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Tips to Save Money on Your European Vacation

What a good traveler needs is a nice, cozy place to stay which isn’t too expensive. The presence of a clean bathroom is nice. Home-grown restaurants that offer lip-smacking local cuisine at reasonable prices are appreciated. And yes, internal transport that doesn’t leave him broke before the trip ends.

As you can see, a budget traveler’s demands clearly are quite budgeted. He doesn’t yearn for a seven course meal at Maxim’s, neither does he think of staying at The Dorchester. If you’re thinking along the same lines, we’ve got you a set of tips that will help you enjoy Europe in all its glory, at a fraction of the cost.

5 Ideas to Save Money on Your European Vacation

Time Your Trip Well

– Give the summer a miss.
You actually imagine yourself spending a gorgeous summer in Europe, with the sun shining down, and the perfect weather. Unfortunately, so does the rest of the world, which is why it is rather costly to be on this continent from June to September. As far as air travel is concerned, you might mistakenly assume that booking on a weekday will always come at a cheaper fare. The cost of your plane ticket depends not only on the day you travel, but also the time of your flight, the layover time (if applicable), and your carrier. Therefore, pay close attention to all these factors while booking your ticket. For all you know, you may get an excellent deal over the weekend as well. Another misconception goes that travel agents can get you lower rates owing to the fact that they book in bulk. But frankly, they earn their profits from commissions paid by you, when you book through them to avail “discounts”. Your best bet, therefore, remains to contact the airlines and the hostels/hotels directly.

+ Choose to go off-season instead.
Planning the holiday during the off season, say early winter or spring does have a lot more perks than you’d imagine. First, it’s obviously cheap. Second, you won’t encounter the jostling crowds. Third, you’ll welcome the slight nip in the air, as the European summer gets sweltering each year. Fourth, airlines give you humble fares and upgrades. Fifth, rooms are available at throwaway prices. Are you getting the drift?

Plan with Precision

– Resist the lazing.
You’re tempted to go with the flow and explore Europe at a languid pace. It sure sounds nice when you have a wad of cash stashed in your pocket. But if you’re looking to save money, you will have to give a miss to the aimless wandering.

+ Go for efficiency.
You’d rather plan, as this will allow you to fix an itinerary, and make use of the wonder that is Eurail. They offer some amazing deals on the cheap, so you don’t have to be constantly worrying about how you’re going to travel on the continent. Also, try to book night journeys for long distances, as it will save you time, and cut down on the staying expense. Many of you trying to save money may also consider hitchhiking as an option. Though quite unreliable, it will take you from one place to the other at a minimal cost. Keep in mind that when you’re hitchhiking, you can’t afford to have a fixed itinerary in place. Always remember not to be very rigid with your itinerary, as you will find cheaper options to travel within the continent as you go along.

Save on the Stay

– Chain hotels are getting cheaper, you know!
Sure, they are. But what they cut on rates, they add in taxes, so the best thing would be to avoid them. You don’t really need to pay USD 50 a night to get a mint chocolate on your pillow, do you?

+ Think B&Bs, house sitting, YMCA, hostels, and the lot.
The best thing about Europe is the sheer number of staying options it has for budget conscious travelers. Family-run hotels are quite cozy and clean, and they come with the added advantage of interacting with the locals, who will be quite willing to offer more tips on saving money. If you choose to shack at any of the hostels, ensure that you book in advance, and be sure of the facilities before you land there. Talk to someone who’s lived there before, to get an accurate idea of the living conditions.

Know About the Freebies

– Freebies are only aimed at students.
True, a lot of them are indeed for students. For instance, students can avail passes which lets them get inside museums and attraction for almost nothing. But that’s not to say that there isn’t anything for the slightly older ones.

+ We’re talking city cards, bus passes, and more!
Europe thrives on tourism, so it is only fair that they discount it a bit. Several of Europe’s biggest attractions including London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, and Madrid offer passes that let you travel on the cheap using public transport. They also have city cards that give you discounts on entrance fees at monuments and museums. Some even offer discounted meal tickets. Check the tourism websites for individual cities to know more about such offers.

Go for Cheap Chow

– So much to see, and so much to eat!
Both of which can be quite expensive. Being a tourist, you’re bound to hover in the touristy areas, and you’d obviously be tempted to grab a bite at the fancy places that surround you. But don’t.

+ You can revel in the deliciousness for less.
Most European towns have market places that sell fresh produce like fruit, breads, and even roasted meats. Of course, these won’t cost you a fortune. It also lets you savor the region’s cuisine and flavors to your heart’s content. Quaint little restaurants and cafes situated away from busy areas also offer a homely experience. And before I forget, European chocolatiers are quite generous as well, so enjoy the sampling before you make your purchase.

