Could Going to Europe Be Cheaper than Staying in the US?

5 February, 2010 (21:52) | Budget Travel | By: darngooddigs

Early last spring Allison and I had a pile of guide books for Colorado piled next to our bed.  We were immersed in planning a three week trip during the summer, starting in Denver, looping down to Santa Fe, heading west toward Durango and Grand Junction, and then circling back to Denver for the round trip home.  The trip was full of cool cities, awesome national parks, ancient ruins, and big mountains.  And then we started to look for places to stay. 



We always try to find original, child-friendly (we have a four year old), reasonably priced spots – and we were having the hardest time.  We kept finding expensive bed and breakfasts with “no-children under 12″ policies, or familiar uninspiring chain hotels.  The decisive moment came when we focused on Grand Junction, and the best digs we could find was the Quality Inn for $125 a night, plus a 10% tax.  That was when the thought occurred to us – maybe going to Europe would be cheaper. 

When we travel during our summers, we try to go away for two, three, even four weeks at a time if we can get the vacation days.  Three years ago we went to Italy, and last year we went to northern Spain, and both of those trips turned out to be less expensive than the trip we took to the Pacific Northwest in 2008 – airfare included.  It kind of defies conventional logic, and we were surprised ourselves by the math. 



Flying to Europe generally costs us a little more than two times what a domestic ticket does, but compared with the US, we can save $30-$50 a night in Europe and still stay in cool little places.  In Zaragoza we stayed in a cute little downtown bed and breakfast for 50 Euros ($68) a night.   In Bilbao we spent 60 Euros ($82) a night.  Our most expensive room was in Barcelona, for 80 Euros ($109) a night.  These prices include tax, and Zaragoza and Barcelona include breakfast.  As hard as we tried, we couldn’t find the same quality in Colorado at those rates. 

When it was all said and done, our trip to Spain cost us noticeably less than the one we were planning for Colorado.  It surprised us, and the secret was in the accommodations. (And the rental car too, but that’s a different story!)

Be Sociable, Share!


Comment from Keith
Time February 7, 2010 at 3:08 am

Sad and hilarious at the same time. The lack of interesting and affordable accommodation options here in the States is a lucrative business opportunity waiting for an army of entrepreneurs.

Comment from darngooddigs
Time February 7, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Keith, we totally agree. Right now we’re looking for places to stay around Sarasota, on Florida’s west coast. Comfort Inns, Best Westerns, and the like seem to be the best options. They are clustered around the airport or the highway. With its lively downtown full of independent shops and restaurants, Sarasota somehow still barely has any downtown hotels, b&b’s, or hostels – and the ones they do have are not very budget-friendly.

Comment from natalie Patirian
Time March 1, 2010 at 3:17 am

What about the cost of food and drink and other things like clothing, shoes, and fun things to purchase and bring back home? Was it cheaper there or here in the US?

thanks a million

Comment from darngooddigs
Time March 1, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I admit we don’t buy many gifts or things when we travel – so I don’t know about shoes or clothing. My guess is that imported items, like electronics, are cheaper in the US. But as for food and drink… well, wine in Spain was definitely affordable. And we didn’t eat fancy, and didn’t fully take advantage of all that Spain’s restaurants have to offer, so I don’t remember food being any more expensive than the US. In northern Spain we ate lots of tapas, and that worked for us. Granted, we live in NYC, so we are used to things being a bit more expensive.

Write a comment