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When the hell do you tip in Europe?: a continental conversation on gratuity history and convention abroad

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 24, 2008 in Travel Tips

I came to Europe staunchly under the impression that I didn’t have to tip.

That’s supposed to be an American conception. You know the tired old argument: Americans like letting the market dictate wages, so you have to hustle for your dollar, while the Europeans believe in a base standard for everyone. I’m not here to argue which is better.

I was just psyched on seeing something in a menu, ordering it, getting it and peacing.

Boy, did things get a lot more complicated than that.

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Cheap travel tips: how to travel the world cheaply, our lessons and more

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 21, 2008 in Travel Tips

Sean standing in front of an East London sign. He is a pathetic victim of situational poverty, but he likes to travel. What does he do?

Sean standing in front of an interesting "Hell" advertisement in East London Oct. 4, 2008. He is a pathetic victim of situational poverty, but he likes to travel. What does he and others like him do?We set out to blog about cheap travel.

I fell madly in love with Couch Surfing, which can save you some money and give you some real cultural lessons. In Brussels, we spoke to Ian, a New Zealander who had taken to hitchhiking - which can get one of your biggest expenses, transportation.

There are about a million and five ways to travel cheaply. Sometimes it’s a mentality. Sometimes it’s knowing a local. But, more often, it’s meeting a local with the right mentality.

Here are a handful of the best ways to travel for cheap - or free - that we didn’t even get to on this trip.

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Use Mass transit!

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 20, 2008 in Travel Tips

In the London Tube, Oct. 6, 2008

In the London Tube, Oct. 6, 2008

Oh my goodness. Get out of that cab.

Yeah, renting a car, I suppose, is cool, though gas is so much more expensive in Europe than even cliched notions you might have could suggest.

And, sure, those stories of a cabbie ripping you off in the Czech Republic - decide on a price before you even get inside, folks - are great for your friends.

But if you are only spending a few days in a city, you have to, have to give the city’s mass transit system a spin.

Now, I have a bias because I would say the same thing about U.S. cities - how can you visit Philadelphia or Boston or Pittsburgh or Los Angeles and not give a go to how the common locals get around - but it becomes even more important abroad.

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How to eat on the road for cheap, while backpacking, traveling

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 19, 2008 in Travel Tips

Stuffing my face with a delicious Belgian waffle in Brussels.

Stuffing my face with a delicious Belgian waffle in Brussels.

So you’re backpacking to train-traveling for a couple weeks, a month or lots longer.

You end up with the same problem. Trying to eat healthy while keeping costs down.

I spent almost half a grand on eating during a month of backpacking - less than my train-travel and housing costs - which I think is pretty darn good, considering I had to eat every local delicacy we could find.

Let me throw some suggestions at you.

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Live or travel: quality versus quantity in adventure

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 17, 2008 in Travel Tips

It becomes a question of quality of stay or quantity of stops.

Do you want to join the Peace Corps or study abroad or use any of the other of wonderful ways that give you a chance at an extended stay in a single place. That’s how you come to know a foreign place intimately.

Or, do you want to see as many of the world’s great sights as you can in the time and with the money you have? That’s how come to visit the thousands of famous spots and locations we know.

Much goes into the decision, what kind of traveler you want to be, what you want to learn, and what you’re willing to sacrifice.

After this trip I have even more thoughts on the matter.

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How to couch surf: tricks and lessons from the road

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 14, 2008 in Travel Tips

Sean taking couch surfing too seriously in Copenhagen, Denmark on Oct. 31, 2008.

Sean taking couch surfing too seriously in Copenhagen, Denmark on Oct. 31, 2008.

If you peeped Episode Six, the last we did abroad, you saw us discuss the merits and failings of your options for accommodation.

We mentioned, as we have throughout our trip, couch surfing - a concept with which you should familiarize yourself if you plan on doing any extended cheap travel, whether it be in Europe, domestic or anywhere else. These networks are huge and extend through all boundaries.

While we talked about CS in the episode, I thought the process merited some more discussion.

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Choosing your destination: Europe a ‘dusty museum’

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 8, 2008 in Travel Tips

A photo I took of the Coliseum in Rome March 2007.

A photo I took of the Coliseum in Rome March 2007.

More than a year ago I wrote a commentary piece for The Temple News, the college newspaper of my alma mater Temple University, deriding the European continent as location of choice for young travel.

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Controlling how and when you wake up, travel style

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 6, 2008 in Travel Tips

Sean sleeping in London, England.

Sean sleeping in London, England.

Ask anyone with whom I’ve traveled or anyone with whom I’ve lived… or anyone who will listen.

I am crafting the ability to control when I wake up. If you’re planning on backpacking, you better, too.

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How to keep a budget while on the road

Posted by Sean Blanda on Nov 4, 2008 in Travel Tips

The pain of figuring out the budget

The pain of figuring out the budget

Today, Chris and I bit the bullet, dumped out the receipts and figured out who owes who what.  After all, it is a cold Monday night. Up until now, we had alternated who took cash out of ATMs and tried to split big purchases such as hostels or train tickets.

Bad idea.

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How to get an ISIC card, even if you’re not in college

Posted by Sean Blanda on Nov 3, 2008 in Travel Tips


The ISIC card (that’s International Student Identity Card) can be your gateway to a hefty student discount on flights, trains, and other travel necessities.   The commonly used STA travel agency requires the ISIC card for all of its student rates and getting a card is easier than you think.  In fact, it’s so easy that you really don’t have to even be in college.
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