6 Tips to Save Money While Traveling in Europe
It’s not a secret that visiting Europe can be very expensive. The value of the euro outpaces the dollar and many of the most famous cities let you know their popularity as reflected by prices. But, a European vacation doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg if you travel smart and use a few of these ideas to save money.
- Consider all transportation options
Once you get to Europe then what? It might seem like a good idea to rent a car to get around but the price of fuel in Europe is 2-3 times the cost it is in the United States. Most cities have very good public transportation systems to get around. If you’re traveling long distances train travel is an option however Europe has an amazing network of low cost carriers that can often times get you somewhere faster and cheaper than the train. Want to save money on an overnight? Overnight trains might be the best value for their cost as you’ll have transportation and accommodations covered in one cost.
- Avoid going crazy purchasing souvenirs.
Many people spend a lot of money on souvenirs they never use or even look at once they get home. Avoid doing this, and instead think of spending money to get one really nice gift to bring home like a piece of jewelry or artwork.
- Make Lunch your big meal of the day
In many European countries like France, Spain, and Italy a fixed price meal is offered at lunch for a very fair price. You won’t get much choice in what the plate of the day is so you might want to look around but you’ll save money on ordering this instead of choosing ala carte. Eat lunch later in the day and eat well. Even if you are choosing off the menu, it’s cheaper at midday than in the evening.
- Look for free activities and don’t try to do it all.
No matter where you are there is destined to be free activities going on. Many museums and attractions offer free hours or free days. Do some research and discover when these are and you can save a huge amount of money. On the same note, don’t try to do everything. Pick a few sites or activities that you really want to do and make them a priority.
- Rent an apartment
Apartment rentals with sites like Airbnb have gained a lot of popularity in recent years. It’s a good option for traveling families as it will give you a home base, space to stretch out, and a kitchen to prepare meals. You can save a good deal of money by eating 1-2 meals a day in. Also many European hotels have limited space in their rooms so finding a reasonably priced room for a family of 4+ can be a struggle.
- Get a VAT refund when you leave.
In Europe VAT or value-added tax is automatically added to all purchases and ranges from 15-25% depending on the country. There are some rules regulating what qualifies for a refund, but essentially you need to supply your passport to any retailer your purchasing goods from, save the receipt and fill out some paperwork. If you make big purchases getting a VAT refund can get you a good return on your money.