Travel Tips

How to afford traveling to Europe!

June 2, 2017

You’re sitting at home watching TV or reading a magazine then BOOM an ad of the beautiful Amalfi coast flashes across the screen or a picture of Portugal’s beaches stops you in your tracks. You think to yourself, like many Americans,  “ I could never afford to see such beautiful places.” or” I wonder how much it costs to vacation there?” I think we can all agree with increased consumerism, student and credit card debt and inflation that finding “ extra money “ to gallivant across the globe proves impractical . Add on the financial obligations of a kid or two, mortgage payments, insurances, car payments and it seems down right impossible.

I can’t stress it enough that traveling the world doesn’t have to be a far stretch of the imagination.  I’m not here to tell you that you can see the world with $500, I just want to show you how it doesnt have to cost 10,000 either.  I plan on sharing the effective strategies I use that allow me to travel 6 to 7 times a year. For the first time,
I’ve decided to elucidate in detail the financial aspects of my most recent travel adventure. I have broken down all major expenses. I was accompanied by my fiancée our son my two sisters and my  9-year-old niece. We traveled to 5 countries in 13 days: France, Portugal, England, Italy and Belgium. The costs of our major expenses could have been even more econimical if we limited out trip to one or two countries.  Read my tips for traveling throught Europe here!

 

Round trip tickets with American Airlines from FLL to CDG  – $459.85 per person!!

Yup! $460.00!  I know…. pick up your chin from the floor, I’ll go in detail now. “How in the world did she get tickets to Paris for so cheap?” you’re wondering.  Well, I chose Paris as my hub to fly in and out of Europe because I know it is a major major major airport and there are always a lot of flight options. More flight options mean more competition between airlines so they’re less likely to charge ridiculous airfare.  I then factored in the FACT that traveling to Europe in the summer equals VERY inflated prices. Choosing off seasons like spring and fall can significantly reduce the price of flights and lodging. I opted for Spring over Fall because I figured the weather would be much warmer and I was spot on, I felt like I was still in Miami! I flew into Paris in the fall a few years ago and it was too cold for my liking.  Anyway, I  booked the tickets approximately 2 months in advance. I didn’t want to go further out because things do come up unexpectedly and 2.5 months is the maximum time that I’m comfortable with.

Norwegian Airlines, which once only transported cargo, now offers amazing deals between the U.S and Europe. I have a friend who once saw one-way tickets to Paris for $150.00!!! Sign up to their newsletter to stay up to date on travel deals and to snag one you cant miss!

 

Airfare& Trains: 

I normally get my airfare and train tickets for travel in Europe for much less than what I paid. This is the most I have ever paid for intercontinental travel and it’s because tickets were booked almost last minute. I was waiting for my younger sister who, at the time, wasn’t sure she could get the time off from school . 2 weeks after booking our tickets she got the O.K. and I reserved hers. I will post the prices of both, her tickets which were purchased only 2 days before our departure and our tickets which were purchased 2 weeks before departure for juxtaposition. Again, booking in advance could have easily saved us hundreds. I’m sure of it!

S= SISTER       G= GROUP

Train tickets:

Paris to London with raileurope.com :       G – 62.79 per person     S -  $168.95

Airfare:

  • London to Lisbon-   G -169.16 per person              S-  $237.00
  • Lisbon to Rome:       G- $168.82 per person           S-  123.48
  • Rome to Paris -         G – $76.91 per person             S- 132.43

*Our flights were booked with Ryanair.com .

 

Transportation:

Uber & Taxis – Prices were originally in Euro and Pound and reflect the total price for all 6 people ( not per person) .

  • Paris- to Air B n’ B from Airport  $67 -
  • Eiffel tower to Air b’ n B  $39
  • Air Bn’ B to train station  $54
  • Air B n’ b to airport in London  $130

Car Rental  - Read more about renting a car and driving abroad here!

  • Portugal -  $76.71    May 19th – May 23rd
  • Rome-  $58.10   May 23 to the 25th
  • Paris- $229.51 – May 25th to the 28th  (From Paris we rented a car to drive to Belgium because I thought a road trip would be super cool. Google maps made the drive effortless. I was even able to search for cool bakeries and restaurants while en route).

Gas:

Gas totaled approx 260.00 Euro or $291 USD.

Public transportation-  the public transportation infrastructure in all of the European countries I’ve visited have been phenomenally easy to access, understand and get around with.  Typically buses and trains are my only mode of transportation. Not only is it more cost efficient, it allows me the opportunity to travel like a local and I enjoy those minute authentic experiences. Uber and rental cars were used frequently for this trip solely because there were so many of us and we had a child present.

  • Paris: approximately 5 euro for 1 day.
  • London: approximately 12 pounds from the airport to Air b n’ b  plus 6 pounds to and from the city center for both days.
  • Rome: approximately 8 Euro for both days. Driving and finding parking in Rome was so stressful that we opted to park the car and take public transportation.

 

Lodging:

With the proliferation of travelers and vacationers now opting for Air B n’ B rentals over traditional hotels,  the word is spreading the options are plentiful. What I like most about Air B n’ B is that you can literally input your budget and amenities and only properties that meet your search criteria come up. The site does have a verification process to ensure the safety of the renters and guests. I’ve used it several times and I’ve never had an issue. I actually prefer it because it is a much more personal experience. I’ve even had some hosts give me ideas on things to do, places to see, nearby bakeries and shops etc.  I’ve also heard about the site home away.com but I have yet to try it. prices are in total for 6 people. Not per person.

