Let’s be frank: Traveling to Europe this summer will be more difficult than in recent years. Which is all the more reason to consider, and then overcome, a number of obstacles.
What has resulted in these problems? First, the initial cost of flying to various European capitals will undoubtedly be higher than before.
That major champion of low-cost transatlantic air travel, WOW Airlines, has gone out of business. An even larger source of low-cost tickets, Norwegian, has suffered losses and is expected to raise rates in the months ahead.
A second problem: Several European nations—most prominently Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary—have installed anti-democratic governments and will be much less pleasant to visit. Adding to troubles: Great Britain is mired in confusion over its exit from the European Union, and travel from England to Ireland, and from England to the Continent, may encounter occasional holdups.
As for France, tourism there has been slightly affected (for the worse) by the weekly Yellow Vest street riots and by that tragic fire in the Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Next, “overtourism”—the unpleasant overcrowding of popular destinations—continues virtually unabated (despite constant discussions and complex proposals about how to lessen it), and such European classics as Barcelona, Venice, Dubrovnik, the Cinque Terre, and others are jammed with tourists (from heavily populated China, among other places), making visits unpleasant for many.
Which is all the more reason, I say, for planning intelligently for a trip to Europe.
For Europe is too important a source of our culture, too important as a proving ground for experiments in government policies.
We are poorer without a knowledge of these instances in culture and government, and we are less than fully developed citizens of our own countries without a knowledge of what European artists, writers, performers, and politicians are up to,
The immediate task is to offset the high cost of air transportation for getting there by a radical reduction of our expense for accommodations. And that task is performed by making a conscious decision to use low-cost hostels for our housing.
New hostels have exploded in number in every major European city. They have been vastly improved in quality and now offer private rooms in most of them. They also charge one-fifth to a tenth of what a hotel would cost, and they have no age limit on their use.
Smart tourists of all ages are now found in hostels, for they are no longer regarded as for “youth” only.
The smart tourist also makes a similar adjustment in the amount of luggage they take along on a trip to Europe. Confining themselves to one small, lightly packed suitcase means that the tourist is no longer a prisoner of expensive porters and taxi cabs and can make easy use of low-cost pubic transportation.
The smart tourist also shares plates and courses with a companion on a trip to Europe, saving a great deal on meals. And the same intelligent tourist seeks out the restaurants patronized by locals, especially those found near large marketplaces, where costs are lower.
Finally, intelligent tourists sightsee on their own two feet, passing up costly organized tours and enjoying a far better view of the authentic life in their destinations.
Approached in that manner, a forthcoming trip to Europe this summer can be enjoyed as before.
And it should be enjoyed. Europe is too important to be excluded from our lives when a few careful steps can restore it.