So you want to go to Europe, eh? Well, getting here and getting around this fruitful continent, costs money. I’m a woman. I like spending the dough. There’s nothing like a new camera, computer, or cell phone that really lights me up inside #nerdalert. Costco is my favorite expedition and you know I don’t walk out of there empty handed. However, after saving for two Eurotrips and a trip abroad, I have learned some ways to save the bucks and book the ticket. I’ve compiled 10 not-so-typical tips for saving for Europe.

1) Use a Budget Planner to Review Your Finances

Where is your income going? Figuring this out will help you re-funnel some of this into your trip savings fund. Seeing how much money you spent going out to eat last week or on ATM withdrawal fees last year can be a brutal shock, but something easily remedied. Go the extra mile to find your bank branch and attempt that new Pinterest recipe with your best friend.

Suggested Budget Planners:

– US readers: Mint.com

– UK readers: MoneyDashboard.com

– German readers: Kontoblick.de

With these, you can set goals, sync your bank accounts to see activity break downs, and more.

2) Consider an Automated Savings Account

Take a percentage of that paycheck and have it deposited automatically into your trip savings fund. No, the savings account won’t pay for the trip with interest gained, but you will have it away from the uncontrollable urges of your debit card wreaking havoc on your checking account.

3) Ask Yourself: Do I Really Need This?

Ask yourself this question before every purchase you make. It seems a bit ridiculous, but would you rather go out for dinner tonight or be eating pizza in Italy? Just saying… Homegirl enjoys herself a good drink, but that drink can be had at my kitchen table playing games with friends – it doesn’t have to be at the hottest club in town.

4) Unsubscribe From Those Retail E-mails

ModCloth, Etsy, J.Crew – yep, I used to get all of those too. As much as I love knowing about the 40% off everything in stock sale, it is still money I would not have spent had that email not popped up in my inbox. Do yourself a favor and pass on your eighth pair of J.Crew Chino shorts (I get it, I love them too) so you can hike Cinque Terre this summer.

5) Cut Down on Routine Expenses

Examples include:

– daily stops at the coffee shop

– after work drinks

– do you really need that GroupOn offer?

– BillShrink.com can help you cut down on cable and phone bills, gasoline, and more.

6) Pick Up a Side Job

(Preferably one you don’t have to pay income tax on). I know spending the evening with children on a Friday night might not sound ideal, but you know what does? $100 bucks in your pocket at the end of the night. There are good gigs out there, find them. Babysitting not your thing? See if any neighbors need help around the house. Maybe some kids around the neighborhood need a math tutor. Sell some handmade goods on Etsy. Clean out the attic and have a garage sale. The ideas are endless.

7) Travel Gifts

When people ask what you want for your birthday, Christmas, etc. Tell them travel. Yes, I know lots of people don’t like giving money. For this group, ask them for that new backpack, travel books, plug converters, a camera bag – anything you might want for your upcoming trip.

8) Buy Bottom Shelf

Do you know that trick – that stores put the more expensive items at eye level because you are more likely to pick them up? Well, it’s true. Next time you’re on the vodka aisle, look down. See that cheap bottle? Grab it. If you’re mixing drinks, I swear no one will notice the difference. If they do, you’re hanging with some sort of alcohol-paletted-goddesses because this vodka drinker can’t tell what’s in there once you dump in some Sugar Free Red Bull. At the bar, just ask for the well. No one’s judging. If they are, they’re an asshole.

9) Go Online

Skip going to the movies. Skip buying DVDs. Watch that cable TV you’re already paying for? What, you’re super budget savvy and cut the cable? Keep it up and cancel Netflix, too.  Use your better-off friend’s account. People are generous. Little changes = big moves, people.

10) Recruit a Friend

If you can get a friend to travel with you, spectacular! If you can only get a friend to save with you, still great! Everyone has something to save up for and this friend can help hold you accountable. If everyone is going to an expensive concert on Saturday night, you and your budget-savvy friend can stay in and play Taboo with a bottle of Two Buck Chuck.

Additionally, if you’re looking for some more normal advice, Nomadic Matt has a ton of great tips – listen to him and me and you’ll be in Europe in no time.

What tips do you have for saving up for a trip?

