Thinking international travel is too expensive from the States? Here are 10 tips to bring down that price tag.
1. Travel in the off season. Taking that perfect summer vacation to Europe has been on your travel goals list for a while, but a round trip ticket from the states is $1500. Don't let it discourage you. Travel in the late fall or late winter. November and January-March are great times to travel. You will often find the price for the entire trip is half of what the summer rates are.
2. Look for travel packages. Expedia often has package deals, which are sometimes limited time offers, but will provide airfare and hotel at an unbelievably low rate. Go to www.expedia.com and click on deals or packages.
3. Buy things separate. Now I know I just told you to buy a package from Expedia but sometimes it's not that simple. Lets say you want to fly to London, then Paris and maybe finish off in Rome. Purchase two one-way tickets from the US to London and departing Rome back to the States. The connecting flights should be purchased from an European airline separately. Ryan Air, EasyJet, and others provide low cost one-way fare. You can also take the train. (Remember to pack light. Avoid the extra baggage fees.)
4. Buy in advance. You've chosen your destination. Now what? Book everything! Museum passes, dinner tickets, concert tickets, etc... It is often cheaper to book in advance online plus you can avoid the lines once you arrive.
5. Scout local happenings pages for events. Every city has a local events page. The only tool you need is Google. Once you find your city (Facebook is even a good resource) look up your travel dates. You are bound to find some great happenings. In addition, you will get off of the tourist track and spend time with the locals.
6. Avoid extra expenses. There are always hidden fees. Research them before you make your purchases. Also, there are people who know you are visiting and would love to find any reason for you to give up your money. There are sometimes two prices: the local and the tourist. Try to not get charged the latter.
7. Eat like a local. Ask the receptionist at your hotel where he/she eats. Stay away from the tourist spots. The local digs are often cheaper and you get more of an authentic dining experience.
8. Transportation can rack up the cost. Figure out how you are going to get around. If you want to rent a car, great. But most major cities have very good public transportation. Taking the metro or bus is a convenient option. Depending on your length of stay, consider getting a metro pass. It will save you time and money. But remember, if you are all dressed for a concert or dinner, don't shy away from cabs. Make sure the driver is not taking you on the scenic route to increase the fare.
9. Travel Agents are good for groups. We live in the age where booking travel is as easy as ordering a pizza, but using a travel agent when traveling in large groups has its benefits. Agents often have affiliations with travel providers and can get really good deals on groups. I literally just booked a trip for a group where each person paid $1200 for hotel and airfare (7 days in Paris, 4 star hotel near the Eiffel Tower, in March). It is worth asking before booking.
10. Remember you are on vacation. Don't try to spend money doing all of the touristy things you read about. Relax and let the trip happen organically. You will have a much better experience and it will be more meaningful.
If you have anymore tips, let us know in the comment section.
Candice is an introverted extrovert who loves to read, wander aimlessly and is addicted to olives. She is a photographer and loves to share travel experiences. She is married to the best husband ever hands down and they have 3 wonderful creations.