Travel Through Europe On A Budget
Do you think you’d like to travel across Europe? Great! However, the biggest question on everyone’s mind is “How much does it cost to travel through Europe?”.”
If you can, you should avoid traveling during the summer. This is when the prices for flights, hotels, activities, etc. are the highest. When possible, travel in the low season or shoulder season, and the most economical time of year to fly is the first two weeks in January after Christmas. If you can travel during that time, do so. I’ve found the flights to be unbelievably cheap.
There is no doubt that Europe has its own cheap flights within the continent. You will need to use budget airlines if you want to fly from place to place. There are airlines like Ryanair, EasyJet, and Tap to name a few. Traveling across the country can sometimes be done for twenty or thirty dollars, and that is wonderful. I once flew from Charleroi in Belgium to Glasgow in Scotland for $1.00 (plus about $25 in airport fees/taxes).
In any case, if I’m going to be in a lot of different countries in one area, I prefer staying on the ground once I get there. In this way, you can usually save money by traveling by bus, train, or hitchhiking. The cheapest option is going to be hitchhiking. If you don’t really want to hitchhike, you can also just take the trains, which are reasonably inexpensive too.
Check out rail passes. In many places like Germany, you can buy a day pass that covers an entire region. These save even more money if you have travel companions.
A great money-saving option is to take a night train to save on accommodation because you will be sleeping on the train, so you don’t have to pay for a hotel or hostel. This is great for long trips such as Brussels to Prague or Berlin to Venice.
Buses are a great option. I often take Flix Bus while traveling in Germany, and once I took it from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Brussels but I wouldn’t do that again, it was simply too long to be on the bus. However, I should point out that buses are often faster than trains which may seem strange but the Munich to Prague bus goes direct as does the Munich to Zurich bus so you don’t have all the stops at different cities like trains do. Buses can also be really cheap, especially in Eastern Europe. So that is a really good way to go.
Where to travel in Europe on the cheap
Let me share with you a few of the budget destinations you can visit, so you can go to Portugal, southern Spain, and Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia, if you do it right and mostly if you stay off the beaten path you go to the cities or to the small towns that aren’t the major major tourist attractions you can do most things pretty cheap.
Next, you should travel to the right places. The cheapest part of Europe, for the most part, is Eastern Europe. When you go to the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, the other side of Italy – and you go to Croatia, to the east, so this will be Croatia, Albania, Macedonia, and Greece. But it isn’t as cheap as the rest of Eastern Europe but it is still pretty cheap. Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Poland, these are all going to be a lot cheaper than France, Italy, Spain, etc.
If you can – and you want to be more adventurous because Eastern Europe is actually quite cool – not many people are aware of it. If you want to save a few bucks, you should travel to some of the countries in Eastern Europe, but besides traveling to the east, if you don’t want to do that, the cheaper places are usually southern countries. Spain is more affordable than France, which is more expensive than Switzerland and then Germany, so going south will be cheaper. The same is true for cities.
In Spain and Italy, the cheaper cities are usually in the south. Everything is cheaper in the south than in the north, on a general basis. But my recommendation, first of all, is to travel to Eastern Europe if you can, if not, that head to the south, which also has better weather in the winter.
European Cheap Travel Tips
Trying to stay away from touristy things is the next step if you want to travel on a budget. To have a more authentic experience, try something like Couchsurfing, where you can meet people and stay with people if you want. I have both hosted some great people as well as stayed in some expensive cities for free!!!
In the event that you make friends or just discuss something with someone at a bar or beach, do the free things. You do not have to do the expensive tours and the best things are usually those you can do on your own just by walking around the city. Often, you can do things for free or cheap, like concerts, little shows, festivals, etc.
Walking tours are available in most countries and most major cities. They usually last around one to three hours and you get a walking tour of all the key parts of the city and you get all the history and you can get. In addition, you can meet people there and it’s really enjoyable. You learn a lot about the place you are in. This is something I prefer to do when I first arrive so I can get my bearings and learn a little bit before I go off on my own. Use Google and type in the city you are visiting and ‘walking tour’. There is a company called Sandeman’s (some cities are temporarily closed due to Covid so check the website for availability). They have city tours and even free bus tours. From Edinburgh, we were able to take a free bus tour of the Scottish Highlands. Usually, these things are free, and you just give a tip at the end, and if you’re on a budget, you can give a smaller tip, but try to give them a decent tip if you can, especially if they did a good job.
The next thing is pub crawls, yes, free pub crawls. A lot of times if you’re staying at hostels they’re going to have pub crawl nights, and because the hostels want you to have fun and they want to get good ratings, and so especially for the younger crowd. These hostels will be bringing you out in groups to go on these pub crawls, and surprisingly, a lot of cities offered free pub crawls. Often you get free drinks for the first hour or so of the night, so you get free drinks and free entertainment.
Where to stay in Europe on a budget
We’ll move on to hostels now. While hostels are reasonably priced in Europe, they’re not as cheap as a lot of other places In the world.
You should book ahead for these since the best ones will sell out quickly, so try to book a week ahead, maybe at least a few days ahead, or if traveling for an event like Oktoberfest at least 6 months in advance so that the cheapest options are still available to you.
Couchsurfing is a better alternative than booking hostels. Obtaining free lodging through Couchsurfing was the number one way for me to travel Europe on a budget. Often, you can meet local friends and hang out with them, and they can take you to cheaper spots, not the tourist destinations that always raise the prices. Many times they want to show you their culture, their cuisine, and everything else. In addition to saving some money on a bed, my Couchsurfing hosts would often cook for me.
Next up, if you don’t do Couchsurfing, you can try Airbnb, there’s surprisingly, really a lot of good deals on Airbnb, because Airbnb is becoming more popular and there’s just so much out there and there’s so much competition. People are really bringing their prices down a lot in order to get people to stay there because there are so many other options. Also if you go to a summer destination such as the Algarve in Portugal in the Winter you can find longer-term Airbnb’s for incredible prices.
If you want to try something longer, this is another site that I know about called trustedhousesitters and you get free accommodation just for watching their house sitting. Sometimes you even get a bonus and get to watch a pet or two. It is sometimes possible to do this for a month or more, so if you plan to remain in one location for a while, you should look into it.
Read our Hotel Guide here: https://europeantravel.blog/guide-to-hostels-in-europe/
There are deals for food throughout Europe, and it really depends on where you are, but, for instance, in Spain they have tapas. Typically it can be free or it can cost a little bit.
Another thing that’s very similar to that is aperitivo in Italy. It is basically what an American would call a happy hour, but it is better than a happy hour because it often involves free food. Usually, it’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet with just these tiny plates. You buy a beverage, then stand in line and fill up your plate as you please, and that’s how you get a free meal.
Staying in touch
If you’re traveling for a longer period of time, don’t pay for your phone while you’re there – and if you can, get a SIM card instead of paying for an international plan with your phone carrier. Buying a SIM card in any country in Europe is really cheap.
Credit and Debit Cards
The next thing is to get the right credit/debit card combo, so you can get a travel credit card that doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees, most major institutions have some sort of travel card with this feature. Most critical since not everyone in Europe takes credit cards is to have a good debit card that doesn’t have any ATM fees or rebates you the fees like a Charles Schwab debit card does.
The debit card is critical if you don’t have a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. You need to be careful when taking money out from ATM machines and only go to real bank ATM’s. There are numerous private ATM’s that are all over the place in tourist areas that charge an arm and a leg for withdrawals and have a lousy conversion rate.
Due to Covid, more and more places are now accepting credit cards as well as Google Pay and Apple.
Hope this blog helps you out.
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