If you didn’t know that I ventured across the pond this summer… where have you been?!!?! It has literally been smeared over every single bit of social media I have encountered… but don’t fear. If you missed out on my incredible journey I’m going to recap it here for you today, while giving you some quick tidbits on how I was able to travel to Europe on a teacher salary and spend less than 1500.00 total.
First up let me discuss how I saved money:
Traveling on a Budget: I booked my trip in advance, we at least my flight. I booked my flight to London 8 months in advance. The most expensive part of traveling is by far the flight. Usually for the most part you can cut costs on other aspects of your travel experience, but the flight is always a bit trickier. Booking in advance can help keep costs down. I also was able to pay for my flight using points from my Citi credit card. I spoke briefly about capitalizing on credit card reward points, but I’ll dive further into that on a separate post. So if you’re still following me…which I hope you are, so far on my money saving trip I’ve saved cost on my flight.
I knew I didn’t want to just hit one country on my first trip to Europe, and I considered flying from London to Paris and venturing back home from Paris. I looked up prices and realized, it was much more economically friendly, and exciting to take the train. What you need to understand is traveling between countries in Europe is fairly inexpensive. It’s traveling from the Americas to Europe that is expensive. So a flight and or train from London to Paris can cost you from 70-160 round trip.
Traveling on a Teacher Salary & School Loan Budget
HOTELS: Can be another pricy option when traveling over seas (or even in the USA). Air BNB is always an option where you can cut costs. When traveling with three people, with three very different tastes and requirements in lodging, you can easily rack up huge hotel costs. I recommend comparing AIR BNB and various hotels in locations slightly outside of the main city if you don’t particularly care to be in the mix and are trying to save some coin. I for one am deathly afraid of bed bugs and all about the mixiness (only on vacation not in real life). I don’t usually save much on lodging because I like to be in 4 star hotels in the center of the city I am staying in. Don’t be like me! Do your research and use websites like Expedia and Travelocity to compare hotel prices to Air BNB costs.
ACTIVITIES & TRAVEL: I love walking, running and photography so because of this I usually like to take the long scenic route to every destination. Sometimes that is not possible and you will have to hop on public transportation or a taxi. In our 8 day stay we took 9 Ubers total, and walked over 60 miles. We spent most of our money on food (I spent all of my money on food really) and very few souvenirs. Our activities were mostly free sight seeing tourist traps and I loved every moment of it. Did I wish we spent less money on food… absolutely but hey you have to eat!
Now on to the fun part… the actual trip with photos and recaps!
I don’t even know where to begin to avoid rambling or over sharing. So I’ll do my best to be succinct and let most of the pictures do the talking for me wherever they can.
We took British Airways to Heathrow Airport in London. Easiest review ever: it was AMAZING! It was the biggest airplane I had ever been on (until my returning flight… more on that later) and they were simply the best. Amazing staff, left on time and got us to London 1.5 hours earlier than we were originally scheduled. Take my advice… if you are trying to decide what airline to take to go over seas… if you can afford it take British Airways! Once we landed we took an Uber to our hotel: Park Plaza Westminster Bridge. Can I just say… this hotel is the SHIT! I couldn’t even get over how amazing the hotel and the service staff were.
FYI: if anyone in London reading this wants to do us a solid and head over to the hotel and let us know if the gentleman photographed below & Alex from security (long dread locks) still works there… that would be great! Rumor has it they got fired… and that rumor was started by my friends… so PROVE THEM WRONG and bring London Bae back into our lives!
Moving on… we spent our first three days in Europe in London visiting all of the tourist sites on our list. We walked most of the time but whenever we didn’t want to walk, Uber was only one app away. I recommend using Uber on your travels in Europe because their taxi service us SUPER disproportionally expensive. Uber charged us 30 pounds to get to the hotel from the airport, while their taxi service quoted us 90-100 pounds… uh no thanks! On our tourist walks we visited must see spots like Harrods (in which we bought nothing), the London Eye, Big Ben (both of which were outside of our hotel in walking distance), SoHo (one of my fave spots), Shakespeare’s Globe, The London Museum, and took the train. I had to do it! I had to be the Girl On The Train (that book is awesome by the way and set in London).
We also were constantly reminded how beautiful we were by passers by. Some of which stopped us to take pictures with us… extremely weird yet entertaining. I’m sure most of the commentary and stares had a little something to do with Shakira’s hair color.
Fast forward to Paris… the city that everyone told me I would fall in love with. And… I must say Paris is beautiful and speaking French was a definite plus on this trip. I loved loved loved seeing the Eiffel Tower up close and personal. I almost cried when I walked up to it, because it felt like all of my hard work, my saving,my skipping out on fun life back in NYC paid off. I felt oddly like I had made it. I don’t know why… but it was a great experience. Unfortunately I did NOT fall in love with the city. Our hotel was less than stellar… and everything closed super early. Way earlier than I am accustomed to living in NYC. I was told that in August a lot of France closes for holiday, I guess that must have been my fault for coming during off season. Also I know that Paris is going through a lot with all of the terrorist attacks lately, so I get it. IT was quiet and I was thankful for that. I was just expecting more, I had high expectations and I felt that the food and the city in general let me down. I did however get some great images and visited one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever been to in my life. That is an experience I will never forget. I also felt like I made my parents really proud with my French. Now they know four years of French in high school was not a fail.
Overall I LOVED every single moment of this trip. I am beyond grateful for being able to take this trip and take it with two of my closest friends. And you know that I am consistently always on the move… so yes I do have some plans/trips in the pipeline. I’m still on the path to visiting all 50 states in the USA! That is not a goal I take lightly. My next few states up ahead are: Maryland (actually heading to DC tomorrow), Colorado, and Washington state. For my next international visit… Asia. I’ll be visiting three cities in Asia in April and I can’t wait for my passport to get a few more stamps in it!
So far so good right, we’ve got a second post…
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