Your Thrifty Travel Tips
In his Thrifty Fifty travel tips, Rick shares his best suggestions for saving money while traveling in Europe: from staying in B&Bs to assembling gourmet picnics. Do you have tips to add to the list? How do you stretch your euros, pounds, kroner, etc.?
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
Eating in Germany
During three weeks in Germany most places we stayed at included breakfast. The German breakfast is wonderful, and we ate well, thus avoiding spending much for later meals. Sometimes picnicked. For evening we learned to order a single entree plus salad, because the portions were so large an entree was plenty for us. We bought bottled water to have in the car.
Mountain View, CA USA 06/05/2012
Gites in France
For over 20 years now we've been staying in gites (mostly rural houses) in France for a week at a time. The per day cost saving over a hotel is huge, plus there's a lot more room, and we do a lot of cooking at the gite. Not only do you save a huge amount over restaurants, but we get to go to markets and buy all the wonderful local products.
Portland, ME USA 05/06/2012
Saving money on food
My husband and I agree that it's easy to over eat when on vacation. Not only do you spend more money, but you end up feeling sluggish and have more stomach issues. We like to stay where breakfast is free. Our hotel in London was breakfast inclusive and was both delicious and hearty. Then we either opted for an early dinner or had snack for lunch instead of a full meal. London has a chain called EAT. (or maybe it's EATS.) It's equivalent to an upscale Subway in the states. They had delicious fresh salads, sandwiches and soups. We ate for about 8-10 USD a piece! I also like to carry energy bars with me. I buy the high protein and low sugar ones and they give me an extra push in the afternoon if I'm dragging.
Guthrie, OK USA 03/21/2012
McDonald's Restaurants Are Very Useful
Please see SleepE's 05-10-10 post in Graffiti Wall - Sightseeing - Worst Tourist Traps. SleepE's comment regarding how useful McDonald's restaurants are, should also be posted under "Thrifty" Instead of paying to use a restroom, we usually head for a McDonld's or Burger King. We usually buy something as our way to Thank them for the use of their facility.
Palatine, IL USA 03/08/2012
Watch out for this trap. A hotel in Paris that I stayed in recently charged me 1.1 euro each time I picked up the room phone and dialed outside, plus per minute charges on all calls. This included calls made with a phone card so on checkout I had a $177 bill for phone usage. There was certainly no notice in the room about this potential charge. Prenez garde!
Sonoma, CA USA 12/30/2011
Munich sightseeing enroute
We enjoyed a day in Munich on our way to Vienna. We booked an overnight flight to arrive during the day in Munich airport. After arriving, we had our luggage held in the airport for a small fee. Then, we took the local train to enjoy Munich during the day. The concierge/info desk staff in the airport provided us with a free city map and some suggestions on things to see & do. He was surprised by our plan for a one day visit to the city, but agreed that it was very doable.
Our connecting flight to Vienna left in the evening, so we returned to the airport by train, got our luggage, and checked in for the connecting flight. It was a fun and economical little mini-vacation prior to our main stay in Vienna because it did not add to the cost of our international flight to Vienna. When booking flights, look for the discount flights having segments with long layovers. These are discounted because most people would skip these thinking they have to spend almost an entire day waiting in an airport. With some planning, you can save money and really enjoy a 1-day vacation at a location you might not normally plan to go to.
Southington, CT USA 09/23/2011
Saving on Reservations By Calling The Country Direct
I called Rail Europe for a price on an overnight train from Vienna to Zurich in a Double Deluxe Sleeper. The cost was $403.00 with a Eurail Pass. I decided to call the Austrian Rail, OBB, and received a price of 206 euros which today converts to $306.00. I saved $97.00 just by calling Austria.
Sacramento, CA USA 05/02/2011
saving money on food
I often ask for samples when I am low on money while traveling in Europe. I go to really expensive shopping area and it is always assumed that I have loads of money because I am an American...not true...I can usually eat an entire meal while going to various stores that sell food.
Houston, Texas USA 12/14/2010
While in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, today, we visited the Friese Shop mentioned by Steve. We had a wonderful chat with Anneliese, the warm, engaging and interesting shop owner. After purchasing several gifts at a generous discount, we bid Anneliese and her son Auf Wiedersehen. The next time we visit Rothenburg, we'll be sure to stop in the Friese Shop for discounted gifts, and another interesting conversation with Anneliese.
Robert and Carol Berk
Vilseck, Germany 11/14/2010
We just got back from Amsterdam and found out that if you want to exchange money they no longer will do it at the banks. In fact they told us that they don't even keep cash on hand in the banks, because of all of the atm machines. They directed us to a GWK currency exchange. The average for this time of year was $1.50 for 1,00 euro.Hope this helps! Happy travels.
