Back in the day a summer trip backpacking or riding the rails across Europe was viewed as a right of passage for many people from North America. Of course that was before the European Union and the rise of the euro as a continental currency standard. For many years now Americans have been on the losing end of a relatively steep dollar/euro exchange rate. But while these financial constraints have prevented many from planning lengthy sojourns abroad, what many people don’t know is there are ways to beat the euro and enjoy an extended European holiday – at budget prices.
Travel in the Interim Season
In the travel industry, seasons are defined as “peak” and “low.” Obviously the cost of travel is going to be more expensive in the peak season, and the harsh weather during the low season makes for, oftentimes, miserable travel. Another option is to plan your trip in the shoulder season between the peak and low. Prices are generally lower during this time period and the weather isn’t extreme.
It’s difficult to beat the euro but not impossible. As long as you’re smart with the money you do have then you can make it stretch. For example, by making lunch the largest meal of the day you can take advantage of the many “executive specials” found in cafes and restaurants throughout Europe during lunchtime. These deals provide a lot of culinary bang for your buck.
Find Cheap Flights
This may seem like a no-brainer, but what many Americans don’t know is that there are incredible deals to be had on inter-European flights. That’s because there are so many smaller specialty airlines in operation vying for the same business as all the others. Not only that, but it often takes no more than an hour or two to fly between European countries.
Embrace All Travel Options
The way to find the best deals on local European travel is to not limit yourself. There’s a lot to see on the continent, and some of the sights are best – and most cheaply – accessed via certain kinds of transport. So here is a list of some of best transportation methods in Europe that all travelers should know about.
Bus – Not the most glamorous of options, but it may be necessary mode of transport for those looking to shave some expense off their European travel budget. Also, traveling by bus is a great way to get to know the larger more cosmopolitan cities in Europe, such as Paris, Rome or Amsterdam.
Rent a car – This is a travel option overlooked by many from the U.S. because they assume they need an international license in order to rent a car in Europe. This isn’t always the case. In many cases all that’s required of the renter is to be at least 25-years-old and possess a major credit card. And taking to the back roads in a rented car is a great way to take in the European countryside. As for options, there is no shortage of large rental companies on the continent, including Europcar and Avis.
Boat – A Trip to Europe wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the islands of Spain and the Mediterranean. And the best way to get the full Ibiza, Crete or Mallorca experience is by boat. Oftentimes this method of ferry travel is cheap as well. There are many boat companies offering service to, from and around Spain, Italy and Greece. These include, Barcos Balearia, Grimaldi and Minoan.
Eurorail – The most romanticized method of European travel for many foreigners, the Eurorail provides service to most of the continent, including England. Rail travel provides optimum comfort with the aesthetic advantage of being able to watch the lush European landscapes pass by at 120 miles per hour.
Also, there’s no need to pay full price for rail travel when oftentimes discounts and special deals are on offer.
These are just a few ways to cut costs while also ensuring you get the most bang for your buck while traveling across Europe. Above all it’s important to plan a detailed itinerary, because while the idea of freewheeling it across the continent may be romantic, it will likely blow up your budget.
Franck Anais is sub-director of the ShBarcelona agency. He has been living in Barcelona for over 10 years and is very knowledgeable about the city. Thanks to a multilingual staff, customers can inquire in their language of preference and find the best Barcelona vacation rentals.