Thursday, February 24, 2005

Cheap west-european vacation

Looking for a cheap way to spend a West-European vacation this summer, I stumbled upon what are probably the most fascinating and greatest travel websites I have ever seen, the first couchsurfing.com, a site so ridiculously simple I’m tempted to call it genius. Built around the idea of meeting people from around the world, the vast assortment of international travelers offering a free is startling. The majority of members are in their early twenties, fairly good looking and for the most part are slackers and happy-go-getters, who are into all kinds of cool stuff, moreover most of them are willing to take their guests around town! How safe can this be? You may ask, well several features have been built to address this issue. The site actually verifies the location from which the user logs in and displays it on their profile. A voluntary external verification allows the site-owners to check the member’s public documents and display an icon that confirms who they are. Not to mention the self-policing feature, which allow members to write testimonials/reviews about their couchsurfing experience. The more positive stories that are listed the more assured you’d be about the legitimacy of the member in question. Now that we’ve handled accommodation, let’s find cheap tickets, there are several sites on the net that promise the lowest rate, none of which that even begin to compare to my second site of the day Ryan Air, which offers flights within western Europe starting from 1 Pound (excluding taxes, fees & charges)! Yes ONE POUND. Puzzled by their business mechanics and questioning the legitimacy & validity of their offerings, I decided to check their FAQ. A 14 day advance purchase is required in order to obtain such a low rate, ticket prices increase afterwards, the lowest rate can be obtained during off-peak days (after 12.00 Monday to 12.00 Thursday and after 12.00 on a Saturday). There’s no gimmick here; a friend of mine actually tried this a couple of times. If you don’t mind an approximate 80 minutes drive to Stansted Airport (presuming you’re in central London), and don’t desire an on-board meal. Then this is the perfect flight for you. I’m looking forward to couchsurfing myself soon, and will definately be flying abroad Ryan Air, and setting the record for the cheapest West-European tour ever made. Spain, Italy, France.. here I come.

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