How To Travel For Several Months In Europe On The Cheap
Late last summer, my wife and I began talking about taking a trip to Europe. That was in late August. A few months earlier I had read an incredible called The Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. In it, Ferriss encourages readers to take mini-retirements throughout their adult life instead of waiting until “retirement age”. He offers lots of practical advice for how to do it, so after several months of lengthy conversations, we decided to put a few principles from the book to the test, and we purchased plane tickets to the island of Crete (small island off south of Greece).
We were able to find a couple who needed to rent a home for 3 months, so we rented out our home, shut off all utilities, internet, car insurance, etc, and headed to the Greek Islands. We negotiated a great price on a majestic villa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Our master bedroom was on the second floor of the villa, and French doors at the foot of our bed opened onto a beautiful terrace that overlooked a mountain range to the left and a sprawling view of the Mediterranean Sea straight ahead and to the right.
Our particular villa was just a few years old. It was built completely out of stone block, and the interior was characterized by its beautiful rock floors and walls and exposed wood beam ceilings. Any guesses how much this cost per month? Well, this brings us to the point of this article - how to travel Europe (or anywhere in the world) on the cheap!
Don’t Be A Tourist
When entering or nearing retirement, travel tends to become a major focus for many people. Many folks are trapped into the mindset of 2 week or 3 week vacations. We stayed in Crete for 3 months this winter, and we spent less than what most would spend for a 2 week vacation during high tourism time. Here's the secret - consider visiting a place outside normal tourist seasons. We were able to rent that villa in Crete for just 700 euros ($1,000) per month.
During the summer, this exact villa runs about 3,000 euros ($4,500). If you are going to visit somewhere during high tourism season, then consider staying off the beaten path. We visited countless majestic villages in Crete with absolutely stunning views, and there were beautiful villas that are still very cheap during times of high tourism.
The Exchange Rate Game
One thing we did not take into account prior to our trip is just how much impact the exchange rate would really have on us. When we arrived in Europe, it cost about $1.30 to purchase 1 euro in forex trading
. Since most goods and services are about the same cost in euros, that meant we were looking at an immediate 30% inflation on everything. We were spending so much money on food at the grocery store that I refused to even think about it after a few weeks! Sometimes ignorance really is bliss!
My point is that the next time we take a long-term vacation, we will definitely travel to a place where our U.S. dollar is much stronger than the domestic currency. This basically opens you up to all of South America and much of Asia. Brazil, Argentina, and Ecuador tend to be favorites among many regular long-term travelers.
Transportation & Internet
When traveling the world on the cheap, you don’t want to sacrifice comfort. Internet is a must for most people. A simple Google search will generally yield forum and discussion groups where you can speak with people who have visited the area. Folks with firsthand experience of the locale are usually more than willing to answer questions about internet access and phone access, etc.
In Crete, we were able to rent a car for 300 euro per month, or about $400. This meant that our total expenses for 4 Star lodging and a nice car was only $4,200 for 3 months! Not too bad. And if you want to be more economical, you can find way better deals on lodging. We wanted a little bit of a luxury feel.
Traveling for cheap does not mean you have to sacrifice pleasure and comfort. A little creative research and an adventurous spirit are all it takes.