11 Tips to Stretch Your Travel Budget in Europe
Are you planning to travel to Europe this year? The economy may be wobbly, but our travel dreams are still strong — for good reason. Europe is every bit as magical as ever, and no recession can change that. What matters is how well you manage your travel budget, and how you use those skills to create a better trip.
To help you keep your dream trip affordable, here are 11 tips to help you stretch your travel dollar in Europe…
Avoid touristy restaurants with “We speak English” signs and multilingual menus. Those that are filled with locals serve better food for less money. I look for a short, handwritten menu in the local language only. Go with the daily specials.
Travel off-season — generally October through April in Europe. You’ll get cheaper airfare, find more budget rooms, spend less time in lines, and meet more Europeans than tourists. Big cities such as London, Paris and Rome are interesting any time of year.
Eat with the season. Germans go crazy for the white asparagus. Italians lap up the porcini mushrooms. And Spaniards gobble their snails (caracoles) — but only when waiters announce that they’re fresh today. You’ll get more taste for less money throughout Europe by ordering what’s in season.
Use a guidebook. Guidebooks are $20 tools for $3,000 experiences. Saving money by not buying one is penny-wise and pound-foolish. An up-to-date guidebook pays for itself on your first day in Europe.
Use ATMs rather than travelers checks. You’ll get your cash cheaper and faster. While ATMs give the best possible rates, they do come with transaction fees. Minimize these fees by making fewer and larger withdrawals. Store the cash safely in your money belt.
Stay in touch cheaply by dialing direct. International phone cards with PIN numbers are sold at newsstands throughout Europe. They offer calls to the US for ten cents a minute — a huge savings over the $3/minute rates offered by the big American services.
Do your shopping mostly in the cheaper countries where gifts are more interesting and your shopping dollar stretches the farthest. The difference is huge: For the cost of a pewter Viking ship in Oslo, you can buy an actual boat in Turkey.
Adapt to European tastes. Cultural chameleons drink tea in England, beer in Prague, red wine in France, and white wine on the Rhine. They eat fish in Portugal and reindeer in Norway. Going with the local specialties gets you the best quality and service for the best price.
Pay with cash, not credit cards. While credit cards get you a good exchange rate, many places offering Europe’s best deals — from craft shops to bed & breakfasts — accept only cash.
When changing cash, avoid exchange bureaus that don’t show both the buying and selling rate. By seeing both rates you can derive the profit margin — which should be within 5 percent. Places showing only the selling rate are hiding something… an obscene profit margin.
Wear a money belt. You’ll save money by not losing it. Thieves target Americans not because they’re mean but because they’re smart. They know we’re the ones with the good stuff in our purses and wallets. Assume beggars are pickpockets. Be wary of commotions in crowds and fake police who ask to see your wallet. When you know the scams, they’re almost entertaining.
Have you decided what tip you are going to incorporate? Contact Colesville Travel today at 301-989-1654 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional tips or suggestions on where to travel. .
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