM
  #3  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,700
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi julies,

Good work.

From whom are you renting your car? Price looks good.

ira is offline  
Old May 11th, 2005, 11:39 AM
  #4  
rex
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,194
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I agree, julies.. it can be done. Like you, I have an uncommonly low (and unexpected fall-from-the-sky) airfare... of $299 (plus about $180 it will cost us to get "there" - - which is Rockford, Illinois - - to use it).

And for no particular reason other than wanting to make this trip about small-town ambience, rather than going for any specific "sightseeing", I have decided to see how we can make this a "bargain" trip.

Our is (probably) a France and Spain combo, also (I think) - - I have not made all the decisions yet - - there are several threads current about the goofiness of the two nights we intend to spend in the Basque part(s) of Spain, versus just stay those two nights in southwest France.

I am planning to try at least two things that I have not customarily tried:

1) demi-pension in some places, and I will (perhaps) not go for the "up-charge menus" that the hosts will undoubtedly offer - - after all, they do try to serve something decent and competently prepared as their "standard" meal, won't they? - - so what if it is not "gourmet" it won't be anything I can routinely find "back home"!

and

2) an overnight train - - this both adds an "extra day" to an already too short trip... and spends less than the gas and tolls would cost to get back from Biarritz to Paris (thus the "lodging" component of the couchettes, if you can call it that... is "free"). In a move that others say I will regret, we have even decided to "rough it" and try the second class couchettes (i.e., 6 to a compartment, rather than four). I am hoping that if it is terrible, we can laugh about the consequences of a gamble... or that we succumb to Ambien!

As a result, our average lodging will probably come in under yours, even with one night using a three-star hotel, in Hondarribia; in fact, I am shooting for under 50 euro per person ($64 USD) for lodging, breakfast AND dinner, average, Of course, at $73 per night (per couple, I assume), you can eat pretty handsomely for breakfast and supper, and still undercut our $128 (for two).

We are going to be spending more (per day) on intra-Europe transportation. That's a consequence of not having a seven-day car rental - - and because I want (maybe... not sure about your exact choice) a car with more vroom (but still manual). A week ago, I saw a better car rental rate than I have right now - - so maybe I can find it lower again before we depart. Nevertheless, our "low-budget" trip underscores the principle that I think people often forgetting in setting a budget... it will be about 20-25% of our entire trip (intra-Europe transportation, that is). The tranatlantic airfare is close to 45% - - leaving the lodging/meals at only 30% of the total (this reflects the fact that it is a short trip, of course). I pointed this out on another thread... it's hard to be mad at the innkeepers and restauranteurs for the value of the euro, when they are getting less than a third of my total expenditures!

Best wishes,

Rex
rex is offline  
Old May 11th, 2005, 12:39 PM
  #5  
rex
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,194
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
On a related note... this "just in", from the Washington Post...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...600670_pf.html

You probably have to be registered to view this entirely, and thus I excerpt a little for you below...

In Paris, Living Large for Less

By Rory Satran
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, May 8, 2005; P01


==============================

...

Here are eight little luxuries to savor in Paris.

Hot Chocolate at Angelina's

Angelina's Tearoom, 225 Rue de Rivoli, 8th arrondissement, 011-33-1-4260-8200. Metro: Tuileries. Coffee $5.15, hot chocolate $8.

Champagne at the Ritz

Hotel Ritz, 15 Place Vendome, 1st arrondissement, 011-33-1- 4316-3031, http://www.ritzparis.com/http://www.chanel.com Metro: Madeleine, Concorde or Opera. Cocktails from $30 per person.

Posh Picnic

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, bounded by Rue Botzaris, Rue Manin and Rue de Crimee, 19th arrondissement, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont <<http://paris.fr/EN/isiting/gardens/p...chaumont.asp>>.

Cine-Luxe

Cine-Theatre 13, Le Cinema du Moulin de la Galette, 1 Ave. Junot, 18th arrondissement, Montmartre, 011-33-1-4254-1512, Cinema-Theatre 13. <<http://www.cine13.com>> Admission $10, $19 with champagne.

Shopping at Chanel

Chanel, 31 Rue Cambon, 1st arrondissement, 011-33-1-4286-2800, http://www.chanel.com

Ribbons and Sparkles

La Droguerie de Paris, 9-11 Rue du Jour, 1st arrondissement , 011-33-1-4508-9327

Glittering Nightlife

OPA Bar and Club, 9 Rue Biscornet, 12th arrondissement, 011-33-14628-1290. Admission varies, sometimes free (call ahead).

