You may all be saying, thanks, Liz for all these great trip ideas, but it’s way too expensive for me to take my family of 5 to Europe. So while I will admit that travel is one of the most expensive hobbies there are ways to economize.
I am not saying that you are ever going to be able to travel to Europe for the same price as driving to Wisconsin or Michigan, but there are ways to do it more cheaply than you might have imagined. First, if you go during Spring Break or anytime off season the prices are much less. You might get a plane ticket for $800 rather than $1800. The rooms are much less as well. An added benefit is that the crowds will be significantly less. This will make the whole trip much more enjoyable.
For those of you who have miles with an airline or on a credit card that can be used for miles, planning well in advance can get you some free tickets. This is one of the biggest expenses in traveling especially to Europe.
Villas or Chateaux can be cheaper than staying in hotels. Here, you can stock the kitchen, eat some meals at home and many even include a chef. This means that you do not have to pay for 3 meals a day for the whole family for the week. This can save $100 per person per day. If some old chateaux is not what you envisioned, find a hotel that includes breakfast.
Include the countryside in your itinerary. The cities are the most expensive and the countryside is a wonderful way to see the local people as well as save some money. Just like in America, the further you go away from the cities the cheaper it will be. There are lots of cute towns filled with character and fun things to do. I would also say that the kids will enjoy the countryside more than the cities, but a mix would be ideal.
Be sure to take trains. Renting a car or hiring a driver can be super expensive. The European train system runs very efficiently and if you are on a budget this will save you lots of money. It will also save you from getting lost or getting a ticket because you were driving in a zone that required a certain license (from personal experience).
Ways NOT to try to save money:
- Taking a flight with 8 hour layovers and 3 stops
- Flying in and out of an airport that is cheaper, but requires taking 2 days to get back
- Staying in a 1 Star hotel
- Staying in a hotel that is far from the sites and having to take lots of cabs to get where you want to go
- Eating at McDonald’s for the whole trip
Call me and I can put together an estimate for you.
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Liz and Mike Kohler
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We specialize in family travel to Europe and Central America creating memories to last a lifetime.