Traveling to Europe on a budget is both fascinating and challenging. Fascinating, duh, because Europe is a whole other world of wonder to be explored. Challenging, because the expenses can add up quickly if you do not adopt money-saving hacks.
Like any other destination, a journey through Europe can be expensive, especially if you plan on visiting a few different cities/countries. But I’m here to assure you that you can cut these costs without sacrificing the quality of your trip!
There are smart and savvy ways to make traveling to Europe easier without eating away your budget too quickly. One of the main ways to save? You have to be savvy about the form of transportation and accommodation options in Europe to stay on a budget.
Nowadays, there are many options for saving on transport, booking flights, hostels, and accommodation. The options vary, and you can choose the ones that work best for you in order to not break your bank. Let’s dive into some of the best ways to travel around Europe on a budget below!
Why You Should Visit Europe
Europe has it all–and its appeal is irresistible. No wonder it ranks among the dream tourist destinations. The appeal is, even more, intimidating for travelers who are on a budget.
- Many world-famous destinations to explore
- Many European countries with breathtaking sceneries to choose from
- Many cultures to explore, each one different from the next
High-profile areas in Europe come in plenty. You have so many choices, from whether you want to see the Eiffel Tower in France or the Vatican Museum in Vatican City. Not to mention the Uffizi Gallery in Florence or the Anne Frank House on the other side of Amsterdam, Holland!
These enticing qualities about Europe make it a worthy trip. You get to explore the ancient buildings, parks, languages, and fascinating people.
You can stay in one country for weeks on end or whiz through the many European countries in one go. A vacation in Europe is a travel dream come true indeed!
Are you sold on Europe yet? Good. Now the only thing you have to decide is the best time to travel to Europe .
Best Time to Visit Europe
It is necessary to choose the best time to visit Europe based on your exact need.
If you are seeking a summer vacation on a budget, avoid popular destinations like France and Italy. This is where everyone goes for summer vacation, so you’ll experience high prices and high crowds. Not fun. For cheaper locations during peak seasons, target Baltic cities and the Balkan coastline.
The appeal of the Mediterranean is greatest as autumn begins. The nations of Spain and Italy are your best bet then.
As spring approaches, go to the Netherlands, France, Scandinavia, and the British Isles. These countries provide wonderful weather and pleasantly long days at affordable prices.
How To Plan A Trip to Europe
Planning to take a trip to Europe requires you to do some prior research in your trip planning process. With this in mind, note the things you want to do and the best places you want to visit.
Start trip planning six months in advance. For no-nonsense planning, take time to deliberate on the following:
Choose Your Destination
The biggest area you have to plan about is the destinations you will visit. The destinations you choose will play a large role in defining your budgeting. Since you are traveling on a budget, you can set how long you will stay at the destination.
No matter what, each destination has its attractions that you will definitely enjoy.
Apply for A Passport
As far as rules go, a passport is necessary for you (a foreigner) to travel to Europe. If you do not have a passport, applying for one is quite easy.
Apply early since it takes between five to eight weeks for the processing of passports. To have ample time to apply and get the passport, you should start as early as possible.
Reserve Your Accommodation And Transport Options
Take time to decide where to stay when you travel to Europe. Since you already have destinations that you want to visit, go for nearby hotels. This puts you close to major destinations and attraction sites.
You also have to plan your best means of transport. Set decisions on whether you’ll go for a rental car or opt for public transport. If you will visit different countries, decide on either rail/bus travel or booking flights.
Learn Bits Of The Language
It does wonders if you arrive in a place knowing a little about the language. Even better, it helps you to navigate much better.
Learn basic polite statements like greetings and conversation-starters like “Good morning”. Easy conversations with locals make the entire trip much more engaging!
Choose Your Luggage Wisely
Take stock of the luggage you will carry for the trip. Google the weather in Europe a few days to a week before your trip. This will prevent you from carrying the wrong clothes for your trip to Europe.
Do not forget that your amount of luggage can determine your expenses. This is because more luggage will accumulate more cost of transportation.
Planning to travel with carry-on only? This is the most affordable option.
Need to check a bag? Well, then this adds up with each flight you need to take!
Travel Planning A Europe Trip On A Budget
Your budget determines how you will travel to Europe and the activities you will do. There are cities like London, Amsterdam, and Geneva that are expensive destinations. Despite this, you have to know the travel connections that will enable you to cut the costs.
Here are ideal travel connections when planning a trip:
Backpacking Across Europe
If you want to travel to Europe on a budget, you will be best served by backpacking. It involves carrying your clothes and stuff in a backpack and traveling. It ensures that you do not spend a lot of money and that you stay in places that are not very expensive.
Be Savvy About How To Get Around
Travel advisories advise booking tickets 1.5 to 5.5 months before taking the trip. Once there, appreciate the value of taking the train system!
Train transport is very advanced, yet very affordable. Furthermore, if you travel by train overnight, you save on accommodation costs.
Convenient travel companies like Omio offer travel connections that’ll fit anyone’s budget!
Accommodation is a major stumbling block when traveling to Europe on a budget. Of course, double-occupancy hotel rooms are pricey. But, you can go for cheaper affordable hostels.
