Traveling in Europe is never cheap, but it can be, if you do it right. I’ve traveled to 17 European countries out of 28, so I think I pretty much have it down, when it comes to saving money while traveling in Europe.
I think my first reality check of realizing how expensive Europe can be, was when I first traveled to London. Then it was at Paris, Iceland, Norway, and the list goes on and on. Some places in Europe still shock me with their daily rate for simple things, so after years of learning the hard way, I thought I show you a few of my travel hacks on how to save money on Europe travel. This information can help you save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars and Euros on your next Euro-trip.
PICK A DESTINATION
TRAVEL HACK #1
Firsts things first, picking the perfect destination or destinations. Picking a destination is key to saving money, especially if you’re on a budget or looking to save money.
CNBC claims that the top 10 most expensive cities in Europe are Milan, Stockholm, Munich, Amsterdam, Zurich, Copenhagen, Paris, London, Oslo and Helsinki.
I completely agree with that list, but also would like to add that Iceland is probably one of the most expensive countries I’ve ever been to. So if you’re trying to save money, chances are that picking one of these destinations will cost you a fortune, so keep that in mind.
However, not all countries/cities in Europe are crazy expensive. Here is a list of cheap countries to visit in Europe that can save money.
Hungary (Budapest), Portugal (Lisbon), Turkey (Istanbul), Spain, Poland, Germany (Berlin), Greece (Athens, Crete, Rhodes), Ukraine (Kiev), Czech Republic (Prague) and Croatia (Dubrovnik), to name a few.
TRAVEL HACK #2
If you’re on a budget, maybe you should book one of the cheaper countries and/or mix it up with a more expensive country. That way you get the best for your money’s worth.
TRAVEL HACK #3
- Let’s start off with a fact, on many occasions booking a one-way ticket, can be much cheaper than booking a round-trip ticket, even if it’s to and from the same destination. Consider playing around with the dates and prices on both the roundtrip and one-way ticket option, you may find a cheaper deal. A great place to do that is on SkyScanner.com
TRAVEL HACK #4
- Try to be as flexible as you can with your travel dates. The more flexible you are, the bigger your chances are at finding a great deal.
TRAVEL HACK #5
- Take into consideration that booking flights during the high holiday season will always cost you more. If you’re flying to Europe around the Christmas and New Years season, take into consideration that prices are normally at their highest peak. If you can travel anytime after the second week of January, you will save money on both Hotels and Airfare.
TRAVEL HACK #6
- If you really want to be there during that time of the year because let’s face it, it’s an amazing time to be in Europe, try to book your trip as far back in advance as you possibly can.
TRAVEL HACK #7
- Sidenote: If you want to travel to Europe during the high holiday season to visit all the beautiful Christmas markets, you can also do that during mid-November or beginning of January to save money.
TRAVEL HACK #8
- The best way to save money on traveling in Europe or, in general, is to book more than one destination at the same time. Here is what I mean, if you’re already in Europe and plan in the future to visit more countries in Europe, you should probably try to book them all at once. Sometimes you get lucky and find some amazing deals. It will save you money in the long run. For example, a flight from the USA to Europe can range from $900-$1400, it would be a waste of money to only visit London and then fly back home, when you know you want to also visit Paris and Rome in the future. Flights within Europe are super cheap.
Here are 2 ways of doing this:
TRAVEL HACK #9
- Just 2 months ago, I booked a one-way ticket to Copenhagen, I know I also wanted to see Sweden, Finland and Norway in the future. My one-way ticket cost me $570 from Los Angeles to Copenhagen, then I looked up how much it would cost me to fly to one of those countries on my list, since they were so close by. A flight from Copenhagen to Stockholm was ONLY $57! I would be crazy to not take that amazing deal! So I booked it! Then I said, alright, how about a flight to Finland or Norway. I then found an even better deal! $35 from Stockholm to Helsinki! I then tried to find the cheapest way to get back home and saw that flights from Helsinki to Los Angeles are $800, so I looked at a different country nearby that I can fly out of that might be cheaper. I found out that from Oslo, Norway a flight back to Los Angeles was only $450! So I booked a flight to Helsinki to Norway, which only cost me $97! I got to see 4 countries for only $1212! A roundtrip ticket from Los Angeles to Copenhagen was $1300!
TRAVEL HACK #10
- The other option is booking a one-way ticket to your destination and taking a train to the next country. This can save you money on airfare, but also check and see what is cheaper, sometimes trains are cheaper and other times a one-way ticket to a new destination is cheaper.
