Looking for a cheap holiday in Europe? Well, I’m not sure there is such a thing as “cheap” with the current exchange rate, but you can certainly cut costs without missing out on anything. Take a look at some of these travel essentials.
Finding a Cheap Holiday in Europe
Make sure that you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This will give you free or discounted medical treatment in state-run hospitals within an EU country. Basically, it gives you the same medical rights as a citizen of that country.
This card is free but make sure you apply through the right site. There are some dubious companies out there who will apply on your behalf, and charge you for the privilege. The official site can be found here. Remember that the card is only valid for five years, so if you’ve had a card previously, check its validity. Also, remember that this card does not mean you need to forget about insurance.
So you may think that now you have your EHIC card, insurance isn’t that important. Unfortunately not. Unlike the UK, medical provision isn’t always free in Europe. Although you may receive discounted treatment, depending on the issue, the costs could be sky high.
Also important to note is that the card does not cover you for repatriation. That means, if you need to be transported back to the UK, you will have to pay. I’m not sure if anybody has looked into chartering a private medical plane, but perhaps surprisingly, it’s not cheap…
Insurance costs for a holiday in Europe aren’t very expensive. If you’re a frequent traveller, then it will be worthwhile purchasing annual cover. Also, check to see if you qualify for cover through your current account. Some packaged accounts provide travel insurance, whilst there are a few accounts such as the FlexAccount from Nationwide, that offer it for free (with a few conditions).
Always check what the insurance covers you for and how much your excess is.
Getting to the Continent
Many people who holiday in Europe are now deciding to drive. Driving on the opposite side of the road isn’t as scary as it sounds, but does require you to concentrate a bit more. If you do decide to drive then your choices are rather limited to ferry or Eurotunnel.
Travelling by ferry is generally cheaper, but it is slower and can sometimes be weather dependent. I am still waiting for my sea legs after many years of ferry travelling, and if there’s the slightest hint of wind I feel seasick.
One option for cheaper travel into Europe is available for Tesco Clubcard holders. Tesco offers a boost of x3 for travel by Eurotunnel. Depending on when you travel, a return trip should cost you between £20-30 in Clubcard vouchers.
If you’re not sure which to choose, take a look at my post on travelling by Eurostar vs the ferry.
If you don’t drive, you could consider travelling by Eurostar. However, tickets aren’t cheap, so this isn’t the most cost-effective way to travel.
Non-drivers could consider taking a bus. This is probably the cheapest option available and great for single travellers or couples.
Having used the AA cover in France, it was very easy to do. You call an English speaking hotline (bizarrely the lady I spoke to was Australian) and they send somebody to come and fix your vehicle. In my case, a big burly Frenchman who managed to fix my car in minutes and make me feel very inadequate!
My tip is to consider carefully what cover you require. AA charge you by the day. Last summer was our first ever as a family outside of the UK and we travelled to Centre Parcs in Belgium. Cover for this trip for five days came to just over £40. However, during the middle three days, the car wasn’t going to be used. So I bought two separate policies for the first and last day saving me almost £20.
Remember to use a cashback site before arranging your cover. Find out more details about cashback sites.
Less is more
Another great way to save money is by travelling light, especially if you decide to fly. Take a look at this great post from The Wallet Moth about minimalist travel.
Previously, I had several long paragraphs on where to find the cheapest deals for using your phone in Europe. Unfortunately for me, but good for everybody else, roaming charges have been scrapped from 15th June 2017. That means you can call, text and surf the internet anywhere in Europe, just like you do in the UK. Even if you hate the EU, you’ve gotta love that!
However, with Brexit on the horizon, who knows if this will change. But if there’s a chance to make money out of us, I’m sure it will.
Enjoy your cheap holiday in Europe!