It’s that time of year when we need something to look forward to, so what better way to boost our mood than booking a break that won’t bankrupt the bank. Naren Shaam, CEO of travel search engine GoEuro, and writers Amanda Richardson and Jarryd Salmen (who recently backpacked through Europe), share their top money-saving tips:
1. Compare transport costs
Be open to changing your route and flying to more remote airports as it can save you money. Several low-budget air companies - including Ryanair, Lufthansa and Easyjet - provide routes to fly into a nearby city for much cheaper than the main airport.
2. Research the cheapest time/date to travel
Certain days and times of the year can be significantly cheaper than others, so being flexible with your travel dates can save you a pretty penny. If you’re willing to travel in January, you can find great deals to European destinations from pretty much anywhere! If your trip is going to take up more than a few hours, consider taking an overnight sleeper train or bus and you’ll save money on a night’s accommodation, too.
3. Carry-on and do laundry there
Not only will this save you money (most budget inter-European airlines charge for checking a bag in), but you’re also more mobile, which makes getting from place to place on a bus or metro much easier. If you’re staying for a while, doing laundry there is an excuse to pack light. If the hotel or hostel doesn’t have laundry facilities, or if it’s expensive, bring some laundry packets, a plug, and a rope to hang your clothes on.
4. What transport to use when you get there
Use public transport instead of taxis, it will save you money and it’s environmentally friendly. For instance, buses in Copenhagen (pictured) have free wi-fi, which will also help you save money on internet usage. Several cities like London have a great bike-share programme, and in many cities around Europe (take Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Berlin for instance) biking is the norm and most hostels rent bikes for a small daily fee. Take full advantage and be your own mode of transport!
5. Where to stay
Apartment rental sites allow you to stay in the city centre for much cheaper while also giving you access to a kitchen for cooking meals. However, if you don’t want to splurge on your own apartment, you can always just rent a room in an apartment. This is usually your cheapest option, and it often comes with a lovely local to give you some tips about the area.
Why not try a hostel, they have private rooms if you want the hotel “experience” without the price tag. The people working the front desk are sometimes long-term travellers, and they work to stay there for free, which means they probably know a lot about the city you’re in and how to save money. Don’t be afraid to ask your fellow residents for tips about where they’ve been and where they’re headed.
6. Food on a budget
Long bus journeys are usually broken up with pit stops along the way. However, the restaurants that you stop at are often expensive. For trains there may be a carriage decked out with a restaurant or cafe, but again the prices will be well above the average. The best thing you can do is bring a big bottle of water with you and some snacks.
Set a limit as to how much you can spend at your destination so you can allot for each meal. Look for hotels/hostels with free breakfasts or rent an apartment with a kitchen. Most places have less expensive menus for lunch so try eating out for lunch and cooking something/eating street food for dinner. Alternatively, opt for local food as it’s cheaper and you get a taste of the local culture.
7. Convert currency in your head
Take a currency converter, calculator with you or use a phone app (try XE.com) so you know exactly how much you are spending and how much money you are withdrawing from an ATM. If you have your budget in pounds, make sure you know exactly how many euros that is. Also, be aware of international ATM fees.
8. Book activities online before you go
Be wary of buying tickets to exhibitions/museums/tours on site. Most things are done online nowadays, so do some research to find the best deals for that cathedral tour. Also, when booking online, you can often book at a discount. Most museums have free days each week or month; just be sure to arrive early. Travel forums will become your best friends, as a lot of them have great advice on how to avoid certain fees and which days may be cheaper/free of charge.
For more money-saving travel tips visit GoEuro’s blog.
- Read our guide to travel insurance, how to get your dream holiday for less and saving ££s on at cruise. Plus save up a third on Hilton hotel stays here.