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Tips for budget travel

Updated on February 19, 2010

With the job situation looking bleak in North America for new graduates and cheap flights to Europe there's no better time to take a European vacation. But how to do it on the cheap? Here are some tips.

Watch the Exchange Rates

It can be months between when you book your flight and you leave on vacation. The value of the Euro could fluctruate by 15% during that time. Be sure to watch the rates and buy your Euros when the rate is in your favor. As of this writing the Canadian dollar has been falling steadily against the Euro - a good time to do some exchange rate arbitrage. Take a cash advance against your credit card and buy some Euros.

Campgrounds

The biggest bite in your pocketbook will be accomodation. At 20 Euros a person even staying in a hostel can add up quickly. What's the alternative? Pack a tent. 4 people can stay in a tent in the Bois de Boulogne campground right in the heart of Paris for 14 Euros. In Versailles for 10 Euros. Or if you're really adventurous visit the local hostel and rent out spots in your tent for say 5 Euros a night.

Markets

How many people eat every meal out at restaurants? You don't do it at home, why do it on vacation. Plus visiting the market gives you a chance to experience the local tastes.

Get out of the cities

Major cities and tourist spots tend to be more expensive than the countryside. Get out of the city and stay in some small towns. You will probably have a more authentic experience as well.

Sleep on the train

Why not use the train as a free hotel? Book an overnight train from say Paris to Rome. Board the train late at night. Sleep and wake up in a new city. The price of the train ticket looks much more reasonable when it has doubled as your hotel room.

Don't forget your bicycle

Transportation is probably your third largest expense after accomodation and food. Cycling is much more accepted in Europe than in many American cities. If you're not in a hurry - why not trying cycling?



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