Traveling around Europe can be pretty expensive, even when you try your best to budget and penny (or rather, Euro) pinch. Next to transportation, accommodation eats up one of the largest chunks of your budget. But there are some ways to keep some of that money in your wallet (for food!) There are obvious things like picking cheap hostels and booking in large shared rooms, but something a lot of people might not think about is where they’re spending the different parts of their week.
Weekend rates (at hostels, hotels and even AirBnbs) skyrocket in every major city. And if you are really looking to party in a big city and want to stay right in the action, then paying extra might be worth it for you. But if you are looking to save some money, you can plan to spend you weekends in smaller cities and then go to the big cities during the week (or even just stay in the smaller city and take the train/bus to the larger city on the weekend days, which is sometimes still cheaper than staying in the big cities.)
For example, on a recent weekend I had planned to go straight to Amsterdam from Antwerp. Looking at hostels, almost everything was booked out, and what was left was super expensive. No surprise there, Amsterdam is a huge party city so of course it will be packed on the weekends. Now, if you know everywhere you will be going well in advance, you may be able to get a good weekend rate on a room if you book early enough. If you are like me, however, and have no idea where you are going until a few days before, things get a little trickier.
Weekday Amsterdam, still just as beautiful and interesting
I’m not a huge partier, so instead of paying crazy prices to stay the weekend in Amsterdam, I decided to look around at nearby cities and see what I could find. I ended up in Rotterdam at a lovely hostel (Ani & Haaiken) for only about 19 Euro per night, about 1/2 of the prices I found in Amsterdam (note: those prices were at non-shady hostels, there were about two left that were $15 a night, but they were obviously still free for a reason.) I spent the weekend exploring Rotterdam and then went on to Amsterdam on Monday, when I could find a room at a good hostel for a decent rate. So I got to see an awesome city and save money: win/win! And it’s not like Rotterdam is some little town in the middle of nowhere, so don’t think you have to leave civilization to get a good deal. Just look for cities that aren’t tourist central and you’ll have a much better chance at finding a decent rate on accommodation.
The hostel in Rotterdam (Ani & Haakien) even came with a cat!
So when you are planning your own trip, take a look at what cities you have planned for you weekends and see what the prices are. You might realize that there is a nearby city you’d also like to visit that would be a perfect cheap weekend city. Who would have thought adding a city to your itinerary could save you money?