Want to try out your child’s Little Pim language skills with a family trip to Europe? Follow our 7 easy tips to visit the continent without breaking the bank. 1. Friendly Skies: To save on international airfare, remember this one easy tip: Depart on a Tuesday, and return on a Wednesday for the lowest fares.
2. Shoulder Your Way To Savings: Shoulder season is what the travel industry calls non-peak travel season, the periods between prime summer months and the Christmas/New Year’s holidays. If you’re flexible, visiting Europe in the “shoulder” months of January through March will save you a bundle.
3. Do Your Homework: Not all credit cards are created equal. Check before you jet off to make sure your card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Note: Amex Platinum, most Capital One cards, and Chase’s United MileagePlus and Sapphire cards are all good options to avoid foreign fees.
4. Pack Smart: Most airlines will allow one checked bag free on international flights, but charge a HUGE surcharge for a second bag, up to $100! Think one large (within the weight limit) bag per person, instead of two smaller ones.
5. Home Away from Home: For families, nothing beats an apartment or house for stretching out and cooking your own money-saving meals. Try Airbnb for unique options and user reviews or VacationHomeRentals.com for everything from Italian villas to Paris apartments. Want to stay for free? Home exchanges with a like-minded European family might be just the ticket. Check out HomeExchange.com or HomeLink.org.
6. Ride the Rails: Whether you ride London’s Tube (where kids 16 and under ride free) or the multi-country Eurail (kids under 4 free, kids 4 to 11 ride for ½ price), train travel is the most economical option for European family travel. Plus, most kids love a train ride, so you have built-in entertainment value as well.
7. To Market to Market: Now that you have your own room with a view, and a fridge, you can take advantage of farmer’s markets, artisanal shops, and roadside stands to eat like a local and on the cheap. Bon appetit and bon voyage!
--By Melissa Klurman