Happy New Year

It’s January 2nd and I’m still planning the trip. I’m trying to figure out exactly how much I’m going to need if I go for around a month.

Plane tickets are a big question. If you look at documents from a few years ago, they suggest London, Frankfurt, Zurich and Amsterdam. If you just look at ticket prices, they are generally better than many choices. But then you need to add in taxes and airport fees. Flying to the UK will net you over $200 in fees. It’s similar to get to Germany. Zurich can cost anywhere from $100 to $300 on top of your ticket price, and the same with Amsterdam. You can still pay between seven and eight hundred for any of them, even if you’re not a student, and if you can afford it and want to get directly to the continent, a city like Amsterdam is a great place to start. But, if you really want to save some money and don’t mind a little boat (or cheap plane) ride, consider Ireland. Taxes and fees bring most flights from Chicago or New York to Dublin to under $600. If you have a Eurail pass, ferry tickets from Ireland to France or the UK are discounted 30% or 50%, respectively.

Be flexible about dates and airports. Leaving from O’Hare may cost you $400 more than leaving from Midway. Don’t ask me, airlines use very complicated algorithms to calculate ticket prices.

Students, if you can get a good deal from an STA office, great. But looking online, you’ll do better at Orbitz or Travelocity. (Expedia and Orbitz are a bit cheaper than Travelocity, but look around.)

The biggest expenditure is going to be hostels. A place to sleep every night for a month. Every city is a different price and there are hostels with various prices, too. How do you estimate the total cost? What I did is take the prices of maybe 20 hostels from around Europe and averaged them. I ranged from Spain to Germany and Rome to Dublin. Then I just multiplied this by the number of days I planned to be gone. (Of course, I’m going to try to overestimate this by at least $300, just to be safe.) My average was just about $25 a night, for dorm beds.

Now I’ve just got to figure out food. I’ll let you know when I come up with something.