Tips to Save While Planning Your Trip:
Setup cheap flight alerts to all the cities you want to visit.
I use Airfare Watchdog. I have over a dozen cities I get flight alerts for, from Las Vegas to Paris to Bangkok. Not only are you alerted to low cost flights, but you’ll learn over a bit time what really is a cheap deal. For example, before our trip to Amsterdam I’d been seeing flights for about $1000 to $1200 for awhile, then in January the price dropped to below $800 round trip departing most times of the year. These flight alerts are especially important to watch if you’re planning a multi-city trip. You can watch to see what are the cheapest places to fly into, this is especially helpful in Europe. Amsterdam and Paris (at least from the Minneapolis airport) are usually the cheapest places to fly into, so you could decide to start your European adventure in Amsterdam and end it in Paris, sightseeing other countries that are more expensive to fly into between.
Visit just outside of the peak season.
You aren’t going to get a super big deal in comparison to traveling in the middle of the off season, but you might save a couple hundred bucks. For Europe that would mean visiting in April and May or September and October.
Limit hotel stays and rent a local’s apartment.
Renting an apartment or private room is usually a much cheaper alternative to often pricey hotel stays. Staying in an apartment during our time in Amsterdam was the best decision we made! Not only did we save several hundred dollars, we explored areas of the city we probably wouldn’t have if we stayed at city center hotel we looked into. I recommend Airbnb, because it worked great during our trip and it’s the only service like this I’ve used abroad.
Buy tickets to attractions ahead of time.
This one is tricky unless you know for sure you’ll be in a city on a certain day and time, but can save you some – probably not a ton, but some money. Every bit counts right?
Check out each town’s tourism website.
Many city’s tourism websites showcases deals and promotions to use during your stay. For example, Ghent, Belgium offered a city pass to it’s attractions. Since we knew we wanted to see at least three places the pass covered and compared to the at-the-door fees, we bought the pass and saved some cash. Plus we went into a museum we hadn’t planned on since it was part of the pass!
Tips to Save During Your Trip:
The obvious, don’t eat out too much.
The less sit down dining experiences you have, generally the less you’ll spend on vacation. I like to eat out, especially on vacation, but limiting it to one or two meals a day can help cut the costs of an extended holiday. If you rent a hotel, eat the free continental breakfast they offer. If you rent an apartment, buy breakfast for the mornings and on-the-go snacks at a local super market. For things like this, it’s all about balancing what you can afford with new experiences.
Photo Source: thisisglamorous.com
Don’t over pack.
Extra baggage fees suck to pay. One idea if you know you want to bring a lot or large souvenirs home (which means you probably aren’t looking to save a bunch of money traveling, but that’s okay too) is to pack all your things inside a carry-on, then nest that carry-on side a suitcase one size up. Then, when you’re ready to head home, you unnest the suitcases, check the bigger bag and carry on the smaller, avoiding those expensive overweight baggage fees. Just an idea.
Walk or use public transportation to get around.
During our recent trip to Amsterdam we opted to take the train from the airport into Amsterdam. It was a bit confusing and stressful to figure out since there isn’t a ton of English available on their signage, so we just asked. Our tickets were only a few euros, which saved us a ton compared to the estimated taxi fare of over 40 euros! I’d also recommend downloading a GPS map that doesn’t require an internet connection, preferably one with public transit information available. This tip really depends on where you’re visiting, because your safety is always more important than saving money while traveling.
Learn the tipping etiquette.
In America we are accustom to a 20% tipping obligation on most services, but tipping etiquettes vary across the world. Do a google search for the places you’re visiting:” tipping in [insert city or country]” before you leave. This way you aren’t over tipping or tipping unnecessarily during your stay.
Claim your VAT refund.
VAT is a “value added tax” incurred at the time of purchase and can often be refunded when you leave a country. Claiming your VAT refund can be a bit of hassle, but if you’re doing a lot of shopping it’s worth it! The refund is straight cash! Your purchases usually have to exceed a certain dollar amount to be eligible and you need to do a bit of paper work and save your receipts, but well worth the effort! I went a little souvenir crazy in South Africa since everything was ‘so cheap’ (from an American’s perspective) that I got a little over a hundred dollars back in my VAT refund. Here’s a helpful link I found on how to claim a VAT refund.
Hope those tips help you save some or a lot of money when traveling! If you have any tips I missed please share them in the comments. We’d all love to read them!0