Europe is expensive, that’s not news. While Brexit caused the Pound and Euro to drop over the summer, both currencies are on their way back up, so the days of the cheap-ish trip to London are over. So, how does a person on a limited budget take a European vacation?
1. Think Eastern Europe
Europe is a big place. It’s actually a continent. But, whenever someone says European vacation, everyone
immediately thinks London, Paris, Rome, etc. But, that mindset is so limiting, and expensive.
There are plenty of beautiful cities in Eastern Europe, like Bucharest, with a lot to see and do, but at half the cost, or less, than more popular tourist destinations in Western Europe.
2. Travel in the off-season
So you’re set on a usually expensive destination (Rome, I get it). There are still ways to do it on a limited budget. Most people take their vacations in the summer. When you have a family, it’s understandable. But for people that aren’t hampered by school schedules, there’s no reason to continue the summer vacation tradition.
It’s much cheaper to travel in the “off” season. For most European destinations, that means fall and winter. You won’t be spending time at the beach and you’ll have to pack for possible weather events (rain and snow), but the money you’ll save will be worth it.
*Note: This does not apply if your destination becomes a winter resort as soon as it snows.
3. Think free
This may come as a surprise to a lot of people, but there are things you can do for free in Europe. Most churches are free to enter, and feature gorgeous examples of Renaissance and Medieval art. The Vatican is even free the last Sunday of every month (Easter, Christmas Day, and the Feast of St. Stephen excluded), but the lines tend to be long, so get there well in advance of opening time.
Sandeman's offers free day-tours in 18 countries (currently), so see if your destination is one of them. Even if it’s not, ask around, most cities have some kind of free tour available.
4. Think weekend trips
This only really works if you’re somewhat local. Airlines like Ryanair and other budget airlines are expanding their flights and are often cheap enough to make a two or three day trip worthwhile, if you’re within a couple hours of your desired destination.
5. Find a hotel alternative
There are many alternative lodging options for your vacation, and I’m not talking about Airbnb. If you’re
willing to share accommodations, hostels are cheap. Couchsurfing is another option becoming popular with young travelers and backpackers.
But for a more unique place to stay, look into a room at a monastery or convent. Rates per night run cheaper than the average hotel, especially in more popular destinations, and some offer hotel-like amenities. However, many have curfews, so this isn’t a good option for people who want to party till 2 am.
6. Same country, different city
If you want the French experience, but aren’t married to Paris, pick a less well traveled destination like Nice. If you’ve already done Rome, but want to experience more of Southern Italy, try Sicily instead.
Cities that don’t see a lot of tourists tend to be cheaper because shops, restaurants and hotels don’t have as much of a tourist mark-up, so traveling to less popular cities or regions in the same country can save you a lot of money while getting many of the same experiences.