We’ve all seen this scenario before: You’ve been planning a trip to Europe for years and you finally settle on one European country that has it all: Spain. Vibrant mega-cities, wonderful beaches, great food and warm people make this country on the coast of the Mediterranean a must see for any pale skinned North American.
After all the research and planning, you’re finally ready to set the wheels in motion. But there’ a problem: a financial miscalculation has wiped out half of your vacation funds! Bummer! Is this the end? No, not by a long-shot if you know how to travel on a budget. You need to regroup, breathe, and follow these tips to salvage your much anticipated trip.
1. Book a flight in advance
Scour the internet for cheap flights by booking months in advance. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a cheap airline, because the cheap ones are known to have a ton of hidden charges. You can also book a flight and land anywhere in Europe and just take a cheap local flight going to Spain. Use Skyscanner or Vayama to compare flights from different carriers.
2. AirBnB, Hostels and Couchsurfing
If you have no qualms about sleeping in someone else’s house or sharing sleeping quarters with complete strangers, you can skip the hotel and look for good deals online. AirBnB will help you locate locals willing to rent out a room in their homes for a fee. Some of the locals would even show you around town, so no need to pay for Spanish translation services or a guide.
Couchsurfing can help you find locals willing to let you sleep on their couch or mattress at no charge. Just make sure you treat your hosts with respect and try to get to know them. It’s also a good idea to bring your hosts a gift for letting you spend your vacation in their home.
Hostels do the job if you’re on vacation to party. Although AirBnB and Couchsurfing are considerably cheaper, it’s a little bit of a problem to your hosts if you love to come home late and hammered from all night drinking, so hostels maybe the right choice for you if you’re there to party.
3. Take the Train, Bus and Subway
When you’re in Spain’s big cities such as Barcelona and Madrid, the subway is a cheap and indispensible way to travel. Taking the train on the other hand, is usually more expensive than taking the bus, so be sure to check the local fares first before hopping on.
4. Eat like a Local
Spaniards are heavy lunch eaters. They have a small breakfast, a humungous lunch and a normal dinner because dinners in Spain are more expensive than lunch. It’s a legal requirement in Spain to offer a Menu del Dia or a complete meal of soup, salad, main course, side dish and dessert – all for one price. This is the most economical way to eat in these parts, so don’t eat a heavy breakfast! You can get away with eating a cheap and light dinner because of all the food debauchery you did for lunch.
5. Visit Museums for free
Many of Spain’s museums have “free” days where you can visit without paying anything. You can also consider getting a discount card if you’re hell bent on seeing all the priceless art on display.
6. Drinking in Granada
If you find yourself I Granada, don’t forget to drink up! Every alcoholic beverage you order in Granada will be served with Tapas, or small portions of appetizers. You can get your fill with just a few orders of beer. Eating for free never tasted this good!
See you in Spain
There you have it, tips on how to save a fortune on travel costs and see Spain on a budget. Don’t forget to book your flight early in advance and take advantage of early bird promos. AirBnB and Couchsurfing are also great ways to save money while meeting new people and possibly making lifelong friends in the process.