EASIER THAN YOU THOUGHT
Stretching the Dollar in Europe
Even with the weak dollar, there are ways to save when traveling abroad.
8. Skip the train, take a bus Long-distance bus travel may not be as glamorous as riding the rails, but some bus lines, such as Busabout (busabout.com) and Eurolines (eurolines.com), sell multicity passes that rival the Eurail Pass in terms of price and flexibility. Eurolines has a pass that gives you unlimited travel over 15 days for $485 or 30 days for $647 (both prices are for the summer). There are 40 cities on the route, including some like Kraków, Poland, and Riga, Latvia, that aren't reachable with a Eurail Pass, and you need to reserve each leg at least two days in advance. The pass has one major restriction: All trips, with a few exceptions, must cross international borders.
9. Rent a supercheap car If you can, avoid renting a car at all--rates in Europe are high, as are gas prices. If you really need a car--to tour the Tuscan countryside, for example--check the prices of rentals at European chains such as EasyCar (easycar.com), Alimex (alimex.eu), and Sixti (sixti.com). Sixti advertises cars in France and Italy for as low as $7.50 a day, but beware of add-ons that cost extra, such as allowing an additional driver, airport or train station pickup, insurance, and even winter tires. The other cost associated with these cheaper rentals is a personal one: pride. Cars rented from Sixti and Alimex are plastered with flashy advertising for the agencies.
10. Find the freebies Scour the Internet before your trip for free museums, concerts, cultural events, and activities--you may be surprised by what's out there. Visit Oslo's website, for instance, has an extensive list of free festivals and museums (visitoslo.com). The blog at EuroCheapo--a worthwhile source for very affordable hotels--also routinely posts articles on how to find free stuff in Europe (eurocheapo.com). And at BudgetTravel.com, we're posting a list of eight free European events this summer, including performances by the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and various ensembles at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw hall, as well as the annual White Night festivals in Rome, Paris, Brussels, and Madrid.
A week in Crete for two people: $527 savings
7 savings$527 savings In our test, round-trip flights between New York and Crete on Olympic Airlines and seven nights at the Hotel Arolithos outside Heraklion cost $3,125. But we also found an EasyJet package that included flights between London and Crete and seven nights at the same hotel for $968. Adding New York-London flights for $1,630, the total price was just $2,598.
Berlin to Frankfurt on Deutsche Bahn: $115 savings
$115 savings Second-class regular fare...$158
Second-class Dauer-Spezial fare...$43
Sightseeing in Amsterdam: $27 savings
A two-day "I amsterdam" card costs $63 (iamsterdamcard.com). It covers unlimited transport on the subway, trams, and buses; entrance to 25 museums, including the Van Gogh Museum, the Rembrandt House (above), the Rijksmuseum, and the Stedelijk; a canal cruise; and discounts at a number of restaurants. (The Anne Frank House is not part of the offer.) If purchased separately, a canal cruise and admission to the four museums previously mentioned would cost $71. Adding two days of unlimited tram rides would take the total to $90.
A car for a week in Italy: $254 savings
Economy car from Avis (with tax, loss damage waiver, and unlimited distance)...$412
Smart car from Sixti (with tax, loss damage waiver, and 700 kilometers of driving distance)...$158