For my 25th birthday this year, I am going to embark on a three-week tour of Europe. I decided to do the trip as a present to myself, not just for my birthday, but because I needed a break after two long years of entering the workforce and becoming a responsible adult.
About two months ago, I set out to design a vacation that would allow me to visit multiple countries while keeping the cost to a minimum. I flirted with the idea of visiting South America. However, since Pan-American travel is notoriously expensive, I would have been confined to the borders of one country. I also considered doing an organised trip either to South America or Europe, but I prefer to explore and discover places on my own. Ultimately, I decided to visit Europe with London as my main destination.
I took to skyscanner.net to search for the cheapest flights from Port of Spain, Trinidad. I decided against a return ticket to London which would have set me back over $7,000 TTD— leaving little money left to travel to mainland European countries. Instead, I searched for the cheapest flights from Tobago on skyscanner and discovered that a return ticket to Frankfurt for my desired dates only cost around $5,500 TTD. However, I did not like the idea of having to return to Frankfurt (after travelling across Europe and spending time in London) to catch a plane to Tobago and then another one to Trinidad. Finally, I made the decision to fly to Frankfurt from Tobago and make my way to London through Brussels and Paris, while flying straight to Trinidad from London.
My journey from Trinidad to Tobago to Frankfurt to Brussels to Paris to London to Trinidad works out to be the same price of a return ticket from Trinidad to London (including the cost of cross-country trains). Sometimes it pays to explore untraditional routes when travelling.
Airplane and train travel
Flight from Trinidad to Tobago with Caribbean Airlines: $24 USD or $150 TTD
Flight from Tobago to Frankfurt (through Barbados) with Condor: $409 USD or about $2600 TTD (an extra $300 TTD to book premium menu and seat)
ICE train from Frankfurt to Brussels: €63 or about $453 TTD
Thalys train from Brussels to Paris: €35 euros or around $274 TTD
Eurostar train from Paris to London: €48 euros or $345 TTD
Flight from London to Trinidad with Caribbean Airlines: £312 or $3053 TTD
TOTAL: approximately $7, 175 TTD
Hotel in Frankfurt: €93 euros or approximately $670 TTD for 3 nights
Hotel in Brussels: €130 euros or around $940 TTD for 2 nights
Hotel in Paris: €176 euros or about $1,265 TTD for 2 nights
London: free since a very kind friend offered to let me crash on her couch
TOTAL: approximately $2,875 TTD
For $10,000 TTD (or the price of a frontline Carnival costume), I managed to secure travel and accommodation for a three-week trip to Europe.
Of course, I still have to factor in the cost of domestic travel while I’m in each city and I do have to eat. For Brussels, a €7,50 one-day JUMP ticket will allow me unlimited travel on trains, trams, buses and the metro. Paris has a similar system with the T+ ticket for €14 or a ‘carnet’ of ten tickets for a similar cost. I still have my Oyster card for travel in London from my university days (hopefully it is still functioning) which can be topped up on a pay-as-you-go basis.
I plan on doing most of my travel in London with buses which will give me the opportunity to see more of the town. I may journey out of London using Megabus which offers cheap travel across the UK and mainland Europe (it costs only £3 for a return trip from London to Oxford).
While I can easily live off McDonalds, Burger King or a Tesco meal deal (and I’ve lived off £40 per week as a university student in the past), I have budgeted enough money to not starve to death and to enjoy the life of a tourist. Moreover, I plan on hitting up Oxford Street to do a bit of shopping (in H&M).
In the next few days, I will be heading to Frankfurt to start my mini European adventure. I hope this post inspires someone to take a break from life and explore the world.
(Expect another post or two about my trip, and yes, I will be trying something from the McDonald’s menu in each city).
Featured Image Credit: www.hotelconcorde.de