in Basics of Budgeting & My Experience, Budget-Friendly Travel, Uncategorized

1 Week in Europe for $1,000

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Let me tell you – few things get my heart pumping like travelling. I somehow have been to very few places in my life, but it has been my biggest dream for years to see the world.Now that I am finally in control of my finances, I can start travelling the way I’ve always wanted to. Switzerland is the land of cheese, chocolate and premiere hiking – it is everything I could ever want in a destination.

This explains why I couldn’t pass up cheap tickets to Zurich, Switzerland! Round-trip, nonstop flights from Boston to Zurich for only $450 each?! I must be dreaming.

Getting There

Now, I’ll let you in on one of the web’s best-kept secrets. I hardly ever see other bloggers talk about it and yet it is an extremely valuable resource. TheFlightDeal is worth bookmarking and checking every single day if you are planning on traveling and have money in the bank to buy flights at the drop of a hat.

The easiest way is to search by your departure airport (this is not available to all cities in the US). Click “Flight Deals,” and then choose your nearest city to fly from. Check it every day. You do not buy flights directly from The Flight Deal, but they will show you how to find them. It can take a bit of digging, but those discounted flights do exist!

The catch is that these flights are only available for a day or so, meaning you need to jump on them as soon as possible. Also, it helps to not have a particular destination in mind as you may be waiting for a while for that destination to come up. But it works!

 

FreeImages.com Lauterbrunnen, a town near where I’ll be staying. It’s magical, right?

 

From TheFlightDeal I was able to snag two non-stop, round trip flights from Boston to Zurich at great times of the day. One is a red-eye, but I actually wanted this. Each flight was about $450, so $450 x 2 = $900.

To put it in perspective, at the time of this posting, the EXACT same flight is on Kayak for $707. I was able to find one similar flight for $550 – but I’m still saving $100 each here. Flights to Zurich can easily exceed these numbers, especially during the high seasons, so I know I found a great deal.

We each gave ourselves a $1,000 budget for flights, hotels and cars. Little did I realize that Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries to travel to, despite the fact that I’d be going during the “shoulder” season (between high seasons – probably the best time to go, honestly). In Switzerland, the minimum wage is $25 per hour – and their cost of living is high accordingly.

Like I said, I’m not including food in that $1,000 – nor any excursions, admission fees, etc.

Staying There

Next, I booked everything on Booking.com. I recommend you read my full review of this website (coming soon!). This website gave me the option to book the three hotels with free cancellation up until a few days before I would go, and they didn’t charge me to reserve. It was a nice backup just in case I couldn’t find anything better for better prices.

These hotels were: $400 + $235 + $275 = $910 / 2 = $455 each.

Phew! We were looking to spend $905 each with flights and hotels – that’s great!

I didn’t keep these reservations, though. After reading some horrible reviews regarding Booking.com, I reached out to each of my three hotels to ask them to confirm my registration. One of them was not able to answer my question and I got worried.

I flew over to AirBnB and replaced two of my reservations, hassle-free. If you haven’t tried AirBnB, just know that you will be charged upon booking. AirBnB allows you to stay in someone’s home (either in a private room or in an entire house or apartment). There are often cleaning fees, service fees and occupation taxes – so you need to look around for a good deal.

One of the AirBnBs is more expensive than the hotel we chose, but the piece of mind I have with the new choice is worth the extra money. Alternatively, one of them was less expensive then the hotel. The AirBnBs are also much nicer than the hotels – we will be living like kings for not much more money.

If you find the right AirBnB, you will also be able to cut back substantially on food if you are able to get a kitchen. To put this in perspective, a pizza in Switzerland will set us back about $30, and even the cheapest restaurant meals are $25 per plate. We will have a full kitchen for several days, so we could potentially save hundreds just by cooking some food.

So now, we’re actually looking at $514 + $210 + $275 = $999 / 2 = $500

Okay, we’re pretty close to our limit. $950 each.

We had a change of plans along the way. In order to free ourselves of 8 hours of travel time, we booked one of the AirBnBs in Austria. For the same price of the train to Munich, we could fly to Vienna and save hours!  We quickly booked flights for $104 each.

Total Cost

So we’re really looking at $1,054 each for a week hopping from Switzerland to Vienna and back to stay in prime locations (honestly – you can’t get better locations). If this is beyond your reach, don’t worry! You can go to Europe for far less than we are paying, as long as you are flexible with your locations. Though, if you’re like me, your wanderlust doesn’t restrict you to one location.

This may no be considered the most budget-friendly way to spend a week, sure. But I have never regretted a dollar that I spent while traveling. And as far as trips to affluent Switzerland go, $1000 per person for one week in their top destinations is a fantastic deal.

Check back in late May so I can show you EXACTLY what that $1,054 got me!


Have you had similar experiences from The Flight Deal? Have you had a similar vacation for less money? What do you do to get the best deals? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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