Trendy Art Opening

Palais de Tokyo, 13 Ave. du President Wilson, 16th arrondissement, 011-33-1-4723-5401, http://www.palaisdetokyo.com Admission $7.70.
rex is offline  
Old May 11th, 2005, 02:27 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,237
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Eric502--

We've been to Brittany twice and it is one of our favorite places. We prefer the less touristed northern side to the more touristed southern side. Last year we rented an absolutely adorable house that we found from the Alistair Sawday series.
julies is offline  
Old May 12th, 2005, 11:21 AM
  #7  
rex
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,194
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
more?
rex is offline  
Old May 12th, 2005, 11:31 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 8,862
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
As has been mentioned here a few times, using Priceline for London hotels is definitely worthy of consideration.

It's possible to get a nice 4* for 100 + taxes for a double.

For my trip next week (to London and Scandinavia), I'm finding that I can probably average < $150 for hotels per night (granted, my last London hotel I need to book will push my average up, but I think that I'll still stay below my (glass) ceiling of $150).

I'm actually pretty pleased.

I've discovered that diligent research can save money (like reading this forum, asking for ideas, etc.). But then time is money. So that should be kept in mind.

And of course traveling off season. Round-trip airfare JFK to LHR is about 460. As I mentioned in another thread, a high-season July airfare is nearly twice this.
111op is offline  
Old May 12th, 2005, 11:36 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 8,862
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
By the way, a friend is flying to Oslo tonight for a week. Airfare < $500 also. (From NYC)

I couldn't match his fare though I did try. And decided that London would be good (excuse to see Caravaggio show and eat at Gordon Ramsay -- lunch, so cheaper) and I'm flying between cities (looked at whichbudget.com, of course, to plan the trip).
111op is offline  
Old May 12th, 2005, 11:39 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 186
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wow! You guys are really good at finding those cheaper deals, as far as tickets and lodging go! I hope I will get better with more experience and be able to find these kinds of bargains!
saraallison11 is offline  
Old May 12th, 2005, 01:02 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,940
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Julies, who did you get your rental car from?
wren is offline  
Old May 12th, 2005, 01:12 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 633
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
From my observations, NYC is the least expensive departure city in the US for European travels. I've been shopping for tickets to Berlin from DTW since January, and price hasnt really dropped down. If anything, it has gone up.
h2babe is offline  
Old May 12th, 2005, 01:19 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 8,862
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You're right, h2. I'm lucky to be in NYC, and it's a quick hop (for me, anyway) to London or Paris (with direct flights).

111op is offline  
Old May 12th, 2005, 01:31 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,237
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wren--

Connectcarrental.com. I had found a recommendation for it somewhere and it beat out my usual favorite Nova.
julies is offline  
Old May 12th, 2005, 03:02 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 297
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"Connectcarrental.com. I had found a recommendation for it somewhere and it beat out my usual favorite Nova."

Can't get the car rental link to work!
eurotravler is offline  
Old May 14th, 2005, 02:24 PM
  #16  
rex
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,194
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I guess we have finished our selection of accommodations for now, so I though I would list the choices here - - only a few changes from what I originally indicated (and didn't give any details about).

26 may: fly to Paris
27 may: drive to Chenonceau/see castle
27 may: stay Logis de France/Oiron
cost: 67 euro half board
28 may: drive to Perigueux/see the town
28 may: stay Logis de France/Limeuil
cost: 90 euro half board
29 may: market in St Cyprien, early am
29 may: canoe 4 hours in Dordogne
29 may: drive to San Sebastian, 3p-7p
29 may: stay at Hostal Bahia
cost: 69 euro +7%TVA, bkfst included
30 may: all day in SS, drive to B&B
30 may: stay Garro (casa rural)
cost: 41 euro +7%TVA, bkfst?
31 may: day in Bilbao
31 may: drive to Biarritz 8p-10p
31 may: overnt train to Paris
cost: 40 euro per person
(2nd class, 30 euro per person
cheaper than 1st class)

Since the train is 30 euro cheaper than the tolls and gasoline to drive the car back to Paris, I feel like I count the "lodging" for May 31 (6 couchette compartment) as "free" (and others have warned me that we will get what we are paying for!)

So, we need to buy dinners 3 nights (29, 30, 31 may) and I am allocating 25 euro per person... and maybe two breakfasts (31 may, 1 june) - - 10 euro each?

This brings our target of lodging + brkfst + dinner for 5 nights = 445 euro.

So... don't give up on having a nice trip to Western Europe on a shoestring budget!

I'll look forward to reporting back on how good or bad our choices were. And put this portion of the budget in context of the total trip cost (projection: a little over $2000 USD for two).
rex is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
yestravel
Europe
26
Dec 7th, 2015 06:33 AM
kfusto
Europe
8
May 22nd, 2014 09:35 AM
meggies
Europe
4
Jun 24th, 2007 07:03 AM
joey365_000
Europe
5
Oct 13th, 2006 10:45 PM
annieladd
Europe
27
Sep 27th, 2004 04:16 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information