A EUROPEAN VACATION IS THE PERFECT WAY TO CHASE THE SUN TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD, BUT IT SHOULDN’T COST YOU A BOMB – OR YOUR SANITY! GET STARTED NOW WITH THESE TIPS FOR PLANNING YOUR EURO SUMMER, SANS STRESS.
Before you start splashing cash on expensive yacht tours and fancy hotels, it pays (or rather, saves) to know exactly how much cash you have to splash. Figure out the date you want to leave, and how much you will need to put away between now and then to cover all of the costs, plus spending money – a spreadsheet will be your best friend here, but there are also online calculators that can help you. Look up the flights for different dates and different cities and try to choose the most cost-effective option. This may even mean waiting for flight sales if you know when they’re going to be on. If you aren’t set on specific hotels, hostels or AirBnBs just yet, write down the general price range for each location and budget for the top of that range. The more you scrimp and save now, the more incidental spending money you’ll have to live it up in Europe. And speaking of your spending money, the general rule of thumb is to save 70 euros (that’s roughly 115 AUD) for each day of your trip – but the more fat you build into your spending budget, the less stressed you’ll be about your finances on your vacay.
Are you an adventure seeker, or a ‘relax on the beach with a book’ kind of traveller? If you’re travelling with a group, this is an important discussion to have. Avoid tension overseas by being frank about what you want from the trip and encourage your travel companions to do the same. If you’re keen to pre-plan activities, websites like Get Your Guide and Viator, and even AirBnB Experiences, can be a huge time and money saver – just make sure you shop around so you know you’re getting the best deal. If you want to experience the major tourist attractions at peak times, like the massive music festivals, cultural events and experiences like yacht week in Croatia, get in early. Accommodation and tickets will sell out quickly and you don’t want to be left paying top dollar – or missing out entirely – because you weren’t prepared. As for the ‘bucket list’ destinations, do plenty of research. Is Saint Tropez the must-stay spot on the French Riviera, or can you beat the crowds (and save serious dosh) across the bay at Sainte-Maxime? Talk to your well- travelled friends about their experiences, but also don’t be afraid to commit to trying the things you’ve been desperate to do – even if your friend didn’t love it. You may not have the same experience as them, but you will have regrets if you let them talk you out of it.
So, you’ve nutted out all of the places you want to go – now it’s time to figure out how to get there. Europe (particularly western Europe) is incredibly well- connected by train and they’re typically a fraction of the price of flights. Generally, the earlier you book your train ticket, the cheaper it will be. If you’re not set on destinations, it may be worth letting the special deals guide your trip or, for the spontaneous travellers, invest in a Eurail pass and make it up as you go along. On the other hand, look into whether a tour will be better suited to your travel goals. Most offer competitive pricing on travel packages and give you the luxury of not having to worry about where you’ll sleep or what you’ll eat.