I recently returned from an amazing two and a half week trip to Europe! We visited France and Italy Our vacation started in Disneyland Paris and continued on through Paris, Cinque Terre, Florence and Rome with several stops in other destinations along the way! We had such a fabulous time, as I always do when I travel. Upon returning home I was thinking of all of the small tips and tricks as to how I save money when I visit different destinations and it inspired me to share some of my secrets with all of you. Since I just went to Europe, this article will focus on how you can save money when traveling to Europe, while you are booking your trip prior, as well as when you are travelling abroad! 🙂
Have the right credit cards
There are so many different credit card choices out there in society today and it is important to make sure you have the right credit cards for the different types of activities you enjoy doing. For a trip to Europe, I believe it is most important to have a credit card that does not incur any foreign
transaction fees so you do not have to pay an extra percent in addition to a higher fee because of our exchange rate. What this basically means is that when an item in Europe is a certain price in Euros it is always a bit more money in American dollars and if you also have a credit card with foreign transaction fees, you can also end up paying an extra 1-3% on each item, which is extra money that you could be saving. To read about my favorite option for this type of card, see my article here –> Credit Card with No Foreign Transaction Fees.
One other important credit card I have for travel is one that accrues miles as I spend money. Just recently I purchased first class flights to and from Europe for FREE…Normally a first class flight costs thousands of dollars, but with the right credit card and mileage accrual on daily purchases, you can fly for FREE! Read about my favorite air mileage credit card here –> Credit Card I use to get FREE First Class Airfare to Europe.
Start with a small amount of Foreign Currency
When traveling to anywhere outside of our own country, I believe it is important to arrive in your destination with a little cash in your wallet. Here in America, I am the type of person that never has any cash in my wallet, but when I go abroad it is a whole other story. It is always important to account for emergencies. You never know if you will be stranded at the airport, need money for a tip or if you will get hungry before you reach your destination. It is best to visit a Travelex and pick up a small amount of cash…Note that I say a small amount….Travelex does tend to rip you off with their fees and cash is much easier to get in Europe which brings me to my next point.
Utilize the ATM Machines in Europe
The first time I went to Europe without my parents, I though this sounded like the craziest piece of advice. I honestly never use ATMS here at home outside of my ATMs for my own bank because I am always concerned about incurring a fee, but I quickly learned that when traveling to Europe it is an entirely different story. I soon realized that the small fee that my bank and the foreign bank charge of a measly $1-$5 to convert dollars to Euros is so
much cheaper than paying a crazy price to exchange money at a Travelex as I mentioned above. Not only do you lose money in the Travelex interaction because they charge you a commission, they also charge you a rate per dollar and American Dollars are always worth less than Euros in Europe. I recommend sticking with the ATM and trying to extract the amount you believe you will use so you do not have to incur the $1-$5 charge each time from your bank and the European Bank. If you do run out of cash… and believe me it always happens….it is always much cheaper to go back to the ATM or to visit a bank in Europe than it is to buy cash ahead of time. I try my best to use my no foreign transaction fee credit card at every chance that is possible to avoid any atm or transaction fees.
Buy Train Tickets in Europe
Before I left to Europe this past June, my husband was quite worried about train tickets selling out to get to different destinations and he felt most comfortable with us booking through www.RailEurope.com ahead of time. This was quite honestly the biggest mistake we made in my opinion…I understood his fears and all, but if I could go back I never
would have pre-purchased these tickets! Not only did Rail Europe charge me a booking fee each time of about $8 on top of my train ticket price, the tickets were more pricy than if I purchased them at the station in Europe and they were not transferable or refundable! I soon learned that every ticket I purchased in Europe could be used for any train time slot and had so much more flexibility. I came to realize this when we were out and about in Cinque Terre and the same ticket that I could have bought for $1.80 Euro I had bought for $10.80 and I paid a $7.95 booking fee for it on top of that…and that was for only one of us..HUGE RIP OFFF! I will never use Railurope.com again!
Plan Tours Ahead of Time
This one I bring up only because you can save some money when booking tours ahead of time online, however sometimes you are not exactly sure of what you want to do until you arrive in your destination. I did see some crazy discounts online for several museums and excursions prior to our departure and when I went to book the same things in Europe, some of the prices were significantly higher.
Open Top Bus Tour
This is the last item on my list…Yes, I believe these tour buses not only save you money, but they also save you time and energy as well! I have been taking Open Top Bus tours in every city I visit for years now. I have taken them in Washington DC, Ireland, England, Paris, San Francisco and more! These buses give you the opportunity to not only see the city at
your leisure throughout the day, but they also have headphones in a variety of languages that are given to you when you enter the bus that explain each important destination. Most importantly, you have transportation to and from everywhere all day to the most pertinent places in the city!! There is usually always a stop located close to hotels and they are so easy to use. You simply hop on and hop off wherever you choose! These buses usually have a one day pass, 2 day or 3 day and you can usually even purchase your pass when you enter the bus! These buses have been the most tourist friendly on my travel adventures!
I hope some of these tips I have shared can help you in your future travels. Please let me know if you have any other travel suggestions to save time and money in the comments section below. Thanks for reading! 🙂 To see some great booking sites that I love to use for travel, click here –> My Top 9 Travel Websites To Search for the Best Travel Deals.
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