What a good traveler needs is a nice, cozy place to stay which isn’t too expensive. The presence of a clean bathroom is nice. Home-grown restaurants that offer lip-smacking local cuisine at reasonable prices are appreciated. And yes, internal transport that doesn’t leave him broke before the trip ends.
As you can see, a budget traveler’s demands clearly are quite budgeted. He doesn’t yearn for a seven course meal at Maxim’s, neither does he think of staying at The Dorchester. If you’re thinking along the same lines, we’ve got you a set of tips that will help you enjoy Europe in all its glory, at a fraction of the cost.
Give the summer a miss.
You actually imagine yourself spending a gorgeous summer in Europe, with the sun shining down, and the perfect weather. Unfortunately, so does the rest of the world, which is why it is rather costly to be on this continent from June to September. As far as air travel is concerned, you might mistakenly assume that booking on a weekday will always come at a cheaper fare. The cost of your plane ticket depends not only on the day you travel, but also the time of your flight, the layover time (if applicable), and your carrier. Therefore, pay close attention to all these factors while booking your ticket. For all you know, you may get an excellent deal over the weekend as well. Another misconception goes that travel agents can get you lower rates owing to the fact that they book in bulk. But frankly, they earn their profits from commissions paid by you, when you book through them to avail “discounts”. Your best bet, therefore, remains to contact the airlines and the hostels/hotels directly.
Choose to go off-season instead.
Planning the holiday during the off season, say early winter or spring does have a lot more perks than you’d imagine. First, it’s obviously cheap. Second, you won’t encounter the jostling crowds. Third, you’ll welcome the slight nip in the air, as the European summer gets sweltering each year. Fourth, airlines give you humble fares and upgrades. Fifth, rooms are available at throwaway prices. Are you getting the drift?
Resist the lazing.
You’re tempted to go with the flow and explore Europe at a languid pace. It sure sounds nice when you have a wad of cash stashed in your pocket. But if you’re looking to save money, you will have to give a miss to the aimless wandering.
Go for efficiency.
You’d rather plan, as this will allow you to fix an itinerary, and make use of the wonder that is Eurail. They offer some amazing deals on the cheap, so you don’t have to be constantly worrying about how you’re going to travel on the continent. Also, try to book night journeys for long distances, as it will save you time, and cut down on the staying expense. Many of you trying to save money may also consider hitchhiking as an option. Though quite unreliable, it will take you from one place to the other at a minimal cost. Keep in mind that when you’re hitchhiking, you can’t afford to have a fixed itinerary in place. Always remember not to be very rigid with your itinerary, as you will find cheaper options to travel within the continent as you go along.
Save on the Stay
Chain hotels are getting cheaper, you know!
Sure, they are. But what they cut on rates, they add in taxes, so the best thing would be to avoid them. You don’t really need to pay USD 50 a night to get a mint chocolate on your pillow, do you?
Think B&Bs, house sitting, YMCA, hostels, and the lot.
The best thing about Europe is the sheer number of staying options it has for budget conscious travelers. Family-run hotels are quite cozy and clean, and they come with the added advantage of interacting with the locals, who will be quite willing to offer more tips on saving money. If you choose to shack at any of the hostels, ensure that you book in advance, and be sure of the facilities before you land there. Talk to someone who’s lived there before, to get an accurate idea of the living conditions.
Know About the Freebies
Freebies are only aimed at students.
True, a lot of them are indeed for students. For instance, students can avail passes which lets them get inside museums and attraction for almost nothing. But that’s not to say that there isn’t anything for the slightly older ones.
We’re talking city cards, bus passes, and more!
Europe thrives on tourism, so it is only fair that they discount it a bit. Several of Europe’s biggest attractions including London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, and Madrid offer passes that let you travel on the cheap using public transport. They also have city cards that give you discounts on entrance fees at monuments and museums. Some even offer discounted meal tickets. Check the tourism websites for individual cities to know more about such offers.
So much to see, and so much to eat!
Both of which can be quite expensive. Being a tourist, you’re bound to hover in the touristy areas, and you’d obviously be tempted to grab a bite at the fancy places that surround you. But don’t.
You can revel in the deliciousness for less.
Most European towns have market places that sell fresh produce like fruit, breads, and even roasted meats. Of course, these won’t cost you a fortune. It also lets you savor the region’s cuisine and flavors to your heart’s content. Quaint little restaurants and cafes situated away from busy areas also offer a homely experience. And before I forget, European chocolatiers are quite generous as well, so enjoy the sampling before you make your purchase.
Saving money on your European vacation involves doing stuff that takes a detour from all things conventional, but is worth it. But don’t be so hung up on saving money, that you compromise on