Some people have put up their homes on VRBO or Airbnb. These homestays offer better value for money, are less expensive, and are worth it if you are on a budget.
Compare Costs Between Destinations
Always take time to compare the costs of everything. Go online and research budget-friendly, high-quality areas. This will enable you to compare the costs of diverse European destinations.
For instance, considering a trip to either Paris or Budapest? You should compare the cost of weekly rentals, vacation houses, hotels, and Airbnb rentals.
Important Things To Know Before Traveling To Europe
It is very important to examine your trip itinerary before making the trip to Europe on a budget. This helps you overcome challenges and avoid mistakes that can add extra expenses.
Here are important things you have to note before you pack and leave for Europe:
Do Not Visit Too Many Destinations In One Trip
It is natural to want to visit many European destinations. After all, your days traveling to Europe are little. In this sense, you may want to ensure that you visit all places that you see on social media. But with more destinations comes more costs.
If you are traveling to Europe on a budget, this may not be as feasible. Jamming too many European destinations in one visit is not only exhausting but costly!
On paper, planning to visit many destinations looks doable, even exciting. But during the trip, do note that you will have to spend a lot of time either on the road or on flights hopping from one destination to the next. This takes time and also means that you spend more on tickets and gas prices.
Even worse still, this can make you dislike the entire trip if you’re just spending most of it on-the-go. I recommend going slow and save on transport expenses.
Consider Different Types Of Flight Tickets
We all know of the roundtrip ticket. But did you know multi-city tickets are super valuable and may not cost you a dime more?
Some flights can take you to Europe through one location and back through another. Even better, they may be the same price as a ticket that takes you in and out through one destination.
In your hurry to book a ticket, you may not notice these “multi-city” tickets. But take some time to research routes and you may actually save both time and money!
For example: if you planning to visit Spain from the US and plan to end your European travels in Paris, multi-city tickets are great for this. These tickets ensure that you can travel back to the US from Paris, without requiring you to make your way back to Spain only to fly home from there.
This way, it will save you the time and money of having to go back to Spain just to take the flight back to the US.
Accommodation During Your Visit
Deciding on your ideal hotel accommodation should be a top priority. This will often involve combing through many different hotel reservation websites. One mistake you should avoid is choosing the “first-page” offers listings.
This is because many hotel sites rank the more expensive room first. No surprises here, this is what most profit-making businesses do!
Since you are on a budget, ignore “first-page” results no matter how appealing they are. You do not want to use most of your Europe trip budget on hotel accommodations. You want to save that money so you can spend it on tours, food, and other things while you’re in Europe!
Go for hotels that have a good balance between affordability and good ratings. It’ll also be important to note the neighborhood that they are in.
If you’re going to be visiting a very walkable destination, I recommend choosing a hotel or hostel that is in a central location and close to the places that you plan on visiting.
Do Not Overbook Tours And Activities During Your Trip
The urge to visit many places in Europe may make you overbook yourself with too many excursions. Don’t make this mistake!
This is a newbie mistake caused by the endless list of tempting European destinations that exist. You may not be able to visit all the walking tours, ferry cruises, and museum tours that you have booked. This could result in unused tickets or extreme exhaustion. Not to mention, you may end up disappointed and frustrated while on your trip.
It’s also important to note that plans can change. As humans, exhaustion creeps in. You may be jetlagged to begin with. An unwanted delay, an accident of sorts, or the vagaries of weather may delay us.
At worst case, an event may get canceled at the very last minute. While it is worth planning and pre-booking things for your European getaways in advance, do not make the mistake of overbooking.
Tips for Planning A Trip To Europe
Planning to visit a continent as big as Europe is challenging. Here are a few tips to put you at a strategic advantage to not only travel smarter but also have a lot of fun!
Have A Guidebook
Guidebooks look outdated but they are still a treasure trove of information! Given you are on a budget, these books (typically containing money-saving hacks) will help you save money and time.
Not only that, but they also offer first-hand information, meaning you’ll find local gems and off-the-beaten-path activities to avoid the masses. This includes reputable advice on the best restaurants, attraction sites, and walking tours.
International Phone Charges
You will of course use your phone while on the trip to Europe. In this regard, consult your carrier on the international charges. Some phone carriers offer free international data usage. If yours does not, find out the costs of calling, emailing, browsing, and texting while in Europe.
International ATM Charges
You do not have to exchange your currency for euros before arriving in Europe. You can do that at an ATM once you get to your destination. In fact, this is recommended as the exchange rates there are better than at home.
The best tip I can give you here is to get a fee-free ATM card before going abroad. These debit cards have the perk of reimbursing you for any fees charged by ATMs. That way, you’ll be reimbursed for all those pesky ATM fees you didn’t want to pay to begin with!
As you can see, you really can visit Europe on a budget–even though it may seem expensive at first! Again, there are so many ways to travel smarter.
In a nutshell, this includes staying in cheaper hotels and avoiding expensive hotels. Also, reduce expenses by not overbooking, and choosing the ideal means of transport.
Hope you were able to find a few nuggets of value in this post!