Christmas is my most favourite time of the year and with the growing popularity of short-break Christmas Market getaways, we’ve got some great tips for if you’re heading overseas Christmas shopping this year! I’m working with Tandem Bank on a series of how to save money whilst travelling guides. Tandem Bank is an online bank regulated by the FCA dedicated to helping people save money whilst living their best lives.
Their clever app also helps you save with a feature called ‘round-up’ and they offer credit cards with no fees overseas too. You can check how they can help you get in control of your finances on the Tandem Bank website. You can download the Tandem app now and when you create an account from this link and then turn auto savings on, they’ll also give you a £10 Amazon voucher to say thank you! And you can check out the other travel money-saving tips in the series below;
- 50 travel tips to save you money that actually work
- Easy ways to save money in Vegas and still live your best life
- How To Save Money On Flights And Hotels
- How to get the most money from currency exchange
- How to travel like a travel blogger in 2020
If you’ve booked a Christmas getaway to explore the Christmas Markets they can be a whirlwind of craziness if you’re not prepared. Thankfully we’ve chosen our top 9 tips for saving money so you can still enjoy yourself at a European Christmas Market!
1. Do some background reading
Having a little bit of local knowledge will really help you browse the markets. As you’ll have a rough idea of where the market is located and the wonderful items that are available. Sometimes you’ll also be able to get a rough idea of the cost of things in the city you’re visiting. Which is especially useful if you’re unfamiliar with currency and exchange rates.
Also, do make sure that all of the research you do is relevant and up to date. That the markets are still both there and open the time you visit.
2. Organise your travel money for your trips
Having your travel money ahead of any trip the golden piece of advice. Don’t leave this until the last minute as the commission rates in the airport are incredibly high so you’ll get less money in the exchange. Plan ahead and order your money in advance, do shop around online for the best offers.
Do make sure you roughly know the exchange rate so you can convert prices into sterling to see if they’re a good buy before you purchase.
Most markets don’t have cash machines inside so make sure you have the necessary money you think you’ll need before heading in. The markets that do have an ATM do make sure you check that they don’t apply any unnecessary transaction charges.
If you are planning on using a debit or credit card to Europe with you alongside cash, do make sure you’ve got one that is specifically designed for overseas use like the Tandem Credit Card. This way you can avoid paying additional ‘hidden’ fees such as conversion charges, purchase fees and withdrawal fees. Perhaps also think about a prepaid currency card if you don’t want to take a debit or credit card. These prepaid cards are cards you use like a debit card which you load with currency before travelling.
3. Stick to a strict budget
Try and stick to a budget if you’re looking to save money while buying gifts at the Christmas Markets. It is, of course, easier than it sounds, however, try and avoid impulse buying things you don’t need or haven’t got a use for. Make a list (and check it twice) of the things you’re looking to buy, who you’re buying for and your budget per person. If you have it all written down it’ll become much easier to resist spending on unnecessary presents (especially for yourself).
4. Learn to haggle
As the markets predominantly accept cash an advantage means that you get the opportunity to barter and vendors are often willing to do so (especially if you don’t have the right change). Make sure though, that you have some low denominations when it comes to cash. So you don’t end up flashing too much cash.
If you don’t know how to barter, try quoting another price you’ve seen or ask if they’ll consider a discount if you’re buying a few of the same items.
It’s also beneficial to try and learn a little bit of the local language. This will be a huge help when it comes to haggling. They’ll respect the effort of attempting to converse in their native tongue. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground too. Similarly, if the vendor won’t drop their price why not see if they’ll include something additional for free?
5. Visit during the week
Most people tend to head to Christmas Markets over the weekend, therefore flights and hotels can be much more expensive than if you choose to go through the week. Check out comparison websites to find the best transport options. Sometimes package deals are cheaper so do research them too. Booking early will also guarantee the best prices for visiting European Christmas Markets.
6. Live like a local
Christmas Markets will give you an opportunity to buy gifts for friends and family that may not be available in the UK. Try and find out if the place you’re visiting has a particular “take-home” souvenir and ask the locals for recommendations on where to buy it at the best price.
7. Return your mug after a hot drink
There are many Christmas Market stalls that charge a small deposit for their mugs and glasses (on top of the price of your drink). Don’t be surprised if your drink is more expensive than you initially thought. This is to cover the cost of the mug in case people take them home as a souvenir.
To get your deposit money back, return your cup when you’re finished. If you see others lying about, take them back too and you’ll get the cut for them too!
8. Choose food carefully
I’m a firm believer in enjoying the local cuisine and what’s on offer. Don’t try and sample everything going and don’t buy food that you usually eat back home. Instead seek out the stalls selling unusual meats, crazy concoctions and fancy festive drinks.
Before you travel look and see what the local delicacy is and before buying anything make sure you’ve had a look around the market. There’s nothing worse than purchasing food, turning a corner and then thinking ‘I wish I had seen this before’. Take your time and absorb the atmosphere.
9. Don’t buy for yourself
Unless you want to, don’t buy for yourself. If you’re looking to keep the cost down of your European Christmas Market trip then don’t buy unnecessary things for yourself! Only buy what’s on your list and stick to that.
Have you been to a European Christmas Market? I’d love to know where and if you have any specific tips! Drop a comment below