**Prices are total cost for 6 people. Not per person**

  • May 16- 17th Paris – $105
  • May 17- 19th London $264
  • May 19th -23rd Portugal (Garvao) $272
  • May 23rd to 25th-  $197
  • May 25th to 27th – Belgium $333
  • May 27th to 28th – $74

 

Food:

Food expenses can vary widely depending on how often you eat out. When traveling abroad to destinations where I know the US currency is weak I opt for one dinner at nice restaurant per country.  That’s exactly the route we chose. We took a trip to the grocery store each time we checked into our new lodging to purchase food for breakfast and dinner.  During lunchtime, we were always out of the house and would purchase fast foods like pizza and sandwiches.

 

Travel Tips

Renting a car abroad

June 1, 2017

Renting a car abroad isn’t as difficult as one may think. Once you have a valid government issued ID from your host country it’s typically an easy and quick process. There are a few things your should consider before moving forward with renting a car internationally.

 

Cost:

Like everyhting else travel related. The early bird gets the worm. Reserving your car in advance can result in significant savings.I typically reserve my car around the same time that I book my tickets. I love websites like autoeurope or expedia which allow me to compare and filter out the exact car im lookin for.  I have rented a car before for as little as 17.00 a day! Now that’s a deal!

 

Car insurance:

I don’t know how it is in other countries but in the U.S. most of the insurance companies will not cover you for renting a car and driving internationally. The rental car agency should be able to provide sufficient rental car insurance anywhere from 11 – 35.00 per day. I dont know about you but i would prefer not to have to pay more ! That’s why I always book my rental cars with my chase Sapphire preferred card. Not only do I earn points that can be used towards travel but it offers primary rental car insurance.  A lot of credit cards offer rental car insurance but it usually a secondary insurance menaing your primary insurance must kick in first and you must refuse the insurance provided by the rental car agency.  To use your card for your source of insurance the rental must be in your name and the reservation must be paid for with that card.

 

Rental Deposit:

I have been to some countries where i am required to leave a rental car deposit even though I am covered with rental insurance. The highest I have encountered is $5,000 in Costa Rica! In Thailand the deposit was nominal, I believe $200.00 . In Europe about the same, the highest deposit I have encountered there was 300.00.

 

Safety:

Honestly, just because you are allowed to drive in some cities doesn’t mean you should. I had to learn that the hard way when I rented a car in Rome. After an extremely stressful 30 minite drive trying to get to our Air B n’ B i took to the interenet to see why the driving in Rome was so difficult. Had I done my research in advance I would have learned that driving in Rome is not recommended becasue for one, there are motorists on mopeds EVERYWHERE and they dont always obide by the traffic rules. The traffic circles are huge and no one stays in one lane, there is no parking, pedestrians use the corsswalks whenever they want, the streets are congested and traffic is terrible. I thought I was going to go crazy having to juggle following the instructions of the GPS and trying my hardest not to run someone over . Once we got to our hotel I parked the car and used pblic transporttion for the duration of our stay. Moral of the story…. do your research!

 

International driving permit:

An IDP is basically an official translation of your drivers license in 10 languages and isn’t required in all countries. Through all my travels I have not had to present one yet. Is it a good idea to have one? Sure!  It doesn’t hurt especially since it costs less than 20 usd. Plus, you never know when you are traveling to a country where you may need it. Here are the U.S. trusted sites that sue IDP.  the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance.

Fuel

Caribbean

Dominica- The perfect Vacation destination

March 3, 2017
115A3462

With tourists running in abundance to more prominent Caribbean islands like Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas why not run the other way ?!I was quite astounded yet pleased at the lack of tourists that I saw compared to that of other Caribbean islands I’ve visited.

I presume the paucity of luxury resorts and hotels could be what is beleaguering Dominica’s tourism industry since, after all,  the average vacationer just wants to sunbathe, relax and drink cocktails.This hidden gem is guaranteed to give you all of those things and so much more.  Throughout my visit, I felt so in tune with myself, everyone and everything that surrounded me. It was beautiful watching the natives appreciate and live in symbiosis with their beautiful piece of the Earth. They were so conscious and careful about their actions and how they would impact the planet. Aesthetic plants and gardens on every corner, copious amounts of fruit bearing trees making it almost impossible to keep your hands to yourself.  It’s no wonder Dominica is known as the nature island of the Caribbean!

 

Without further ado, here are some of the reasons why I think you’ll love Dominica as much as I do <3

 

 

*Dominicans as a whole are some of the friendliest people I have encountered throughout my travels. Their willingness to patiently assist a silly misguided traveler like me made the experience that much more special.

*Beautiful beach front restaurants that do not charge you an arm and a leg for a lovely lunch or dinner with a view.

115A4344

*Beaches, beaches, and more beaches. Most of them secluded. Need I say more?

115A3462 115A4294

115A3998

115A4058-2

*A chance to bond and be encircled by the life source that is the root of our existence, Mother Earth, in her purest form.

115A4264

 

115A3912

115A3786

115A3886

*Plenty of Hiking trails. This picture was shot after a short hike to the top of a cliff in Scotts Head, Dominica. Waitukubuli hiking trail is the Caribbean’s first long distance hiking trail. You can literally hike through the whole island, at your own pace of course. Read more about it here.

115A3422

115A4242

*Beautiful waterfalls and 365 rivers to explore. I even took a river bath!

115A3610

DCIM101GOPROG0405639.

 

*Transportation is easy and inexpensive making it very easy to get around the island. Rent a car or catch a shared bus ride costing anywhere from 2 E.C. to 10 E.C.  Car rentals are approximately 40 u.s. dollars per day.

*Hot springs: Screw’s sulfur Spa was one that was mentioned on more than one occasion when speaking with locals. I didn’t get a chance to make it there but it sounds like one heck of a trip.