  • http://svenja-happybluebird.blogspot.com/ Svenja Schoening

    This is really great, Alex!! I guess you will inspire many others to save up and see us over here 😉

    What I also do is really looking in the supermarkets whether I really need something. Sometimes I just bought the big package just because I would have a bigger benefit, but in fact I had throw a big part away plus I paid more that if I’d bought the regular size of things. I also used to tend to be the biggest marketing victim ever. I had to try everything (just to notice that it is a) the same thing I had already tried, just with a different label or b) that it is ok / nice but that I would not use it anyways out of lazy routine — all those cellulite combat products, see, I am looking at you, ha ha. ). I would now just stick to the products I need and be happy.
    I also stopped buying all those glossy magazines. Occasionally I HAVE to buy the Vogue, but that is it. No more Joy / in Shape / inTouch etc. They are only gossip. And hey, we have the internet 😉

    • http://ifsandsandbutts.com ifs ands & butts

      Agh so true, I always buy so many tomatoes and have to throw some away becasue they get all old and mushy!

      I hope this gets some more people over here to visit us, that’d be awesome!

  • http://Www.bolubyrima.com Rima @ bolu

    I do number #3 all the time. I really need to stop subscribing to fredflare and modcloth! AND i gotta start selling stuffs on ebay/etsy :) gotta love nomadic matt! His tips are awesome!!

    • http://www.sparklesandshoes.com Kelly

      These are great ideas!

      Sparkles and Shoes

  • http://www.bolubyrima.com Rima

    Oh and another thing my boyfriend told me to do when i’m in my war zone called Target: take a basket instead of carts because you tend to shop less of the “i-want-that-….” stuffs. so far it helps haha.

    • http://ifsandsandbutts.com ifs ands & butts

      Smart boyfriend he is!

      • http://itmustbewanderlust.blogspot.com Stacie

        There could not be a more relevant thing to write about. Only one thing has ever stopped me, along with most people, from traveling – money. Great ideas!!

  • http://gravatar.com/helenesula helenesula

    sooo need this right now. and just unsubscribed from ALL the deal emails. really good ideas

    FYI, maybe you don’t care but Im gonna tell you anyway. we decided on Spain. I am sad. but we are gonna go to Germany next year. if you’re there. I am still banking on you coming to tomorrowland so I can fulfill my lifelong dream of us being real life besties.

    • http://ifsandsandbutts.com ifs ands & butts

      The deal emails seriously killed me right before Christmas last year when I was going home and knew all this new stuff would be waiting for me. Then, I had no money to actually shop while I was there haha.

      Ah, Spain will be fun! I’m going to see a friend in Madrid in a few weeks. I really am looking big time at Tomorrowland. There is no word to describe exactly how spectacular it would be.

  • http://pinkparliament.wordpress.com pinkparliament

    Perfect! I used a few of these ideas for my trip. I used a budget planner and put well, all of my checks other than what I actually NEEDED into savings. Once my little tiny bit of “extra” money was gone, that was it.. it was gone. I also kept my debit card in my glove box and carried cash. I seem to be much less likely to go crazy when I’m actually spending bills!

    • http://ifsandsandbutts.com ifs ands & butts

      Oh the debit card in the glovebox is definitely smart! I think that’s what’s good about Europe is I always just take out a certain amount of cash and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

      • http://pinkparliament.wordpress.com pinkparliament

        Exactly. That works wonders.. until I remember I have my American debit card. Dammit. haha

    • http://confuzzledom.wordpress.com bevchen

      An addition to number 5 – take sandwiches or leftovers to work for lunch. Trips to the bakers don’t seem expensive (especially if you go for the cheap self-service ones here), but over a few days it really does add up! I know I spend way too much on food for work purely because I’mm too lazy to make sandwiches in the morning. (I occasionally bring leftovers, but most nights we don’t actually have any!)

      • http://ifsandsandbutts.com ifs ands & butts

        Ugh I always spend SO much on eating out during the week at lunch too. I just love getting out of the office for a little and it seems like the only thing to do.

  • http://sunshineandsiestas.com Cat of Sunshine and Siestas

    Love these…and could use these in my life! Before I came to Spain, I offered to be the DD so that I’d only spend on snacks after a whole night of carting around my drunk friends. But it was worth it – and beer in Spain only costs a euro, hooray!

