I don't know about you, but I like nice hotels, comfortable seats on planes and trains, private limos, and preferential treatment when going to museums and other attractions. But then again, I don't like to pay those ridiculously high prices. Here are some great ideas on how to live a life of luxury while on vacation in Europe without spending as much as you think you would.
Fly Premium Economy: Coach class, especially on a crowded overnight flight to Europe can be a tough thing to handle. Airlines have been offering more and more Premium Economy fares. The seats are bigger, the meals are better, and some even offer preferred boarding. I priced a 10-day round-trip flight between Charlotte CLT and Madrid on American Airlines. The business class fare was a pricey $4095. Coach was $1320. I would be happy to pay the $2170 fare I found to fly Premium Economy and be well rested to and from Europe. And, if you are an elite member of a program like American Airlines Admiral's Club, you can upgrade to the next class of service for 15,000 award miles.
Go in Shoulder Season: Traveling, especially to Europe during high season can be expensive and crowded. Hotels are at peak prices. Plus, who wants to wait in lines and push and shove in cities like Rome, Florence, Venice, London and Amsterdam in the high season? Try off-season (usually before Memorial Day and after October 15) for much better deals on good hotels, many priced below what you would pay for a budget hotel in high season.
Buy the Museum Pass: Many cities offer a pay-one-price with VIP admission pass that gets you into the best attractions in a city. Some even throw in local transportation too. Good examples are The Paris Museum Pass, the Oslo Pass, or Florence Italy's the Firenze Card. Even if it doesn't save money (but it probably will) the privilege of not having to wait in line is priceless.
Don't Eat at Tourist Traps: While there is nothing more romantic than sipping coffee on St. Mark's Square or having dinner in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, it will cost you. Find the best local restaurants with a guide like Andy Herbach's Eating and Drinking series of books.
Book a Private Car: Sometimes driving is cheaper (and nicer than flying). For instance, we were in Trieste, Italy and needed to get to Zagreb, Croatia. We used a car service called MyDayTrip. A luxury car with driver picked us up at our hotel and drove us all the way to Zagreb, Croatia with a short sight-seeing stop in Ljubljana, Slovenia. All at the cost of 284 euros. Flying would have been much more expensive and of course, not as pleasant as having a private driver in a Mercedes-Benz. Other examples are Amalfi to Naples for 162 euros.