Typically, the most expensive factor to consider on your European vacation is the flight. We have a few recommendations for how to keep it low. For starters, while you’re getting married to each other, try not to be married to your travel dates; flights plus or minus two days can vary by $1000/person. www.google.com/flights is a great tool for finding the cheapest option. Type in your preferred dates and destination and search. Once the search is completed simply click on your departure date and you’ll see prices for departures throughout the month, with the lowest highlighted in green. One great option is to sign up with https://scottscheapflights.com/ for unbelievable flight deals emailed daily; most flights to Europe are $600 or less from large airports across the country.
A super savvy person might score some honeymoon subsidies, but for the rest of us there’s “sub-cities.” If you want to stay in Amsterdam, for instance, you’re going to pay a hefty price, particularly during busy season, to stay in the city. However, if you consider opening your search to nearby cities you’ll discover Haarlem which is locally called “Mini Amsterdam” and is located only a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam. What’s more, Haarlem is a beautiful secret of the Netherlands and gives you a unique experience at a significantly reduced price: flats in the city center are around $200/nt cheaper than that in Amsterdam with the same charm. Venice has a similar sister city in Burano.
If your goal is to simply be “in Europe” for your honeymoon then perhaps you’d be open to seeing the beautiful mountains and architecture of Romania and/or Bulgaria which are both considered among the cheapest countries to visit in Europe. Prague is a beautiful city with tons of history and culture that you can visit on the cheap without giving up your comfort and fun. Even if you’re looking for something a little more “western” you could consider Berlin which is considered one of the cheapest large cities in Europe to visit.
Much like knowing the best hole-in-the-wall bar near your home, there are gems in every city across the world; you just need to know where to look. And who knows where to look? Locals. Talk to your hotel concierge or guesthouse host and ask specifically for good dining options that the locals frequent. If you’re at a restaurant that is mostly filled with internationals, then you are likely paying too much. Not to mention, if you wanted to have dinner next to a bunch of Americans, why did you go to Europe in the first place? Unlike in the USA, drink prices can vary greatly based on how busy a bar is, so if you’re just looking for drinks consider visiting a small locally owned bar that is relatively slow to score cheaper prices and a complimentary drink or taster. And if you’re already doing the Eastern Europe thing, grab a pint in Budapest where you’re going to spend about $1.50 for a beer at the bar.
Europe has greatly embraced the concept of Airbnb which gives us great price breaks in accommodations overseas. The farther out from your dates you book the better deal you can expect as their pricing doesn’t vary much due to city accommodation occupancy whereas hotels do vary prices. Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower from under $100/nt? No problem! On top of that, don’t shy away from hostels too quickly. European travelers have long relied on hostels to save a few bucks so the hostel economy is strong with many options. Most hostels have private room options at a higher rate but usually less than hotels or, even, Airbnb. www.hostelworld.com is a great source to research.
America was greatly built around the car which is why public transportation is lacking compared to most other countries in the world. This leads most Americans to rely heavily on car travel such as Uber, Lyft, an archaic system known as “taxi cabs” and, even, car rentals. While there is something special and empowering about having your own car to drive through the country at your leisure, remember that parking in Europe can be extremely expensive. Gas (petrol or fuel) is far more expensive than in the US, and less car-friendly infrastructure contributes to slower travel. Ditch the roads and hit the rails where trains are consistent (like, unimaginably punctual to us Yankees), comfortable, and far cheaper than a cab. And don’t forget to put your Fitbit to work by walking plenty. Even if your destination is a mile or so away you’ll enjoy the journey and will indeed stumble upon some unforgettable sights.
Don’t let the false assumption that Europe is expensive keep you from your dream honeymoon. Any other ideas or examples of great ways to live the dream without the financial impact? Let us know!