Des Plaines, IL USA 10/29/2010
Hotel in Brugge
We stayed at the Hotel Heritage in Brugge, Belgium. What a top notch hotel and service that was. Rick was right on the money with that hotel. We just got back. They ran a special that if you stay 3 nights get one night free. We actually were planning that and we did get the one night free. We booked it at their hotel website. Any one going to Brugge must check into this. Extravegant!!! Thanks Rick.
Des Plaines, IL USA 10/29/2010
Museum Audio Guides
If Rick doesn't offer an audio guide for a museum and you want to rent the Museum's guide for you and your partner, consider following Rick's advice and get only one unit. But, instead of standing cheek-to-cheek, as Rick suggests in his books, bring along two pairs of good earbuds/headphones. Most of the museums' audioguide units have two headphone jacks that you can plug into, which is nicer than holding the unit up to your ear anyway
Greenville, SC USA 09/27/2010
sleep in th airport if your fligt arrives after midnigt
If I arrive at my destinaion after midnight I simply stay in the airport until 5 or 6 A.M then take the bus or metro to my hotel. I usually park myself at the airport starbucks..they have the big comfy ovesized chairs and I catch a few winks. I have never had anything ripped off and I save on night on a hotel.
houston, USA 09/07/2010
Cheap airport food Munich
Hungry after your flight into Munich? Try the airport supermarket for a quick meal. It's cheap, really cheap (about 3 E) for a hot sandwich and a drink. It's part market and deli. After the arrival terminal walk across the plaza and into the next building. Turn right and find the market. I used it after I returned my car and then took the train into Munich. Its the best and cheapest food I've ever found in an airport.
Chicago, IL USA 08/03/2010
Capital One Credit Card
We just came back from a 4 week trip to Eastern Europe. Used my bank's ATM for cash and Capital One Master Card for other transactions. The Capital One card worked great. No transaction fees and very good exchange rates on my statement.
Potomac, MD USA 08/02/2010
Credit Card transaction Fees Cure
or better yet--use your ATM to get cash, which should always be cheaper than any exchange. Check Capital One's card.
Elkins Park, PA USA 07/18/2010
Credit Card Transaction Fees.
Chase Master Card and Visa charge 3% to charge any foreign transaction. If you have the ability, bring dollars and check bank fees for converting your money. You may beat 3% fees?
Bakersfield, CA USA 07/16/2010
Airline Lounges when traveling
See if your credit card offers access to the airline lounge. Priority Pass is another option for $299 you get unlimited access to the lounge for a year and each guest can enter for $27 no matter where you are. The fee is charged in dollars so you will pay the fee with the credit card attached to the file.
Priority Pass also offers less expensive packages where your first 5 visits are free then its $27 for each visit and guest.
Think about spending those dollars at the airport. A Big Mac is $12 a Wine or Beer is $8-10. Here at the lounge you can usually get complimentary alcohol, there are snacks and a quiet place to relax. A lot of lounges in Europe offer showers.
If you don't want to get PriorityPass then you can get a day pass for $30-$50 dollars and use the shower have something to eat and work on your laptop. A lot of lounges offer free WiFi.
Rick should recommend PrioirtyPass as its a godsend for travelers. Be aware of the age limits at some lounges.
I used the lounge at Rome FCO airport on the way to Israel and I had no jetlag after relaxing and enjoying a glass of red wine. The Barista made fantastic drinks less than I would pay if I went to a concession at the airport.
Bank of America Accolades Personal Banking offers their customers waived annual fees and free unlimited PriorityPass to their customers.
Delta offers their Gold and Platinum Card Holders First bag free for up to 9 in their party and $25 per person up to two guest at their lounges.
Saratoga, CA USA 05/22/2010
Compainion Tickets with AMEX
American Express Accolades Credit Card from Bank of America and other cards offer an international companion ticket up to 4 per year per cardholder. If you book the same flight with your companion Amex will match the cost of the ticket so you end up paying for one ticket.
Saratoga, CA USA 05/22/2010
Enjoying Europe Electronically
I use JiWire.com to find both free and paid WiFi hotspots throughout the world including Europe. With a Skype Account, headphone and a laptop I call around the world saving money and time. Most cities have free WiFi or very inexpensive WiFi. Most cafes that have WiFi require you to buy a drink but for a drink you can have a lot of time checking email,reconfirming reservations etc.
I recommend that Rick adds this website in all of his books and on tv shows because you can really connect with the locals by visiting mom and pop cafes and other places like bookstores. It is a great way for young teens and adults to connect with locals using laptops.
With vtuner.com I can find local radio stations that stream their broadcast online for free. From Cherie FM Paris to BBC Radio in England. While I sip my coffee I listen to the music of the countries I am going to visit on my trip. Be sure you have Windows Media Player,ITunes, Real Audio or other required players.
Saratoga, CA USA 01/28/2010