As part of the preparation for the live blog on “How to get more from your Euro” to be hosted on the Europe a la Carte blog , I asked the 6 panelists to email me their top 3 tips for squeezing more from your euro when travelling in the Euro Zone. I added my own top three tips and then analysed the tips to come up with the top recurring themes. So here are the top five tips distilled from the collective wisdom of 7 budget travel bloggers.
Lecce, Apulia, Italy
What I’d like to emphasise is that you can still have a great time even if you are looking to get the most out of your euro. A trip to Europe is for pleasure not a penance. If you think carefully about your priorities you can devise a realistic spending plan for your trip.
1 Travel in low or off peak season. This means that your airfares and accommodation costs will be much lower. This doesn’t mean that you have travel in the middle of Winter to get value. Much of Southern Europe is beautiful and not too hot in late May and June. It also means that many places you visit will not be so crowded and it won’t be so hot for sight seeing. Until 30 June 2008 18 – 25 year olds can enter the Musee d’Orsay in Paris free of charge on Thursday evenings after 6pm. There’s a difference in price of 100 euros between a Eurolines bus pass in mid season and peak season for 15 days travel for an adult.
2 Think about your food costs. Again it’s not about living on a diet of gruel. Choose a fixed price “menu of the day” in a restaurant rather than going a la carte. I’ve had great 3 course meals on fixed price menus in Spain for around 12 euros, some even include a glass of wine or water in the price. Ditch the guide book restaurants recommendations and check out where the locals are eating. Buy groceries and prepare a picnic. Having a picnic in a picturesque location can be more enjoyable than sitting in a restaurant. Check that breakfast is included in the price quoted by a hotel and if it’s a buffet you could always take some rolls and fruit for your lunch. I’ve noticed more hotels quoting room only prices which may initially sound cheap until you notice a 10 euro charge per person for breakfast.
3 Walk around, not only will save money and see more than if you are in a tour bus but you’ll keep fit and have more opportunity to soak up the atmosphere and rub shoulders with the locals. I really like Jan Morris‘ advice “The best way to find out about a place is wander around. Wander around, alone, with all your antennae out thinking about what’s happening and what you see and what you feel”. You can enjoy yourself people watching whilst sitting in a cafe or a park. Most cities have some sort of freebies on offer e.g. free entry to the Vatican Museums on the last Sunday of the month. We only discovered this in Rome as were walking by.
4 Think carefully about your accommodation choice. Look out for special offers e.g. stay 3 nights for the price of two. Use a hotel price comparison site such as HotelsCombined to easily and quickly find the best deal from many different suppliers but always check the price on the hotels own site too. I found 3 and 4 star hotels charging an average of 65 euros a night for a double room with private bathroom and including breakfast for our trip to Italy this month. If you plan to be out exploring all day do you need to stay in a fancy hotel? You could trade down a star, consider a shared bathroom or a hostel. There are also sites such as Couch Surfing and the Hospitality Club where you can offer and receive free accommodation.
5 Book in advance to get the best deals on fares for rail travel and with the European low cost airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet. Many hotels offer lower rates if you book in advance but this rate may require advance payment and be non refundable.
A big thank you to the 6 panelists, listed below, for their input.
Christopher Cook of www.noambit.com
Lisa Marie Mercer of flyaway-weblog.com
Hilary of Less Than a Shoestring
Olivia Giovetti of High Culture on a Low Budget
Sean O’Neill of This Just In
Tom Meyers of www.eurocheapo.com