Given my love of European travel, I fortunately had the chance of spending the last school year working and earning my salary in euros.
For several months I had the luxury of forgetting about the stress of traveling in Europe with a weak dollar.
A month ago however, when the European bank account had run its course, but my travel lust had not, I pulled out the American ATM Card and went to the bank.
Life was great until I checked my account several days later when the only words I could get out were, “70 euros equals how many dollars???”
My heart rate went up and I realized I would have to get back to the basics.
I wracked my brain and managed to come up with several key-pointers that helped me refresh my memory on how to keep Europe inexpensive:
1. Take advantage of public transportation
If on a budget, it is easy to assume that you will not be taking a taxi. What then are the options for public transportation?
Most cities offer various passes for their public transportation, ranging from day-long to month-long. If you’re spending a week in a city, a week-long pass may be worth the investment. The more you ride, the cheaper your ticket!
2. All-in-one city passes
If you are planning on a tourist-intense few days in a city, with visits to museums, cultural sites and a lot of bus riding, consider an all-in-one pass.
Tourist offices in many European cities offer these, which often include admission to most major attractions, a day (or week-long) public transportation pass and even reductions at participating stores and restaurants around the city.
You may even end up visiting some places that weren’t on the itinerary.
European cities are often known for their well-maintained parks and communal areas. On clear days, take advantage of them by bringing your own picnic.
When shopping for your picnic, try and buy at a local market, where regionally grown produce is often cheaper. You save some euros while supporting the local industry at the same time.
4. Bring the kids
Who said traveling as a family was expensive? From museums to movies, Europe is a wonderland of family reductions.
Family packages can range from three people with the same last name (regardless of age) to a combination of two adults plus a minimum of two children.
Across Europe, there also tends to be a wide variety of reductions for students, allowing you to travel inexpensively with teenagers.
5. Travel on weekdays
Skip the weekend crowds and protect your pocket book by traveling on weekdays. For trains and flights, tickets tend to be cheaper Monday through Thursday, meaning if you can travel on these days you may be able to score a good deal.
6. Do your research
Before embarking on your big voyage, visit the websites of some of the big attractions you plan on seeing. Many museums offer free admission one or more days a month. Plan accordingly!
7. Grab a local culture guide
The advantage of big cities, especially in the summer, is the selection of community cultural activities. Many of these are sponsored by the city or cultural organizations – meaning their free!
With everything from outdoor movies to concerts in the park, local culture guides give you a good idea of what is going on and what residents of the city spend their time doing.
Be ready however to partake in foreign language adventures; the outdoor movie with free admission may only be in French, but isn’t being immersed in the language part of traveling?
8. Stay hydrated for cheap
Certain items are necessities when visiting major sites of Europe. Water is one of them.
Don’t fall into the “3 euro per bottle of water trap” that often happens to those caught thirsty in a tourist filled square.
Instead, make a morning trip to the local grocery store and buy a liter of water at a fraction of the tourist price.
Any more tips you would add to the list? Share in the comments!