Back in the day, a summer trip backpacking or riding the rails across Europe was viewed as a right of passage for many people from North America. Of course that was before the European Union and the rise of the euro as a continental currency standard. For many years now Americans have been on the losing end of a relatively steep dollar/euro exchange rate. But while these financial constraints have prevented many from planning lengthy sojourns abroad, what many people don’t know is there are ways to beat the euro and enjoy an extended European holiday – at budget prices.
TRAVEL IN THE INTERIM SEASON
In the travel industry, seasons are defined as “peak” and “low.” Obviously the cost of travel is going to be more expensive in the peak season, and the harsh weather during the low season makes for, oftentimes, miserable travel. Another option is to plan your trip in the shoulder season between the peak and low. Prices are generally lower during this time period and the weather isn’t extreme.
It’s difficult to beat the euro but not impossible. As long as you’re smart with the money you do have then you can make it stretch. For example, by making lunch the largest meal of the day you can take advantage of the many “executive specials” found in cafes and restaurants throughout Europe during lunchtime. These deals provide a lot of culinary bang for your buck.
FIND CHEAP FLIGHTS
This may seem like a no-brainer, but what many Americans don’t know is that there are incredible deals to be had on inter-European flights. That’s because there are so many smaller specialty airlines in operation vying for the same business as all the others. Not only that, but it often takes no more than an hour or two to fly between European countries.
There are many reasons to visit Manchester, with this famous English city having a wealth of attractions to enjoy. This includes some fine museums and there is plenty of choice for those that like to spend time at these.
Museum of Science and Industry
For some interactive hands-on fun the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester is the place to visit. Its many galleries cover a variety of subjects to ensure there is something for everyone. Those with childhood dreams of trains, planes and automobiles can take in the Air & Space Gallery as well as the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Gallery. These have plenty of Manchester-made vehicles on display. The history of Manchester through the ages is shown in the Making of Manchester Gallery. It is also possible to get a view of what was below the city streets, with the Underground Manchester Gallery having a Victorian sewer that visitors can walk through. Other galleries cover topics that include the history of communication systems, textile machines, the history of electricity and scientific discoveries through the years. Children and adults will find plenty to keep them interested and entertained for a fun day out.
The Lake District in Cumbria, in North West England, is a stunning setting. It has inspired poets, writers, artists and academics over the years and still does so today. It is an environment where people can come to relax, enjoy walking and hiking, sailing or just breathing in the fresh air.
However there is so much to the region that some facets are rarely discussed. A first visit to this National Park should just be a taster. It is a place of infinite variety that needs a few return trips before anyone can claim to have a grasp of all it has to offer.
There is plenty of water in this National Park, however, there is only one lake in the Lake District and that is Bassenthwaite! All the other lakes are described as ‘Water’ or ‘Mere’; simply known by their main name without the ‘Lake’ suffix. They are essentially all the same of course, but this does make a good trick question in a quiz, though it may cause an argument with the question master.
Bassenthwaite is fairly close to Keswick and there is a good chance of seeing an animal around there that has become endangered in the UK.
Trips with kids can prove a challenge, they get bored easily, they can’t sit still for long, museums and cultural exhibits that adults like, and find educational most kids couldn’t care less about. However kid attractions are often loud annoying riots of color, and often price gouge parents, and offer little enrichment. How can parents offer an enriching holiday that kids will enjoy but won’t be filled with price hiking mascots?
You want to balance learning and fun, this can be hard to do sometimes. Museums are a good start but can get boring if not engaging or of subject of interest. A good place to balance this is with children friendly hands on museums or exhibits, science centers often have a lot of hands on or interactive displays as well. Zoos and aquariums also offer learning opportunities but are fun and captivating. Kids like things they can interact with or feel a part of rather than sit and observe or lectured at. Planning lots of events and experiences like this is the best way to keep kids interested and have them learn something just from being an active part. This can end up costing eventually, though holiday loans can help mitigate some of the sting.
Summer is quickly approaching, although your winter jacket and scarf may disagree, and that means it is time to start thinking about where to go for vacation. If you are a history nerd like me, you’re going to want to go somewhere with a rich historical background, hopefully someplace that interests you and whoever you are traveling with.
One southern city which really makes you feel like you’re back in the colonial times is Savannah, GA, located on the Savannah River just over the border of South Carolina. The layout makes you truly feel like you have been brought back to the 1700’s with their vast “squares” littered throughout the city, and the wonderfully fun River Street. If you have time make sure you go check the Savannah Sand Gnats at historic Grayson Stadium, which opened in 1927. Savannah also has many tours and trolleys which you can ride around to get the full feel of the city. While you could probably see most of it in a day or two, a long weekend would really allow you to see more of the area like beautiful Tybee or Hilton Head Island. Make sure to pack light clothes though, you can leave the pants at home.
Next up, keeping up with the hot theme, is San Antonio, TX. Located on the San Antonio River, San Antonio is the seventh largest city in America. While I have never been I have been told by many people that the River Walk is the place to be. It is touted as the number one visitor location in Texas, and just about everything can be found there from water parks to museums to dining. After you’ve had your fill of the River Walk you cannot miss out on seeing the Alamo. If your only knowledge is from the movie from the early 2000’s, they you most definitely need to go. It isn’t far from the River Walk, and has tours daily.
If you’re into the Revolutionary War like me you need to check out Philadelphia and Boston as well. For obvious reasons theses places need to be on and history buff’s places to see due to the importance of both of the cities. I think a week in each city should be enough but you don’t want to feel rushed so if you think you’ll need more time, don’t do less, take more time!
If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to comment below!