A trip to Europe is a very popular travel bucket list item. There is so much to see, do and eat that you might be overwhelmed by the options. Those airfare costs might overwhelm you, too! Who can afford to fly to Europe with a family and still have money left over for a decent vacation? Actually, there is a way to enjoy a European vacation on a budget. Here’s how to get it done:
Step One: Pick A Home Base
The truth is that you’re not going to see all of Europe on a budget vacation. You would be better served to focus on a specific country/region for your trip. This will become your vacation home base. That doesn’t mean you can’t head out from home base to explore. For instance, you can fly to London and take the Chunnel to Paris. Your European vacation on a budget will benefit from one set of airfares.
Step Two: Pick An Off Season Time
For Europe, the height of travel season is from July to September, Easter/spring break and Christmas and New Year’s. Although the idea of Christmas in London or Easter in Rome offers a lot of appeal, you’ll find that everything from airfares to hotels to food costs go up during this time. You’ll also find a maddening crush of crowds that could put a damper on seeing the sights. Going off-season is really the best way to go.
Step Three: Pick An Alternative Place To Stay
Traveling to Europe and staying at a four-star hotel is great if your just won the lottery. However, your European vacation on a budget will require some alternative forms of accommodations. Just as they do here in America, there are plenty of homeowners all across Europe who rent out their properties for travelers. You could score an entire cottage in the hills of Tuscany or a villa in Madrid. What you won’t get are things like maid service or the ability to order room service. What you will get is a lot of room, a lot of privacy and no waiting for elevators. If you’re traveling as a couple, then you might want to look into bed and breakfast inns or hostels. No frills but plenty of savings.
Step Four: Pick How To Get Around
A family who is embarking on a European vacation on a budget might be well-served by renting a car. It would depend on just what you plan on seeing. For instance, if you go to a place like London or Rome, you would probably be better served using public transportation. By the time you figure out where you can park, you might lose most of your day! However, if you plan to go out and explore from your vacation home base, then a rental car will give you the most flexibility. It will also be easier to corral the family into a car. Just be smart with your booking. You might only need to rent a car for a few days as opposed to the entire vacation. That can save you money.
Step Five: Pick Your Meals Wisely
The most popular destinations in Europe know how to cater to tourists. They also know how to jack up the prices when tourists are around. Instead of rushing to grab lunch or breakfast right next to Big Ben, consider walking a few blocks away to find a nice pub or bistro. You should also consider having a big lunch in the late afternoon versus an expensive dinner at night. If you book accommodations with a kitchen, then making breakfast and packing lunches can save, too.
Where would you go on your European vacation?