March 29, 2016

Europe 101: Saving Money (And Time) While Sightseeing

Once you've developed a budget-friendly itinerary for your Europe trip, you're ready to acquire the tips and tricks to be thrifty while on the streets of Europe!

With popular sites come populous queues, which will waste a lot of your vacation time. Time is money! You can reserve tour times for many places or skip lines by purchasing passes ahead of time.

This is me, skipping the long line at the Colosseum
with my Roma Pass in hand!
In Rome we utilized the Roma Pass for free admission to three sites, including line skipping at places such as the Colosseum; three days of unlimited public transportation; and discounted admission to other sites during the three day activation period of the pass. The lines at the Colosseum were, well, colossal (har, har, har), and we saved so much time bypassing the queue with our Roma Pass!

The Roma Pass also saved us time at the Vatican Museum where we were able to bypass the line for buying tickets and march straight to security. However, there is no way to skip the security lines at the Vatican to enter St. Peter's Basilica, so you'll just have to budget a lot of time for that one!

Conversely, we lost a lot of time in Paris by not reserving a viewing time in advance for the Eiffel Tower. Two months before our May 2015 trip, I looked online to see if reservations were possible. They were... but they were already completely booked for May. So as soon as you book your plane tickets, book your tickets for various attractions!

Please don't travel all the way to Europe just to seek out the nearest McDonald's or KFC for a cheap meal! When in Rome, eat as the Romans do. Grab a slice of pizza. When in Greece, have a delicious döner kebab lunch, and in Germany, enjoy a bratwurst meal. Eat cheaply for breakfast and lunch so you can enjoy a good dinner and your wallet will thank you!

Before you even leave for your trip, determine how many and how much you plan to spend on souvenirs. It's easy to be suckered into buying a lot of cheap trinkets once you arrive, but even cheap trinkets will add up if you keep buying indiscriminately! We purchase magnets at each location we visit, but beyond that we keep a strict budget on how much we spend on keepsakes.

Many sites offer audio guides to enhance the spartan English signs of exhibits. Save yourself money by finding and downloading free podcasts onto your smartphone. Rick Steves offers many free podcasts, and we have utilized many of them on our travels.

What are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Europe now!


  1. Before our trip to Paris, I was also checking for Eiffel Tower tickets online. I started something like two months beore the trip and none were available for our dates. But three or four days before our departure I manged to book the tickets for the day we wanted (and the time as well). Sadly, it was raining that day so the view was... well... saying "not so good" is putting it in a delicate way. But that's the risk of buying tickets ahead of time.

  2. I have never been overseas anywhere..Europe I hope to visit soon! These are great tips...I am always about saving money and traveling on a budget....thanks for sharing your great tips!

    Fashion and travel

  3. planning a trip may take some time, but once you know what you want it's waaay easier! These are great money saving tips, especially the buying ahead, you sometimes get an additional discount!

  4. You nailed it, Katrina! The one about the fast food is totally accurate, and very different in the European mindset! I think even with Eiffel Tower reservations there's a long line! Thanks for linking up your post with Travel Tuesday! :)


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