Summer is here and you’re excited to head off on that dream vacation to Europe. The one small problem is that you’re not really all that ready. You might know when you’re going to go and when you need to be back, but Europe is such a vast and varied place that working out exactly how to do it all properly is pretty overwhelming. What’s worse, you’re not sure that you’ve even got enough money.
Luckily for you, there are a number of smart ways to travel in Europe on a budget. I’ve done it and used them all, multiple times. Below are five simple tips that should help you do the same whilst having one of the best holidays of your life.
1. Hit the Road
Europe is fully covered by a plethora of low-cost airlines offering cheap flights to all the major cities. The problem is that at this time of year the cheapest of these seats have probably been taken up.
Young travellers can look to have an authentic European travelling experience by buying a Eurail train pass. These can work out to be very good value if you use them a lot, but they need a lot of forward planning and you will have to move quite often to get your money’s worth.
A cheaper option is to head down to the bus station and jump on a coach. Modern coach travel is pretty comfortable, often now comes with free Wifi, and is usually a much cheaper option than a flight or train ticket. Journey times are obviously a bit longer, but if you can get a night bus, you save twice. Not only will the journey be cheaper but you won’t be paying for accommodation that evening either.
BlaBlaCar is another decent road alternative if you’d like to share a car ride with people making the same journey as you. You can sign up quickly via Facebook and there will be plenty of rides available across the whole of mainland Europe.
2. Go East
London, Paris, Rome, and Barcelona all pull at the heart strings of those travellers from outside Europe who are heading over on their first visit, but these major cities do not come cheap, especially in summer. Unless you have a lot of time and money on your hands, it would be wise to make one or two of these cities your jumping off and departure points and then look to the east in order to get some real value for money.
Everything is cheaper the further east you travel in Europe but this does not mean you have to compromise in any way on the amazing places that you can experience here. Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, Sarajevo, and Ljubljana are just some of the city highlights that you can find in the east. In these places you’ll encounter history, culture, and architecture to match all of the big boys. And the people are often more welcoming than in the more historically popular capital cities where everybody is just a teensy bit tired of all the tourists by this point.
3. Unlock Your Phone
One of the quickest ways to watch all your money get eaten when you travel in Europe is for you to use the roaming service from your mobile carrier. Some companies do now offer good deals on this, but any digital nomads who rely on their phones to allow them to work whilst travelling will definitely need more data.
The best way to get around this is for you to unlock your phone before your departure and pick up a free SIM card when you enter any of the major cities in Europe. This is particularly useful if you’re planning on staying in one country for a while. Even if you are not, a European SIM from a low-cost company like Lebara will allow you to move from country to country within the EU without incurring too many additional charges.
4. Double Up
Undoubtedly the most expensive part of travelling anywhere is the cost of accommodation. The easiest way to make this cheaper is by splitting the cost. Anyone thinking about making a solo trip should perhaps consider whether there could actually be a good friend out there who might want to join you. Your costs will immediately come down and you won’t have to take so many selfies.
For those people who do really want to go it alone, the best sleeping options will be in the hostels with shared dorm rooms. You can find really cheap beds in these places all over Europe, but some are obviously better than others, so make sure you do a little bit of research before making your booking.
5. Eat Cheap, Eat Local
After accommodation, food is where you are most likely to blow most of your budget. This doesn’t have to be the case if you do as the locals do and buy your food stuffs from the supermarket. Bread, fruit, and vegetables are all relatively cheap wherever you go, especially if you are buying local produce. This is an excellent way to save money but also one that pumps money directly back into the local economy.
If you fancy eating out a restaurant try to do so at lunch time. In many European countries this is often the main meal of the day and most restaurants usually offer special lunchtime multi-course options that are very good value.
Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com