Today’s blog post comes to us from UW-Plateville student & API blogger Josh Weaver! He’s studying abroad with us in Seville, Spain this semester and has been doing a lot of travel, too!
Although airplane tickets to Europe are not usually cheap, once you’re here, travel is easy and very affordable.
One of the benefits of the European Union is that the majority of the member countries (26) take part in the Schengen Agreement. The agreement essentially abolishes borders between member countries to allow for unrestricted travel. The result is a lot like traveling between states in the U.S. and saves a lot time and headaches.
Europe can be very expensive to travel in but it can also be relatively cheap. The key (which I also referenced in my first post) is to plan traveling early. Certain times of the year are more popular than others for travel which means certain times of the year are more economical for travel.
If you’re looking for a personal vacation, late January and February are good months to do sightseeing in the middle and southern parts of Spain, Italy, and any other countries along the Mediterranean Sea.
In Sevilla, the weather has been seventies and sunny in February. While most locals are still wearing winter coats, for a Wisconsinite like me this is beautiful weather!
By doing my own preparing for this spring semester, I know traveling costs increase as the weather continues to become nicer.
For planning travel to other cities I use Sky Scanner and Go Euro. Go Euro is a really nice website/app to use because it looks for travel options for train, bus, and plane. You can also select filter options to show the cheapest options, fastest, or both.
I prefer to travel by bus when possible because I can walk or bike to the bus station compared to the airport.
The bus is also much cheaper than train. In addition, arriving at the bus station 20 minutes before departure wastes a lot less time than the recommended two hours at the airport before departure. If you are traveling during the day, the bus is a great way to see the countryside too.
Some friends and I went to Málaga this last weekend and we took the bus, round trip for only $40! Buses run frequently between popular cities, so we had several options for when we wanted to leave and return. We were able to find an Airbnb and split the cost which worked out to only be $20 per night per person.
We stopped at a local grocery store, and we were able to buy food for six people for the weekend for less than forty euros which fed us for two suppers and two breakfasts. However, we did eat out once on the beautiful Costa del Sol along the Mediterranean, and I also fell victim to eating a couple servings of delicious gelato. Overall, the total cost of the trip remained less than $90 for a three day weekend excursion which I don’t think is possible in any coastal town in the U.S.
However, traveling to cities far away can be done very cost effective and quicker than ground transportation.
Europe has many economic airlines that fly between most cities and can be quite cheap if you fly at less-trafficked time. For example, I was looking into flights from Seville and Venice, and I found a flight for only 18 euros (about $21.00) one-way. It’s important to know that this price includes a seat in the airplane and one small carry on. Choosing a specific seat, a larger carry on and/or luggage is all more money, so the art of only traveling with what you absolutely need is very important. I have discovered this is much easier said than done. Ditching some comforts and dressing more simply (less clothing) can really save a lot of money which can help you travel more.
Another important “hack” I learned about finding inexpensive flights is that sometimes it is much cheaper to fly with one-way tickets instead of round trip. I mentioned I have been putting together a travel itinerary to Italy. I can fly into Venice for 18 euros, travel by bus for around $20.00 between each city I want to visit (Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples), and fly back to Sevilla from Naples for only $30. This is must cheaper than trying to fly round trip to Rome where tickets at a minimum are $250. Again, the dates are important because traveling around holidays here will still be very expensive.
Ultimately, you have to watch for deals constantly and snag them when they come up.
While I am not one to ever advocate needlessly spending money, if you have budgeted well and have the money, spend it. My parents have told me the opportunity to do so much leisure traveling will never come again. It is certainly expensive to travel abroad in the first place, but it will less expensive in the long run to do more traveling now than try and come back sometime later in my life. Personally, I know if I don’t travel to at least some of the destinations in Europe, if only for a couple days, I know I will regret not having gone when I was here.
I love experiencing new cultures and places (if you hadn’t already guessed from reading my study abroad blog). I also want to make sure that I live my life to the fullest.
My freshman year of high school we had to create a “Me Book” that was a collection of photos, interviews, and essays that summarized who I was and wanted to be as a person. One of my essays was essentially about how I didn’t want to look back at my life someday and see a boring life behind me. The photos here are from the weekend trip to Málaga I took. It was a Saturday night sunset along the beach-one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. It is one of those times they talk about in movies and songs where you try to take in every fleeting second of the last rays of color. There are no worries or thoughts, just a few brief minutes of tranquility and happiness.