A Europe vacation can be expensive, but not if you travel smart. Here are some tips to help you save money on your next Europe vacation.
Saving money before you go
When booking airfare look to some of the online booking engines to find the best price and then book with the airline itself. The airline will usually offer the same price as Kayak or Expedia, but I like the fact that if there is a glitch, you will deal directly with the airline, not some middle-man.
Most airlines allow one free piece of luggage per person plus a personal item and a carry on when traveling from the US to Europe. That piece of luggage should not weigh more than 50 lbs. or you will incur penalties. Weigh your luggage before you leave home to be sure you are within the weight guidelines. I have seen people unpack their luggage at the check-in desk and toss items to avoid the penalties. That is embarrassing and a real disservice to the folks waiting in line to check in.
Saving money When you are there
Stay in the city center
This may sound counterintuitive because it is usually cheaper to stay outside the city and commute in, but remember that when you are on vacation, time is money. The time you spend commuting is time that you could spend seeing the sights. The purchase of a museum or city pass will also greatly assist in managing your precious time while saving you money. They do cost money up-front, but if you want to see more attractions, pay the price. You can, for example, stand in line for hours to get into the Louvre or skip the lines with the Paris Museum Pass. That goes for sights in most of the larger cities in Europe.
Live like a local
I have said this before and I will keep advising tourists to get off the main streets and eat where the locals eat. The menu might not be in English, but bring your translation dictionary and you will be fine. Not only will you get a better meal, you will pay a lot less. Drink the local water; order a carafe of flat or plain water; it will be free. Every city has free events that you can attend. Visit the local tourism office, ask at your hotel, or pick up a copy of the local, English language paper to stay informed.
Use public transportation
Every city I have visited in Europe has an excellent and safe public transportation system. It is a snap to get around London, Paris and Rome using their Metro or underground system. The busses and trollies in smaller cities are fantastic and inexpensive. Of course, if you are staying in the city center, there are many places to which you can just walk.
For a fresh, fast picnic, stop by the deli counter of most major department stores and build your own picnic lunch. Or, check out street food vendors. Most European cites have food carts or stands that offer great bargains for lunch and even breakfast. You can get crepes and waffles as well as sandwiches and sausages at many of these sidewalk stands.
Written by Terri Fogarty for EuropeUpClose.com