How We Traveled Europe On The Cheap

If your impression of Europe is an expensive place to travel with crappy beer, we have a different story to tell.

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Full Show Script

  • [simple creature]

  • Evo: So... that was Europe. 7 countries visited in 129 days of travel. We could do the math to uncover how many miles we traveled, but there are some other figures we think you'll find more interesting. Ones that have to do with money, not distance.

  • She: First, the cost of travel. Getting to and traipsing about Europe has to be expensive, right?

  • Evo: Not really. When we added up the numbers, our big travel costs -- five separate trips by plane, and another five unrelated trips by train to different destinations -- the total came to $3600. Yes, for both of us. And yes, that included getting to Europe from America. No, we didn't cash in frequent flier miles or fly on a friends-and-family ticket. Sheila's just really good when it comes to travel planning.

  • She: And then there's the cost of lodging. 129 nights on vacation should add up quickly, right?

  • Evo: Again, not really. Not when you get rooms the way we do. Unlike train and air tickets, we get a lot of free lodging. 13 of our nights were completely comped, thanks to the conferences that booked us. 32 more nights were free, thanks friends old and new that let us couch surf with them, a night or two here and there, but sometimes weeks at a time. Thanks again, Gillian! But the bulk of our time -- 74 days -- was spent house sitting. Free lodging in exchange for watering the plants and feeding a few animals. Easy.  

  • She: That left ten days -- only ten days across four months  -- where we had to pay for a hotel or Airbnb with our own funds. Total cost: just over $700.

  • Evo: That's $70 a night for those 10 days, which isn't a bad price. But if you divide it across the entire 129, it's only five and a half bucks each day. That's a smoking deal, and I think we deserve a beer for our efforts.

  • She: We took a break from the Ungagged conference in London to walk the Beer Head Mile, just south of London Bridge. It was only a little after 10 in the morning, and we both still had to function at the conference, so we only hit two breweries: The Kernel, which we knew and love, and then Brew By Numbers, new to us, but one we quickly grew to love.

  • [BBN]

  • She: Don't worry. I'm not going to let Evo make yet another craft beer nerd show. Instead, I want to draw your attention to the accent of Paul, the Brew By Numbers guy Evo's chatting with. He didn't sound like a typical Londoner to me, so I asked the obvious question:

  • Evo: The question Paul gets a lot -- where are you from -- is becoming harder and harder to answer for a lot of people. Us, for example. We haven't had the right accent -- or simply didn't speak the correct language -- for the last five months. It's pretty clear we're not from here -- wherever here has been -- so we get asked the "where are you from" question a lot.

  • She: It's a hard question for us to answer. Unlike a lot of long-term travelers, we literally have no home to return to. Do we say "Arizona", where we lived for the last 18 years? Do we say "Oklahoma", where we both grew up? Neither answer seems right, because neither of us really think we're "from" any one place.

  • Evo: Which brings up one interesting thing we've noticed during this European leg of our global adventure: It really struck me in Milan, Italy. 

  • [cities look alike]

  • Evo: Sheila's mis-remembering of how expensive beer was in Copenhagen aside, cities in Europe all kinda look alike. And small towns... tend to look a lot like other small towns from other European countries. Sure, there are iconic monuments and features -- the Eiffel Tower Paris or the Pyramids of Egypt -- but once you get past the big "attraction" or some unique geography, you'd be hard pressed to figure out what city -- or even country -- you were in by examining the local mundane architecture.

  • She: Looking back at all that's happened over the last five months -- unexpected doctor visits, kidnapping, close encounters with acts of terror -- we really have had a great time touring Europe. 

  • Evo: Hindsight gives great perspective. And being a couple for close to 30 years helps us as well, as our friend Amanda, an English teacher living in Santiago de Compostela, related in the 30 minutes she was in our lives.

  • [28 years]

  • She: And I haven't killed him yet. Coming up, a clip from next week's show. And yes, it'll be about Thailand! But first...

  • Evo: As we talked about earlier, we struggle with the "where are you from" question. Chances are, some of you fine listeners do too. So... tell us how you'd answer the question. And because you'll probably forget to tell us later, tell us right now. Whatever you're listening to this show on -- assuming it's a connected device -- fire up your favorite social media tool and tell us -- and the world -- where you're *from*. Maybe that's where you live. Maybe that's where you grew up. Or maybe it's something else. We're really curious what you have to say. Just make your post, tweet, status update, picture or video public and use the hashtag ShEvo -- that's the pound sign, followed by S-h-E-v-o. We'll see it and can join in on the conversation. #ShEvo, and tell us where are you from. Do it now. 

  • She: Here's what's on deck for next week.

  • [scooter étiquette]

  • Evo: And we'll probably talk a little about riding in the back of the Thai cop truck, or the jungle trail that tried it's best to kill us. Chohn gáaeo from Thailand!

  • SHE: We travel the world as The Opportunistic Travelers largely because of our generous listeners.

  • EVO: People all over the world pledge as little as five bucks a month, and in return, they get a hand-written postcard from us sent from wherever opportunity has taken us, every single month. Sign up today at TheOpportunisticTravelers.com/postcards.

  • SHE: We also stay for free most of our journey. No, we’re not super-stars or anything. We eliminate hotel costs and stay in some great cities by housesitting all over the world. Get our complete list of the actual housesitting sites we use every day at TheOpportunisticTravelers.com/stayforfree, and stop spending money on hotels when you travel, too. Thanks for listening to this episode. I’m Sheila Dee.

  • EVO: And I am Evo Terra. Our theme music is "On the Ground" by Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com. All other sounds, voices, and odd bits you hear were created by us. And this podcast is just the start of the audio, video, images, and written content we’re producing as we travel the world. Got an idea on how we could work together or a place you like for us to visit? Visit TheOpportunisticTravelers.com to get in touch. Now would be good.



New episodes of the The Opportunistic Travelers Podcast are available every Tuesday. Of course, Tuesday can be a very different thing depending on where we are in the world. Cheers!