July 1, 2014
After showing you all the pictures from my trip to France and Spain, many of you asked for tips on how to travel on a budget. As many of my readers know, I don't make much money in a temp job right now, so a trip to Europe seemed impossible, however I was blessed enough to make it happen.
So how much did I spend on two weeks in Europe? What would you guess?
I asked my friends this question and they all answered around $3,000 - $5,000 dollars. Well guess what? Including absolutely everything, from traveling, to food, to hotels, to credit card and cash spending as well as bank processing fees, I spent a total of $1685.90! I told you I was cheap!
Today I'm going to share a few Tips for Traveling On A Budget:
1. Stay With Friends Or Family: One of the most expensive parts of any trip is your hotel. By finding friends or family in the area who will host you for any portion of your trip you'll make a huge cut to your costs. I only took my trip to Europe because my aunt invited me to stay with her in Alicante. I chose to visit Paris and then fly out of Madrid as well, which meant I only had 4 nights that I needed to pay for. When choosing where to stay, cost and location were most important to me, so I chose hostels either in the center of the city or very close to public transportation and went for the cheapest deals with good reviews that I could find.
2. Read Reviews: Going along with my previous point, reviews are key to planning your trip. I read reviews for hotels, using the public transportation, tourists sites, tour groups and suggestions of what to do in each city. Asking family, friends and my readers also helped give me ideas. Every company website is going to say that their hotel/attraction/tour is the best, so reading personal experiences can help you discover if it's the right choice for you.
3. Look For Deals With Airlines: My flights with Delta Airlines were originally just over $1000, however I only paid $504. How? Skymiles. Each airline has a different system of how they deal with points, miles, purchasing and usage so be sure to contact the airline to get your questions answered. I discovered that I didn't have enough points for the whole trip, so to use my points for half and pay for the second half I had to get a Delta Skymiles American Express card. With getting the card and using it, I was able to earn an extra 30,000 miles to use on future trips. Beware of buying miles though, in my experience that ends up being more expensive!
4. Bring Your Own Food & Buy From Grocery Stores: Another very expensive part of any trip is buying food. Since you're away from home, most people end up eating out for every meal, but this can add up very quickly, especially with conversion rates (1 Euro = $1.37 right now). Since I knew gluten would be an issue, particularly in France, I brought a TON of my own bars and almond butter packets, as well as a few baggies of pre-portioned oatmeal.
Because I just ate on the go while I was sight-seeing, I ended up eating only one to two meals a day in a restaurant while in Paris. Also - buy food and water in grocery stores!! I would stop into a grocery store while walking around and grab a bottle of water for 50 cents, whereas buying one anywhere else could cost up to 4 euros.
5. Pick and Choose What You Really Want To Do: Every city has plenty of tourist attractions, some free and some costly. Before I left on my trip I made a list of everything that interested me, and then picked the things that I was willing to pay for. For example, in Paris I could have gone to the top of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame Cathedral. But did I really need all three views? No, especially when the cost of going to the top of all three would be 32.50 Euro (or $44.50). So I chose the Arc De Triomphe because it gave a great view of the whole city.