Culture

How to Maximize Memories While Minimizing Costs on Trips to Europe and the U.S.

Hint: Art isn't only in the famous museums. Look for smaller operators and small-group adventures for locally focused, cheaper travel experiences.

Tower Bridge in London

Tower Bridge in London. Photo by Michal Collection/Canva

By Alison Fox

Aug 29, 2022

AS IMPORTANT AS IT IS to hit the highlights when you take any big trip, heading to the most common, sought-after attractions in a major city definitely comes with a price tag. Choosing alternative adventures allows you to not only see a different, or perhaps local, side of a destination, but also save some money in the process. By mixing in some cheaper, small-group or small-operator experiences in some of the more expensive cities in Europe, travelers can maximize the value of their vacations, Tripadvisor shared with Travel + Leisure.

“Experiences are a great way to create cost-effective travel memories while delving into a destination’s culture and surroundings in a deeper way,” Kate Urquhart, the general manager, experiences at Tripadvisor, told T+L, when talking about the high cost of travel. “Tripadvisor offers many incredible tours, activities and attractions that offer personalized access to unforgettable food, historical sites, exclusive vantage points for nature and wildlife, and so much more.”

Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere Square, Rome, Italy cheaper travel in europe
Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere Square, Rome. Photo by BGStock72/Canva
Roman Food Tour cheaper travel in europe
Roman Food Tour. Courtesy of Trapizzino (left) and Peppo al Cosimato (right)

For example, no trip to Italy is complete without sampling (and over-indulging) in the amazing food. But instead of planning an extravagant five-course meal, which can top €300 per person, Tripadvisor suggests people take a Roman Food Tour in neighborhood of Trastevere. On the tour, guests sample everything from antipasti to pizza, gelato, and even wine for only €135 per person.

In Paris, museum visits top most people’s vacation bucket lists, but a VIP tour at the Louvre or Musee D’Orsay can mean shelling out €225. Instead, the tour booking site suggests visitors book a Belleville Street Art Tour with an artist for only about €33 per person and experience the street art and murals in the City of Lights.

Belleville Street Art Tour cheaper travel in europe
Belleville Street Art Tour. Courtesy of Tripadvisor

When in London, you’re going to want to sail the winding Thames River. But instead of paying €159 for a dinner cruise, travelers can book a high-speed rigid inflatable boat and see the same iconic landmarks for just €55 per person.

When planning travel to the United States, you can follow the “cheaper Europe” playbook, too. In Oahu, for example, snorkeling is a popular activity (for obvious reasons), but it can also be a pricey one: a private snorkel trip aboard a 46-foot yacht can come in at a whopping US$1,956 per group. Instead, Tripadvisor recommends the cost-effective Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion from Waikiki, which costs only US$85 per person but offers all the same great marine life.

Sea Turtle Snorkeling in Waikiki, Hawaii cheaper in europe and u.s.
Sea Turtle Snorkeling in Waikiki, Hawaii. Photo by D James Siebert/Getty Images/Canva

And in Charleston (named the No. 1 city in the U.S. by T+L readers for 10 years in a row), an eco boat cruise is a great and economical way to explore for only US$56 per person, compared to the way pricier option of a private cruise, which can cost nearly US$500 per group.

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