How UNO Students Can Take a European Vacation Without Breaking the Bank

Even+Iceland+runs+on+Dunkin+

Veronika Lee

Even Iceland runs on Dunkin

Veronika Lee, Editor in Chief / écrivaine

Louis Armstrong International Airport Terminal doesn’t look like a million bucks. 

 

It looks more like a billion bucks because last year debuted a $1 billion renovation and a new 35-gate terminal with all the amenities to let our airport shine as a reflection of beautiful New Orleans. 2018 reported 18.51 million visitors to the area, and that number continues to rise. Travelers from the U.S. and abroad are greeted by local food and retail vendors as soon as they touch down. But what about those of us who live here and want to see other parts of the world?

 

The good news is traveling from our airport for a European vacation is more affordable than ever. Think visiting Europe is impossible and out of reach? Not so – Europeans love coming to our fair city so it’s not too expensive to visit their cities, as well. A quick scan of Kayak.com’s Explore option shows flights to Paris for $597 in June that make a pit stop in Montréal. Here are some quick tips to keep your adventures abroad friendly to your wallet.

 

Go in the Off-Season: You may need to miss a few days of class, but traveling in months like October through April are a great way to keep costs down. Summer flights to Europe from the USA are expensive because so many of us take breaks then. If you’re ready for a quick jaunt now, with your passport ready to go, tickets to London this April cost about $600. Keep checking Kayak.com’s Explore option to see what suits your budget and be flexible with your dates.

 

Use a budget airline to fly to a major airport – then book your flight from that city. New York, Philadelphia, and Boston usually have frequent, affordable flights to Europe. If you buy a ticket on a budget airline to the Northeast, then use another ticket for your international fare, you can save. For example, you can buy a $58 ticket on Frontier to JFK Airport in New York then booking a separate airline to take you overseas. Just don’t book them too close! If your budget airline is delayed, you’ll miss your international flight!

 

Pack light. Look, we all want to look our best in photos but the reality is that your entire wardrobe isn’t coming with you. Budget airlines in Europe can get you from one major city to another affordably, but they won’t let you take your monstrous luggage. Wear knits, bring reliable shoes, and remember – you can always buy clothes while you’re there! And warning: Europe doesn’t have as many pharmacies or retail outlets as we do – pack your American necessities like Tylenol, feminine products, toothpaste, allergy meds, etc. because they aren’t so easy to find overseas.

 

Check your phone service. It’s easy to get a burner phone in Europe but even easier just to check your international data usage plan. It’s a safe bet if you don’t have an international plan in place; you’ll just want to communicate with friends via wifi enabled messenger apps like WhatsApp and Instagram direct messages. 

 

Learn a few lines in the language of your destination. Just learning to say “I would like, please” in another language goes a long way. Don’t be that stereotypical American who thinks raising their voice means someone can understand you. Even if your language skills aren’t great, a little effort goes a long way. And hey, there’s never a reason to not use Duolingo, the free language learning app, on a daily basis. 

 

Eat fast food. Sorry but food in Europe is not cheap. But quelle surprise (that’s French btw), McDonald’s, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, and 7 Eleven really up their game overseas. McCafé has great croissants and even the French praise their coffee. You can even order your meals off of their touch screens so you don’t awkwardly have to ask for a Royale with Cheese. Don’t rule out local grocery markets either – they are great for stocking up on bread, cheese, and other staples. 

 

Don’t be hostile to the idea of hostels. Now this comes with a big warning – be cautious! But hostels for individuals under the age of 25 (per European regulations) are a great and affordable way to stay in cities in Europe on a budget. Airbnb can get kind of expensive and you aren’t always guaranteed a place to yourself. If you can deal with dorm life and don’t bring too many extravagances with you, you can share a room with other travelers for about $15-$30 per night.  (This author recommends Hotel Caulaincourt in Paris and Safestay Barcelona Sea, both available on hostels.com). 

 

Even Iceland runs on Dunkin. Photo by Veronika Lee taken in Reykjavík