I See London, I See France! How to Travel on a Budget While in Europe

There are a ton of perks to studying abroad: meeting new people, learning a foreign language, eating delicious new food, and so on. But one of my personal favorites has been the ease and affordability of traveling to other countries during my stay in Lyon, France.

For the most part, all of France is easily accessible thanks to France’s high-speed train, the TGV. By train, the nonstop and glamorous life of Paris is only two short hours away.

For other European countries, there is a seemingly infinite list of Web sites that sell cheap tickets. Sometimes www.RyanAir.com sells tickets for as low as one euro to Madrid and Milan. Other sites, such as www.EasyJet.com and www.SmartWings.com sell equally low prices to cities all over Europe, including London, Barcelona, Prague, Rome, Paris, Budapest and Dublin.

I, along with four others, took a train to Paris, flew to Prague, took a 10-hour night train to Budapest and flew back to Paris. Not only was it one of the most memorable experiences ever, the cost of travel wasn’t so bad either: 147 euro or 160 U.S. dollars.

Because prices are so low when flying within Europe, it is very possible to make a weekend trip to Ireland. In fact, I just returned from a three-night trip to Dublin to visit my good friend, Claire Bermingham, who studied abroad at UCI last year.

She let me stay in her apartment that was situated right in the center of Dublin. Because I didn’t have to pay a cent for lodging, my trip cost about 150 euro for airfare, food and entertainment. Not only did I save money, I had a personal tour guide who took me to the all the best “local” spots.

In just one week, I will be flying to London for the weekend with a friend who is visiting me from the States. Because we booked our tickets in August, it only cost us 80 euro for a round trip flight. How can you beat that?

Just like Claire did for me, I’ve been able to show my own visitors a different side of Lyon, France. For them, they had the chance to feel like locals by buying the best cheeses, finding the cheap and delicious wine, and eating at all of the best restaurants that are not in the guide books.

During my stay here, I’ve met Italian, Canadian, Spanish, Australian, Irish, German, and Austrian students. There is no doubt in my mind that they would be more than willing to show me their hometowns.

It is opportunities like these that make traveling so accessible, affordable and most importantly, memorable.