With fuel prices dropping, air travel is becoming affordable again. That’s the good news. The bad news is that traveling in Europe is still expensive. But there are some things you can do, both before departure and during your vacation, to save some money on your European trip. Europe is a fascinating place, rich in culture and history, and you owe it to yourself to go there sometime. With that in mind, and realizing that most of aren’t exactly rolling in dough, here area some ideas for keeping your European vacation budget within reasonable boundaries.
With the Internet, it has never been easier to make advance arrangements for tours of museums, palaces, historic sites, and other places of special interest. By booking ahead of time, you’re factoring in the cost on the front end and guaranteeing that you see the attractions of most interest to you. You can also sometimes avoid waiting in interminably long lines.
Shop for Airline Deals
This may seem obvious, but shopping for the best prices on airline tickets involves more than searching Expedia and Travelocity. Now, there are “best of the best” sites like Airfare.com and Kayak.com that actually search other travel search engines and give you pricing options you might not be able to find on your own. Also, don’t forget the cost savings available if you can be flexible on your travel dates or fly during off-peak hours.
Use Public Transportation
In Europe, you can get almost anywhere by some combination of trains, subways, or buses. Particularly in most large cities, you can also buy discounted public transportation passes for a day or even a week. Travel like the locals: use a train or a bus. Sure, a taxi can drop you off at the front door of your destination, but it can also be a budget buster.
Carry Your Own Food and Water
Food is a major cost in Europe, especially in the larger cities. When possible and practical, buy food in a grocery or supermarket (yes, they have them, even in Europe). Buy breakfast items ahead of time and eat in your room instead of in the hotel cafe or a bistro. Make your own lunch, and carry it, with a large bottle of water in a day pack (buying drinks of all types, including water, can seriously add up). Save eating in a restaurant for a special treat. In places like Rome and Paris, refill your water bottle instead of buying a new one. If you’re traveling to out of the way places, you should probably do a little advance Internet research to make sure the local water supply is dependable and sanitary.
In Part 2 of this article, I’ll give you six more ways to cut corners on your European vacation and still build a lifetime of memories.