Not much to write about this morning because it rained pretty much all day yesterday. Reader Joe in Indiana had asked the other day if we would talk a little about how we research a trip and he's right that our upcoming Czech Republic and area excursion makes for a good example.
First, we had to decide on where to go. There are so many choices once you are actually across the ocean. It used to be that train travel was the way to explore Europe, but now airfares are so inexpensive over here that we chose to fly to an area and then use local transport as necessary. Because we are very price conscious we use a website such as Numbeo to find out what prices are like in the country we're hoping to visit. So between that research and the flight possibilities, we decided on Czech republic.
Low cost airlines? There are many. Here are some of the more popular ones that fly out of Britain...
And there are others. And then, there are many others that are based in other countries, yet regularly fly in and out of the UK. Doing research into getting the best price can be very time consuming, and you have to be very careful about rules regarding baggage or connecting flights. Most of these airlines charge extra for checking a bag, and it can cost as much as your flight does to check a bag. Also, no guarantees that your flight will arrive in time for your connection.
Once the airplane is booked, then you have to figure out where you're going to stay. We use www.couchsurfing.org quite a bit because we enjoy the experience of staying with someone local to the area. It's not only that it's inexpensive...it's also about meeting the locals, and we have enjoyed lasting friendships with many of the people we have stayed with in the past. For different choices other than expensive hotels, we've looked at hostels that offer private rooms, and we've looked at campgrounds, many of which offer rooms or cabins with bedding. Have a look at this local place near Prague...
http://www.campdana.cz/england.php This is only one example of many. A room for two would work out to about $40 per night, but there are cheaper and more expensive options along the same line.
Fortunately, English is widely spoken in the major areas and even local websites have English language options so that you can easily understand what's available. So when we're checking out transport, we find the local train and bus websites and are able to sort things out from there. Then, we decide where to go next. in this case, we found a couchsurfing host 45 minutes east of Prague, so that's the direction we're going to head. We'll not plan how we're going to get there until we're actually in Prague. We've found that local hosts are a wealth of information and can often find you the best way to get to where you're going. And you never know if your host might have a friend or relative going in that direction anyhow and you might get lucky enough to catch a ride and only contribute to the gas.
We're trying not to plan too much in advance because if we find an area we like we might want to stay longer. We like to be adaptable.
Of course the tourism office is a helpful source of information so I've been going to the http://www.czechtourism.com/Homepage.aspx regularly. Then of course each city and region also has it's own local office as well. Google is your friend when doing research!
As for what to do when we get there? All you have to do is type in "free things to do in prague" and you get a list of possibilities. Like this one from National Geographic Travel...
And so the research continues, and will be ongoing throughout the trip. Of course we're also still looking at how we're going to get back to Britain, and from where. We're thinking Bratislava, Budapest, or maybe Vienna. Or, we could return to Prague and leave from there. Not sure, but this time we're booking our return flight well in advance and it should be even cheaper than our outgoing flight was.
Don't hesitate to ask questions or make comments!
Edit: One more thing we thought we should add. While it is common thinking to want to visit the larger cities (London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, etc) they are also the most expensive cities. In Czech, we are only going to spend a short time in Prague and then more time in smaller less touristy areas.