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Given that nearly half of the U.S. population has a passport, one of the places most people visit or want to visit is Europe. If you ask them the reasons they haven’t yet or they haven’t gone back, it’s because they struggle to find the cheap ways to travel.
If you don’t know how to travel in style without spending an arm and a leg, you’ll stay home and miss out on some exciting adventures.
Instead of staying home, check out these 6 ways to get the most out of a European trip.
1. Warm Weather Means Light Packing
If you want to look good everywhere you go, you should go during warmer months. You’ll be able to bring less luggage and pack your bags up with your most stylish items. This means you’ll have more outfit options without having to worry about lugging too much from place to place.
If you haven’t taken the time to do it yet, look at what’s in style where you’re headed. If scarves and fanny packs aren’t in right now, you can leave those home. Look at street style blogs and see which of your favorite items will fit in with what’s cool now.
You might want to bring a lot of clothes and books with you, but remember that you can pick up things along the way. Bring what you need and look up a couple of shops to visit while you’re traveling. That way your souvenir spending can be a little more practical.
2. Plan Your Stops Ahead
Take the time to plot out the stops ahead of your trip if you want to save some money. It’s expensive to walk through an unknown area and suddenly be overcome with hunger. You might spend your whole daily budget for one meal if you don’t know any better.
Look up what kinds of restaurants you might want to try and make them part of your daily journey. As you make your plan, you can see things that look appealing and get a vague idea of your budget. This can give you a sense of what you’ll be spending as you go from place to place.
This way you won’t be sidelined by getting an overpriced and unexciting meal at someplace you don’t really want to go to.
3. Schedule Transit Now
The cost of buying tickets for anything is much cheaper when you do it in advance. From trains to short flights, you can get a better price if you buy 6 weeks or more in advance than the day of. Schedule your transit now so you know how much to budget and you can ensure you get a seat on the plane or train you want.
Many trains and flights sell out in Europe because of how much international travel there is by members of the EU. When you schedule your transit now, you can also keep from being hit with any surprises.
Transit costs are going to be your biggest expense, so the more you plan now, the better off you’ll be.
4. Watch Exchange Rates
Probably the most volatile element of your trip is the dreaded exchange rate. If you’re going to places that all accept the Euro, you’re in better shape than if you’re also going to the UK or state where it’s not accepted. Making one exchange is expensive enough without having to go back and forth between multiple currencies.
You’ll find you’ll long to be a currency expert as soon as you start looking at the market. While you can’t always sell at the exact moment the market dips to its lowest point, you can watch for days when the two markets are particularly close. You’re going to lose a little bit of money because the Euro always tends to be above the dollar, but by checking ahead, you’ll mitigate the loss.
5. Go Off-Season
If you really want to save money, you should travel during the off-season when no one else is around. You get the best deals in the winter time when most people have to work. Most Europeans take their vacations from July through September, and that’s when you’re going to have the most competition for space.
Hotels and tourist destinations are going to be dying for business when it’s not as nice out. During rainy or cold seasons, you’ll save some serious dough if you have a flexible traveling schedule.
While a gondola ride is going to be much more romantic in the sun, read more about how to find one for cheaper during less desirable times.
6. Become a Temporary Local
If you’re staying in one spot for a while, your best bet is to become a short term local. If the owner of a small cafe or shop you like right away knows you’re visiting, they’ll be particularly kind to you. If you come in day after day, they’ll offer you lots of extras.
You might end up with some free snacks or better yet the inside scoop on where to go for great food, drinks, music, or dancing. If you can speak the language at least a little, they’ll find you charming and get into a conversation with you the whole time you’re there. They’ll be extra kind, putting themselves into your shoes as a onetime stranger in town.
Avoid tourist traps so you don’t end up spending more than you need to. In most cases, the most stylish places are the ones that the locals keep secret from the tourists so by becoming something of a local, you’ll learn a lot more.
Cheap Ways to Travel Aren’t a Mystery
With some preplanning, common sense, and frugal decisionmaking, you can travel to Europe in style and have the time of your life. There’s no reason you can’t have a heck of a time without having to max out your credit card over it. Follow our cheap ways to travel to ensure you get the most out of your trip.
For an extra bump, check out our guide on how to write off your next trip from your tax bill.