You can't turn on the TV, radio or surf the net without coming across some bad news about the economy within the first five minutes. Everywhere you turn, there's talk on job losses, cuts, recessions and lord knows what else. It's a pretty depressing state of affairs and we'd all be a lot better off if we just grabbed a backpack and disappeared for a while. Many are choosing to do just that, with the hope of returning in a few weeks, months or even years and everything be great again.
The university tuition fees issue and rise in unemployment have made the decision to travel a pretty easy one for a lot of young people who have either finished college and don't fancy getting in over £30,000+ worth of debt just yet, or who want to take a gap year between study years. University graduates themselves are fast discovering that doors aren't necessarily opening in the way they hoped when they turned up fresh-faced and eager to learn three years previously. Travelling is a pretty good alternative to the treadmill of job searching and attending interviews.
Just getting on a plane and heading off to Europe used to be the norm, but it your budget doesn't cater for the more jet-set backpacking lifestyle, there are alternative ways to travel Europe that won't have you calling home for funds after five minutes. You can also plan ahead and find places to visit, eat, drink and sleep using the likes of the Aviva - Europe directories for each destination you plan to visit.
Travelling By Car
If there's a few of you travelling, why not split the costs, get a sat-nav that features Europe (you could even go old school and use a - wait for it - map) and hire a car and see Europe that way? Planes are great from getting from A to B in a short amount of time, but travelling by car is far more exciting. You get to see the sites you won't pick up from 50,000 feet, and you're also likely to get into the kinds of adventures you wouldn't otherwise. You'll also get to meet the locals this way and be able to ignore all the shackles of time - including bus timetables and flight times. Your travel journal or scrapbook is going to be far more interesting and entertaining travelling by car than by air, and that has got to be a huge selling point. Check out Driver Abroad for some great self-drive tips.
Travelling By Bus
When I travelled around Australia in 2006-07, I used the famous Greyhound service to travel up the East Coast, through to the centre, and down to Adelaide from Alice Springs, stopping off every now and then to check out little outback towns as I went. It was a great little experience, and for the same reason as a car: I got to see things that I wouldn't have seen on a plane. I would recommend it to anyone, and travelling by bus also takes away the responsibility of driving, which means nobody needs to be the designated driver the night before you travel. That could be a big selling point for some people. The likes of Euroline connects 500 destinations across the continent, so you can rest assured you'll be covered. The only issue you have is that - unlike a car - you're completely at the discretion of the driver, so if you're not a fan of packed buses and suffer from any kind of car sickness, a bus might not be the preferred mode of transport.
The Eco-Friendly Way
If you want to experience the vast 10,180,000 sq km lands of Europe at its very best, the recommendation is to pack a bike and a decent pair of walking boots and tackle it the eco-friendly way: By hike and by bike. There's no better way to see and experience all the stunning landscapes and to experience than by stepping out of the traditional forms of transport and do it this way. It will take you a whole lot longer, but it will save you an abundance in cash, get you super-fit and cut down on your carbon emissions. What could be better than that? Travelling is all about experience, and those experiences get a whole lot sweeter when you're feet are firmly on the ground.