Saving money on your European vacation involves doing stuff that takes a detour from all things conventional, but is worth it. But don’t be so hung up on saving money, that you compromise on having a fabulous trip in Europe. Don’t forget to have a great time while you’re there.

7 Money Mistakes to Stay Away From in your 20s

Approaching family/friends is easy, but is it a sensible decision?
Relationships are fragile no matter how much effort you invest in them, and when money comes into picture, it does some irreparable damage for sure. You’d rather preserve your friendship and family ties and go in for a bank loan.
“You only live once” is a motto that’s very popular among the young generation. The motto means enjoy every day of your life, even if it demands taking huge risks. However, when it comes to expenditure, be strict with yourself because wrong decisions made during your twenties can ruin everything for you. As you sail from your 20s to your 30s, you want to look back with pride for saving on some money. So what if you have to be foresighted early on and be more conscientious? You’ll realize the benefits of it all only afterwards. So, take our word as we roll out some major money mistakes to avoid in your 20s.
7 Damaging Mistakes to Avoid
College or not?
Many youngsters enter college just because they have to! What’s more, many are already weighed down by massive student loans that have to be carried forward for god knows how long. Sometimes, you may tend to choose the wrong field and waste all the money.

➨ Do this instead: If you are confused over your future educational course of action, may be take the year off by doing a job, and during that time, do the much-needed thinking. You’d rather want to take a decision while making some money for yourself, rather than wasting more money on your college education and classes that you really aren’t even interested in. Also, you could check some options for scholarships or grants rather than being in the burden of the loan.

Existing on credit cards
Well guys, this one’s straight and simple: unnecessary usage of credit cards for all your purchases can soon lead to debts. We understand that there’s this constant urge to spend on clothes, cars, or even partying. But, this is the real test for you, so save it.

➨ Do this instead: Limit yourself to one credit card and make use of its cash rewards. Pay for only what can be afforded at the moment and make timely credit card payments. You can enjoy but put an end to useless spending. Just buy what you need, and not what you want!

Lack of budgeting
Fail to set a monthly budget for your expenses and you soon could be spiraling down, heading towards debt, or maybe living paycheck to paycheck.
➨ Do this instead: Plan a budget so that you know where the money is being shelled out. All you need is a pen and paper for that! List your monthly expenditure and subtract that from your monthly salary. It’s from there that you can figure out on what you should cut down. This cutting back will only help you pay for groceries and other bills with ease, while saving up on some much-needed money.
Buying a car or borrowing money for a car
Just because you are in your twenties you don’t need a fancy car. C’mon! What’s the point in showing off your wealth by driving a car and later being burdened by the car insurance and the interest rate on the car loan? Your happiness of owning a car may just be short-lived.

➨ Do this instead: If you have planned your expenses well, and have saved some money regularly, it’s okay to afford a car. But don’t invest in a lavish one because along with the car comes the maintenance, plus you have the insurance and loan that comes in the whole package. If you think wisely, urban areas are not short of van pools and decent bus services. Use these services until the time is right to buy a new car.

Not saving for your future/retirement
This is the worst mistake you can commit, fellas. Period.

➨ Do this instead: We know, it is pretty early for twenty-somethings to plan for retirement, but eyeing an early investment in the form of Roth IRA is always a wise thing to do. Plus, the money you save, big or small, may later be beneficial when you need it the most. So, curtailing certain expenses can come to your rescue sooner than you know. You could begin with an emergency fund too. It’s simple. Set aside USD 1,000 to begin with every month; this goes into the emergency fund. Do this for 3 to 6 months after which you can raise the bar depending on your expenses/loans. It’ll help you navigate through rough weather.

Marrying too early or arranging for a lavish wedding
Marrying too early when you aren’t even sensible enough to save up on money can set a couple reeling under huge expenses instead of leading a life of harmony. And if you have a child too soon, child-rearing costs are gonna make you spend sleepless nights. Oh, well, another damaging mistake people commit is going in for an expensive wedding.

➨ Do this instead: We know, you may be head over heels and dying to settle down. But hastily making such a decision can lead you into trouble. Don’t let your heart rule over your head. Wait for a bit before you take the plunge. Debt from a wedding is that last thing you have on mind; you’d rather soak in wedded bliss. An expensive wedding is not equivalent to a successful marriage, so you can curtail expenses and still make it a memorable one.

Not insuring yourself
You are a life after all, and moreover, not unshakable, mind you. Not insuring yourself or your property might make you repent for it later on.

➨ Do this instead: You may come across situations that are uncalled-for, such as surgery or any other medical emergency, ambulance fee, replacing personal items following a break-in, etc. We never know what might befall us. Look around for competitive rates, then check your budget, and get yourself and your property insured soon.

The best thing about the 20s is that it gives you a lot of time on hand. You can come out of the mistakes you commit and enjoy your life. Back it up with smart financial decisions although it may seem like tall order. This will only lay the foundation for financial stability in the long term.