ASK BROOKE: “I’m on a budget but I want to enjoy myself on my upcoming trip. How do you decide what to splurge on in Europe?” – submitted via the World of Wanderlust App, available in iTunes and Google Play.
Knowing When & Where to Splurge in Europe
Travel is expensive. Europe is expensive. Eating out and attending concerts is…. you guessed it, expensive. So how do you know what is worth splurging on in Europe? It’s a case by case basis, but there are some general ideas as to what is (and isn’t) worth splurging on for your time in Europe.
It all comes down to personal choice as to whether you should or shouldn’t splurge on accommodation. If you’re away on a short trip, chances are you won’t spend too much ‘down time’ in your hotel. If it’s a romantic getaway then perhaps you’ll be looking to splurge. Think about how much time you’ll be spending inside your hotel and decide if you want to skimp, stay reasonable or splurge. A popular choice for many is to skimp in most cities/countries and go all out for their weekend in Paris or one night stay in London.
If you really want to get to know a place, your best option is to splash out and pay a little extra for an educated guide to show you the city and explain the history, culture, architecture, and much more. Often for many travellers this ends up being the surprise highlight of their trip – so generally speaking I would highly recommend splurging on local tours. Besides, you can’t put a price on good education!
Restaurants vs. Cheap Eats
Again, this really comes down to personal preference. A popular choice for many is to eat breakfast at your accommodation in the morning, grab a snack on-the-go for lunch and splurge on a nice, well-earned evening meal. Dining out in cities is just as much a cultural experience as any other, so its highly recommended to splurge at least a few times on your trip. This is also a great chance to reflect on your day or few days in the one city, so particularly enjoyable for those with company.
Transportation is a good chance to ‘make up’ those few extra dollars you have spent on your dining experiences and nicer hotel accommodations. Transportation can cost you next to nothing if you’re prepared to walk a lot and spend longer in commute when transferring from airports to your accommodation. Train travel in Europe is incredibly efficient and enjoyable, so I would highly recommend this as a more affordable option AND its better for the environment. Win-win!
Out & About: Operas, Ballets, Concerts
Heading out to special events really depends on your personal taste and preferences, but I certainly wouldn’t take back the hundreds of dollars I spent on Broadway tickets in NYC the first time I was there. I once even paid in excess of $250 for a last minute ticket to the Book of Mormon on Broadway because I was convinced I couldn’t miss it…. and I don’t regret a thing (seriously, go see it if you’re in New York). As a performing arts student throughout my younger years, I really enjoy live theatre, ballets and operas… but I know its not for everyone. If you prefer music, see if one of your favourite International Artists are in town or head to a local jazz club for something different. Remember you might not ever be in this city again in your life – sometimes its best to splurge and pay off the credit card later!
There are of course some splurges you simply cannot miss out on. In Venice, you really must take a gondola ride despite the hefty price tag. It’s the only place in the world you can do it and its iconic… it really needs no further justification. You simply cannot go to Paris without climbing the Eiffel Tower… or at least opting for another great viewpoint at the Arc de Triomphe. I wouldn’t take back any of the money I spent on Broadway tickets in New York and in Rome all of the historic sites are absolutely unmissable.
Skimp on the following…
To make up for those few extra dollars you’ve spent, here are a few things you can do…
Have a picnic lunch most days, carry your own bags, wash your socks/underwear in an hotel sink, book your tickets in advance to avoid price hikes, walk or catch the metro and use free local maps. Just remember the goal is not to come home with more money than you intended or be able to say you only spent X amount of dollars… the goal is to enjoy the trip you have saved your hard earned pennies for and come home with memories to last a lifetime.