EuroTrip Money Mistakes
Before I dive into the financial talk, I would like to say “Bonjour!” lol. That’s about all the French I know, so you can picture how “American” I was on my vacation. On another hand, the vacation was amazing! My wife and I flew to Paris from the States. We stayed four days in Paris, and then hopped on a train to Brussels. After two days in Brussels, we hopped on another train headed to Amsterdam. We spent two days in Amsterdam, and then hopped back on a train to Paris before heading back to the States.
I’m going to keep the trip recap short because I want to get to the money mistakes, but I will start by saying Paris is beyond amazing than I could of thought especially for people of color. Paris really has a strong African population, and even a community call “Black Paris” where James Baldwin once lived. Highlight of Paris, besides the normal tourist spots, was the street food at the Paris Fair close to the Louvre.
Brussels was interesting to say the least. I can definitely vouch that Belgium has the best fries and waffles I have ever tasted. Honestly, I don’t know why we call them “French Fries”. While traveling in Belgium, please don’t call them French fries, that’s insulting! They are called pommes frites. When you order your pommes frites, make sure you order with samurai sauce! Oh yeah about that waffle, it was from a FOOD TRUCK! Let that sink in… the best waffle I ever ate was off a food truck and not Waffle House. It was hot and drizzled with caramel. It was amazing!
Amsterdam was just like the stories you hear. Bars, marijuana, and prostitutes everywhere, but it wasn’t as raunchy as you might think. It was really like a medieval Vegas. It’s a hodge podge of different people all in one place enjoying vacation. There are “smoking” cafes all over the red light district, along with a ton of food options! They have a lot of places to go shopping as well!
Now, let’s focus on the main topic of the article! Too often, I go on vacation with one budget and end up with a ballooned budget. So let’s dive into the budgeting and money mistakes I made.
Before I even talk about the taxes, I have to talk about forgetting that I didn’t fully pay for the hotel in Belgium yet, smh. I already know what you are thinking, how stupid was that. To my benefit, the rest of the hotels were paid in advance and we booked all the hotels 4-5 months ahead on hotels.com, but I still should have remembered about the one we didn’t pay in advance. Along with that, it is pertinent to know that all European hotels have a tax you have to pay at the hotel, regardless if you pay in advance. It’s very similar to Las Vegas. So if you are traveling to Europe, remember the hotel taxes!
If you are impatient like myself, and want to avoid public transportation, especially in Paris, please rethink it! Uber is extremely expensive in Paris! Guess what?!? We walked a lot, and when I mean a lot I mean hour walks! On top of that, Paris was in the middle of a strike, so the public transportation was CRAZY! We basically walked until our legs made our hands pull out the phone and order an Uber! In Belgium, I learned my lesson! Most of the attractions are in walking distance, but we definitely used the free trolley to lower our step count.
Credit Card Rewards
This one I really didn’t think about until after a couple weeks of returning back to the states. I get 3x points for traveling expenses and 3x points for dining expenses. So all the Euros I withdrew from the bank stateside were pointless. On top of that, almost everyone in Europe takes Visa! When I say almost everyone, I mean the vendors at the fair all had card readers! I missed out on a lot of points due to having too many Euros!
This is probably the biggest mistake I make on all of our trips. The souvenir budget is huge, especially when traveling with your wife! Women love to shop and bring back random things from vacation for the kids and other family. I always forget to budget for it and it eats into our fun vacation money. Along with that, if I actually budgeted I would be able to tell her no cause we are out of souvenir money! I thought about that while I had to stop in like 20 souvenir stores while walking around Amsterdam.
FYI, you can exchange your money at your local bank state side before traveling. Always check the exchange rates and see what works best for you!
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