My boyfirend and I would like to do the backpacking thing in W. Europe
(mainly the U.K., France, Spain, and Amsterdam) this summer and we are
looking for the best deals on airfare and hostel stays. I would like
to get a credit card w/ frequent flyer miles but I’m not sure if it is
worth it. We are both students. Any suggestions?
Answered by The Penny Pincher
Backpacking is backpacking so there are not too many ways to save money but
here are a few suggestions. First, airfares from the states are fairly
uniform and you should start finding great deals to Europe beginning in
April/May. Expect to pay from $299 for a great deal to not more than $499
round trip. Airfares within Europe will be high this summer, especially with
the high Euro. Therefore, I recommend that you look into a program offered
by French auto dealers (Renault, Peugeot) where you lease a NEW car, for a
minimum of 17 days and a maximum of 6 months. This is an idiosyncratic
program with certain restrictions, but well worth the savings. Look at
these sites for additional information:
Having a car can make good sense because it gives you a place to store your items, serves as a hotel in a pinch, and since you plan on visiting neighboring countries, a car can make your trip more convenient by having the ability to travel to out-of-the-way places.
When you want a break from hostels you can look into a relatively
inexpensive form of hotel stays. Check out The Best Western European
Traveler Program. This program allows you to simply buy Best Western Advance Units in your local currency and use the Travel Card loaded with these units for payment at any of the participating hotels. The price includes breakfast and most of the Best Western hotels in Europe are pretty nice. There is one in Prague which I have stayed at previously.
As for a credit card, I will suggest the American Express Student Card, with
a membership in their rewards program. You will have to pay a fee for both
the card and the membership rewards program. However, it will not only help
you establish good credit, you will be able to earn a lot of points when
purchasing gas, paying rental fees, for hotel visits, and airfares. Apply for
your card as soon as possible, and start using it so you build up your
spending pattern. Also, before departing on your trip call American Express
and inform them that you will be traveling, and ask if they can raise your
spending level. The card does not have a pre-set credit limit, however, your
expenditures are approved based on past spending and payments, so get it,
use it, and pay it off.
Have a good trip.