Europe is a great family vacation destination, even if you’re on a budget. The cost of a trip to Europe depends on the size of your family and the age of your children. Some consider Europe to be an expensive travel destination, but with the right research and planning, you can enjoy all its riches without breaking the bank.
Plan Ahead and Budget
Going on a European holiday without a trip travel plan can cost you big time. Before you purchase your tickets, research the areas that you want to visit, the sites that you want to see, the cost of accommodations and admission prices. This type of research will help you determine the best time of year to visit Europe and set a daily budget for your trip.
Smart Money Exchange
If you plan to take your debit card, ask the bank about the locations of partnering ATMs in Europe so you don’t get charged an exchange or conversion fee when you need cash. Avoid exchanging your U.S. currency at the airport or hotels, unless it’s an emergency. Instead, exchange your cash at a bank, as they tend to offer better exchange rates. As you plan your trip, check into the conversion fees that your credit card companies may charge if you use them in Europe so you can find the one with the lowest fees.
Many museums and cultural attractions in Europe offer free or discounted admission to students. If you have children in college or high school, pack their school ID cards so you can take advantage of student discounts. As you plan your transportation, verify if the public transportation options offer discounted rates to students as well.
If you plan to visit several museums during your trip, see if the major cities offer museum passes. When you purchase a city museum pass, you pay one flat fee to visit all of the museums in an area within a specific number of days instead of paying admission at each location. Depending on the city and the museums, you may save money.
Traveling to Europe during the off-season can save you money, particularly when it comes to accommodations. The tourist-heavy seasons tend to be around the Christmas holiday, Holy Week, toward the end of spring and throughout the summer. If you’re children aren’t in school yet, book a trip during the off-season. If the kids are in school, a trip during spring break may be a good option if the break if it isn’t during Holy Week, the week before Easter Sunday. Check dates of local celebrations or other event that may raise the rates of accommodations and make travel more expensive. In the Netherlands, for example, April 30 is Queen’s Day or King’s Day in celebration of the current monarch. On this day, the city of Amsterdam is full of residents and tourists, and public transportation services shut down.
As you plan your European vacation, look beyond the restaurants to feed your family. Check out the local bakeries and grocery stores so you can purchase snacks, bread, cereal for your next meal. Supermarkets are also a great way to find inexpensive souvenirs in the form trinkets, local chocolates and other consumables that don’t need refrigeration.
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images