I left the US nearly 4 years ago to travel the world, but many of my readers have never been across the pond. Most of my stories are about Europe and things to do in cities for a day or two, but how real is it for Americans to take a weekend break in Europe?
Every week, I help friends find flights all over the world. Quite often, I can find a deal for a fraction of what they were planning to pay. Unfortunately, traveling from some parts of America can be considerably more difficult. Some cities like New York, Miami and Los Angeles have some surprisingly cheap deals, while traveling from the center of the country can cost 2-3 times more. Tickets fluctuate all the time, but I’ve often found round-trip tickets from the US to somewhere in Europe for under $200!
For many, flying a quarter of the way around the world just for a weekend break in Europe is way out of their comfort zone. Sadly, there have been many times in my travels when I’ve described an American holiday as a time to go home, watch TV and constantly check work emails. Fellow Americans in the background have nodded in agreement with my description each time. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Have you ever watched a movie and been inspired to see a different city, a new country or some famous landmark? I sure did! That’s one of the things that inspired me to travel. But I’m sure you’re not planning to sell everything you own right now and travel the world indefinitely as I did. If you’re reading travel articles to get inspiration for an upcoming trip, chances are that your trip is for a few days, or perhaps a couple weeks. But what about leaving for an even shorter time?
Taking a 5- or 9-hour flight to Europe (depending on what coast you’re leaving from) just to see the Eiffel tower, sail on Loch Ness or attend the Tomorrowland Music Festival might seem excessive. Why?
Why would it be better to keep dreaming about seeing Big Ben someday, rather than just actually going for a weekend to see it? One thing I’ve learned after four years of writing travel stories is that these very stories can never accurately convey what it’s like to be in a new country, to taste a unique dish, to smell the tulips in the Netherlands, or to stand in front of the Rosetta Stone in London’s British Museum.
Okay. Dropping $500 for a weekend break in Europe might be out of the question. But maybe not. Just by forgoing the weekly trip to the movies, a couple of lattes from Starbucks, that extra round of beers and another upgrade of armor in your favorite mobile game, you’re halfway there. (I’m not making fun of anyone, I’m just telling you how I did it myself.) The money that you would be spending anyway on gas around town, a Saturday night at your favorite restaurant and…well, maybe $250 is a bit more than some people spend in a weekend. I’m just saying that with a little planning and budgeting, you can book your weekend break to Europe for a surprisingly low amount.
There are some tips for finding a cheap flight. First of all, make sure you use a program like Skyscanner or Google Flights. My article on ways to find cheap flights is a good reference for the rest of the steps. Once you get to Europe, there are some budget options available. Perhaps you’re not comfortable with Couchsurfing or hostels, but you can always use Airbnb to find cheap holiday homes or look for deals on Booking.com or Agoda.com.
It’s time to make your dreams of travel a reality. Don’t wait for your next three-week vacation to travel. Consider a weekend break in Europe, and then solve the challenge of what you want to see first.