European honeymoon on a budget — you can do it!

European honeymoon on a budget — you can do it!

We just got back from our 2 week honeymoon traveling around northern Italy. And it….was….amazinggggg!! We tend to be money conscious travelers. Simply because of what we can afford. But I am a big believer that you can have your dream honeymoon no matter your budget. Read on to find tips on doing a European honeymoon on a budget.

This list is made up of some practices that we utilized and things we learned on our northern Italy 2-week trip. You can read our itinerary here if you’re interested!

European honeymoon on a budget — you can do it!!

For a lot of people a honeymoon follows a pretty expensive wedding…. This is a time in your life when a special trip can be so important. But that’s contradicted with the fact that you probably just spent all this money on your wedding…. It can be tough to figure out how to do a European honeymoon on a budget — or any international trip on a budget.

Maybe you can afford something more expensive, but for various reasons you don’t want to put all your money to a trip.

Here are some tips I’ve put together based on what we have experienced during our international travels, and most recently from our honeymoon in Italy.

Use a honeymoon registry

This doesn’t necessarily correspond to traveling on a budget. BUT, it can be a great way to build your fund for a European honeymoon (or any honeymoon). Consider doing a honeymoon registry instead of (or in partnership with) a gift registry.

We didn’t want lots of physical things. We have a small house, everything we need, and if anything — we’re trying so hard to get rid of stuff. Sure we could have used some upgrades to our dishes or towels. But for us a honeymoon registry was much more useful and exciting. .

Just an idea!

Consider an affordable destination

If you have your mind set on a specific destination, great!

But if you don’t consider choosing a destination in Europe where the cost of living is not as high. This is one big way you can save money.

For example, consider Portugal over Norway, Montenegro over France, or Krakow over Stockholm.

This is a generalization, but do some research to find out how much accommodation differs between places. This is going to be where you save the most money.

On Booking, at the top right where you can filter by cost per night, there’s a very light bargraph that shows you the peak of availability based on cost. Looking at Oslo in August, it’s at about $220/night (and as low as $80), compared to Lisbon where it peaks around $170/night (and goes as low as $30!).

Just an example!

Potential Savings: This could mean saving >$50/night = >$350/week

Limit your honeymoon to one or two destinations

I’ll be honest, we splurged on our Italy honeymoon. Partly because we did a honeymoon registry and that was so amazing. But one reason it did cost us so much was because we traveled around quite a bit.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually LOVED that.

But if budget is really important for you, that takes out all intercountry travel expenses. You don’t need to buy train or bus tickets. You’ll be less likely to need to rent a car.

For our trip through northern Italy and Switzerland, we probably spent around $200-400 on train travel for 2 people (it included a more expensive train at one point).

Potential Savings: If you stay in one place, you could potentially save $50-$200 over one week on train travel.

Travel in the off- or shoulder-season

This can potentially save you sooooo much money. Traveling in the off-season or the “shoulder” season means airfare and hotels will probably be cheaper.

Plus, you won’t have to deal with all the crowds.

For example, in the example of Lisbon, Booking lists peak rooms in August ~$170/night. In November it’s down to ~$140/night and even cheaper in January (~$100/night).

You might not be excited about traveling to Portugal in January (It would probably still be chilly), but maybe this means you could splurge on accommodation that’s a little more luxurious.

And if budget is the main priority for you, traveling in the off season will really help you.

Potential Savings: Traveling in January vs. August could save you about $70/night =$490/week (This doesn’t even account for reduction in airfare prices.)!

Travel by train (or budget airlines)

If you decide you need to hop around to a second place, or even a couple places, my recommendation is to take the train. Depending on how far you’re going you could also consider a budget airline, such as Ryan Air or Easy Jet.

But moral of the story: if you’re trying to save money on your European honeymoon, do not rent a car.

We have had good experiences renting cars. In Croatia, it was such a helpful way to get around and see most of the country. You can read our trip itinerary if you’re interested!

But car rentals are expensive. If you’re traveling with 3-4 other people, maybe a car rental would be financial worth it. But probably not. And we’re talking about your honeymoon, so it’ll likely just be the two of you.

Car rental will probably cost you ~$50/day just for the car, that doesn’t include protection that you add on per day or the gas you use. It will likely cost you closer to $100/day.

Potential Savings: $50-100/day = $350-700/week

Prioritize splurging ONLY where it’s the most important

I love this one! Talk about where you really want to treat yourself on your honeymoon!

For me it was the view. We traveled to some of the most beautiful places in Europe: Lake Como, the coast of Liguria in Italy, and the foothills of the Alps. I really wanted accommodation with a balcony and a view. But we were willing to take less in other ways. For example, I didn’t need the most luxurious room or white robes and fancy slippers. I was okay with an older building if it meant we had a balcony with a view 🙂

And so we found some amazing places in the mid-budget range.

But if you’re really excited to go out to some fancy dinners, maybe that’s your priority. If it is, consider cutting back in other areas.

Trade some luxury for a bit of budget. This might allow you to break-even on a lower to middle budget range.

