How to Budget for Europe
We all want to travel as much as possible but sometimes a little thing called money stops us from chasing our destinations. Here are some helpful tips that will help you get to your destination in Europe but also help you save some money in order to see everything your heart desires.
Before the Flight
Before heading out, make a list of travel accessories you’ll need from a travel pillow to portable chargers. Sometimes paying ahead of time relieves the headache of seeing any bills during your holiday away. Some travelers skimp on travel insurance, but it’s really not that much extra considering you’ll be spending that same amount on drinks and food while you’re away. Even if nothing goes wrong, it pays for itself in peace of mind and when something does go wrong (lost luggage or cancelled flights) you’ll find it invaluable. Check your credit card to see what you’re covered with, which will then save you paying extra for that insurance in the first place.
Map out your places you’re going to see and try to get an understanding of the culture in the places you go. Ignorance is not bliss and can make you look like an idiot.
Picking an economy flight company with little amenities within your flight can save you hundreds of dollars on a round trip. Sometimes these flights have long lay-overs which is a bonus because it gives you a chance to see another country on your way to your destination. Companies like Iceland Air will let you stay over a few nights for free when you’re flying in from most cities in North America.
Try to book flights about 45-60 days before your planned trip. This seems to be a good length of time for airlines to offer rates at a low cost but it also allows you to make payments off your credit card before the trip. Also, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are usually the best days to book flights. Apparently passengers don’t like to fly on these days so airlines discount them.
You may not get a TV to watch your movies or free snacks like the premium airlines, but with all that cash you saved on the flight you now have towards the rest of your trip. Besides, bring your own snacks! Google Flights always works great as they give you a bunch of options for airlines and times. They also give you estimates of future flights.
If you have multiple destinations but a one way ticket is more than the cost of a round trip flight then just purchase the round trip flight and just not take the flight back.
While at the airport, take advantage of the duty free alcohol they have. Many times, bottle of booze can cost nearly double outside of the airport. This saves you from over spending at the bar and have some pre drinks at your hotel instead of hitting the bar early.
With a lot of your budget going towards this, you may want to take a few minutes and figure out a game plan. If you’re traveling solo you want to figure out how much you’re willing to spend per night.
Example: $40/day x 15 days =$600
Hostels are usually the best choice for solo travelers and definitely the most economical. Booking.com & Hostel World offers affordable hostels that will be easy on your wallet. This also gives you a chance to meet individuals from all over the world.
If you’re a couple or a group, hotels may be a good option since you can split the costs while getting a little more privacy and sometimes free continental breakfasts. The beds are more comfortable and all of your goods are safe compared to the hostel life.
Utilize your rewards programs and credit cards. Do some research as to where you are able to use your points and plan around that particular city. Aeroplan points usually gets us decent hotels and it was all free. If you have Air Miles then good luck getting a pencil and eraser since it costs a billion points to do anything.
When flying with an economy airline, you are limited to the amount of luggage you can bring without having to pay up to $300 extra for luggage. Usually you can bring up to a 10kg bag with a side “purse” so with such limited space, figure out what you’re going to bring. If you know you’re going to be staying somewhere in the middle of your trip that offers laundry service, take advantage of that and plan ahead.
Socks and underwear is probably the most important and least heavy load you can bring. Roll those bad boys up and make them fit in the crevice of any bag. Place socks in shoes, roll clothing around any gifts you may have and bring limited styles. Summer dresses can be easily rolled up and ironed out after,so can a few t shirts.
Try to bring essential items that will make your trip easier. Headphones to relax to during travel times, a portable charger to keep your electronics alive, bring a rain jacket in case it starts to pour. Plan ahead and take a look at the weather. Will you need multiple sweaters or is a few t shirts good? Wool socks or cotton? Bring clothes that you don’t mind get wrinkled. Many travelers bring old clothes to give away to locals and then have more room for gifts to bring back home.
Getting around can be very affordable as the European transit system is pretty good in a sense where there is connections almost everywhere at an affordable rate. Depending on the speed of the train and where you sit on the train will affect your cost but the benefit is being able to see the country side of gorgeous countries like Spain, France and Italy. Many companies offer trains to neighboring countries which makes seeing different cities easier to access.
Not only are trains more affordable than flights (sometimes), it also gives you some time to relax and take a nap. Sometimes being on the go and airports can take a lot of energy out of you. Taking a train gives you that time to unwind, relax and take in your surroundings. There’s no sense in coming all this way to not have time to enjoy what you’re seeing. Limit how much you use taxi’s and Uber services and opt for the metro systems or even take a hike. Walking around can take you to places you never thought you’d see along your way to see.
Depending on the country, renting a car is not as expensive as you think and can give you a sense of being a local in a foreign country. Most countries drive manual so if you are looking for an automatic vehicle, be prepared to pay extra.
Food & Eating Out
This can be a huge part of your budget again because there are so many places to eat and so many new, delicious foods to try at least once. So the same rules apply when calculating out how much you should spend a day. When you’re in Italy, things like Gelato can add up especially if you’re having 2-3 scoops a day. There are doner/shawarma stops all over major European countries and is a good option if you’re looking for a quick snack. But if you’re really looking to save some money on your travels, try to hit up the grocery store and make your own lunches and dinners.
Make sandwiches, salads or even bring jars of olives to enjoy at the beach.
Plan ahead. If you know you’re going out to a nice dinner the night before, make your lunch or snacks for the following day. Fancy lunches cost a lot less than night time meals so pick and chose how much you’ll be spending on food. Try to avoid paying anything over 10 euro for breakfast at your hotel as you can get something for cheaper if you walk down any street to local cafe shops and bakeries.
Use apps like Trip Adviser and Yelp! They often have economical places with great deals, special nights (burger night) and perhaps take you to a part of town where they specialize in the local food.
Try visiting smaller and nearby towns with less tourists. They tend to be more accommodating and very happy to see you. We found they are more humble and treat you better because they rely on your happiness there. Vineyards are a great example of this.
Locals love it when you try their food, drink their wine or participate in their landscapes such as hiking through cliffs. Embrace what they are so proud of and make it known you are happy to be there. They get filled with joy. Don’t be fake but appreciation goes a long way.
Before heading to each city, make a list of your top three must see places. If you’re looking to hit some museums or shows, find out what days are FREE and what days they are closed. Places like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain can rack up a huge line up. Try buying your tickets online to by pass waiting.
Go during the off seasons. From June – September, tourists flock to Europe during the hot months and it gets super busy! Amsterdam is packed, Italy gets super hot in August and everyone’s laid back attitude may be a little frustrating. Off peak hours offer way cheaper hotels, many restaurants are discounted and it also gives you a different perspective of your visiting country.
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