Lonely Planet: "Europe on a Shoestring"
Reviewed by Volker Poelzl
Before reading this book, I was wondering how Lonely Planet was able to publish a budget travel guide at a time when the dollar is so low and travel costs are going up everywhere. After taking a close look at "Europe on a Shoestring" I came to the conclusion that they actually pulled it off. Somehow the authors managed to find cheap accommodation and low-cost but still classy eateries all across Europe, even in expensive Western European countries. Readers will find a budget estimate in the introduction to each country, ranging from an average 40-60 euros per day in Western Europe and 25-50 euros per day in Eastern Europe. After my initial skepticism I have to admit that "Europe on a Shoestring" is really a budget travel guide, and a very good one at that. Following its recommendations, budget travelers will not be drawn to cheap fast-food joints and sterile low-cost hotels, but will find a plethora of great lodging, cafés, eateries, and attractions. Since I grew up in Europe and have traveled almost all over the continent, I was particularly interested by what the authors wrote about the destinations that I know well. What resources did they list for budget travelers? I was quite impressed by what I found. No matter which countries you choose for your trip, this guide will help you travel anywhere in Europe in the cheapest possible way while still enjoying yourself.
I also found the suggested itineraries very useful, encouraging travelers to move at a reasonable pace to really see and enjoy the places they visit. The suggested itineraries cover all of Europe’s regions and the suggested travel periods range from two weeks to three months—offering readers choices from a wide array of destinations and countries that can be comfortably visited during their preferred period of travel.
Since the guide covers 44 countries in 1,284 pages, there is understandably little room to list all the tourist attractions and museums for every destination. On average, the book devotes between 30 and 70 pages to every single country. Due to these space limitations, there are few listings of sites, lodging options, and restaurants. Those that are listed reflect a careful selection of cheap places with a unique local character. On the other hand, keep in mind that the guide only covers the major attractions and cities in each country. This is satisfactory if you only spend a few days at each destination, but if you plan on spending one week in Florence you will probably need a more detailed guidebook.
The "Travel on a Shoestring" series is intended for young budget travelers with a few weeks or a few months month of vacation time to discover some of Europe’s most charming destinations without going too much in depth, and without the desire to visit off-the-beaten-path destinations. The guide is also for travelers who don’t mind sleeping in 8-bed dormitories, eating at student cafeterias, or other low-end but charming eateries where the quantity of food is often more important that the quality or presentation.
If you are a budget traveler who wants to see more than just one or two European countries, then "Europe on a Shoestring" is a great choice. Happy Travels!