Splurge for one or two nights only

Another approach is to get more budget accommodation for most of your trip, but then splurge for 1-2 nights at the end. This might still give you the experience of luxury while also allowing you to spend less most other nights.

Buy groceries

If you’re able, consider buying groceries and cooking for your meals. Not all accommodation will have stoves or fridges. But if they do, this could be a way to save money.

If your accommodation doesn’t have cooking ability, you could still get some of your food from the grocery store. Maybe you buy some sandwich stuff to last you for lunches for a few days.

We bought groceries for a few days on our recent Italy honeymoon. And that was where we spent the least amount of money. And it was really nice and relaxing !

Potential Savings: ~$5-50/day = $35-350/week

Find accommodation with breakfast included

I can’t decide if I prefer Airbnb or Booking for accommodation. I love them both and for different reasons. The nice thing about hotels is that they often come with breakfast. When you’re traveling in a new place, this can be such a welcome thing in the morning.

It also means one less meal you have to buy, AND if you want to be super stingy, could you make a sandwich from breakfast to have for lunch?

Now, that does seem like something I would have done in college. I might not consider that as much anymore, but taking an apple back from breakfast so you have a snack later is always a nice treat!

Potential Savings: ~$5-15/day = $35-105/week

If you must eat out, eat out at lunch

If you want to eat out and/or you just think it’s the most realistic, consider eating out at lunch time. You could find a fancy restaurant you are really excited about. But make your reservations for lunch instead of dinner.

Then go to the local bakery and deli in the evening, and pack yourself a picnic in the park for dinner. It’s romantic AND will probably save you money!

Potential Savings: It really depends! But you could probably save ~$20-50 per couple per day by eating at a fancy restaurant for lunch instead of dinner = ~$140-350/week

Do walking tours!

Do you plan to visit a “touristy” area? Or an area with a lot of history? There might be so many excursions or “experiences” that you can book. Viator, Airbnb, and Trip Advisor all have great experiences and excursions you can arrange. I do love doing them!

But if you really want to save money, consider just doing a local walking tour! This can save you so much money and can be a great way to get oriented to a new city. As a plus, your tour guide might be a local and could give you suggestions about other free things to do or off-the-beaten path restaurants to check out.

I highly recommend doing a walking tour wherever you are and whatever your budget.

Potential Savings: These might just cost you $1-5 instead of an experience that could cost you $15-100

Limit how long you’re traveling

This is a pretty simple one, the longer you’re traveling, the more expensive it’ll be. So if you really want to stay on a budget, consider traveling for a week compared to two or three weeks.

In the example of Lisbon in the off season (January). Your accommodation could be about $100/night. You might spend anywhere from $20-150/day in food. That’s $120-250/day!

Potential Savings: ~$120-250/day = $840-1750/week (traveling 1 week instead of 2 weeks could potentially save you $1000!).

Find free things to do

Like walking tours, there are so many other affordable things you can find to do. For example, lots of cities open up museums for free on certain days of the week or month.

Do your research in advance and find free things to do!

Bring books

I always like reading when I’m on vacation. I want to be someone that reads more. But when I’m home in my normal routine, exhausted from a long day at work, sometimes I just can’t pick up the book.

It’s different on vacation for some reason. I want to pick up my book all the time.

But I also say this because it can be a good way to save money. If you have some down time during the day when you’re traveling it can be so nice to open up your book and read. You could enjoy the afternoon breeze on the balcony, the warm sun by the pool, or your cozy bed.

More importantly, this might also mean you’ll be less likely to buy something unnecessarily. It might help you from “killing” time shopping at local places or getting pulled into an expensive excursion.

Camp, hostels, or backpackers.

I’m not sure this is for me. I do enjoy camping, but I did so much of it in my teens and 20’s. If you’re like me, you might not find it as enjoyable or romantic as you used to.

But if you’re looking for a way to truly save money on your European honeymoon, consider camping.

The same can be said about hostels (or backpackers — as they’re known in much of the southern hemisphere).

Potential Savings: ~$20-100/night = $140-700/week

Walk everywhere

Explore the destination(s) you’re going to by walking everywhere. Avoid paying for public transit, for trams, buses, and Ubers. But instead walk!

Of course, you always want to be aware of safety concerns. Be street smart and do your research!

But once you’ve done that and you know it’s save, walk from one place to the other! It will be free, and great exercise!

Potential Savings: ~$2-40/day = $14-280/week

Only bring a carry-on

The final suggestion I have is to only travel with a carry-on. Carry your suitcase on the airplane. Don’t check a bag. You probably have read some of my other posts about how much I like traveling with a carry-on (how to pack a carry on for 2 weeks and how to travel with just a personal item!).

But this is a really helpful trick if you want to prevent yourself from buying too much when you travel. You won’t have room in your suitcase! You don’t need to spend time looking for souvenirs or buying other people gifts.

It can be really freeing and will save you money!

What ideas do you have???? There are so many more ideas out there to help make your European honeymoon on a budget happen!

I hope these help you get started!

For other honeymoon inspiration check out a few things:

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