Tips for finding deals on trips to Europe
It seems like everybody went to Europe this summer. Our social media feeds were loaded with pictures of smiling friends in popular tourist destinations like Rome, Paris, and London.
Those idyllic summer trips might have seemed out of reach, but you can get there for cheaper than you think. Thanks to the strong dollar, traveling across the pond is more affordable than it has been in years. We’ve rounded up five new tips to help you travel smarter on your next trip abroad.
1. Rethink Your Destinations
Sure, everyone wants to visit Amsterdam, Vienna, and Athens, not to mention the exciting spots mentioned above. But if Europe is your oyster, where do you even start? Try building your travel around a theme. If you’re like us, you’ve been wooed by the sweeping vistas and stunning castles in the long-awaited “Game of Thrones” prequel, “House of the Dragon.” The series features a cinematic wish list of gorgeous locales located in England, Portugal, and Spain.
Start by visiting modern-day Cáceres, Spain, to see the stunning red-tiled roofs and stone buildings that serve as the backdrop for King’s Landing. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Cáceres is renowned for its architecture influenced by religious conflicts between Christians and Moors. The easiest way to get to Cáceres is to fly to Madrid, where roundtrip flights can be as low as $550.
If you’re looking for moodier vibes, head to coastal Cornwall, England, to visit St. Michael’s Mount in Mount’s Bay. This tidal island’s stunning main castle stands in for Driftmark in Blackwater Bay, seat of House Velaryon. Nearby is Kynance Cove, a scenic spot known for its white sand beaches, blue water and copious caves. It’s also been used as the setting for a Velaryon camp. This epic adventure might even cost less than you think. Look for an Expedia coupon to save on Cornwall vacation packages, which can start as low as $1000 per person, and include flights and accommodations.
The most popular destinations should still be on your bucket list. But, if you consider options a little off the beaten path, you’re guaranteed to save.
2. Travel During Off-Peak Periods
Summer is always the busiest time to travel because of school breaks and holidays. But, it’s also hotter, more crowded, and extra expensive. If you can swing it, think about traveling in the fall or spring. The weather will be fine, and you can save as much as 50% over similar trips booked during the most popular summer months of July and August.
In mid-November, you can book a five-day Paris vacation package, including flights and four-star hotel reservations, for just over $1000 per person. That same trip booked in mid-July will cost nearly $900 more per person. For easy comparison shopping, use travel booking sites like Priceline to shop for the lowest prices. And, make sure to look for Priceline promo codes to see if you can increase your savings.
A number of travel experts suggest booking international travel two to eight months in advance to maximize the amount you can save. Now is the perfect time to snag some late fall savings. What are you waiting for?
3. Embrace Early Bird Tourism
There are hordes of people who sing the praises of early bird tourism. You know who we’re talking about. They’re the people who are the first in line to see the most popular attractions. These up-and-at-em tourists came, saw and are on their way out just as we’re heading in.
They tour smarter, not harder, and arrive early to take advantage of lighter crowds. Then, as things get tight, they head back to their hotels to rest during the busiest times of the day. Later, their afternoon rest leaves them feeling refreshed for a round of evening activities.
Along with aiming to be up with the sun, be like Sherlock and do your research. Before you go, check out the websites for the attractions you plan to visit to get important information on transportation, ticketing, and highlights. That way, you won’t waste time standing in a ticket line if you can buy them in advance online. And, you’ll be able to have a plan in place to make sure you see and do everything on your list.
Check out tour and attraction websites like Viator. You can search for cities or specific attractions to view a comprehensive list of goings-on. Group pricing varies, but you can almost always find Viator promo codes for up to 50% off when you plan ahead.
4. Be Flexible
When planning your trip abroad, try to have a date range in mind rather than being hooked on one specific date. Many online travel sites like Expedia and Priceline will show you ticket prices for entire months, so you can find the most affordable flights.
And, with all the uncertainty that comes with travel, it’s wise to consider booking fully refundable or partially refundable flights. Doing so may cost a little more, but it will give you peace of mind if or when life happens.
In addition, think about staying in hotels. While staying in Airbnbs may seem like a more appealing option, hotels usually offer greater flexibility with your stay. Some Airbnbs have terrible cancellation policies that come with excessive fees. At hotels, you can usually cancel up to 24 hours in advance with no charge. You’ll also have the luxury of staff on hand to help with transportation, give advice on local restaurants, and direct you to must-see stops that shouldn’t be missed. There are plenty of hotel deals to be found. Start searching hotel booking sites, such as Expedia and Priceline, to find cheap hotel prices for up to 60% off.
5. Insure Your Travel
Finally, look into buying travel insurance. You can investigate your options through credit card companies, travel booking sites, membership groups like AARP, and airlines to see what’s available.
There are different options for insurance, but many will cover trip cancellations, travel interruptions and delays, emergency medical benefits, lost or damaged luggage, and more. You may even be able to add additional coverage for hotels, meals, and rebooked flights in case you need to quarantine. On average, plan for travel insurance to cost between 5% and 6% of your total trip cost. For a couple of hundred dollars extra, you can comfortably buy yourself peace of mind.
Now, you’re armed with the latest tips on smart travel planning to Europe. Take our advice and start scheduling your trip today for the lowest possible price. It’s your turn to fill social media with to-die-for snaps of your best vacation yet.