Have you been dreaming about a trip to Europe? It doesn’t have to take a fortune to get your family over the Atlantic. Travel strategically and it’s possible to enjoy the sights and sounds of Europe at a discount. Here’s how to travel to Europe on a budget.
1. Hack a fare
Not finding an affordable fare out of your hometown? Try hacking together your own two-leg flight. Fly to an East Coast city like New York and then take a separate flight to Europe. Since you’re booking flights separately there’s no guarantee if you miss your layover, so make sure you have ample time between flights.
2. Utilize the 24-hour rule
You know how it goes. You see the deal of a century, check for affordable hotels and by the time you’re done, the airfare has skyrocketed. Many airlines have a 24-hour grace period during which you can cancel free of charge. It may be worth it to go ahead and book, then sort out the details. Always double-check that airline’s particular policy before testing out this strategy.
3. Branch out
Everyone wants to go to London, Rome, and Paris. Who wouldn’t? But when you branch out to other destinations in Europe you can often save. The most affordable destinations in Europe this year are Istanbul, Bucharest, Krakow, Budapest, and Prague, according to TripAdvisor.
4. Wait ’til fall
Everyone wants to travel in summer, so it’s typically the most expensive time to travel with July topping the charts. If you wait till fall when school is back in session you’ll typically save a bundle and still enjoy great weather.
5. Call all of your credit card companies
It’s important to inform banks and credit card companies of your travel plans so there are no holds placed on your account. While you’re at it, find out which credit card has the lowest transaction fees and use that for your trip.
6. Avoid exchanging currency at the airport
It may be convenient to get local currency as soon as you arrive at the airport, but typically you’ll pay dearly for it. Your best bet is to take cash out from an ATM at an established bank. Call your bank before you travel and ask where they suggest going for the best rate and lowest fees. They may have branches or partner banks in the area.
7. Consider a vacation rental
Compare the cost of renting a house or apartment to staying at a hotel. Look for promotions like $25 off your first stay with Airbnb. This can be particularly cost-effective when you’re traveling with a group or staying for an extended period of time.
8. Hostels may be an option
Hostels aren’t just for backpackers and college students.. Many hostels have private rooms you can book for much less than a hotel. Plus, many have great community spaces and fun décor, making them a viable option when you travel.
9. Check for deals at business hotels
Business is often slow during summer and weekends at hotels that cater to business travelers. Negotiate a deal to get an extremely affordable and fancy room fit for an executive.
Savings tip: Check for hotels.com Coupons & Promo Codes before booking!
10. Utilize public transportation
If you’re staying in a major city, you’re probably better off without the rental car. It will save money and a lot of hassle. Many European cities have excellent public transportation systems in place that can also get you to outside the city limits.
11. Know the tipping policy
It may feel like a crime to tip 10% or less on dinner but that’s customary in a lot of European countries. Read up on the tipping policy before you travel, not only for the percentage but for the customs. Is it okay to tip in American dollars? Can you put a tip on your credit card? Is a service charge optional?
12. Check for free admission days
Many museums in Europe have free admission days. You’ll have to fight the crowds, but at least it’s free. In London, many of the top museums are free daily, making it possible to fill your trip with culture without spending a single admission fee.
13. DIY Guidebook
A 500-page book listing every historical site in Italy can be a burden to carry. Rip out and staple together the pages covering the regions you’ll be visiting so you have a mini, personalized guide.