Not skiing in Europe this year (have gone to Davos and Bormio in years past), but have been to England once this year already for a theatre weekend over a US holiday, going back for a English countryside trip later this summer, Paris Florence and Rome for Lisamarie's birthday in October, and Madrid over US Thanksgiving.
Expensive? Not as much as you think if you play the airline and hotel programs smartly, volunteer for bump vouchers and negotiate up for more, and find all the discounts you can get. Assuming of course one has to do a bunch of travel for work/personal reasons in the first place, which I do for the current few years.
The October trip is all miles for airfare and all Hilton and Starwood (Westin/Sheraton/4Pts etc.) for free hotel stays. Overnight train fare Paris-Florence and a local train Florence-Rome are the only transportation/travel expenses, while we get to enjoy for free the Florence Grand Hotel, Rome Westin Excelsior, and Hilton Paris (as opposed to enjoying Paris Hilton
). The theatre weekend over Memorial Day had Lisa's ticket paid 70% from dollar-value vouchers I got from United from negotiating a good bump on a Denver-Raleigh work trip. The August trip has Lisa's ticket free with miles, as is Lisa's ticket for the November Madrid trip. I should have enough Starwood points for at least 1 or 2 free nights at the Westin Palace for that. One more cheap Hampton Inn in Missouri next week when I drive my other car back to Colorado (rather than saving $20 to stay at a cheaper place) and I've got enough Hilton points to get the third night in Paris at what would be a $400/night rate or more.
If I wasn't already doing all the business travel and thus were paying for all of this in real Bush Pesos, especially the hotel stays, I wouldn't be staying at those upscale expensive places, and I couldn't afford all those trips. But I'd still want to do at least one or two foreign trips a year. I do know some inexpensive places, ways to find others, and there are (semi-)affordable deals out there. Airfares are not totally out of line given costs. There are still sub-$1000 (sometimes way sub-1000) airfares to Europe, especially if you look in fall/winter (or early spring) which can be great, uncrowded times to go. Given that a US transcon can easily be $500 these days, going to Europe is still a worthwhile value rather than another trip to Orlando or LA or wherever. Small cheap hotels with free continental breakfast, using the public transit systems and local/regional rail (just be sure to have "Ticket or Pass" especially in Budapest - see Kontroll
) eating at street vendors (with some common sense and Pepto-Bismol & immodium in the travel bag just in case) can save lots of money.
It's not Europe, but this spring in Bangkok I had lunch one day at a stall for about 75 cents US, and the next day a very similar meal at an outdoor restaurant by a tourist area for about $30 US (no, I didn't pick the restaurant!). Walking, getting out of the touristic businesses and areas, can make the trip both cheaper and a richer cultural experience.
It's affordable if it's of value to you. People spend more to see the Mouse than it takes to go to Europe for the same number of days. I'd rather see the real castles.