Enjoy a European Family Vacation on a Budget

Six easy tips to save money when in Rome (and the rest of Europe)

Credit: TV Week

Follow these six money-saving tips to enjoy your European family vacation

European vacations may be costly, but if you travel smart, you can fit it into your family budget

There’s no question that travelling to Europe, especially with the entire family, is an expense that leaves many people choosing other, more affordable destinations for their annual vacation. But Europe shouldn’t be missed simply because of the cost — especially since there are ways to keep those expenses down.

Money-saving Tips for Your European Family Vacation

1. Choose the Right Time to Go

Travel during summer months and the Christmas holiday season will result in higher rates all around. Consider the spring or fall months, when crowds are thinner. 

2. Visit Less Popular Locales

Consider visiting a country or city off the beaten track and you’ll find they’re not nearly as expensive as the major centres — Eastern European cities, for example, in Romania or Hungary, or even in Portugal. If you prefer to visit Western Europe, opt for cities that are less popular and more cost effective. 

3. Check in to Holiday Apartment Rentals

Instead of staying at pricey hotels, check out holiday apartment rentals. The best resources online are websites such as Craigslist or Vacation Rentals by Owner. Both sites include photos and info on thousands of independently owned apartments in cities all over Europe, many of them for a fraction of the price. Apartment stays also give you the opportunity to cook some of your own meals for more cost savings.

4. Avoid Eating Out

Sure, half the fun of vacationing is eating out and exploring local restaurants, but there are thousands of beautiful plazas and parks all over Europe where you can relax with a picnic. So consider shopping at the local market. 

5. Research Free Festivals and Activities

Find the discounts and free activities! There are a number of free activities available in most cities, including hundreds of complimentary outdoor festivals and interactive events. If you’re into the outdoors, hiking trails are often at your fingertips and some cities even offer city tours with the sole expectation of just a few Euros for a tip. All it takes is a bit of research. 

6. Take the Train

Public transportation is the way to go if you’re going to be travelling through Europe. The European Union invests quite a bit of money in its infrastructure and the end result is public transportation that’s quick, efficient and cost effective. 
You may want to consider purchasing a Eurail pass, available for train travel in individual countries, specific regions or for all of Europe if you’re planning a lengthy trip.

Once you start looking for free activities, you will find them. For example, many people don’t realize that a good majority of the museums in London provide free admission. A bit of online exploring before you go will come in handy. 
If you create a budget and do a bit of homework ahead of time, you’re much more likely to have some change left at the end of the day — for your next vacation!

Originally published in TV Week. For daily updates, subscribe to the free TV Week e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.