A Last Minute Trip to Belgium

I know, I know... I said I was going to Cyprus in February, got a Black Friday deal.... but while I was looking at the website a few days ago, Sunday, I saw super cheap tickets, also 25 dollars round trip, to Brussels, Belgium... On Sunday. This Sunday, the 3rd of December. Coming back Thursday, December 7. I actually had noticed that on Thursday when I bought my tickets to Cyprus, and strongly considered buying it then, but was unsure... Yesterday, though, my friend convinced me that it wasn't a stupid decision to go, it was so cheap and I could totally do it at this point in my life (with my kids old enough and 3/4 in school, etc.), so I bought tickets.
After first checking that I'd be able to find cheap accommodations in Brussels, of course. Because cheap airfare and non affordable sleeping accommodations isn't exactly a frugal move.
I found accommodations for the nights that I'd be there for 48 dollars total (it would have been 22 more, but I had 22 dollars in AirBnB referral credit) which is really decent, considering...

I had seen cheap tickets to other cities, some even cheaper than this (if you can imagine) and some exactly this price (other cities in Poland than where I'd been, Romania, and a few different cities in Germany), but what made me decide that Brussels was where I wanted to go was the fact that my maternal grandfather was from Brussels, Belgium, leaving in the middle of World War Two, and I am curious to learn about his birthplace.

This might seem excessive to you- so many vacations and trips. For my tenth anniversary. Then Poland this past summer. Now Belgium. Then Cyprus in February... but as I wrote in my introduction to my cookbook, I've always had a love of adventure and travel, but just never could afford it, so I had to shelve it and make do with having adventures via foraging and cooking exotic meals. But it's not something that I ever stopped desiring. I just couldn't.
On top of that, having little nursing ones at home meant that I couldn't leave them...
But if I could manage to fulfill my love of travel without going over budget, then that is something that my heart desires so badly it could burst.
Even if that means buying a ticket last minute to travel exactly one week from the date of purchase and then rushing around to get all the arrangements made to make it happen.

This trip will be as low budget as they come. The only expenses I am planning on paying are airfare, transportation to and from airports (and am doing that as cheaply as I can manage, even if it means more of a headache because the airports I'm flying in and out of are all the way in the boonies), airbnbs, cell phone, and insurance, and public transportation while there. I'm bringing as much food along as I can manage in my carry on bags (not paying extra for checked luggage) (and will be bringing the barest minimal of changes of clothing to save room for food) so I don't need to buy expensive food there or pay for restaurants.
I've researched a bunch of free activities to do in Brussels including 4 free tours (I do plan on leaving them tips after, so that is an additional cost), and free museums. The days that I'm going are actually pretty lucky, since many museums in Brussels specifically are free the first week of the month, most of them the first Wednesday of the month, which I've dubbed museum day.
I've also been in touch with my grandfather's brother, the only sibling still alive, who gave me information on where my grandfather's family used to live, where my great grandfather (and name sake) had a shop and even told me about a mini museum about their street and area that is there today. So I plan on checking that out too.

The one extra expense that I decided to have is taking a train to Bruges, Belgium (pronounced Brooj'), known as "Venice of the North" because of its canal system, similar to Venice.

From descriptions and pictures I've learned that it has much of what Venice has to offer, only without it being as much of a tourist trap as Venice. I've dreamed of going to Venice for years and years, specifically because of the canals... and I'm hoping that going to Bruges will fulfill that desire, something to check off my bucket list.

Taking the train to and from Bruges will actually cost me more than my flight to Brussels... 36 dollars, but I do think it will be worth it. Everyone who's been to Bruges talks about how amazing it is.

Anyhow, I'm really excited about this trip, and plan on tallying up every single expense I have to see how much it costs me. My goal- under 200 dollars. I think that is totally doable. But under 250 tops.

Hopefully, now that I've discovered how to find airfare abroad so cheaply, I can more regularly blog about dirt cheap travel....

And now to get ready for my trip!!!

Do you have and/or understand a wanderlust, a love of travel? How do you satisfy yours without breaking the bank? 
Ever been to Belgium, Brussels specifically? Or Bruges? If you have suggestions of things that I can't miss while I'm there, or suggestions of how to do it frugally, I'd love to hear. And if any blog readers live in the general area, and want to come to Brussels or Bruges to meet me, let me know, and send me an email to pennilessparenting@yahoo.com.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Looking forward to following your travels! Do you have a frugal way of getting to the airport?

    1. The bus. But I'm going to be honest, the transportation to and from the airport will be the most expensive part of my trip, more than airfare.

  2. Is it to late to get that deal still?

    1. I got from skyscanner.com. Feel free to check there for deals.

  3. Totally awesome! I do envy your flight deals though; do you think I can get any of these from the US? I'm going overseas soon using my credit card miles and the whole R/T flight will cost $123 USD so I'm pretty excited about that. I too stay at inexpensive AirBnB's mostly. I also house/pet sit when I can for free places to stay.

    The only thing I've ever seen of Belgium was on a train crossing through it but it looked pretty nice. The canals look awesome; I love Venice but feel pretty sorry for it as it's deluged by tourists(me included of course).

    1. Probably not that cheap from within the US to other countries, but flying around the US you can probably do some great vacations on a similar budget.

  4. It's a shame you're not buying any food - Belgium is the one country in Northern Europe that has food worth eating. I will say that, price-wise, Belgian supermarkets are pretty cheap and the quality of food you can get is pretty high - obviously not as cheap as the stuff you typically get but it's not too shabby considering that nothing grows right now.

    1. Any suggestions for things I should specifically be on the lookout for? The three things I know belgium is famous for is its waffles- gluten, beer- gluten, and chocolate- dairy, nothing I can eat. I do probably plan on buying some produce there, but that won't be in season so I know will be more pricy.

  5. Try Norwegian Airlines for great flight deals

  6. I'm of Belgian descent as well - both maternal and paternal grandparents and down-the-line. Belgians are also known for their French fries. It is a specific potato grown there, and it is double fried.


  7. I hope you have a delightful trip. I don't like to travel, very much a homebody but maybe when I retire I might change my mind. Hubby wants to see America, I tell him it's on the travel channel. LOL

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