European Travel Tips: How to Save This Summer

La Sagrada in Barcelona
La Sagrada in Barcelona

As the Greeks protest austerity and elect representatives who will push back against Germany and put their heads in the sand, once again, things look pretty grim for the European economy.

Yet Americans still want to take vacations in Europe, how could they not? It’s still full of reasons to visit, whether to see the ancient buildings and monuments or to just live that relaxed European lifestyle, even for a week.

I got an email from my cousin Rob who asked me advice about where to go. He has a week in August and last summer he spent a month in Costa Rica learning Spanish while living with a family. My reply?  Barcelona!

Spain is a wonderful destination….and Barcelona has got to be one of the world’s most fun cities. I suggested to him that he go down to his local bank and buy euros. The rate now is about $1.30 which is an all-time low. And unless Greece is your vacation destination, you will always be able to use the money later. Buying euros before you leave avoids the uncertainty that I often get when I go abroad. When am I gonna change money? How much will the commission be? What if I have to buy them for $1.60 each, that sucks!

The other advice I gave Rob is to check out Pulling up Barcelona, I found dozens of apartments and rooms that people rent out there…all vetted with comments and lots of photos. It’s sure a lot cheaper than a hotel. And you can get an apartment and cook meals while you visit.

Another tip–Don’t buy your airline ticket through Expedia or Travelocity. I have found again and again that going direct to the airline is a much better idea. These middle men create a lot of barriers and make changing the ticket a big pain. Delta, American, Iberia, they all fly direct and it’s a better deal to just call them than try to do it all on line alone.