Bootsnall Prompt: What have you done in your own visits to Europe to make it more budget-friendly or to get away from the crowds? If you were going to spend several weeks – or several months – in Europe, where would you go (and why)?
I love Europe. I mean really, truly love Europe. And I know some people that hate it, which makes me sad because their biggest complaints are usually too many tourists and too expensive.e And I can agree with those complaints – but they don’t dampen my spirits when it comes to Europe. I use a few key tactics to avoid the crowds and keep costs low and keep my love for Europe. I’ve been to Rome and Florence in the middle of the day with a tour group in July – I loved it because I was 14, but if I went now, it would totally suck. That’s why I don’t do that anymore. With just a bit of planning, the best of Europe is waiting, uncrowded and reasonably affordable.
Shoulder and off seasons: I haven’t been to Europe in the summer in more than a decade. And you know what? I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything. Spring and fall and even winter are gorgeous times to be in Europe. Spring in Ireland means rainy afternoons by a fireplace (yes, even in hostels) and big bowls of Irish stew. January in Rome might just be 65 and sunny – with a lot fewer people than you’ll find in June. Prices drop as crowds clear out. You might have to pack a jacket, but who cares?
Grocery stores, cafes, and delis: I’m not one to miss a meal, but I have done trips to Europe without eating a single meal in a sit-down restaurant with waitstaff. I always hit up grocery stores and markets for picnic fixings, snacks, and breakfasts if its not included at my hostel. One of my favorite meals is to head to the grocery store and buy only things I don’t recognize – new brands of chips, cheeses I’ve never tried, foods with labels I can’t read, and some wine or beer and make a feast at my hostel. My friend Tess and I made this our dinner every night we were in Copenhagen and it was one of the best parts of our trip.
Workaway, WWOOF, etc: Work for your place to stay and get to know locals. I haven’t done this before, but it’s how I’m planning to spend several months in Europe starting this year (or maybe next depending on how the next couple of months play out.
Shopping: Don’t. Okay, well, not entirely. But don’t plan on coming home with tons of souvenirs for family and friends. Choose one or two unique, locally made items that you or a loved one will treasure if that’s your thing, but mostly just bring back memories, photos, your journal, etc.
Save to splurge: You can have tons of fun in Europe for very little money, but there are always those things you want to do that cost a fair bit of money. So, to help you stick to your budget and do all the things you want to do, I suggest planning for splurges. Get tickets to a show in London (and look for discounts online). Eat an extended meal out in Italy with wine and dessert and a cheese plate (maybe at lunch so you can skip dinner or just have gelato). Whatever that splurge is, dream it up and enjoy.