Europe on a budget
1. Choose an off season timing
Big cities such as London and Paris are interesting any time of the year. So it is better to choose a time when you can roam around freely without any hassle. During off-seasons you can enjoy cheaper airfare, find budget rooms, spend less time in queues, and meet more Europeans than tourists! Generally, October to April is considered off-season for Europe.
2. Plan early
Leave nothing to chance! While travelling to Europe, the best way to keep your costs down is to plan each and every move. Prepare a check list and get an absolute figure of important decisions, like how many nights you plan to stay in each place, where to stay, where to eat.
The earlier you book, the better the savings. An early booking for flights, accommodation and transportations such as bus and trains between cities are comparatively cheaper than buying tickets on the day of your journey. Also, you might get some attractive offers and discounts during the off season.
3. Save on Transport
Hiring a cab for moving inside the city could sound convenient but it might cost you extra. Instead, opt for public transportation which could help you save and enjoy more!
Following are a few options that could help you save on your transport.
a. Budget flights
Yes, flights! Unlike other places, budget airlines are the cheapest option to get around Europe. Companies like Ryanair, EasyJet, Transavia, and Aer Lingus offer flights throughout Europe at unbelievable prices, sometimes as low as just the taxes!
Planning and booking early (at least a month before) is the key to enjoy the benefit. Just remember to read the fine print before proceeding to pay for the tickets!
b. Rail pass
Best and comfortable option for traveling across multiple countries. Although European rails are cheap over short distances, they can be expensive for longer ones. Rail passes are a great way to save a lot of money.
Do remember that a second-class train car gets there just as fast as first-class ones! Throughout Europe first-class tickets cost about nearly 50 percent more than second-class. So it is better to save your money by choosing the second class ones. Why wasting money in show-offs?
c. Eurolines, international long distance buses.
Eurolines will take you throughout the continent. In Europe, buses are way cheaper than trains. Taking Eurolines from Berlin to Paris is cheaper than the last-minute booking on the train. The downside to bus travel is you won’t get a roomier space to relax like that on a train. But if you are fine with it, you could end up saving few hundred bucks.
Economic way to get around the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales). Megabus is definitely the cheapest way to get around the UK and now also the cheapest way to get to Paris, Brussels, or Amsterdam. If you keep a watch on their sales and offers then you can get the tickets as low as 1.50 USD!
Hitching is quite common in Europe and all you have to do is just be careful while choosing your options. Alternatively, there are websites like Gumtree where you can ask for rides, as long as you pitch in few bucks for the gas.
f. Take the free city tours
A great way to explore the city and its culture and beauty on foots! In Europe you can easily find free walking tours across all the major cities. They can be a great way to see the city attractions, take in some history, and learn your bearings without spending any money.
4. Save on Accommodations
Follow any of the below advice and you could end up saving tons on your accommodation expenses.
a. Stay in hostels.
Not every hostel is bad. Most of them are clean, safe and, of course, cheap. Websites such as Hostelworld could be your great resource for finding nearest hostels with the user ratings for you to decide your options.
The dorm-style rooms are the cheapest as you have to share your room with a group of strangers and no, all the strangers are not criminals! Travelers have claimed meeting some interesting bunch of people while experiencing their stay in such dormitories. Watched the movie ‘Queen’? No? Go watch it then! It will surely boost your confidence for exploring different things on your European trip.
If you don’t like the idea of staying in hostels, then you can think of signing in for services like Couchsurfing, which will let you connect to local people who will let you stay with them for free! If you are a girl stay with a girl, if you are with your family choose to stay with a family. Staying with locals to experience Europe more closely… what else would you want?
c. Camp in a garden.
This is a new concept evolving and gaining popularity throughout Europe, which allows you to pitch a tent in someone’s backyard for free or a nominal fee (around 4-10 EUR). All of the garden owners have profiles that tell you what services and facilities they offer.
6. Save on Food
Europe is full of tiny little shops where you can buysandwiches, eat outside, and watch the city go by. It’s a much more enjoyable and cheaper way to eat and experience the local flavors of the place.
b. Eat local and cheap
Instead of visiting a restaurant, opt for local shops, pizza parlors, outdoor street vendors, and the like. Remember you are there to experience something new so why not start with the food?
c. Drink less.
French wine, brewed beers, fizzy champagnes all these will really add up! Partying your way across the continent will destroy your bank balance in no time. So be careful!
d. Eat with the season.
Italians lap up the porcini mushrooms.Germans go crazy for the white asparagus. And Spaniards gobble their caracoles, but only when they’re fresh! You’ll get more taste for less money throughout Europe by ordering what’s in season.
e. Adapt to European tastes
Drink tea in England, taste beer in Prague, red wine in France, and white wine on the Rhine. Eat Reindeer in Norway (or not?) and fish in Portugal. Going with local specialties gets you the best quality and service for the best price.
7. Saving on site-seeing.
a. Get a city tourist card.
Local tourism offices issue a tourist card for all their attractions, tours, and restaurants offering free entries and substantial discounts on all the attractions and tours in a city, free local public transportation, and at a few restaurants and shopping malls! They save a ton of money. If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, maybe this card is worth it.
b. Visit the East
While Paris, Rome and Amsterdam are wonderful places, so are Prague, Varna, Budapest, Bucharest, and many more eastern countries that hold incredible charm, great history, fewer crowds, and cheaper prices. You’ll get a chance to explore some off beaten paths and also you could save lots of money in the process.
8. Save on shopping
a. Save on museum entrance fees.
The Louvre is free on the first Sunday of each month between October and March. Similarly, many museums around Europe offer free admission on certain days or nights of the week or at certain times of the month. Check ahead of time for free admission on the museum website you’re interested in, and schedule your visit accordingly.
b. Do your shopping mostly in the cheaper countries.
Like the Czech Republic or Turkey, where gifts are more interesting and your shopping budget stretches the farthest. The price differences are huge.
c. Don’t be afraid to haggle!
Not haggling at Greek outdoor market is foolish! Outdoor markets and street vendor stalls offer prime opportunities to try your haggling skills. All you have to do is act like a local and keep an eye on the lowest price the seller could to offer you.
9. Save on data usage and international calls
How can we forget that you need to keep everyone updated back home about your new experiences! Those calls back home, those instant uploads on Instagram: all this comes with a price tag! International roaming charges and data usage could quickly add up to your bill. The best idea to save on this expense is to choose an international SIM card with free roaming, as well as cheaper calls and data.
Did you like these tips? Please add your own in the comments box below.