Top Ten Ways to Save Money (and Time) in Europe

Save Money and Time Without Sacrificing Luxury or Comfort

Author: The Traveling Professor/Thursday, October 29, 2015/Categories: Travel Tips

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  1. Travel Off-Season or During “Shoulder Season”: Airfares to Europe are about 40% lower during off-season, usually between mid-October and early May. I try to get to places like Paris in October and March and April. Italy is the perfect destination in April and May and sometimes in November. The crowds can be light which makes for a relaxing vacation. Many hotels also offer substantial discounts at these times. 
  2. Eat From the “Menu”: Many restaurants have a set price-fix menu for lunch and dinner. It can include an appetizer, main dish, and dessert. Sometimes wine is part of the deal. These “menus” are often good values. It is easy to eat well in Europe for under 20 euro per person. 
  3. Get the VAT Back: In Europe, the VAT (Value Added Tax) is like a national sales tax with rates of 17% to 25% varying by country. When purchasing goods from a retailer, travelers can often receive a VAT refund. So, when I purchased some Tuscan pottery at $600 on my last trip to Florence, I received a refund of about $125. For more information, see http://www.reidsguides.com/t_mo/t_mo_vat.html 
  4. Use Public Transportation: Europe bus and train travel is much better than it is here in North America. It is inexpensive too. Don’t hassle with a car. Take a taxi only when necessary. Major cities have discounted travel cards that get you where you need to go quickly and inexpensively. 
  5. Rent an Apartment: I have rented beautiful apartments in Paris and Rome for a fraction of what I would pay for a hotel. However, never rent an apartment that does not come with a recommendation from someone you know. 
  6. Stay at a 2-Star Hotel: If an apartment is not for you, there are plenty of clean, comfortable, and quiet 2-star hotels in central locations that cost about $125 or less per night. Again, pick one that comes recommended. 
  7. Get the Pass for Museums: Most cites sell a pass that allows admission into multiple museums. In Paris, for instance, the Paris Museum Pass offers 6 days of unlimited skip-the-line admission into over 80 good attractions including the Louvre, Orsay, Versailles at a price of about $83. By the way, stay away from the over-crowded museums on “free days”. 
  8. Carry-on Luggage: Airlines charge expensive fees to check bags. A vacation can be ruined (and turn out to be very expensive) if checked bags are lost. I’ve gone to Europe for as long as 2 weeks with just carry-on luggage. You can do it too.
  9.  Tour on Your Own: On my last small group tour to Paris, we saw a day trip to the Normandy Invasion Beaches advertised for 229 euro per person. I arranged a better excursion on my own for under 100 euro. On a website, an excursion to Pisa and Lucca from Florence, Italy is listed at 66 euro. I just did the same tour myself for about 35 euro. 
  10. Take a Shared Tour.  In London, get a tour from a terrific guide on a famous London Walks.    Get a group of 4-10 and share a tour guide.

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