A vacation in the Netherlands and Europe does not have to be expensive, especially if it is a family travel. In fact, you can book budget travel even though these are last minute bookings (by the way, most of our vacations in the Netherlands and some parts of Europe are last minutes)! In this blog, I will explain some of my discoveries on how to travel cheaply either in the Netherlands or in Europe.
Ten tips to budget travels in the Netherlands and Europe
1. Use cheap (budget travel) booking sites
Finding budget travel requires time in terms of searching. But once you discovered the sites to look for and have experienced with it, it becomes easier to book travels. When planning our family travels, I always look first for travel sites that offer cheap price or travel discounts. My lists include Groupon.nl, Socialdeal.nl, Voordeeluitjes.nl, and Vakantieveilingen.nl. Of course, you need to read the reviews of fellow travelers and some conditions of the travel booking. These could include for instance if kid(s) are allowed to stay in a room/apartment for free or for a certain fee, if the maximum visitor is only for two people, if it is a travel package, the validity date of the travel, etc. Often you can find some nice deals on these sites. In fact, some of the travels I have made inside and outside the Netherlands, such as in Valkenburg, Zeeland, Zandvoort, Lille France, Belgian Ardennes, Strasbourg France, are from these sites. If you want to travel via train, there are also some packages such as train and hotel stay in NS Spoordeelwinkel.
2. Do not travel during peak or holiday season
Travelling during peak season could be stressful especially with lots of tourists, busy roads, and even higher price you must pay for travel arrangements. Often, non-peak seasons are 50% less of the price you pay for compared to peak seasons. If peak season is your only time to travel, there could still be some ways to save. Just go back to tip number one and find some last minute deals. So far, we are always lucky to find some last minute deals even during peak season. For instance, for two times we travelled to Zeeland during the Easter and Ascencion holidays, and we still paid a very cheap amount. We were able to stay in Zeeland for 3nights/4 days for only 120 euros, using the Voordeeluitjes website. The travel accommodation may not be as luxurious as staying in the hotel, but for the price you pay (often you need to spend 300-400 euros for this time), it is definitely worthit. This is especially when we stayed in a mobile home which has a space a hotel room for a family.
3. Go to cheaper (budget travel) places or countries
Instead of travelling to the most visited areas, why not take the road that is less travelled? This could mean cheaper price and less crowds in the area. This is one of the reasons why we used to go to Zeeland, instead of other expensive beaches in the Netherlands. We also tried to follow this rule since we often go to Southern European countries, such as Spain, Portugal, or France. It is quite expensive to go to the North of Europe like Finland, Sweden, or Norway (though of course we would still like to be there if there is an opportunity and good deals). Another plus of going to Southern Europe is the good weather as compared to Northern Europe. In the website of Planetware.com you can find the cheapest holiday destinations in Europe.
4. Apartment or House swapping
Yes, you read it right. House swapping is a way to travel to different places with free accommodation. There are various websites where you can bid and find houses for house swapping, both in the Netherlands and in EU. These include Homeexchange.com, Peoplelikeus.world, Lovehomeswap.com, etc. Just make sure that when you do house swapping, you do have a space in your home where you can lock your valuable things. If you are uncomfortable to let strangers leave at your home, it is also a good idea to house swap with family members that are in other parts of the Netherlands or in Europe.
5. Use mobile homes or house rental if needed
In case house swapping is not for you, then renting a mobile home or house is an alternative for a budget price family vacation. The 3-Nights/4-days price you will pay for a family mobile home might be equivalent to a 1-night stay in a fancy hotel. So if you want to experience a place and its surrounding areas by staying longer, then renting a mobile home might be a good alternative for you.
6. Travel for longer period
The longer you stay in one place, the cheaper your travel gets. At the same time, it is more sustainable since you don’t have to burn fuels or energy just for an overnight or three days stay in a place. For a closeby destination or within the country, a 3-4 Days travel accommodation is ideal to fully immersed yourself in a place. But if you travel to other European countries, staying longer is much better given the travel time, price of fuels, and effort spent going to the place.
7. Do lots of walking
Walking during travels is very healthy and inexpensive (you don’t have to pay for bus trips or hop on hop off tours). We do lots of walking whenever we do city tours. Walking helps us to discover those local alleys and reminds us how to live in a certain place during certain times in history. If traveling with kids, I can imagine that walking might be challenging. That is why we always have our baby carrier, kids stroller, or cart ready for kids. If you want to know more some of the travel gears with kids, you may check my blog: Kid’s travel gears to make travels childs play.
8. Cook whenever possible
Dining in to experience culture is a go during travel but doing it for the rest of your stay will definitely empty your pocket. That’s why we only dine-in in fancy restaurants once or twice for experience, and the rest is about cooking. By having accommodation houses or mobile home, you can save as much during your travel when cooking (especially if you are a family of four or five!). So try to find the balance of experiencing culture and being a budget traveller at the same time to avoid spending too much during your travel.
9. Book in advance or last-minute deals
Booking in advance during travel means savings. This has been true especially during summer holidays in the Netherlands. The vacation houses in the Netherlands during summer period are often booked one year to half a year in advance because it is cheaper as compared to doing it weeks or a month before the travel. If you are not a fan of advance booking, especially since you want to be flexible in your agenda, then last minute deals might also be an option. Though the kind of trips you might get from last minute deals might be different from what you expect. So better to be flexible as well.
10. Use travel points to save expenses
The points you accummulated from using your bank card, credit card, airline miles, or other shopping points might come in handy when exchanged to travel discounts. I sometimes exchange these accumulated points for discounts to entrance in an amusement park, for a day trip in a museum, or for visiting zoos with my family. So watch out what kind of travel deals you have in your local shopping area or any memberships you have to grab a budget travel day out.