How to Afford a Trip to Europe

A European vacation can be a large expense. However, there are ways to cut the cost of travelling through Europe. If you are budget conscious and would like to visit Europe, then follow these tips for how to afford a trip to Europe.


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    Save your money. The longer you plan on staying in Europe, the more money you will need to save. Employ the following money-saving techniques:
    • Cut back on unnecessary spending. Decide what's important to you and what you are willing to sacrifice for your European vacation.
    • Consider taking a second job or some side work to make extra cash that can be put toward your vacation savings plan.
    • Use coupons, shop sales and purchase necessary items on discount.
    • Set aside some money each month for your vacation. Work out a budget and figure out what you can realistically apply toward your travel fund.
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    Plan well in advance. You can save the most money on travel and accommodation costs by planning your trip to Europe far in advance. A good rule of thumb is at least 11 months.
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    Apply rewards programs and club discounts to your vacation in Europe. Rewards programs include frequent flyer miles and credit card points systems, and they can be used toward air travel, auto rentals, accommodations, tours and vacation upgrades. Discounts through club memberships like AAA and AARP can also save you money on your trip to Europe.
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    Compare airline ticket prices. Comparison shop on Internet airfare sites and call around to travel agencies to get the best pricing. Being flexible with airports and departure/arrival dates can also save you money.
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    Set your priorities. Make a list of the places and things you most want to see during your trip to Europe, and plan your vacation accordingly. This will allow you to take inventory of what your highest expenses will be so that you can cut costs in the other, less important, areas. Additionally, if you plan on staying in just a few big cities, like Paris, Brussels, Berlin or Rome, for longer periods of time, rather than trying to squeeze in many places in relatively short periods of time, you can save money on transportation and accommodations.
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    Create an itinerary. Put some research into planning your trip to Europe and you will find that many notable European attractions, like the Eiffel Tower, are either free to the public or relatively low-priced. If you plot out the course of your European vacation carefully, you can do a lot of sight-seeing on a limited budget.
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    Study up on the localities you plan on visiting. Reading tourist manuals can give you valuable insight into money-saving techniques regarding the local transportation, lodging, eating and phoning customs. Make it a point to know of inexpensive local traditions and pastimes, such as the Oktoberfest in Munich or a game of rugby in Edinburgh.
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    Save on transportation.
    • Take public transportation. Buses and trains are less expensive than cab rides and car rentals.
    • Buying a pass can save you even more money than if you pay per ride. A Eurail pass will enable you to see all of Europe, and is available in several different packages and price ranges.
    • Do as much sight-seeing by foot as possible.
    • If you decide to rent a car while on vacation in Europe, choose manual transmission and diesel cars.
    • Rent a bicycle.
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    Book budget-conscious accommodations. There are several alternatives to staying in 4 star hotels:
    • Vacation rentals. Rent a home, guest house, apartment or villa from a private owner. If you will be staying in France, look into renting a "gite."
    • Budget hotels. You may find that 2 and 3 star hotels are suitably comfortable for your stay in Europe. Additionally, European chain hotels are relatively inexpensive.
    • If you have friends or family members in Europe, ask to stay with them. If you know people who regularly travel to Europe, ask if they have any European friends who wouldn't mind taking in some boarders.
    • Hostels, universities, convents and monasteries offer shared rooms and are, by far, the least expensive European boarding option.
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    Connect with the locals. If you make an effort to get to know the locals, you may be invited to partake in activities that are both culturally relevant and free. From weddings to festivals and other celebrations, a local insider can involve you in memorable European experiences outside of the traditional European vacation tourist attractions.
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    Choose inexpensive eating options.
    • Small restaurants with a good local following are generally much less expensive than fancy eateries. Additionally, taking advantage of menu specials, like the French plat du jour, and early bird pricing can save you even more money.
    • If you book a vacation rental, you may save money by cooking your own food.
    • Europe is full of street vendors. Purchase prepared meals and then bring them to your rental to eat. Vendors in Istanbul will even give you free samples of the popular dish locum.
    • Pack a lunch if you plan on spending the day sight-seeing by foot.
    • Bring snacks and a water bottle while touring and stop for food and drink less often.
    • Coffee time is a traditional pastime in Europe, and you may find that many Italian cafes will charge you to sit at a table to drink your coffee. Be sure to ask and, if that is the case, tell the cashier you choose to stand at the bar.
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    Save money on currency conversions. Follow these practices to save on fees when you convert your US dollars to euros and/or pounds:
    • Check with your bank to see if it has a European branch where you can convert your money without paying fees.
    • Get cash from ATMs.
    • Use a credit card that does not charge for foreign currency conversion.
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    Visit during the off season. The European off season is October through May, during which time every expense associated with a vacation in Europe is deeply discounted. European beaches, such as the Cote d'Azur and Amalfi Coast, are busiest in the months of July and August, but can still be enjoyed in June for a fraction of the cost. Major cities like London and Rome are interesting any time of year.
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    Avoid using your cell phone. Opt for scratch-off phone cards and land lines instead.
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    Shop only for items that you need. Bring things like batteries, film, toiletries and water bottles with you so that you don't have to purchase them while on vacation. Additionally, it is not necessary to spend a lot of money on souvenirs. Photos, ticket stubs and attraction brochures are great reminders of your European vacation, and are free.


  • Join a message board or forum centered on travelling to Europe in order to gain useful advice for your trip to Europe.
  • While on your European vacation, visit the tourist office and ask about tourist specials and discounts.
  • Consider purchasing a pre-paid SIM card for data and calling while traveling in Europe. This is often much cheaper than using your carrier's roaming plan.

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