There are people who won’t travel to Europe because they feel it’s too expensive due to the exchange rate between the Euro and the United States dollar. Although the Euro is not as strong as it once was, Americans traveling to those European countries that use the Euro will find that the dollar is not of equal value, not even close. However, even with the rate being what it is (and has been for years now), one can plan and have a fun while still frugal trip to Europe if you follow some of these tips:
Tip #1-Book an air and hotel package. Although you’ll be charged for everything all at once, your hotel stay will be charged in dollars. Since you won’t be paying in euros you’ll save considerably less. When D and I went to Ireland in 2009, we booked an air and hotel package through Expedia at a phenomenal price. On the counter side, when we went to Europe last year on our honeymoon, our hotels were booked separate from our plane tickets and four nights at our Parisian hotel ended up coming out to around the same price as our flight to and from.
Tip #2-If you’re traveling to a major city, invest in a city pass. This will not only save you time standing in line at many famous attractions, but will also help with savings in cost. Instead of paying for each attraction, you’ll pay one larger fee upfront but then have quick access to museums and other tourist attractions. If you’re the traveler who likes to see and do as much as possible, a city pass is definitely worth investing in. My only recommendation is to check beforehand which attractions are covered. If you’re finding that the sites you really want to visit are not included in the pass’ offerings, then it might just be better to pay as you go. But do your research.
Tip #3-Learn how to say “plate of the day” in the language of the country you’ll be visiting. In France it’s plat du jour and in Spain plato del dia. The plate of the day is a set lunch menu in which the couple of menu selections to choose from are generally considerably less than at dinnertime.
Tip #4-Avoid the overpriced tourist restaurants that are usually concentrated within striking distance of a famous attraction and instead journey a couple of blocks further and eat at more of a local, slightly less glamorous place. You may or may not save money but you’ll most likely be getting much better quality and much more of an authentic foodie experience.
Tip #5-If you’re a full-time student in high school or college, get an International Student Identity Card. This offers great discounts on anything from flights and ferries to restaurants and museums. I had one during my semester in Spain and used the card extensively, both in Spain and elsewhere in Europe where I traveled. The greatest thing though is that the card costs only $22, so you definitely get your money’s worth.
There are undoubtedly more savings tips out there so as to not let the high exchange rate quash any plans you may have for a European trip, but in the meantime these should get you started.