5 Tips to Save Money on a European Vacation

Tami McQueen

Tami McQueen

European Vacation - Two female friends walking along the Seine in Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Summer is almost here! It’s a great time to get out and explore the world. If you’re headed across the pond for vacation, check out these 5 tips on how to save money on a European Vacation:

Tip No. 1 – Explore the Unbeaten Path

If you haven’t booked your trip yet, consider visiting countries like Romania, Portugal and Poland that offer breath-taking scenery and volumes of history for a fraction of the cost.

Tip No. 2 – Bank on It

It never hurts to carry local currency – since some restaurants, taxis and shops only take cash, especially in smaller towns and villages. To get the best rate for exchanging American dollars into Euros or Pounds while in Europe, visit a credit union, bank or an ATM from a large financial institution that you recognize, such as Barclays or Deutsche Bank. Also download an App that gives you today’s exchange rate.

Europen Vacation - Young Woman taking in the beauty of Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle in Scotland.

Tip No. 3 – Good Eats

Book a room that includes breakfast and fill up before heading out on your daily adventures. Depending on what country you are visiting breakfast could include everything from local pastries and coffee to a full breakfast with meats, fruits, etc. If you’re on your own for breakfast, check out a local café or a local food market for a fresh start to your day.

Save money by eating a larger meal midday since lunch prices tend to be lower than dinner. For something fun, economic and totally European pack a picnic lunch while people watching and enjoying the sites.

Check out a few more tips on how to eat on a budget when traveling through Europe.

Bonus Tip: Check out what the going rate is for tipping in the countries you are visiting. In most, the rate is closer to 5-10%, not the standard 18-20% tip given in the U.S.

Plus, check your bill before plopping down a few coins since most restaurants, taxis and hotels already include a service fee on your bill.

European Vacation - Mature couples walking on an Italian street in the early evening.

Tip No. 4 – International Freebies

Some of the most interesting, well-known and beautiful places in Europe are free! Cathedrals like Notre Dame, the Berlin Wall Memorial, the Trevi Fountain and many of Europe’s museums are free – even the Louvreˊ on the first Sunday of each month (October-March) and on Bastille Day. If you’re a Member of an ASTC science center or museum – don’t forget your membership card, it will get you into several participating museums in European nations such as England, Denmark and a few others for no charge.

Tip No. 5 – Avoid International Transaction Fees

Use a credit card that does not charge International Transaction Fees for your purchases, like DuPage Credit Union’s Visa® Platinum Rewards or Platinum Advantage Credit Card. As well as saving you up to a 3% fee on all of your purchases, odds are you’ll receive a better exchange rate than paying cash. Plus, you’ll also enjoy knowing you are protected with Visa’s Zero Liability Policy whether you’re in Naperville or Naples.

Before heading on your European Vacation make sure to inform your financial lenders that you will traveling outside of the U.S. By doing this, your credit and debit cards will not be blocked from your use while abroad. DuPage Credit Union Members can simply fill out a Travel Notification and we’ll make sure our Fraud Monitoring Service does not place a block on your card(s).

Do you have any tips for saving money on a European vacation? If so, please share below:


Tami McQueen

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