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Whether you’re a college student doing the first tour of Europe or the retiree taking that dream trip to Bora Bora, stretching your dollars is always a great idea. The weakness of the Euro is definitely an incentive to check out Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, or even Tahiti. The Euro is at a four year low against the dollar and by summer who knows, we might just see parity! Six months ago, we advised people to postpone a visit to Europe because we thought the Euro was way overpriced. Now with the troubles in Greece, you’ll get your vacation 20% cheaper. You can also save in any country that pegs their currency against the Euro. So if you have always wanted to take that fantasy vacation, you can do it in St. Barths, St. Martin, or even Bora Bora. Trust me, you’ll pray that it drops another 20% with the cost of those places.
Here's 12 Tips that will save you money in Europe and many other places you might travel this summer.
1. When it comes to booking the tickets, be as flexible as possible on your departure and arrival dates. It really does matter when you book your flight. Keep an eye out for special fares especially on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays. There is almost always one day a week that has the ultra-low fare. Find it and save.
2. If you are heading to Europe and doing a tour of a number of countries, try to start your trip at a major hub like Amsterdam or London. Fares to these destinations can be a steal. In Europe, combine that with a Eurail pass and you’ll save a bundle on your transportation.
3. Avoid London on the weekends. It’s not just Americans who crave merry old England - Europeans also enjoy spending Le weekend in London. So hotel rates can are much higher on Friday and Saturday nights, especially in the summer. The UK doesn't use the Euro but the British Pound has gotten hammered too.
Check if there is a huge event scheduled - like fashion week in Paris or Milan. If you are heading to the South Pacific in July, get ready to fork over some serious cash. The Heiva festival in French Polynesia makes normally outrageous hotel rates climb even higheryou’re your 20% currency discount will vanish.
4. Many museums in London are free. But even in Paris, you can visit the Louvre and other museums for free on the first Sunday of the month. As a general rule, check online to find about free attractions and special discounts. If you’re retired or a student under 26 or a teacher, you can save quite a bit. So make sure you have proper ID.
5. Avoid cab fares and use public transportation. If you don’t want to drop fifty quid or an equivalent amount of Euros for a trip to the city, most major airports in Europe have excellent rail systems that take you straight from the airport to downtown. Buy weekly passes to get around town.
6. Ideally, use your debit card to take money out of ATMs. You can use a credit card, but you'll pay more. Above all else, avoid the currency exchanges where you may pay up to 10% to exchange your dollars into Euros. Never exchange your currency at a hotel as they often charge a premium for the convenience. Some banks have great foreign networks. Bank of America allows you to withdraw from ATMs at Barclay’s in the UK or Deutsche Bank in Germany without paying any fee at all. Check with your bank for partner banks in the country you are visiting.