We’ve all got that one friend who’s just come back from a year-long trip travelling across Europe. And while it’s alright to be unapologetically jealous of their travels, most of us want to know how they managed to take a year off work and still pay for such a long trip!
The truth is, though, visiting Europe doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think. In fact, you can travel Europe in style even on the tightest of budgets.
Here are just a few simple ways to help you travel Europe on a budget.
1. Book early
Planning and booking your trip in advance is without a doubt the best way to save money. In doing so, you spread the costs of your trip over a longer period, making it much more affordable. Booking early also gives you more time to prepare for the holiday and is something to look forward to. Lots of travel companies offer discounted rates and special offers if you book in advance.
2. Find cheap flights
Flights are often the most expensive part of travelling. So how can we make them more affordable? Here are just a few ways to reduce your costs.
- Airfare search engines: Don’t waste time aimlessly scanning dozens of different airlines for the cheapest flights – let the internet do it for you. Sites like Skyscanner and Google flights are great at quickly finding several different flights and rates to and from your destination of choice.
- Don’t fly direct: Flights with a stopover are usually cheaper than direct flights. It’s up to you to decide whether the longer travel time is worth the savings, but if you’re really on a budget, this can be a big saver.
- Choose an alternative airport: Just because your adventure may start in London, doesn’t mean you need to fly straight there. Airports in nearby places like Manchester or Birmingham might work out cheaper, and you can get a bus or train to London from there. Be sure to explore all options – it may also mean you get to experience some part of another city you hadn’t yet thought to visit.
3. Bring a water bottle
Buying water is a guaranteed way to deplete your budget for no good reason. Save money and bring a reusable water bottle that you can fill up in your accommodation and take with you for a big day out of sightseeing. Your own bottled water can also help you in restaurants, where free tap water isn’t always offered to customers.
4. Don’t eat the bread
Restaurants across many countries of Europe will often leave a small basket of bread on your table while you wait for your meal. What seems like a lovely gesture is, in fact, a money racket. At the end of your meal, you are charged for the bread which can be costly – with prices starting at one euro per slice. Spain, Portugal, France and Italy are particularly known for this.
5. Take some travel apps
Looking to travel Europe on a budget? There’s an app for that. In fact, there are several great apps that you can download to help you save while you navigate Europe.
- WiFi Finder does exactly what it says on the tin. This free app tracks and locates open wifi networks in your area for you to use.
- XE Currency is your one-stop-shop for all things money related. There’s no better way to save money than by keeping track of the exchange rates and converting your money at the right time.
- Trail Wallet allows you to track your finances so you don’t have to worry about how much you’re spending – or how much you have left. This simple-to-use app takes the hassle out of expense tracking so you can focus on the fun.
6. Visit the right countries
Countries on the eastern side of Europe are significantly cheaper compared to their western neighbours. Countries like Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovenia are just some of the beautiful countries in Eastern Europe that have a much more affordable cost of living.
7. Wash your own clothes
Paying for laundry is another unnecessary cost when you’re travelling. Take a ziplock bag full of washing powder and where you can, wash your clothes on the go. Of course, this is only viable when you have time for your clothes to dry, but it’s an excellent way to save money if you’re travelling for a while.
8. Book a tour
For those of us who just aren’t great at budgeting, taking a tour can be a great way to ensure you see everything you want to without spending more than you have. By paying upfront for things like accommodation and activities, you’ll have a very clear idea of what you can spend on extras each day while you’re travelling. Companies like G Adventures offer a range of European trips, from ‘local living’ tours where you visit European natives in their homes, to active tours where you can hike in some of the most amazing locations in the world.
Don’t let money hold you back
If you’re clever with your budget and plan appropriately, travelling Europe can be a lot cheaper than you might think. Don’t let worrying about money hold you back from having the amazing experiences that only travel can provide… With these tips by your side, you may be able to take your next trip sooner than you’d thought!