Travel expert Andy Steves teaches us how to travel abroad affordably while having an authentic experience.
Andy grew up traveling to Europe with his father, the travel guru, Rick Steves. He worked college summers as a tour guide for his dad’s company and saw a gap in the market while spending a semester studying abroad in Rome. In 2010 Andy set up his own travel company, Weekend Student Adventures Europe to take study abroad students on affordable intra-Europe three day weekends.
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For a lot of students, their semester abroad is the first time they have had to budget their money. Dealing with a new currency makes this even harder as does the “foreignness” of a new place. Young people perhaps outside the US for the first time might be too timid to venture off the well trodden tourist path and end up spending more money for a less authentic experience.
By doing some research, which is half the fun of a trip for some of us, you can avoid the tourist traps and really experience a new place. When looking for a restaurant, don’t go to the place on the main strip with menus in every language. Walk a few streets over and find the place the locals go. The food will be better, cheaper, and the experience more memorable. The same applies to bars and clubs. Every city has an American ex-pat bar but why did you spend $1000 on airfare to spend the evening drinking with the same people you can drink with back home?
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We all have romantic dreams of Parisian cafes and Roman trattorias but we don’t all have the budget. There are so many beautiful places in Central and Eastern Europe that are much more affordable. You can have a three course dinner in Krakow for 5-6 Euros which is $8. You can spend an afternoon in a thermal spa in Budapest for 4 900 forints which is about $22.
As Andy’s dad taught me, “Travel is a force for peace.” It makes you a better person and gives you the ability to make the world a better place.
WSA Europe: Andy’s site providing affordable weekend travel.
Mint: LMM’s favorite budgeting site.