5 Tips For Traveling To Europe Without Breaking The Bank
When people think of travel, they think of exotic beaches and crazy expensive hotel tabs. Sure, it’s pretty easy to tick off your bank account once you hop on a plane, but it doesn’t have to be. Believe it or not, traveling can be manageable!
Before you start planning your trip of a lifetime, look at your current spending habits. What could you cut back on? What are you willing to go without? Most people are easily able to travel, they just don’t want to give up that third happy hour drink. That’s fair - you do you - but know that staying in every now and then can help you see the world.
Here are my top 10 things to cut back on, if you’re really serious about saving some cash.
OK, so you’ve narrowed your budget and are ready to get to business. That doesn’t mean you can just go throwing money away when you don’t have to! There are some keys ways you can save.
Especially if you’re going overseas, your plane tickets are going to be what costs the most. We bought our tickets about six months before our trip - many travel sites will suggest buying them between five and six months ahead.
Traveling in the off-season will also help you get better flights. We did Barcelona in the middle of October, which turned out to be the ideal season. We still had great weather, while not dealing with other American tourists. If you’re wondering what the “off-season” is for where you’d like to go, Hopper is a great app for your phone. It searches airline databases for you, sending you alerts as to what your round trip would come to. I’ve, admittedly, become obsessed with it, for both international and domestic flights.
2. Credit card and ATM fees
Most people don’t think about the currency exchange until they’re almost ready to leave. Foreign currency exchange fees can add up if you aren’t careful - just think, 3% of every transaction can soon equal a meal!
This is one of the reasons I am so glad I have the Capital One Venture card. With this credit card, there are no currency exchange fees, which means I relied heavily on my card, only using cash for the few street booths we stopped at. Most shops and restaurants in big, European cities take credit cards, so use it as much as you can!
If you are set on carrying the correct cash with you, limit your ATM visits. Foreign ATM fees are wild - I think the one time we did use an ATM, it was an $8 fee! Doing this once was fine, but it would’ve killed us had we stopped every few days.
3. One main meal a day
While eating like a small elephant is remarkably easy while you’re on vacation, food is also the biggest source of “waste” you may find.
Before we went to Barcelona, we researched some food places we wanted to go. We then planned these fun places as our main meals, so we knew we’d be spending money on food we’d really want to eat, not just what was convenient when we found ourselves starving.
4. Airbnb like a champ
You’re familiar with Airbnb, I’m sure. Maybe you’ve rented a house for a family vacation, or perhaps you’ve spent a weekend in a home away from home.
What I’ve found is that many people only think of Airbnb as renting out an entire condo, or house, while they’re visiting a new place. But Airbnb also gives you options to rent a private room in someone’s home. While this often means (at least it did in our case) sharing a front door with the family whose home you’re invading, it gives you a place to stay that meets Airbnb standards while charging a smaller fee. This is a great option for young people who are willing to cut corners and share bathrooms, but who don’t love the idea of a full-blown hostel.
We also ended up booking an “Airbnb Experience” through the app. It ended up being the highlight of our trip! While I was concerned about it being a cheesy tourist trap, we ended up saving money on our cooking class because of Airbnb’s discount.
5. Do as the locals do
The people who live in the place you’re visiting are not emptying their wallets every day. You have to be economical in your hometown, otherwise you’d never get anywhere! Research what the locals do - do they take public transportation instead of taxi everywhere? Do they shop in certain areas of town? What do they do for fun? If you know how the locals live their everyday lives, you’re certain to learn how to save some cash on logistical needs.