    • http://ifsandsandbutts.com ifs ands & butts

      Oh the DD is for sure a great idea – may be frustrating some days but certainly makes all the difference in the end!

    • http://landofcandycanes.blogspot.de Katrin

      Those are some great ideas, Alex! And you are so right about the emails from all the stores I get. I have never really thought about that. I mean, it is nice to get 40% off of something but I don’t really need most of that stuff anyway. I will remember that next time!

      • http://ifsandsandbutts.com ifs ands & butts

        The emails just kill me! I always think it’s such a great deal but then it’s like wait… I wouldn’t be buying this to start with! Sigh…

  • Diana

    Love the list! #6 is what I did when I was in Germany, trying to save up for an August ticket back to the US along with money for a week long road trip down south. I took an extra job teaching English once a week for a few kids. When I got home, I put that cash directly into my “Road Trip Fund” box. I loved watching the wad grow and at the end it was great knowing I could spend all that dough on my trip without feeling guilty for spending ‘too much’.

    • http://ifsandsandbutts.com ifs ands & butts

      Ya I think putting every penny away from a side job is always a great technique, especially since it’s income you didn’t initially plan on!

  • http://lostandfound-bailee.blogspot.com Bailey

    Where do you buy your plane tickets? I’m dying to get to London to visit a friend, but I need a killer deal. Any tips :) In the past i’ve always had award miles.

    • http://ifsandsandbutts.com ifs ands & butts

      I usually just stalk stalk stalk Kayak.com and also sign up for deals emails from my favorite airlines. Lately I’ve also liked this website a lot for Europe: http://www.holidaypirates.com/ – I usually score my Europe flights for around $800, which I think is fantastic, but lots and lots of price searching for sure.

    • Shushu

      At the bar, just ask for the well. No one’s judging. If they are, they’re an asshole.

      hehehe- no judging here

      • http://ifsandsandbutts.com ifs ands & butts

        hahaha betch

  • http://keepingupwiththecotes.blogspot.com Casey

    People always ask me how we afford to travel so much around here. I always tell them….we have no Target. Boom.
    Great tips, love! :)

    • http://ifsandsandbutts.com ifs ands & butts

      hahaha I love that reasoning, but so true – Shopping is just not half as tempting for me here.

  • http://expatedna.com Edna

    Super agreed on the unsubscribing from the emails — I used to have a groupon habit when I lived in Singapore, and now it’s hard to resist 40% off Levi’s all the time…but what I don’t see, I can’t buy! Also, when I go the grocery story I don’t take a basket, I just buy what I can carry in my hands. Helps both the wallet and the waistline 😉 Btw, SO excited you’re coming to Paris soon!

    • http://ifsandsandbutts.com ifs ands & butts

      Ah I always try to not take a basket at the grocery store either, but then it gets difficult when I’m buying wine, too :)

      I can’t wait!! It’s the weekend of March 9 so I hope you’re around!

  • http://expatedna.com Edna

    *when I go to the grocery store (obviously I need more coffee)

  • http://www.craftbotic.com Rosie

    And meal planning – working out how you are going to use EVERYTHING in your fridge in different meals and making sure it’s still tasty, cuts down on so much waste AND eating out. In my friend’s share house they buy ONE evening meal a week for their whole house (I think there were 6 of them). That’s one meal for 6 people. It’s amazing how you can get creative on that budget. I also sale shop for clothes and items ahead of time. I will buy ski-jackets at half price at the end of season as it gives me further incentives to save up to actually get on the piste. Yup, that was piste….I bought most of my festival wardrobe in the end of line sale in December. The other thing I did was start making a capsule wardrobe. I only buy stuff that wears out or will help make 3-5 outfits with the clothes I already have.

    I am so used to budgeting. The move to Germany budget/buy myself out of my mortgage fund is very important!

    Thanks for these tips Alyx.

    Rosie xo

    • http://ifsandsandbutts.com ifs ands & butts

      Dang so many good tips! You are a pro! I am the worst about wasting money eating out. That’s so neat what your friend’s WG does, mine cooks once a week but it usually costs me way more when I’m the one cooking haha, I guess I’m just a bad grocery shopper. I also always buy way too much food. Thanks for sharing all this Rosie!

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