Anyone who has been to Europe knows that travelling to this beautiful part of the world doesn’t come cheap. So to help you travel on a budget while still having the trip of your dreams, here are 10 money saving tips to use when you’re booking your trip and travelling around Europe.
TIP 1: BOOK ALL TRANSIT IN ADVANCE
Book your flights and train tickets well in advance. Even short flights and train trips can skyrocket in price if you leave booking until the last minute. If you get in early and are reasonably flexible on your dates, you can fly from Australia to Europe for around $1,000. Locking down your itinerary early on can save you hundreds of dollars. The same goes for hire cars too. As well as booking your car as early as possible, make sure you check out the competition. You’d be surprised how much that Fiat 500 can vary in price across the rental car companies.
TIP 2: LOOK FOR DEALS ON ACCOMMODATION
In the lead up to your holiday, keep an eye out for deals on accommodation booking sites. They often have discounts which can be used to reduce the cost of your accommodation. Make sure you understand what’s included in the nightly room rate – look for inclusions that include breakfast, Wi-Fi and if you’re cruising around in a hire car, parking – which in the centre of cities can be quite expensive. Aggregator sites can also help you find the cheapest rate for your preferred hotels as not all booking sites have the same price and can vary as much as up to 20%.
TIP 3: KNOW YOUR SPENDING LIMITS
Set a daily budget and stick to it. When you’re travelling in Europe things can add up quickly, so it’s important to keep track of your spending. Also set aside some extra spending money for spontaneous adventures or things that pop up that are out of your control. On my trip to Europe it was a 30-minute gondola ride at an eye-watering €170 that I just had to do. And a beautiful beach in Sardinia that we flew all the way to see, only to discover we had to hire our own boat to access it.
TIP 4: BOOK TICKETS AND EVENTS ONLINE
Get super organised and book tickets to museums, tourist sites, shows and events online. Make a list of all the events and attractions that you want to see while you’re in town. A lot of the time, you’ll be able to find cheaper tickets online, which can also help you avoid the long queues that go hand in hand with sightseeing throughout Europe in summer. The quicker you get into a tourist hotspot, the more chances you’ll have to take photos without other tourists photobombing your shots.
TIP 5: STAY NEAR A TRAIN STATION
When staying in cities, stay near a main train station. Instead of getting a cab to your hotel or the airport, you’ll be able to jump on a train for a fraction of the cost. That way, you can get in and out of the city inexpensively and easily. And you’ll have the option of using the train to see the sights, instead of having to rely on cabs which can end up being an expensive option.
TIP 6: ORDER A SIM CARD IN ADVANCE
Order a local SIM card in advance. There are third party sellers online offering data and call packages for Europe which can save you a lot of money. You’ll get the best deal, and you’ll be ready to Instagram and Snapchat the moment you hit the tarmac. For around AUD$50, I got 12GB of data (plus calls) which I didn’t get through in the month I was away, even though I was Instagramming on the regular. With data at your disposal, you can have 24/7 access to the maps on your phone – so you can get your bearings and find your way around your new destination easily. As a bonus, you’ll be able to Instagram from deserted beaches in real-time.
TIP 8: SAVE FANCY RESTAURANTS FOR LUNCH
If you want to eat at a fine dining restaurant or something a bit more upmarket than your usual taverna, look at their lunch menu. In Europe, most restaurants will have a set menu for lunch which is often considerably cheaper than dinner prices. Sometimes they come with a bonus day time view that you’d miss out on if you were there for dinner.
TIP 9: EAT WHERE THE LOCALS EAT
Get advice from the locals about where to eat. Some of the best meals you’ll have on your holiday will be at inexpensive local restaurants. Local foodie intel is usually more accurate than online reviews as top rated restaurants could have inflated prices based on ratings and their past glories. No one knows food better than the locals.
TIP 10: SKIP THE TOLLS ON ROAD TRIPS
Road tolls in Europe can get quite expensive. We drove from Pompeii to Rome and were getting stung up to €15 per toll booth. If you’re road tripping around Europe, and you’re not in a hurry, get off the Autostradas and take the back roads. Not only will you avoid the toll booths, you’ll also be guaranteed to see some beautiful towns, sights and viewpoints that you would have otherwise missed.