This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet. European travel is — by some metrics — bigger this year than it was pre-pandemic. In the first six months of 2023, 43% more Americans flew to Europe compared with the same period in 2022 and 4% more than the same period in 2019. Those figures come from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, or ITA, data.
While bigger crowds generally mean higher prices, there’s another reason why travelers should brace for European travel to be expensive this year: inflation. Soaring inflation has, by some metrics, hit harder in Europe than in the U.S. The yearly rate of inflation in the U.S. rose 3% in June 2023, according to May consumer price index data. But in the European Union, the annual inflation rate rose 6.4% in June 2023, according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. So while you should expect European travel to be expensive and crowded this year, a few strategies can make a European vacation more affordable.1. Save money by looking to second cities Second cities are the lesser-known, less-populated areas around major cities. They can often offer lighter crowds and lower prices than the big tourist destinations. As far as European second cities (or third or fourth cities) go, you might enjoy Austria’s second-largest city by population, Graz, which is about a 2 ½-hour train ride from Vienna. Between the Graz Truffle Festival and the abundance of places to enjoy Backhendl (Austrian fried chicken), it’s a foodie paradise. And with sites like the Eggenberg Palace and the world’s largest historical armory, it’s a must-visit for history buffs.