Of course, you do need to get to Europe first, and hopefully the magic of air travel rewards can make that happen. See tips about getting to Europe in a budget-friendly fashion... Managing travel rewards can be a hassle, but worth taking the time to investigate which travel rewards system will get you where you want to go.
Accommodation takes a big chunk out of the budget for any vacation. The good news is that budget travel in Europe has been mainstream since Arthur Frommer's groundbreaking "Europe on Five Dollars a Day" books. Those days are long gone, but Frommer, Rick Steves and others have continued to make budget travel a respectable and in many ways preferable way to experience Europe.
Have a look below at two types of lodgings that may not be familiar, yet both offer very affordable accommodations and also a type of experience that just might be a lot of fun.
- Family-Friendly Hostels
Hostels have been growing up, and many now offer families a chance to stay in private rooms, perhaps even with ensuite bathrooms. Often, hostels are located in centuries-old buildings full of character; the charming building above is a converted monastery. Hostels are friendly places, and typically include a communal breakfast for those who want it. Hostels can be a great way to meet other families traveling with kids... Read more about the good points of staying in family-friendly hostels.
- Camping Villages
Typically a "camping village" in Europe offers a large recreational property with many activities, at least one restaurant, swimming pools and perhaps waterslides, and several types of accommodations including bungalows with linens supplied and fully-equipped kitchenettes.
Eurocamp is a big name in these types of vacations, with over 160 "Holiday Parcs" in France, Italy, Spain, and other countries. Some properties have giant waterslides and an amazing array of fun on-site. Prices are per family, not per person, kids are free, kids clubs are free... To find out more about these places where European families take affordable getaways, check out Eurocamp or simply search for "camping villages".
This website has developed into a good way to find budget lodgings. Airbnb is a website that connects individuals who have a space to rent with travelers seeking a place to stay. Accommodation can range from a spare room in a home to B and B lodging, or to an entire home or apartment, which can be extremely convenient for family travelers.
- More Ideas for Saving Money on Lodgings
Families can rent an apartment when staying in a big city, or share a large "villa" vacation home in the countryside with another family, or do a home exchange... Read about more ways to find budget-friendly accommodation.
On another trip, we stayed for several days at the Village Flaminio just outside Rome. A bus stopped right outside the grounds and whisked us into the city for sightseeing. While we ate many meals in Rome, we could also cook in the kitchen in our bungalow (which slept five) and we had one dinner in the open air restaurant right on the property. Breakfast was included in our stay.
We've also stayed in several family-friendly hostels and enjoyed the friendly environment. We've tried agri-tourism in northern Italy, we stayed in Venice in a convent that rented out rooms... not perhaps the best place with three young boys, but we do still laugh at the memory. The point is, there are many options for saving money in Europe by trying different types of lodging.
So if you're longing to do a family trip in Europe, but holding off until you can travel in style, give some thought to budget travel: you might even have more fun that way.