Crossing the pond on a budget

Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 12:03 pm
I did it in New York. Super cheap. Had a wonderful time. Got to do and see more then I expected.

Im gearing up this year to do another trip. This time im going across the ocean.
One major important pit stop to Budapest to see Nimh Very Happy In fact that is what sprung the idea in the first place.
Now I am thinking.... since I will be over there anyway, why not see more.

I would like to see Sweden and Germany. I dont care WHERE in the country I go either. I just would like to see them.

I have found vacation rental sites like www dot vrbo dot com. ( spelled so as to not make this thread an ad for it!
But that seems to be geared to people who will be staying for a month or so on end.
My time will probably cap about about 2 weeks, maybe 3 total .
A few nights in other countries, a week or more in Budapest.

So... how can I do this for cheap?
Just like I did in N, I want the cheapest place to stay. My vacation is NOT about room amenities. A youth hostel served as just what I needed in NY... are there places like that in Sweden? I see that the dollar carries no weight there.. the conversion is 7 dollars to not quite one Kronor.. Aiiyee yiee yiiieee.. And of course, i wanna go to Stockholm. The central hub and the most expensive. Blah. But, I am sure I can make this work.

Travel between countries.. ? Another question.
cheaper.. train? or flight? Most countries look like they could be reached with about 2 hours or less in the air.. should make for cheap flights right?
I use igougo to find cheap international flights.. I see that I can look between countries too.. Is there a known budget airlines in europe? Like here.. airtran is one.. Frontier another..etc..

I gotta get a passport.

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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 12:20 pm
Well, the first youth hostel was opened in Germany in 1912 - hostelling international will show you the places.

(No need for looking at Germany, though Wink )

There are a couple of cheap/Budget airlines in Europe - from Air Berlin over easyjet, Ryan to Wizz Air: Low cost airlines in Europe

Sometimes, it's better to look at the airlines for cheapest offers (pay attention for hidden costs!!!), generally, expedia, oppodo and such offer good deals as well ... and you get all tickets from one hand. (Booking via a European site is cheaper anyway than via an US site).
Generally, the longer you wait the more expensive the tickets will be. (But then, you'll have those special offers like "Book between 24:00 and 24:30 and get a ticket fre" or similar).

(No need in Germany either Wink )

'Normal' airlines are sometimes better than budget lines ... and cost just a few Euros more.

Euros .... the currency exchange rates will give you shock ...

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Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 12:35 pm
I used to have a long list of cheapo air fare places, but had this computer crash a while ago. Still, here are two that people seem to like -


I will never use v..r..b..o - they spammed a2k insistently for a long time, a year or two ago.
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Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 12:58 pm

that explains why i was able to find that site easily with many links to it.

I am still working on dates, but I am thinking May, or June. I want to go just before the summer rush and summer hike in prices, but spring can bring that result too.
Tax return is going to fund the major part of the flight so I will be able to purchase the flight tickets WELL in advance so those should not be too costly.
I looked a few weeks ago and with one stop in Germany, my flight from america to Budapest ( round trip) was just shy of 800.00 with all fees.
if it stays in that ball park, not going over 950 I will keep that route.
If it goes up, I will have to break it up. A cheap flight from here to NY with as cheap as possible to Europe landing where ever, to hop to Budapest. May be a real pain in the rear.. but it might work. Smile
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 12:59 pm
You need to have realistic expectations. Cheap in Europe is going to be at least 25% more than cheap in America because of the poor value of the dollar and because of the European habit of taxing more than you are used to.
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 01:03 pm
realistic is anything basic.
I know the cost difference is huge.

But, when I travel I am not looking for a room with full service and other bells and whistles. Im not flying overseas to see a nice room for example, so I dont have to fork out a lot of money for things I have no interest in.
I know it is going to be more expensive, so I have to find the cheapest of everything possible.

I would seriously consider going to Mexico and converting my dollars to Pesos and shopping with them because I believe their currency may be above ours. Laughing

or canada..

its sad. The dollar used to be powerful, now it does not even compete.
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 01:08 pm
my daughter just got back from three months in Europe, paid for by yours truly, and living like a poor collage student on bread and pasta turned out to be more pricey than planned.

The biggest glitch was that her computer died, and we did not have time to get one sent from USA. The cheapest Apples were $250 more than they are here after converting money and paying Swiss tax.
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Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 01:13 pm
May is probably your best time to travel, and airline prices are good then.
Flights to major city hubs are cheaper than going to Budapest direct.
If you fly from Dallas to Frankfurt you get a cheap flight. From there you
can either rent a car and drive through Germany, Austria to Hungary which
is such a nice ride, as in between you can stop in Munich, Salzburg or Vienna (all beautiful cities) before heading to Budapest.

I'll check a few sites for you.....
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 01:14 pm
shewolfnm wrote:

I looked a few weeks ago and with one stop in Germany, my flight from america to Budapest ( round trip) was just shy of 800.00 with all fees.

