Summer time is here and many of you are doing missions trips in Europe or your own pilgrimage with friends. I know you don't have much money, and your currency might not hold up very well against the Euro or the Pound. Here are some thoughts that could save you money.
- CouchSurfing.com is a new network of couch-surfers and homes with couches to crash on. Why not sign up and build some couchsurfing cred. This kind of reminds me of Luke 10 - when you enter a town, there is someone in a house waiting for you, preferably with a couch. And it will not cost you anything EXCEPT the obligation to show hospitality to couch-surfing strangers when they turn up at your house during the year
- That £10 pound flight you bought out of London is probably leaving at 6am in the morning or arrives at 11pm at night - which means you cannot use public transportation and you cant afford a taxi. Just go the night before and join the young people who are spending the night at Camp Luton or Camp Stanstead. You will be glad you brought your sleeping pad. Check your airport to see if they are open 24 hours.
- If you are driving around Europe and your van or car is your house, then Europe's autobahns will be your home at night time. Pay extra for the toll roads and you will find yourself at Camp Esso each night with lots of interesting people. Park the car near a corner and roll out some canvass in a safe place next to the vehicle. Wake up in the morning to a shower and a good coffee. Thats worth paying the toll.
- Youth Hostels are a great way to get around a country and connect with young people from all over the world. And old people too - I often stay in youth hostels when i travel. I try to avoid hotels. And i usually cant afford them anyway. If you cant afford a youth hostel bed, ask about working at the counter.
- Walking the pilgrimage trails is a great way to do some heavy duty prayer, enjoy the scenery, enter the country with an appropriate posture, and also find cheap accommodation each night. My daughter will be walking the 6 week Camino de Santiago this summer in Spain. Special pilgrims hostels only cost about 2-3 Euros a night.
- Kit - Don't bring anything with brand names, especially when you enter poorer countries. You may even want to take off your labels or cover them up.
If you have some money to spend, buy a good, sleeping bag that packs tight, a decent backpack, good shoes, a hat, sunglasses, water bottle and a sleeping mat. If you cant carry it, you cant bring it. One big backpack with a small pack that joins up is the way to go. You will be walking more than you think. Don't bring a suitcase or you will look like a tourist.
- Eating. Americans should forget about really hot or really cold food or drinks. No ice. Get used to it. Get used to eating well when you cook food from the supermarket and eating light when you are stuck with restaurants. That way you can get buy with very little money.
I did this in London yesterday. For breakfast, I paid 99p for a large loaf of bread which got me through both breakfast AND lunch. Dinner cost me £1.30 for a plate of chips. OK - I did buy a chai steamer for £1.60 in a weak moment, but it really is possible to get by for very little money if you go for the basics.
Eat continental style - olives, cheese, bread - you don't have to keep it cold and you don't need to heat it up. Supermarkets and bakeries are your best friend. And bring a huge water bottle with you.
Computer? Better off leaving it behind if you have to carry it a lot. Set up your blog to receive postings as emails and then you can use your phone. Even better is just to use internet cafes to do everything. WiFi is not everywhere and can be expensive.
Travellers Checks? No - ATM machines will spit out the right currency.
Buses are cool and cheaper than trains. My last trip from Prague to Basel, Switzerland was on a night bus and was really cheap - it also took care of a nights accommodation. Megabus.com in UK is really cheap if you get in early enough, even as cheap as 99p.
There ya go - not as expensive as you thought . . .