As avid travelers, my wife and I love the experiences of traveling through Europe. We believe that visiting other places and seeing the way that they live is something that all Americans should do. International travel opens your mind to the diversity of humanity. Does a foreign vacation seem an impossible dream? It isn't. Come see why.
Many people feel that travel to Europe requires very deep pockets, but it doesn't. You will need to make a priority in your life to set aside the funds, but it isn't all that hard if you want it bad enough. You need not be rich to engage in international travel. A well-planned itinerary is as close as your computer keyboard. You can find a good airfare if you plan ahead and travel in the so-called "shoulder" seasons, generally in fall and spring. You'll find the cheapest fares in winter. If you're traveling to Italy or Spain, this can be a plus, with mild winter temperatures. If you're really adventurous and footloose, look into courier deals. Airfare on international travel can be free!
By allowing yourself to be flexible, the world opens up to you. Many of our friends think that the only time to travel is during the summer. This is the most expensive time, and the most crowded time. Think outside the box when booking accommodations. Whether your trip is for a week or a month, look online for housing for rent on a daily or weekly basis. Rentals may include kitchen equipment, linens, telephone, internet connections and laundry facilities.
Our preference when it come to finding accommodations are small bed and breakfasts, or pensions (pronounced pen c owns). These are typically very friendly and inexpensive. Typically, these come with breakfast provided. We often will pack up extra bread, cheeses, and meats, a typical breakfast throughout most of Europe, to take with us during the day. We have even had a few that have had small cooking facilities in them. Having a kitchen lets you prepare some of your meals yourself. You can save a bundle of money and time just fixing your morning coffee and breakfast before going out sightseeing. Laundry facilities also save time and money. Send email postcards to friends and family with a click of your mouse. More time and money saved, letting you make the most of your vacation time.
Learning the different priorities that people place on the things that make up a life is one of the most valuable aspects of traveling to Europe. Here at home it seems that nothing is more important than pursuing the almighty buck and material possessions. Experiencing a different culture is a great adventure. It's the little things that really reach out and grab you. For example, European society is similar in many ways to American society. Yet, daily priorities are different. Food is a much more drawn out event than our eat-and-run habit. Meals are enjoyed slowly, seasoned with the camaraderie of your companions. And it's actually quite safe to go out at night in any major European city!
The act of just being while in a new town is the most exciting thing for me. The experience of trying new things. It always amazes me to find all the Americans seeking out the Burger Kings and McDonalds and so on. Try new things! Walk around your neighborhood and discover the bookstore, grocer, hardware, night club or restaurant. Neighborhood businesses reflect the tempo of life in your chosen destination. Jump into the culture, and rejoice!
Eating is one of my favorite pastimes while traveling. The variety of foods and flavors is truly marvelous. I must admit that there are some things that I won't touch, but I have tried a few and lived to tell the tale. International travel exposes you to new cuisines. You may never taste an authentic Spanish Paella, empanada, French Pistou or Italian pizza unless you take the leap and immerse yourself in your international travel destination of choice.
The biggest concern for many of our friends is simply the question of getting from one place to another. It can be a bit intimidating, but just dive in and give it a go. Part of the experience of international travel is getting around. Be adventurous! Large cities, such as Paris, have inexpensive and ultra-efficient access to anywhere you want to go.
With today's many restrictions on baggage, plan for only carry-on luggage. You'll avoid lost luggage, and walking and waiting time at the carousel.
When it comes to packing, we only have a few words of advice: Pack Light! There are few things worse than busting your butt dragging multiple bags around with you. Major pain in the neck here. You can pack everything you need for a month's stay anywhere in a carry-on. It's easy to find a foreign equivalent of an American drugstore and pick up any toiletries you may need. These items take up space in your luggage and tend to leak under cabin pressure. Shop duty-free shops at the airport for perfumes, colognes and the like.
International travel is quite simply one of the best things that you can do for yourself ! Wherever you've dreamed of traveling, do an "armchair" search. Visit websites like Easy European Travels.Com, and others like it for guidance. You will often find tips for planning your European vacation that will make it much easier for you to get out there. You may find that you have had a hidden international traveler inside all along!