Ok, ok. I know what you're going to say. Going on a European vacation is NOT frugal. Going on a trip like this means that you're going to be spending a pretty penny. Traveling to Europe these days isn't cheap, the Euro is currently worth somewhere in the neighborhood of about $1.28 U.S. dollars. That exchange rate makes the prices of a European vacation sting right of the bat!
But put that aside for a moment, let's assume that you're already going on a trip to Europe, what are some good ways to save money? How can you have a great time, while not spending nearly as much as you could?
Ways To Save Money While Traveling In Europe
Here are a few ways that my wife and I have found to save when we traveled in Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Croatia on a recent trip.
- Plan ahead: Even if you're spending a lot of money on a European vacation or cruise like we have in the past, you can save a ton of money by booking your vacation ahead of time, up to a year or more in advance can really save you a lot of money. It can be tempting to try and wait and to try and get a last minute deal, but often the best deals are to be had when booking far in advance. Look the deals up as far ahead of time that you can, and hopefully you'll find a great deal.
- Travel during the off season: You might want to consider booking your trip during the slow season for whatever your destination is. Rates are often far cheaper during the off-peak times of the year. The crowds will often be smaller too! We actually did this for one cruise in Europe, and saved a ton. It was also a perk to not have as big of crowds at the sites like the ruins in Athens.
- Be flexible with travel: Often if you're flexible with the days that you travel you can save some money. When booking try to see what the rates are if you book mid-week travel instead of the more popular weekend travel.
- Try alternative lodging options: Instead of staying at an expensive hotel, consider staying at a cheaper lodging alternative like a hostel, or you could even try couchsurfing!
- Know what you're spending: When you're buying something in a Barcelona gift shop or at vendor in a Roman square, it can be easy to forget just how much money you're spending. Remember you're buying that souvenir in Euros – not dollars! That means you're paying 1.28 times as much. That $50 item is actually $64! Take a quick pocket conversion chart or smartphone with you so that you can refer to it when buying things.
- Set spending limits for yourself, and don't go over!: Before you go on your trip, set up a spending limit for yourself, and don't go over it. Once you've reached your limit just take more pictures as souvenirs!
- Use a travel guide: Using a travel guide for your travel destinations will help you to find cheap places to eat and little seen free events.
- Some destinations offer discounts for Americans: research your destination as some European cities will offer discount packages for Americans to help offset the weak dollar. For example, Florence, Italy has a program like this.
With all the planning, preparations and excitement in getting ready for your trip, it can be easy to forget -you're going on vacation to relax and see the sites. So don't forget to have fun!