After travel costs, hotels take the biggest bite out of any vacation budget. A vacation in Europe doesn’t have to mean spending $100-200 a night on accommodation. Plenty of alternate and budget oriented options are available across all European destinations.
These alternates can range from hostels to home exchange, vacation rentals, and farm stays, to bed and breakfast accommodations. These cheap alternates allow you to put more of your vacation dollars towards exploring the destination and enjoying its sights, sounds and flavors. Each option has its strengths and weaknesses, so evaluate each option while keeping in mind the needs of the group that will be travelling with you.
Commonly called ‘Youth Hostels,’ this type of accommodation is ideal for young couples or families with slightly grown up children. Families with infants may find the atmosphere a touch noisy and lacking privacy. There is little standardization across these hostels, so finding one that offers a clean and secure environment can involve some searching. Check and see if the hostel you are considering is listed on sites like Hostels.com and HostelWorld.com. Listings on these sites will often include reviews. Alternately, if the hostel is a part of Hostelling International, a UK non-profit organization, you are assured a minimum standard of cleanliness, security and facilities. A little effort can go a long way towards ensuring a good experience.
This is a popular and growing trend among travelers. Websites like World Escape offer you city-based options across service apartments with hotel-like facilities at a fraction of the cost of a hotel room. The apartments offer central and convenient locations and let you experience the city first hand by allowing you to stay among the local population. The apartments have self-contained kitchens and laundry facilities. World Escape offers everything from apartments in Berlin to rentals in Bergen; they are easy to select and book online and take a substantial amount of stress out of travelling somewhere new.
Farm stays are popular in Britain, France, Spain and Italy. They offer a unique blend of savings, a home feel and a rustic cultural experience. Farms are mostly located outside urban areas, so having a car rental at the destination is almost a must. Young children will love the farm experience with animals they can see, touch and pet. Rolling up your sleeves and volunteering to help out with farm chores can give you a nice workout. Sites like Budget Travel, GoNomad and Agritourism.net offer you plenty of farm options around the urban destinations that you choose.
Bed and breakfast
B&B’s are synonymous with the English and Irish countryside. However, you will find B&B’s even in the middle of cities. The typical bed and breakfast is cheaper than a hotel room by anywhere from 40-60%. That’s a big saving right there. Accommodations can range from a single room to an entire farmhouse to deluxe rooms in a castle. The one constant in all B&B offerings is that all meals are home cooked. Innkeepers offer personalized services like arranging tours and are often a treasure trove of information on local hotspots, sights and sounds.
Sometimes you just don’t want to stay at another hotel on your next vacation. You’re fed up with paying good money for indifferent service and experience. But you need a viable option that doesn’t break the bank for the Europe trip you’re planning. Don’t worry, as there are plenty of alternative options available!
Image by Ben Garrett under cc license