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10 Tips For Traveling in Europe With Class on a Budget

10 Tips For Traveling in Europe With Class on a Budget

Historic architecture, beautiful art, scenic beaches, and exciting adventures; these are just a few of the reasons that Europe is a dream vacation destination for many. Sadly, many people go their entire lives without visiting a single country on this continent. The reason is usually expense.

Yes, travel can be expensive, and it can be difficult to fit it in when budgets are tight. Many people forego travel because they fear that budget travel means boring travel. Nothing could be further than the truth when traveling in Europe.

1. Rethink Your Lodging Options And Use Airbnb

When you think about traveling with class, luxury hotels may come to mind. Unfortunately, those are expensive. Why spend your money on lodging when you could be spending it on food and entertainment? In addition to that, staying in a hotel guarantees that you will have to rely on restaurants and room service to feed yourself.

Instead, check out alternatives such as Airbnb or even luxury boutique hostels. Airbnb may be more expensive if you look at price alone. However, when you consider that you will have a kitchen and in some cases laundry facilities, that’s likely to help you save a big chunk of change.

Are you traveling with family? You can spread out in a small home or cottage much more easily than you can a double suite.

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2. Search For Package Deals

Many cities and attractions use package deals to encourage tourists to spend their time and money there. For example, you may be able to get a day pass that provides you with free public transportation, admission into any museum or attraction, and maybe even a meal discount. That includes the Budapest Card, Barcelona City Pass and more.

If you go into a large attraction such as a zoo or amusement park, see if they offer discount day passes. It will usually cost less than paying for each individual activity as you get to it.

On a final note, consider using a travel agency. Yes, you can certainly book all of your own travel, but do some price comparisons. A travel agent may just have connections to behind-the-scenes deals that the general public does not.

3. Consider Traveling to Alternative Cities

Remember that the more popular a city is, the more expensive it is going to be. Cities such as Paris and Rome are absolutely gorgeous, and there is plenty to see and do. However, they are pricey and often crowded. Fortunately, there are plenty of cities that are just as amazing that you can visit on a budget.

For example, consider Granada over Barcelona or Lyon over Paris. You’ll still enjoy an amazing experience and have money for other expenses.

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Another alternative to consider is rethinking the countries that you choose to visit. Spain is absolutely beautiful, but so is Portugal. You’ll find that Portugal is also much less expensive. Check out Hungary, Serbia, Albania and other countries that are often overlooked by travellers.

4. Use These Handy Tips to Save Money on Flights

Here are some mini life hacks that you can use to save money when booking flights:

  • Sign up for frequent flyer miles on several different airlines and accumulate the miles before your trip. You can then use them towards class upgrades or even completely free tickets. The best airline reward cards are ranked here.
  • Opt in to receive marketing emails from airlines and travel companies to get notified about special promos. Additionally, you may want to sign up for deal alerts at Fly4Free and Airfare Watchdog. Both websites publish a great selection of daily promos and incredibly cheap error fares.
  • Remember that flying business class could be more affordable than you think. Again, there are websites that will help you find affordable fares like Let’s Fly Cheaper.
  • Fly into larger airports. There are plenty of cheap flights to huge hubs like London or Paris, but you may have a hard time getting an affordable rate for smaller cities like Porto or Geneve. Hence, consider flying to a larger city and then switching to a local/low-cost carrier to get to your destination.
  • Fly with a stopover— again, this is an excellent way to save some cash and visit another city. Some airlines like Icelandair, Finnair and Turkish Airlines offer free international stopovers up to a week long.

For most people, airfare represents a huge chunk of their travel budget. Saving money here can be pretty significant.

5. Walk or Use Public Transportation

Not only is renting a car expensive, you also have to consider fuel costs and parking. In addition to this, many cities in Europe aren’t very car friendly in the first place. Whenever possible, opt for walking, biking, or use public transportation. While public transportation is very hit or miss in the United States, it is generally reliable in cities in Europe.

You may find yourself needing to call a cab once or twice, but you will still save money by walking past the rental car counter at the airport.

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6. Dine Out at Local Restaurants

It’s tempting to visit restaurants owned by celebrity chefs, expensive local chains, fine dining establishments, and other expensive restaurants. But, what do you really get for your money? The food sold at restaurant chains is often made miles away, frozen, and simply reheated. Celebrity chefs are great cooks, but it’s not likely that they will be cooking for you. You’ll probably also find that the dishes they serve are their interpretations of local dishes.

Instead, consider dining at locally owned restaurants. You’ll save money, eat among the locals, and be more likely to experience traditional cuisine. As an added bonus, your dollars will directly benefit local business owners and workers. Post a few questions on expat Facebook groups or check out recommendations on Spotted by Locals.

7. Visit the Bureau of Tourism at Each Destination

When you arrive at each destination, search for the local bureau or tourism or other similar organization. The folks at these places are very willing to point you in the direction of inexpensive dining, attractions, and entertainment. In some cities, museums, theaters, zoos, and other attractions will pass along coupons and other discounts to people who stop by the local ministry of tourism.

If your trip happens to coincide with a local event, they will have all the information you need as well. This is also where you will want to go when inquiring about the bundled discounts listed above.

8. Shop Currency Exchange Rates

First of all, never exchange your currency at the airport. Instead, wait until you are in the city to take care of that particular task. However, don’t stop at the first currency exchange that you see. Some will charge significantly more than others.

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Whenever possible, check out the exchanges that are a bit further away from city centers. You’ll probably get a much better rate.

9. Travel in The Off Season

For the most part, you can expect most European cities to be crowded and more expensive. However, you have to do a bit more research to discover the true off season for each country, even for each city.

For example, February to March is generally a great time to visit Rome. However, make a note of holidays such as Easter in Rome, as you are going to struggle with both cost and crowds. Know which events and holidays could cause a temporary tourism boom in what would normally be the off season.

10. Eat at The Market

Beautiful farmer’s markets are abundant in Europe. Even better, they feature goods beyond fruits and vegetables. At many of these markets you can find the following items:

  • Cheese and bread
  • Wine and soft drinks
  • Hot prepared foods such as sandwiches or kabobs
  • Fruit and vegetables prepared to eat

Take advantage of this! Why spend money eating at an expensive restaurant looking at beautiful scenery when you can make an inexpensive picnic lunch from what you find at the market. Then, you can eat while you are immersed in the scenery rather than simply looking at it.

To save money while still creating an amazing vacation experience, you’ll need to focus on keeping costs down in various areas. These include airfare, transportation, accommodations, dining, and activities. A good rule of thumb is to pick one or two areas that you see as being non-negotiable.

For example, if you are a foodie, you may want to spend extra money to eat in the best restaurants. By all means do this, just find another area where you are willing to cut costs. You will eventually find a balance that allows you to enjoy a great vacation on a budget.

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Elena Prokopets

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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