BUDGET BUNKING IN EUROPE
How to Sleep Cheap, From Cruises to Convents
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Dismayed by the high cost of hotel rooms in Europe? Don't cancel your trip just yet. Here are some ways to save on lodgings. Prices were accurate when the Travel section went to press last week but are subject to availability and change. Unless otherwise noted, rates quoted are per person double.
Buy a Package
If you don't want to spent hours shopping for bargains, Mary Peters of Alexandria's Friendly Travel has this advice: "This year is the year to take a tour." Whether escorted or independent, you'll get better prices on accommodations and won't have to worry about taxes and service fees when air, hotel and (sometimes) meals and guide costs are bundled. By prepaying, you know the cost upfront.
To avoid sticker shock in the United Kingdom, for example, Affordable Tours (800-935-2620, http:/
Sophisticated Traveler, which specializes in Eastern Europe, has an eight-day all-inclusive "Poland's Best" escorted tour from Washington in May at $1,815 (plus up to $360 in taxes and fees; http:/
Independent air-hotel packages also offer savings. The average hotel price in Italy is $196 a night, according to the latest
Hotels.com survey, so it doesn't take a genius to figure out that Tourcrafters'"Florence and the Heart of Tuscany" package is a bargain. For $999 (plus $310 taxes and fees) from Washington, airfare, seven nights in four-star hotels, car rental and breakfast are included (through mid-May; book by April 15; 800-482-5995, http:/
Other Web sites to check: Go-Today.com ( http:/
Take a Cruise
With a cruise, you not only prepay -- thereby ensuring against rising rates -- but you have built-in lodging and all meals included. Check consolidator sites for bargains within 90 days of sailing. On Vacations to Go, for example (800-338-4962 or 800-680-2858, http:/
River cruises can price out considerably cheaper than land travel. Amadeus Waterways (800-626-0126, http:/
If your time frame is flexible, check last-minute cruise sites for deals. CruisesOnly.com (800-CRUISES, http:/
To sort through the choices, Cruise Lines International Association can help you find a travel agent ( http:/