7 tips to save you big bucks on your European adventure

Emily Johnson, FamilyShare Modified: September 25, 2015 at 12:24 pm Published: September 28, 2015 Thinking you ll never be able to afford a European vacation? Think again!

See Monet for less money. Here’s how. (Pixabay)

Europe! Admit it: It’s been on your bucket list for as long as you can remember. But if you ve ever actually sat down and cranked out the numbers, you know paradise comes with a LARGE price tag. Reality bites. Let me tell you a little secret, though: That ominous price tag can be cut down significantly.

A year ago, my husband and I — young, newly married and practically penniless — were still able to afford the grandeur of Europe for three months because we followed these seven tips we learned from our own experiences:

1. Use cheaper airlines.

Transportation will eat up most of your budget. Ryanair1, easyJet2 and a few other airlines offer cheaper plane tickets at the expense of stricter luggage requirements and less comfort; but in Europe you rarely spend longer than a few hours going from one city to another. A tad bit of discomfort and fewer pairs of shoes are worth the hundreds you save. An easy way to find the cheapest flights available is to use Skyscanner3, the Expedia of Europe (and elsewhere). Another tool that pulls from multiple flight searches is Google Flights4. Both of these are great for finding international flights with no added transaction fees.

2.

Avoid hotels.

Believe me, you do not need to stay in a hotel! You re looking for ways to cut costs. Here is one of the easiest ways. Hotels are expensive. They re also a cop-out to a true European adventure. While luxury is nice, you can get that at home. What you can t get at home is European culture.

Alternatives to hotels give you a chance to live the culture around you. Some alternatives include bed and breakfasts, hostels, AirBnb5, Couchsurfing6, and Home Exchange7. AirBnb is my go-to choice. With it, you have the option of renting an entire home, a private room or a shared room from locals around the world. Obviously your choice affects the price. What s nice about AirBnb is that you always have a friend, your host, to turn to for help or advice. For example, while staying in a private room in a flat overlooking the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona, my husband was able to brush up on his Spanish with our hosts while I dined on a homemade Spanish cheese tart.

Couchsurfing and Home Exchange are, in my opinion, the more risky options, but they come with the best price tag: Free. Couchsurfing is exactly what you think it is; staying on a local s couch. Of all the alternatives to a hotel, this is the most daring, but it is free. Home Exchange provides a neat system where hosts swap homes while on vacation. This, however, binds you to a specific place.

But again, free.

References

  1. ^ Ryanair (www.ryanair.com)
  2. ^ easyJet (www.easyjet.com)
  3. ^ Skyscanner (www.skyscanner.com)
  4. ^ Google Flights (www.google.com)
  5. ^ AirBnb (www.airbnb.com)
  6. ^ Couchsurfing (www.couchsurfing.com)
  7. ^ Home Exchange (www.homeexchange.com)

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