5 Tips for Exploring Europe on a Budget

Courtesy of Giuseppe Milo (Flickr CC0)

Exploring Europe can be a fun and enriching experience. If someone is planning a trip in the near future and looking for ways to save money on their vacation, there are several ways to safeguard a traveler’s budget during their stay in Europe. It is no surprise that everyone likes to save money and have more cash to spend during their trip. Here are some tips for exploring Europe on a budget.

  1. Know the Conversion Rates–One of the first things travelers need to be aware of is the current conversion rate. When traveling in Europe, the euro is most commonly used and travelers will need to be aware of the conversion rate for this currency, as well as any other forms of currency someone might encounter during their trip to Europe. For example, if someone wants to travel to the United Kingdom during their trip, they need to know the conversion rate for U.S. dollars to pounds. Moreover, Americans traveling in the U.K. may also encounter a challenging exchange rate for U.S. dollars to pounds. At one point, the pound reached $2 against the U.S. dollar. However, the pound has weakened in recent years and the conversion rates fluctuate often. Meanwhile, the exchange rate for the euro remains relatively healthy. Yet, Europe is one of the world’s most expensive regions to travel and explore.
  2. Explore Creative Lodging Options–Given that most European hotel rates are super expensive, particularly in major European cities (London, Paris, Moscow, and Rome), it is wise to explore other lodging options that can save travelers significant sums of money. Moreover, the hefty cost of living (especially in Scandinavian countries) also needs to be factored into a traveler’s budget while planning a trip and traveling in Europe. Other travel-related costs, such as public transportation, food, and other incidentals, can prove to be very pricey additions for travelers. Some reasonably priced lodging options include university rooms, private rooms-to-rent, as well as many bed and breakfast establishments. These rooms are often no-frills but comfortable and accommodating. Moreover, many of these options include breakfast every morning.
  3. Europe
    Courtesy of Alvin Leong (Flickr CC0)

    Investigate the Value of Passes–Most major European cities offer special cards or passes that include discounts or free admission for attractions within the city, tours, and public transportation. If these things appeal to a traveler and fit into their itinerary, these passes could be a great value if the card covers many of these activities. However, it is important to evaluate whether or not it is really worth the cost. Oftentimes, it depends upon the length of a traveler’s stay, how much the pass costs, what the pass covers, and how long the pass lasts when purchased. If someone is only going to use it once or twice during their stay, it might be more cost-effective to pay a la carte for activities. Of course, if someone is visiting multiple destinations during their stay, a pass for each city or destination might be necessary. These tips and added costs also should be considered while planning a trip to explore Europe on a budget.

  4. Explore Free Entertainment Options–Travelers should do their research ahead of time and locate free performances, concerts, and other entertainment options that will be available during their European stay. Search the local entertainment listings, newspapers, tour books, and keep an eye out for billboards, signs, or pamphlets. Moreover, many museums and other venues offer free admission on certain days and/or nights of the week or month. A frugal and spendthrift traveler will take these things into consideration and schedule their vacation plans accordingly.
  5. Employ Smart Money Management Techniques–When traveling in Europe, it is wise to use cash or a credit card whenever possible. There are many benefits associated with travelers using an ATM or credit card for their purchases. Namely, the strong exchange rates and easy tracking of purchases. If there are any errors or suspicious activity, it will be easy to pinpoint and report. However, it is also important to note that many credit card companies charge fees for purchases made in foreign countries, usually one to three percent. A prepared traveler will check in advance with their ATM and/or credit card companies to evaluate which cards have the lowest fees for foreign purchases. When using an ATM in a foreign country, it is always best to locate reputable bank ATMs, which will likely offer a combination of fair exchange rates as well as low surcharges and/or fees. At an ATM, there will likely be a bank transaction fee (typically one to two percent), but they will also receive the favorable interbank exchange rates. Moreover, if a traveler takes out large amounts of cash at once and stores the money in a hotel safe or other security device, this action will reduce the number of fees paid. However, remember that safety is a consideration as well while traveling in any country or region, so travelers should use their common sense and best judgment regarding money matters.

If someone is planning on exploring Europe and looking for ways to stay on budget, there are many money-saving tips that travelers can utilize while planning a trip and during their time in Europe. All travelers–no matter what their budget or financial circumstances–are eager to save some cash as well as make their trip as memorable and rewarding as possible. After all, everyone likes to save money and have more cash to spend during their trip. Hopefully, these tips for exploring Europe on a budget will pay off in big ways for travelers.

Written and Edited By Leigh Haugh

USA TODAY–How to Save Money in Europe This Summer
Rick Steves’ Europe–Thrifty 50 Travel Tips
Independent Traveler–Top 25 Ways to Save on Europe Travel

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Giuseppe Milo’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Alvin Leong’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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