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Saving $$$ - 1

Here are some of the things i do.

i will preface this by stating i fly solo so that by itself can save $$$.

Lodging.

I look for central places to stay relative to where all of the things im going to see/do. That way i can try and do more walking and do my daily trips in a radial fashion. As far as price goes i try to keep the cost to < 100 USD per night. So far i havent spent any time in any hostels, but that may change. But i dont mind spending a night or 2 in an EasyHotel. They are like a dorm room for any of you that have had the chance. To me its just a place to sleep, take a crap and shower. I know for others, its their "Castle" and it has to be one, but for me, i spend < 8 hours in it and so i dont mind a sparse room/lodging.

sometimes i cant get a central place to stay at the rate i want so i do the next best thing and look for the closest place at the price im willing to pay. I also look for a place close to a transportation hub/line to minimze my time in transit.

Food

I dont eat large meals anymore due to my work schedule. I keep that meal schedule during my trips so that i dont need to change once i get back. I also eat when conveient. IE. If im in a museum at lunchtime, i will keep on touring until i come across a cafe or if one isnt present where im at, then i wait until im done and go see some food. I love soup and sandwiches, so as you can guess, they usually arent that expensive. Also, if i eat later than normal, that will throw off my other meals for the day so i usually end up not eating a large dinner. I will also buy food in grocery stores along with drinks. As far a drinks go, i will try to get a larger container of juice. Most juices will survive 1 or 2 days w/o chilling and ive usually consumed it by the 2nd day.

I bring a camelback water bottle with me and fill it up with tap water. so far all of the places i go to have potable water. I dont carry this with me when im in town unless im just chilling, but i do keep it in my room and use it on my flight/train.

Train/Air Fair

This is a difficult one. but i spend alot of time looking at different routes to where i want to go and where i will stay. Also, compare train vs air. I will take the bus, but it has to be the only way of travel or the fastest. when it comes to train vs air, i place approximately a 4 hour limit on my train before i look at air. Its MY limits only and something that can change depending on what going on. Example, i want to take the express train from Moscow to St Petes this year and its a 4+ hour train ride. Air is faster, but more $$ but i want to take the train so the train it is. I will buy my tickets ASAP since i want to make sure i make it to where i have plans or reservations. Some places i will buy the ticket when im there, but some places not. Its just a matter of research and if those runs are packed.

Posted by
2081 posts

Saving $$$ - 2

Luggage

I try to pack all of my stuff in an Ospray bag/pack. I can get it in most overheads with some small puddle jumper exceptions.

With that said, i send back my souvenirs home from each country. I will also send back my travel books or clothes i dont need. That way im freeing up bag space. It maynot be a $$ saving, but it saves space and at the end of the trip, i can bring some stuff back in my bag. I found that most countries have their own version of the USPS priority mail boxes and rates so its nice. Ive also bought and use one of those travel scales to pre weigh my boxes to get an idea on cost. I also do some research on shipping costs from each country so i know the cost/weight.

City Cards.

I do the math on these before hand and will buy them especially if local transportation is included. most of the times its a good deal (for me) but for others no so. but again, do the math.

MISC

I buy a roll of shipping tape overthere to wrap my packages home. and i wrap the snot out of the boxes too. A roll wont take alot of room and can usually be shoved into some shoes in my bag. ALso, i preprint address labels for my postcard and packages so that they dont have to read my chicken scratches. It saves time too.

I buy my liquids once overthere to save time at the TSA screening. I had them question a used tube of toothpaste once, so i will just buy it overthere and most of the shops overthere have tube sizes that are less than the TSA requirement. In the end i just leave it at my last place. I will do the same with the package tape. It gets left at the last stop.

Posted by
6542 posts

Lodging: We travel rather frugally and try to pay no more than 70 Euros for rooms outside the major cities. We will pay slightly more in large cities. I usually look at Booking.com, filtering by low price, and then look at places with very high customer recommendations. AirBnB.com is another place to find rooms in private homes and apartments for very low prices. In Italy, we like to stay on agriturismos, but prefer B&B's everywhere we travel.

Food: Eating out is not that important to us. We eat heavy when breakfast is included, picnic at lunch and will grab a early dinner at a local restaurant. When we stay in apartments, we often cook many of our meals.
We travel with two metal 32 oz. travel bottles and mix ice tea and other drink mixes available at Walmart.

Airfare: I watch airfares closely on ITA Matrix's website to establish a normal airfare baseline in my head. I'll look at fares weekly. I also watch the internet, newspaper travel sections and ClarkHoward.com of any mention of airfare sales. While I don't expect any more $269 flights to Europe, I recently booked airfare on a one day sale out of selected cities for $728 vs. $1050 normal 3/25 airfares. I have only seen one other day @ $850 since I booked the flights.

