Few things will injure your wallet more than a European vacation, a trip whose costs in basic necessities like plane-tickets, lodging, and food, is sure to leave you thousands of dollars in the red. And yet, like many things, the financial injury incurred by a trip to Europe can be reduced by planning and travelling smart. Indeed, by simply using the three tips listed below, you and your family can save literally hundreds of dollars on your next European vacation, making you all a lot happier without reducing the quality of the trip at all.

Travel Cheap 

The single largest expense for most European-bound travelers is the plane tickets. Indeed, trans-Atlantic tickets sometimes run in the range of the thousands of dollars, a price that prevents many American families from going abroad.  

However, planning ahead and comparative shopping can subdue many of the expenses associated with travel. Indeed, the very first thing you should do after you decide you're going to Europe is to buy the plane tickets, a short-term inconvenience that will save you big in the long term. Also make sure you look into potentially cheaper destinations to fly into. Sure, landing in Milan would be nice, but if flying into Berlin and taking the Euro-Rail is $100 cheaper, then it may just be worth the extra time.

Live Cheap

Another major funds-sucker of international travel is lodging, with many brand-name hotels charging exorbitant amounts for rooms in European cities. However, as it turns out, forgoing those familiar names will ultimately make your experience all the better. 

Indeed, staying in hostels, convents, and small, locally owned bed & breakfasts will often provide cheaper lodgings by degrees of magnitude. And it's not all economic. On the contrary, the uniquely "European" flavor offered by these less corporate entities can't be beat. Sure it might not have all the amenities of an American hotel, but there's something about waking up to the morning mass going on downstairs that will only work to make your vacation even more memorable.  

Eat Cheap

Last, but not least is food, an expense that is especially pernicious because of the belief that it is unavoidable. After all, things are just more expensive in Europe. Shelling out fifteen Euros per meal is just something that's going to have to happen.

As it turns out, however, that is not necessarily true. For example, by purchasing food from local markets and stands, you can get the same authentic European taste without the extra cost of a traditional restaurant. Making your own food from locally grown ingredients provides a similar experience -- you'll feel like a real Parisian chef comparing cheeses and buying baguettes for your meal that night.

In short, while Europe is, undoubtedly, expensive, the cost of travelling there doesn't have to be prohibitive. As long as you travel smart, you and your family can have the vacation you've always wanted without putting yourself into years and years of debt.