At a time of year when people are hunting for cheap flights to Europe and cringing when they see the high cost of airfare, it’s tempting to cut way back on a travel itinerary simply because of the cost. If you’re not so put off by the price of a ticket to skip your trip altogether, however, does it really make sense to get all the way to Europe only to severely limit yourself?
European guidebook guru Rick Steves often says that it doesn’t make sense to spend thousands on a trip but then skimp on things like the guidebook you bring, but I think the same can be said of the activities you take part in while you’re traveling, too. No, it’s not cheap to fly to Europe during the high season, and that’s especially true this year – but so long as you’re making the commitment to go, the least you can do is spend enough money so that you enjoy your trip.
The good news is that it doesn’t take a trust fund-sized fortune to enjoy a trip to Europe. There are, to be sure, less-costly places in the world to visit, but if you’ve got to see Europe there’s just no replacement. Some European destinations are cheaper than others, however – your money will go further in (for instance) Portugal or Croatia than in France or England. Even within certain countries, there are regions that are cheaper, too. In Italy, for example, the southern half of the country is often significantly cheaper than the northern half – unless it’s August and you’re vying for space on the crowded beaches.
Another area for money-saving throughout Europe is transportation. If you’re traveling in a group, you may be better off sharing the costs of a rental car. If you’ve got more time than the typical two weeks, you could save a bundle with a pass for a European coach tour. If you’re sticking to one country, find out the most common method the locals use for getting around, because that’s often the best value for your money. Going back to the Italian example, the trains have long been one of the best ways to get around the country – and although it used to be much cheaper if you bought city-to-city ticket as you traveled, you can actually save money with an Italian rail pass if your trip includes primarily high-speed trains these days. It’s a big up-front cost, but it could save you quite a bit.
Once you’ve settled on a destination and mapped out how you’ll save on your trip, consider picking one “splurge” activity. Perhaps it’s a lavish meal, or a hiking tour, or a guided tour of a city – whatever appeals to you most. Choosing one splurge during an otherwise frugal trip is a great way to keep from feeling like you’re skimping too much.
About the Author: Jessica Spiegel is a Portland-based travel writer for BootsnAll Travel, where she’s the resident Italy expert. She has a ridiculous fondness for Venice, and although her list of the top 10 things to do in Venice doesn’t include a gondola ride, she’d love to learn to do the traditional Venetian stand-up style of rowing instead (all the while hoping she didn’t end up in the lagoon).
photos, top to bottom, by zoetnet, Meis Beeder