When traveling in Europe, we'll sometime visit a niece in SW London and fly EasyJet out of Gatwick to our final destination. We'll then fly home from where we're touring (open jaw) home. Backtracking is expensive and inefficient. Trips between cities up to 400 miles will usually be by train. In many rural areas with great scenery, we will rent a car for a day or three.

Luggage--one 21" carry on bag per person and a small backpack for day trips. I don't carry anyone's luggage.

Souvenirs--We purchase virtually no souvenirs overseas. Anything we buy is really needed.

Posted by
11613 posts

Some great tips so far. I usually travel solo, so there's no cost-sharing on lodging.

TRANSPORTATION: I research airfares for a couple of months but if I find a good fare right away I'll buy it and not look back. I try to fly open jaw to save backtracking unless I'm doing a loop, and it makes sense to fly in and out of the same city.

I usually buy train tickets ahead of time online if I can get a super-saver fare. Regional train tickets I usually buy when I get there.

LODGING: I compare price, location and review ratings on booking.com, usually find a single en suite with breakfast for €100 in expensive cities, €70 or less in other places. I find that large cities have more of a range in prices, but if I am visiting for the first time I'll spend a little more. I like to stay in the historic center of cities, but I think this saves both time and money in commuting/ local transportation costs. Sometimes a hotel will offer a discount for cash.

FOOD: Breakast is often included in the room price. I don't pig out, but it saves some meal money. I usually have a restaurant- type lunch and a very light dinner. It's important to eat before you get so hungry that you spend €60 on lunch (I did this once, it was worth it but not feasible to repeat often). Food is one of the most pleasant aspects of traveling in Europe, so I mix up restaurant meals with take-away or grocery store meals.

WATER/DRINKS: I buy bottled water at grocery stores (usually less than €.50) to keep hydrated while sightseeing and order mineral water with meals. I sometimes have a glass of the house wine at lunch, which is about €1 more than mineral water.

LAUNDRY: Sink washing with Woolite every few days, laundromat once in awhile, I prefer dropping it off rather than waiting for it.

CITY CARDS/MUSEUM PASSES: Depends on the city and what I want to see/do. A bunch of 5% discounts doesn't do much for me but I may go to a "free" museum with a pass that I wouldn't otherwise visit.

TOURS: I research the cities I want to visit but sometimes will take a boat or bus tour for an orientation. I never do the hoho buses. In Rome I like minibus #116 that goes from Villa Borghese to the parking garage near St. Peter's Basilica.

Posted by
2860 posts

Food is important to us; and eating well of the local specialties is, to me, an important part of the travel experience. However, in many European countries, restaurants offer a multicourse meal, often called something like a "menu," at lunch time, at a significantly lower price than in the evening. The price is also lower than if you order the same number of courses ala carte. Eating our main meal at midday has the added benefit to us that we can avoid late dinners, which, especially when accompanied by wine, aren't conducive to sound sleep. We're small people, so if we have a large meal at 1:00 or 2:00 p.m., we usually have just a snack later. Gelato during the passegiata or cheese and crackers with a glass of wine at our own digs are great ways to end the day.

Posted by
37 posts

I will add just a couple of things. First, I almost always travel on the shoulder or off seasons if I can (Like Europe over Spring Break instead of the beach or the beach just after school starts for the students there). I only like to plan my first night's lodging in advance and then ask around wherever I happen to be around lunch time. Last year when I was in Germany, I had a glass of wine in a wine bar near the river and happened to ask the waitress if she knew of any inexpensive (under 50 Euros) lodging. She left and came back with a gentleman who had a family owned vineyard nearby who happened to have an apartment over the garage for 40 Euros a night! We were treated like royalty by the family and had best time of the trip! Other than that, I agree with the suggestions above for the use of Booking.com. I occasionally take a chance with Hotwire (use the map feature to ensure where you end up) and I have not been too disappointed by that yet.

Posted by
17642 posts

In Germany, at least, almost every town has a website (generally www. town_name.de) where the provide a comprehensive listing of accommodations in the town. That's what I go to first when planning a trip. Booking websites have a smaller pool of accommodations, because they only list those accommodations that have agreed to pay them a commission (usually 15%). Those tend not to be the small, inexpensive places that don't have margins in their rates to pay commissions. I have gone back and analyzed past trips as to where I would have stayed if I had used booking websites, and I have found that booking websites would have cost me about 50% more than what I actually paid. In some cases, I would have had to stay in another town because the booking website didn't list any properties in the town in which I wanted to stay.

To save money, avoid booking websites.

As for food, I try to learn about and eat the regional specialties. Trying to eat what you are familiar with in America (ie, beef steak) is a sure way to drive up cost.