European Vacation – Countdown! First in Series.

valbonne

Mr. Coupondipity and I love to travel. The above photo was taken a few years ago in Valbonne, France, a tiny little picturesque village about 30 minutes from Nice. We are blessed to have been able to go to many places on our bucket list: Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, London and more.

Next week, we head off to Germany, Austria, and Prague in the Czech Republic.

You’re probably thinking that we’re wealthy or something. Ha. Ummm…I’m a blogger, remember? The large majority of bloggers do NOT make a lot of money. Including me. But I wanted to give you all some ideas of how we do this and do it on a budget.

You may feel that Europe is simply out of reach for you. And that’s possible. But it may be completely within reach if you can change your way of thinking about it. If you really want to go, it will have to be a priority. That Starbucks you get several times a week. Put that money into a travel account. The drink you have when you go out to eat? Get water. It’s free. And put the savings into your travel account. Get a tax refund? Put some of it in your travel account. Now granted, it may take you 3 or 4 years (or longer) until you have enough in your travel account to go, but so what? Going in three years is better than not going at all. Europe will still be there.

It took me five years to save for our first vacation to London and Paris. I was in school at the time, and Mr. Coupondipity is a classically trained artist. I told him that if he would help me get through school, I would take him to Paris, the top city on his bucket list. Basically, he said, “Yeah, right. Okay. You do that.” So I started saving every penny I could, and the day that I graduated, I told him, “Okay…take these days off. We’re going to Paris. The trip is paid for.” He was shocked. And thrilled. And we experienced our first trip to Europe and got well and truly hooked.

We have been back to Europe several times since then, each time just as magical. And each time, we have had to sacrifice to save up to do it. But it is so worth it.

And we do Europe on a budget! So over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some travel and budget tips with you that I hope will encourage and inspire you to start planning your own trip.

One of my best tips: do not bother with hotels, but rather, rent an apartment. Check out the websites www.vrbo.com, www.homeaway.com or www.airbnb.com. All have vacation apartments for rent all over the world. Some things to look into when you’re considering an apartment:

  • Check out the reviews. If the apartment has several reviews that are good, it’s probably trustworthy. We have never had a bad experience renting a vacation apartment here in the USA or abroad. Ever.
  • Consider the time of year you’re going. If it’s the middle of the summer, you may want to ensure that the apartment has A/C. Don’t assume that it does.
  • If you need to have access to the internet, make sure that’s offered.
  • See what floor the apartment is on, and whether or not there’s an elevator. We are simply not willing to lug our bags up more than one flight of stairs.
  • If you’ve chosen to rent a car (and we’ll mention the pros/cons of that later), make sure that parking is not going to be a problem. A quick email to the owner will get an answer for you.

Check out a few pics of the apartment that we’re staying at in Salzburg, Austria. Nothing fancy, but it’s a large 2-bedroom apartment (we like to spread out) and it’s costing us less than $100 a night!

salzburg collage

So you can either spend the same amount (or more) on a tiny little hotel room (and in Europe, the rooms are miniscule unless you spend a boatload of money!) or you can choose a big apartment like this.

This can save you money by allowing you to have breakfasts at the apartment and even some lunches or dinners. It’s easy to find grocery stores to stock the fridge, and this way you can save your food budget for a few nicer meals.

Tune in to the next article in the series in a few days for updates about our upcoming trip and more ways that you can save on travel!

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