When I visited Budapest (Hungary) last year, I was also planning on visiting Vienna (Austria) and Prague (Czech Republic), so I did it all by train since all those countries border each other. It may sound like it takes you longer, a train ride from Budapest to Vienna was 3hrs, but in reality, if you include the ride to the airport, the time you need to get there before the flight boards, flying time and check-out of the airport time, that actually takes longer. A train ride can easily cost you $50 give or take. Think about it, for another $50 you get to see a whole new country!
TRAVEL HACK #11
- If you have the ability to pay for baggage online, you should definitely do it. I’ve learned the hard way how much cheaper it is online. Once you get to the check-in counter, you will sometimes have to pay double the amount.
TRAVEL HACK #12
- If you aren’t traveling for very long, try to fit all your stuff in a carry-on and then you can save up to $60 or more on check-in luggage.
TRAVEL HACK #13
- There are a few great airlines to use while flying within Europe, that can save you money. Some of them are WOW air, Norwegian airline, Fiinair and EasyJet.
TRAVEL HACK #14
- Don’t ever pay to get a window seat or an aisle seat. It’s a waste of money. Every airline has hidden reserved seats to switch people. When you get to the airport check the seating map and see if the seat position is available, if it isn’t, ask kindly at the check-in counter, if they can switch you. They almost always will switch your seat.
TRAVEL HACK #15
- Save your money and don’t take a taxi from the airport to the city center. Taxis can run anywhere from $45-$70 in some cities. Every city has a bus or a shuttle to the city center that can start from $7 each way and if you get a round trip, it’s cheaper. You can find information on shuttles or buses when you arrive or online.
TRAVEL HACK #16
- Use cash everywhere you can, instead of charging things on your ATM card/credit card, most banks charge an international fee and although it’s anywhere from a few cents to a dollar per a transaction, it adds up.
TRAVEL HACK #17
- Don’t ever convert your currency at the airport. It’s normally a rip-off. They charge a big chunk of change for their commission. Try to go to your local bank before your trip and get at least $100 converted and once you get to the city center of your destination exchange the rest there. Another option is to use your ATM card/credit card if it’s only for transportation. Sidenote: Most taxis in Europe now also take credit card payments.
TRAVEL HACK #18
- Try not to book activities before you actually get to your destination. I can’t tell you how many times I wasted money on booking things in advance and never ended up attending for different reasons and lost that money I spent.
- You Never really know if you’ll be jet-lag, sick or the weather will be so terrible that you can’t leave your hotel room. Plus also take into consideration that flights can be delayed and you might miss out on something you already paid for. You can always book whatever activities you want, once you get to your final destination. This is 2016, every hotel has WIFI and you can book things once you actually get there.
TRAVEL HACK #19
- Walking is the best way to see a city and save money. There is honestly no better advice I can give you than that. Wandering the streets of a new city is exciting and fun and you always find cool things along the way.
A photo posted by Vanilla Sky Dreaming (@hofitkimcohen) on
TRAVEL HACK #20
- Using the hop-on hop-off bus city tours will save you so much money, especially if you buy a 2 days pass. You will get to see the entire city, figure out your surrounding areas, visit all the important places in the city and save a lot of money, instead of getting on a taxi to each location.
TRAVEL HACK #21
- Don’t buy food at the airport, it’s probably the worst mistake most people make including myself. Try to grab food outside of the airport or before you leave your house. I always end up spending $30-$40 on food at the airport.
TRAVEL HACK #22
- Buy snacks before arriving to the airport. A bag of chips that normally cost $1 can cost you $4-$5 and is normally half the size as the one you got for $1.
TRAVEL HACK #23
- Take advantage of free continental breakfast that comes with your hotel stay, even if you’re tired and it’s too early in the morning. I’m not a morning person, but when I travel, I make myself be. I’m not the first at the breakfast buffet, in fact, I’m probably one of the last people that walks in, unless I have an early flight to catch, but I do get my free breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you gotta take advantage of it because it will give you energy to explore the city and not make you as hungry during lunch time.
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TRAVEL HACK #24
- You don’t always need to go to a restaurant for every meal. It can get pretty expensive especially if you’re traveling in Europe. There are many cafes where you can grab a quick sandwich on the go. This will save you money and also give you more exploring time, especially during winter time, where daylight is limited.
TRAVEL HACK #25
- A good way to save money is not to eat at tourist attraction areas, like Time Square or Champs Elysee in Paris. I just got back from Copenhagen, Denmark and wanted to get dinner at the iconic Nyhavn street where all the boats are and colorful buildings. It turns out that dinner for a single person is around $150!!! Restaurant prices that these kind of locations are up the roof! Try to find a not so tourist area to dine at, you can always ask the front desk of your hotel for recommendations.
So there you have it, my 25 best travel hacks on how to save money on Europe travel. Comment below if you have any cool tricks up your sleeves that have saved you money in the past in Europe.