A European vacation is something that will always appeal to the masses. But if there’s one common theme throughout the world right now, it’s that money is tight and people are being careful on how they spend their hard earned cash. A dream vacation to Europe can still be had if you follow some simple guidelines when planning and taking that vacation you’ve always wanted.
The first rule of thumb is to plan in advance and try to avoid traveling during peak season (summer months). International airline tickets are priced based on a basic principle of supply and demand; the more seats available on the plane at the time of purchase, the cheaper the fare tends to be. It absolutely pays to book your tickets to Europe in advance, so the quicker you can get organized for your trip the more money you can save. The best time to travel is October through early to late March as summer months are the busiest months in Europe for traveling.
Booking hotels in advance is also a smart idea, especially if you plan to travel during peak season, which usually is during the summer months. Hotels don’t have to be booked for every night of your trip, as there are other options for sleeping. If your European itinerary involves multiple cities and countries, taking a night train and booking a “Comfort Class” or “Premier Class” ticket gives the option of sleeping in a bed on the train while you travel to your next city. This option alleviates the cost of a night in a hotel as rooms can contain up to 3 beds, and “Premier Class” cabins sometimes contain showers, depending on the particular city in Europe.
If your itinerary doesn’t involve traveling great distances, renting a car in Europe gives you the freedom to go when you want as well as where you want. And just like booking airfare, booking a car rental in advance will save you money as well.
When planning your actual itinerary, the more specific and detailed you make it the better off you’ll be when it comes time to pay. Sticking to this itinerary will also save money as you will avoid the spontaneous expenses that you didn’t plan for. Booking a city tour can be a money saver, as they usually include a meal and last a few hours to a full day, keeping you entertained and from spending money all day all while showing you the historic side of the European city you are visiting.
Be aware of the current exchange rates throughout the different countries in Europe, and keep track of your money throughout your trip. You’ll have a better idea of where you stand in terms of your budget when you stay on top of your budget and stick to the itinerary.
Talking to the locals of the city you are visiting is also a very smart idea. Besides the culture lessons you are prone to take in, you can also pick their brains for money saving tips. Find out where the good local restaurants and cafes are, more “hole in the wall” places that aren’t aimed at serving the tourists. If staying in a hotel, cooking a few meals in the kitchen or kitchenette can save a lot of money as well.
Try to take advantage of any free entertainment that is on offer. Pick up a local newspaper or publication that will list free shows and other entertainment options, or just ask the locals. Hotels often have free entertainment on weekend nights, which is a cheap option to spend a night.
So don’t let the current economic situation dissuade you from taking that dream vacation to Europe.