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Italy’s Best

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Europe’s 10 Best Winter Vacations

June 8, 2015

Easy Ways to Stretch Your Vacation Dollar

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You’ve arrived! Now that you’re in your destination, how do you make sure you stick to a budget and don’t overspend? We have some ideas to help you dine wisely, experience your destination without over-spending, and practical decisions for when you’re on trip. What do you have to add? Tell us on Facebook!

Picnic in Park, Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

Dine Wisely

Plan your meals wisely, and you’ll find yourself with extra money for other experiences in your destination:

  • Don’t eat at tourist landmarks. Instead, eat outside tourist traps.
  • Eat where the locals eat—the food will be higher quality at a lower cost.
  • If you’re craving fabulous food, splurge at lunch vs. dinner—menu items are often offered in smaller portions and/or at significantly reduced costs.
  • Drink water during meals.
  • Have picnics. Buy cheese, bread, and produce at a local market and enjoy an impromptu day in the park, at a fountain, or on the steps of a museum.
  • Snack often versus indulging in large meals.
  • If you find a restaurant that offers great food at a reasonable price, ask the hostess about other restaurants she recommends that fit the ambiance of your current “find.”
  • NEVER indulge in the food from your hotel mini bar!

Italy_Milan_Piazza-Duomo-bike-riderAffordable Experiences

Not every fun activity during your vacation requires a steep fee. Consider the following:

  • Ask your Tour Director what the locals do for fun for non-traditional, inexpensive activity suggestions.
  • Many destinations hold art fairs in the summer months. Look through the local paper or go online (browse your destination’s tourist board Web site) to find one.  Fairs offer a great way to enjoy arts and culture without paying museum entrance fees.
  • Get romantic outside. A great romantic evening doesn’t have to cost money. Consider a moonlit walk through the streets of Paris at twilight. Share a crepe on the steps of the Louvre at sunrise. Who doesn’t love a walk on the beach at sunset? Just put a little pre-planning thought into your adventure—think about atmosphere and lighting.
  • Follow the crowd. They may lead you to parades, festivals, and farmers markets. Holidays taking place in destinations present a great way to enjoy a city and its culture for little to no money.
  • When walking through various destinations, ask the locals about the history of the neighborhood. You’ll learn about the area and gather insight that will make your vacation more memorable.
  • Stop and take in street entertainment—it’s free and gives you a sense of the culture.
  • People-watch in parks, piazzas, and on beaches. It’s fun, intriguing, and free.
  • Many parks feature free concerts and/or music festivals. Look at a map or go online and visit the official tourist board site of your destination to find parks in your destination and enjoy the scenery and fun they afford.
  • Consider renting a bike or rollerblades for a day in your destination. You’ll see more for less.

Amsterdam tourist waterPractical Decisions on Vacation

It’s easy to get excited about something new and different, but if you keep these tips in mind, you’re less likely to get carried away:

  • Carry snacks and water as you go from place to place. This will help you avoid impulse purchases.
  • Purchase a bottle of wine from a wine shop or market (ask the clerk for a recommendation) instead of indulging in wine during dinner at a restaurant. Have a drink before you leave and/or when you return.
  • Get the best exchange rate possible. Use ATMs like you would at home; they are exchanged based on the wholesale exchange rate, something usually reserved only for very large interbank exchanges.
  • If you’re someone who likes to work out while traveling, consider running outside vs. working out in your hotel gym, specifically if the hotel charges a fee.
  • Use Internet cafés to help you along your way. These cafés provide a cheap way to do your homework (i.e. looking for great sights for less) while on the road.
  • Buy theatre tickets the day of the performance and be flexible when choosing a show or performance date/time. Many theatres offer last-minute house seats at reduced rates.