Traveling can be expensive, especially in big cities, but I do have some advice on how you can save money and do it on the cheap.
GO WHEN THE WEATHER IS NICE, BUT NOT DURING PEAK SEASON
If the weather is nice, you can spend most of your visit outdoors (at the beach, in a park or gardens, along the river, etc.) which will save you lots of money, so try to plan your trip for a season with decent weather. However, make sure it’s not peak season as that’s when all the prices are jacked up.
Eat street food. Utilize local supermarkets. Cook. If the weather is nice, picnic in a park. The gardens at the Eiffel Tower is a popular destination for picnicking and drinking wine or beer while enjoying the power and mystique of the tower. If you really want the restaurant experience, go at lunch time during the work week when there are deals.
If you’re staying at hostels or using couchsurfing, this is a no-brainer; you’ll meet people that way (read my tips for meeting people at hostels when traveling solo). But if renting your own place or staying at a hotel is more your style, you still have great options for meeting people.
MEETUP.COM OR THE LOCAL EQUIVALENT
I used meetup.com to meet people while I was traveling alone in Paris and staying in an apartment by myself. Paris also has meetmeout.fr, which is the local equivalent. You’ll find happy hours, walking tours, networking events, classes, picnics, and more.
As a long-term expat, people always ask me “why?”: “why did you leave the United States?”, “why did you move to the Czech Republic?”, “why did you move to Argentina?”, “why do you study so many languages?”, “why don’t you want to return to the United States?”.
Now, on my 10th anniversary of being an expat, I feel very fortunate to finally be able to answer those questions. The answer is simple, yet complicated: I am an existential migrant, and always have been.
Here is the UN’s 2015 International Migration Infographic, which claims that there are 4 million “North Americans” (which would include Canada) living abroad.
Meanwhile, AARO’s estimate is 8 MILLION Americans (from the United States), twice as many as the United Nations has reported for both the United States and Canada. According to their website, they got this figure from the U.S. State Department.
In my opinion, there is no way to answer this question. Sorry.
I was in Paris just one month before the attack, staying just 2 blocks away from Le Petit Cambodge in Belleville. Then I was in Istanbul in December, again, just one month before the attack, staying 2 blocks from Sultanahmet’s main square.
In between the Paris attacks and my visit to Istanbul, my loved ones asked me if I was sure that going to Istanbul was a good idea. I replied, “I’m still going”. The truth is, I didn’t really know if it was a good idea, and although I did consider my options, there was never any real possibility of me canceling my visit to Istanbul. Today, I don’t have any mixed feelings about having visited these locations when I did, and I would go back to both cities in a heartbeat. And yes, I realize how lucky I am, and I am grateful.
For me personally, I decided that I didn’t want fear to control or influence my decisions. That is no way to live. The best thing we can do right now is not let the violence and terror (even if by our own volition) take away our freedom to enjoy life. Take a cue from Paris. Everyone must decide for themselves, but this is what I have decided, for me.
Circus Hostel, Berlin
This is the final installment of today’s hostel-related posts. So, first I shared my “formula” for choosing hostels when traveling alone, and then I shared my top 5 favorite hostels of all time….but maybe all this sounds great in theory, but you’re just not sure how to approach people at the hostels once you get there. I have some suggestions.
AT BAHAUS HOSTEL IN ISTANBUL
Pulling from my recent 4-month adventure around Europe as well as countless other hostel experiences over the years, here are my all time favorites. HOW DID I FIND THESE HOSTELS? Check out my formula for choosing a hostel when you’re traveling alone.