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7 Tips to Save Money on a European Holiday This Summer

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Michelangelo's David faceDream of Italy’s Kathy McCabe shares her money-saving tips on traveling to Italy (or beyond) this spring and summer.

So if you’re headed to Europe this summer, don’t miss these great money-saving budget travel tips.

1. Take advantage of the great airline sales going on right now.

Domestic and international airlines alike are offering amazing airfares to Italy for the spring and summer.

Alitalia, for example, has flights between New York and Rome or Milan on sale for travel until May 25 for as little as $349 round-trip. For travel during the summer, fares start at $869 roundtrip.

2. Use the Web to find and predict the best airfare deals, but don’t hesitate to buy.Turin at night

When you’re ready to buy your tickets, use the site Farecast.com (now part of Bing Travel) to predict whether prices for a particular route will stay steady, increase or decrease over the next week. Travelers can plug in international trips of two weeks or less up to six months in advance.

FareCompare.com is also worth consulting; it displays a calendar showing which days offer the lowest fares on specific routes.  But when a good deal presents itself, you’ll probably want to snap it up, as seats will fill as we near summer.

3. Buy a package and save two ways.

First, buying a combination of airfare, hotel, rental car, and/or train tickets almost always lets you save over what each component would cost individually. Second, pre-paying in dollars before leaving home eliminates the risk of currency fluctuations you’d face by paying in euros in Italy.

Gate1Travel.com, for instance, offers well-priced, customizable packages. You can request a preferred airline (for you mileage gurus), choose specific hotels and take advantage of affordable add-ons such as a private car transfer or Venetian gondola serenade.

4. Cruise the Italian coastline.Positano
Nearly every major cruise line imaginable—from Carnival to Princess—will be cruising the Mediterranean this summer. Climb aboard and your transportation, dining and accommodations costs are all covered with one pre-paid price. You’re likely to spend far less than if you paid individually for hotel rooms, meals and transportation between cities, and you don’t have to pack and re-pack.

Travel agents who specialize in cruises can use their special relationships with particular cruise companies to offer their clients special deals including free airfare or complimentary shore excursions.

Cruisecompete.com lets you reach over 100 cruise specialists simultaneously via email to see if they can beat your best quote for a specific cruise.

Cruisedirectonline.com is also a must-click for searching for the best deals.

5. Make a bid.

LuxuryLink.com offers luxury hotel packages and villa rentals at discounted rates through online auctions.

Skyauction.com allows individuals to bid on air and hotel packages, coach and business class airline tickets and hotel nights.There are bargains to be had but sometimes bidding can be fierce. The best bidder has already done his or her homework on what things usually cost. Those who are flexible in the dates of travel are also at an advantage. Both of the sites above have “Buy it Now” options where you will pay more but ensure that you get what you want and still saving over the regular price.

Get more tips on Snagging Better Deals on Hotels & Accommodations.

6. Skip the hotel.Colosseum in Rome
Hotels in Europe can be expensive, especially if you’re traveling with your family and need more than one room.

Instead, consider renting a villa or apartment. These cost much less per night and can also help save more money if meals dining out are replaced with meals dining in, with fresh produce and goods bought at local markets and prepared in the villa or apartment’s kitchen.

The best piece of advice for renting an apartment or villa abroad is to make sure there is someone on-call 24 hours a day in case there’s a problem at the property.

Check out more Tips for Villa Rentals.

7. Get a tourist card.

Italian cities like Naples, Orvieto, Padova, Rome, Turin, Trieste, Verona, and Venice offer tourist cards which offer public transportation combined with admission to many of the cities’ museums, churches and monuments.

For more tips on tourist cards, check out Tourist Discount Cards: Deal or No Deal?

By Kathy McCabe for PeterGreenberg.com. Kathy McCabe is the editor and publisher of the award-winning subscription travel newsletter, Dream of Italy (www.dreamofitaly.com). Click here to receive a free special report on the Amalfi Coast when you visit DreamofItaly.com

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