Return ticket to Germany (in May): $660 (including warm meals, soft drinks, coffee, taxes); $200 (with EasyJet) return to Budapest.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 01:16 pm
hawkeye10 wrote:
... the European habit of taxing more than you are used to.

By law, however, all taxes are included in the price shown - anywhere = if you see something for 16,99€ in a shop window, it costs exactly that.
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 01:24 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
law, however, all taxes are included in the price shown - anywhere = if you see something for 16,99€ in a shop window, it costs exactly that.

that does not change the end result of an American walking into Aldi to get a bag of brochen and the cheapest packages of cheese and sausage that they can find, converting the Euro tab to dollars, and being shocked. Never mind trying to get a Big Mac, we don't even want to go there.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 01:25 pm
Well, the USA is really a very cheap country for us Europeans Wink
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Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 01:30 pm
just to give you an idea ...
link to youth-hostel in frankfurt :


a dormitory bed - 8-10 people per room - starts at euro 17 .
you might want to join youth-hostels international in the states for best rates etc - such as admission discounts .
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 01:34 pm
and here a link to a hostel in budapest :


bon voyage !
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Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 01:43 pm
so assuming that the fair shewolf is over 27 years old, and using the 2010 price list, she will pay $32 a night for a bunk in the dorm....excluding any currency conversion or ATM fees.
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 01:52 pm
$ 32 would probably be it - NOT CHEAP ( but usually still a bargain - these are not "fleabag" places - they are often even used for conferences - one might find a room somewhere for less than $ 32 - perhaps out in the country ) .
usually you get what you pay for ... ...

i recall one of frommer's early travel guides : N.Y. on $ 5 a day Laughing
our first trip to NYC was about 1970 - a little more than $ 5 , but still inexpensive .
theatre tickets were "2 for 1 " - twofers .
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Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 02:10 pm

ok. No. Dont want. Laughing

the hostel in NY had smaller private rooms. i was able to get one for 2 people at 44 a night. Just one big bed. bathroom down the hall and kitchen on the same floor.
In the room, one bed, one dresser, window unit for heat or air. Thats it.
Dingy .. but safe, super quiet and perfect location. Not even 2 blocks from a really big nice park Very Happy
I freaking loved it.
They rent them by the month too. I would be lying if I said I didnt think of renting it and living there I tell ya ........
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 02:40 pm
i'm sure that NYC would be cheaper than much of europe !
you can find some cheaper places in europe but you'll have to look for it .
some package tours are probably less expensive than booking yourself .

you'll have to decide what is important for you .

perhaps go to ONE location only and do day-tours using public transportation .
that will cut the costs considerably - taxi fares will eat you alive ...
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Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 03:24 pm
Here' a quote from the Practical Traveler column of last year -
"Some travel sites offer online tools to help travelers figure out whether to book now or wait. Farecompare.com offers star ratings to show how good the fare is compared with past prices. Farecast.com evaluates price movements over time to offer travelers predictions on whether fares will go up, down or hold steady on a given route, each likelihood indicated by an arrow."

There's a wealth of useful information in this Frugal Traveler column - especially toward the end of the article -

People commenting on the article also have useful websites to suggest..
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Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2009 04:09 pm
They don't do this anymore, but in the late '60s my dad was the accountant for a Saab dealership in Berkeley. Saab was having a special marketing campaign where if you purchased a Saab, you got a free round trip to Sweden to go pick up the car, drive it all over Sweden and Denmark for a few weeks and then have it shipped home to the US.

My parents purchased one and paid extra for my brother and I and my mom to go on the trip. It was a group trip consisting of about 120 people who had purchased Saabs. Our tour guides were the couple who owned the Saab dealership and we got to see the Saab factory, the testing grounds, glass blowing factories, museums, Parliament and many other points of interest. My best memories of it were of the Tivoli gardens in Denmark. When the trip was over, we sold the Saab and recouped most of the expenses for the trip.

In the '80's I took my mom on a 3-week garden and museum tour of 5 countries in Europe: Netherlands, England, France, Germany, and Switzerland. It was fast-paced and we did most of the travel by tour bus when we weren't walking around sightseeing, stopping off at famous gardens, castles, churches, museums and other historical points in all of those countries. We even had lunch at a family's home in the countryside of France. Breakfast and dinner were included with the tour. We were on our own for lunch. They did all the arrangements and reservation work for hotels, transportation, meals, and sightseeing. You could also take extra special side trips for an additional fee.

If I remember correctly, it was about $3500 - $5000 for each of us.

If you haven't already, go to the library or bookstore to get the Rick Steves' (he's the guy on PBS) tour books. Or, just browse through his website:


Here's his DVD set on Scandinavia. It will help you decide what you want to see in person and give you good tips on where and when to plan the trip.


This is his tour guide for Scandinavia:


This is his website's section on Europe's hostels:


Here's his stuff on Budapest:


and lots of other pages to help you plan your trip:


I wish I was going with you. The countries you want to see are the ones at the top of my list that I want to return to some day and spend a lot more time there.
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