Despite all the talk about the recession and economic downturn, the British pound and Euro are still going strong. Unfortunately for the travelers who venture to Europe each year and may not enjoy a favorable exchange rate, this means less spending power and more homemade sandwiches on a park bench along the Champs-Élysées. Thankfully, there are ways to save money in Europe without missing out.
Save Money in Europe For What Counts
While there’s nothing wrong with packing your own picnic for a day of exploring the Scottish Highlands or Tuscan countryside, when you’re traveling in destinations where some of the world’s best cuisines are at your doorstep, skimping on meals in order to save money in Europe, is, personally, an absolute shame. While you’re IN Europe, you should try some authentic Spanish paella, Turkish baklava, Hungarian goulash, Greek saganaki, French bouillabaisse, Portuguese pasteis, Scottish haggis (don’t knock it til you try it), and any other local cuisine.
Other times, it would be a shame to miss out on something truly iconic like a gondola ride down the Grand Canal in Venice or a visit to Versailles because the cost of doing such things may be more than your guesthouse’s nightly rate.
Planning To Save
Whatever it is, make sure that you’re saving money in Europe for what counts FOR YOU. Before your trip, make a list of all the things you want to experience in Europe. This includes food and drinks you want to try, sights you want to go to, and activities you want do. This will help you determine what’s important to you and where you can afford to skrimp and save.
Remember, being thrifty in one place means you can splurge in another. For example, if you want to sample as many Belgian beers as possible in Brussels and don’t care too much for wine, drink less in Paris and use your savings in Belgium.
How To Save Money in Europe
So, how exactly can you save money in Europe without giving up on some of the things you want to experience the most?
If you’re a student, bring your student ID. Many museums, national parks, and other attractions throughout Europe offer students with a valid photo ID significant savings on entrance fees – some even offer 50% (sometimes more) off the normal admission price!
Rent apartments instead of staying at hotels. Renting an apartment through sites like Airbnb and HomeAway not only leaves you with more pocket money for the things that matter to you, but it also gives you a more unique and authentic travel experience. Buying everyday items like soap and coffee may be cheaper in residential areas than busy tourist centers, further helping you save up for more of what counts.
Drink tap water. Most countries in Europe have clean tap water for drinking so there’s no fear of getting sick from any water-borne illnesses. Buying bottled water when you don’t need to is basically throwing money away from all the other fun stuff you could be doing. Plus, plastic bottles are bad for the environment so you’ll be helping to eliminate unnecessary waste at the same time.
Make your own breakfast. Okay, so I’m telling you to eat out more, but now I’m saying to eat in? Yes. Especially when it comes to breakfast! How often have you found yourself at a cafe in the morning and ordering yogurt and muesli with a side of toast and a cup of coffee? Guess what? If you had made your own breakfast back at your apartment or hotel, you’ve saved money that can go towards another meal that you can’t throw together yourself so easily.
Drink your coffee standing up. If you’re stopping for a quick refreshment or an afternoon espresso, order and drink at the bar. Many cafes across Europe charge extra for items ordered while seated (consider this like a built in service charge) and many unsuspecting tourists are never the wiser since the bar prices are never advertised. In Italy, you can usually get a shot of espresso at the bar for 1€. Sit down and the price can can easily double.
Europe is a top destination the world over, but with its strong currency, it’s also one of the most expensive. Finding the best way to save money in Europe doesn’t mean skimping on the things that brought you to Europe in the first place. It just means knowing where and when to save.
What additional tips do you have for saving money in Europe?