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Tips on making Europe travel less expensive

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Nov 4th, 2007, 07:34 AM
  #1
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Tips on making Europe travel less expensive

Who has tips on ways to cut costs while traveling in Europe? My husband and I will be heading to Italy, Germany, Prauge and Vienna in December. I fear even a cup of coffee will be exensive. Please share your wisdom with tips for those traveling during Christmas and New Years. Thanks!
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Nov 4th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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ira
 
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Hi O,

Four countries in one week?

1. Don't go between Xmas and New Year's. That's high season.

2. Don't go to so many places. It will reduce your travel expenses.



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Nov 4th, 2007, 07:48 AM
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Simple; operate as a middle class local. Never eat out, use the least expensive travel method, don't buy anything, try to use either, B&Bs or private rental rooms. Do not stay in the city, opt for nearby small towns. Aside: Your itinerary itself will be expensive because of the cost of traveling. Do you have any business or social contacts? Make use of them. Many European colleges and universities offer hotels and dorm rooms. Your trip can also be the time to diet or kick an unhealthy and expensive habit IF you have any.
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Nov 4th, 2007, 07:49 AM
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I wouldn't say don't go between Christmas and New Year's - sometimes there are good deals to be had, and for many people, this is by far the most convenient time to travel.

I do agree with cutting down from four countries, and saving time, money, and frustration. Why not just enjoy one, or at most two?
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Nov 4th, 2007, 07:51 AM
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First and foremost, plan your trip and your budget so that you are not constantly worried about every penny you spend. That's the worst way to spend your time. We do not eat at very trendy or ultra-expensive places but do allow ourselves at least one meal that would be more expensive that normal. If we end up not doing that, that's more money to spend elsewhere.....like for boots!


When having a coffee in the morning, stand at the bar to drink it instead of taking a table. You will pay a lot less.

Venture out of the main tourist areas for what will probably be a more authentic and less expensive meal.

Enjoy local street food, which is usually very good and inexpensive.

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Nov 4th, 2007, 07:53 AM
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The cup of coffee you mention will be priced differently depending on whether you have it standing up at the bar (least expensive), sitting inside (more expensive), or sitting outside (most expensive).
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Nov 4th, 2007, 08:01 AM
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Hi Ottis,

I travelled to Europe quite often in a very tight budget. That is one of the reasons that I avoid going to too many places at one time as you are planning to do. Going from one place to another costs alot! Try to go only to two places at the most!

Then:

1. If you are staying for over 4 days in the same place, you should try to rent an apartment: it comes out cheaper, unless you get a good B&B.

2. Try to walk as much as you can, as transportation in Europe is not cheap.

3. Have your main meal at noon, when a lot of restaurants have specials. If you are in an apartment, you can go home for a hearty soup (in winter) or salad (in summer), or both, with good bread and a bottle of wine for dinner. This will be a lot better for your health as well, instead of eating a heavy meal for dinner at a restaurant.

4. Don't order soft drinks with your meals. They are very expensive in Europe; it is better, and cheaper, to drink wine. You also do not need to buy bottled water in restaurants there, just ask for a glass of water.

5. Try to avoid buying souvenirs and other stuff you don't need (the hardest part for me...).

6. Do not use your cell phone (I did, and paid a lot....). Buy local telephone cards to call home.

I have visited all the places you plan to visit, and it is impossible to really visit the 4 of them in one week. If you want to save money, just go to the Check Republic (Prague) and Austria (Vienna): they are cheaper then Germany and Italy.

Have fun!
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Nov 4th, 2007, 08:21 AM
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According to the usual lists we find in the papers before the holiday season starts, the Czech Republic will be the least expensive place to be, Germany is next with Austria very close, and finally Italy.

Getting a soft drink instead of the house wine is only a good idea in Italy. In Germany and Austria, soft drinks are cheaper. Czech I don't know. Water from the tap in rarely available in German restaurants - except as a side for coffee, sometimes.
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Nov 4th, 2007, 08:47 AM
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I think the trick is to do whatever the locals do. So if in Czech (a beer drinking nation) don't order the wine unless it is the local stuff. Czech's don't eat much at lunch so ensure you have the big supper as they do.

In Italy there is the equivelent of a worker's lunch which is served at 12 normally three course all fixed with wine. These prices will be way below anything that you actually select.

Travel, well take the slow train if you must move so much.
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Nov 4th, 2007, 09:00 AM
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Lodging is the biggest expense but I've always been able to find decent places to stay for under €100 (except in Rome). Once you know your exact itinerary post questions here about budget accomodations in specific cities/towns. Staying on the outskirts of cities may be cheaper, but then you need to factor in the cost of getting from there to the places you want to see. It often works out better to stay central for a few more euro.

Walk or take the metro - taxi's are usually much more expensive.

Food is the main way I save. I rarely eat at a sit down/waiter service. Small ethnic restaurants, pizza, etc. Street food, sandwiches to go, etc. Or stop at markets and get makings for a picnic. Even if it's too cold for a picnic in the parks, you can eat in your hotel room. Many people would hate to travel this way as they "travel to eat". But it is a major way to save and my travel style is "as many days per year in Europe as possible" - even if that means a bit of skrimping.

As others have said, travel between cities/countries can also be pretty expensive so limiting the number of places you go can help. You didn't really mean you were going to 4 countries in one week did you? Even besides cost, that's not a good idea. How long do you have?
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Nov 4th, 2007, 09:02 AM
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Sorry.. I got my "soft drink instead of wine" mixed up. What I wanted to say was that you should get wine instead of a soft drink in Italy - but not in Germany, Austria, and probably Czech (where beer is cheap).

A really cheap (and usually not known) way to keep costs for lunch down is to eat at the cafeterias or canteens of government places like city hall or ministries. These restaurants are usually also open to the public but you pay a surcharge to the subsidized prices for the people who work there. You can get a regular meal there for 3-6 Euros.

And finally.. my favorite.. don't tip 20% in Germany. Only round up IF you feel like giving a tip.
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Nov 4th, 2007, 09:04 AM
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How long is the trip? Ira mentions 1 week, but I didn't see that.

First tip is to stay longer in each location & go less places total. This saves money on transportation but also because it gives you time to get to know an area and find the good deals (best shops, local places to eat, etc.).

Look for things to do that doesn't cost money like street markets, free concerts, church or school sponsored activities, local events.

Eat from the grocery store, bakeries, delis with to-go foods. When chosing restaurants try for neighborhoods away from tourist attractions.
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Nov 4th, 2007, 09:26 AM
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I think the reason that we are thinking one week is because the original poster said "between Christmas and New Years".
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Nov 4th, 2007, 09:43 AM
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Wine and beer (great) are cheaper than soft drinks. Stand up for your morning coffee. Buy public transportation in ticket blocks if offered. Avoid cabs. Train travel in second class is fine. Eat off the prix fixe menu. Market food is really good and very inexpensive. Wonderful music can be found in the local churches at services and in the evening very reasonably. Research ahead what each area is known for when it comes to local products for souvenirs. Buy food as souvenirs in grocery stores. Get an international phone card when you get there if you need to call home.
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Nov 4th, 2007, 09:53 AM
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ira
 
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Re tipping,

Do not tip in Italy except for rounding up.

In the other countries, 10% is sufficient.

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Nov 4th, 2007, 09:57 AM
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We used Priceline for hotel rooms and were able to keep accomodation prices down, also check out Easyjet or other discount airlines. We flew between London and Prague, Budapest and Berlin and Berlin and Paris for about $150 per person for all flights. Buy tourist cards that include transportation and discounts for city tours, museums etc. Pick up fruit, rolls, juice etc for breakfast in your room. Saves money and time!
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Nov 4th, 2007, 10:35 AM
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I am getting great information from everyone. Just to be clear, we are planning to spend about 3 weeks traveling not one week (I apologize if I mis-stated my time). So we plan to spend 3-5 days in some locations while just overnight in others. The tips about eating and drinking (coffee, wine, soda) are helpful. I was taken aback by reports about how expensive even a cup of coffee can be.
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Nov 4th, 2007, 11:15 AM
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Many hotels will give you a discount if you stay 3 or more nights, so look for those that do. Also, probably 99% of the non-chain hotels in Germany and Austria and maybe in Italy and Prague include a good buffet breakfast in the room price.

Some cities like Vienna offer discount cards for transportation, museums and other attractions for visitors. This can be a big cost saver. You can usually find info on these saver cards on the city or area's website.

http://info.wien.at/article.asp?IDArticle=9400



Shop at local grocery stores for snacks, water and soft drinks to take on the road. They are usually half the cost of buying them at rest stops along the highway.
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Nov 4th, 2007, 12:48 PM
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No one's mentioned it, but you can do as the natives of both the U.S. and Europe do: eat at McDonalds and other fast food places PART OF THE TIME.
They have filling, satisfying and reasonably priced meals, coffees and soft drinks for which you do NOT pay extra to consume while seated. (and if you're a coffee addict like me, this may be the only place you can get large coffees, or coffee to go).
Not elegant, but even the familiar fast foods come with unfamiliar and interesting European touches that you'll enjoy having experienced. AND they have free, easy to locate restrooms.
Someone here mentioned government cafeterias. While in Italy in May, we found cafeteria style restaurants in Venice and in Milan that were family run, had excellent food including wine, and were extremely reasonably priced - I'm going to be searching for this on our next trip - don't know if it's common outside Italy.
What a wonderful way to spend your Holidays!
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Nov 4th, 2007, 12:53 PM
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I think you can restrict tipping in other countries (Germany for instance)

I notice that Fodor advice tends to be 3 star and 100 Euro a night at least and often more. Try looking out for B+B or international youth hostels.

Prague hotels are expensive but try the Czech web sites commercial hotel booker, should be able to pick up rooms sub Euro 80 which looks lower than last minute.com
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