10 Tips to Travel Europe on a Budget
Now that I have been studying abroad in Europe for almost 4 months I think I understand how to travel on a budget. Being a college student is fun and all, but I'm not over here rolling in money. Although money is tight, I was able to travel to 9 countries and 10 cities in Italy in about $4,000. Here are my ten best tips....
1. Stay in Hostels: I know it sounds gross to stay in a Hostel, but there are clean, nice hostels available. Use Hostel World and read the reviews to find the best place. If you are worried about sharing a room, you can also book private rooms.
2. Traveling with a group? Try Airbnb: Sharing an Airbnb with a group of people can become really cheap, especially in many places in Europe! The key is to read the reviews to ensure the place meets the standards of the pictures.
3. Research Transportation: Taxis can be expensive so look at public transportation, metro, buses, trains and other options before just paying for a taxi. In most places in Europe you can walk everywhere, so walk, it is good exercise and you see so much more of the city when you walk the streets. If you need to take transportation, you can usually buy an all day pass for the bus, metro and train that will save you hundreds of dollars that you would have spent on taxi's. When leaving to go to the airport, there is almost always a bus that can get you there for around 5 euro, so look into that before taking a 30 euro taxi.
4. Do NOT eat at the Touristy places: Find good local restaurants and small mom and pop shops. The tourist restaurants over charge you for everything and the quality of the food is not good. Research the country you are in so you know how much a good local meal should be. For example in Italy a Margarita Pizza should not be over five euro and a cappuccino should be no more than 2.50 euro. If you walk into a touristy coffee shop they could charge as much as 4 euro for a single shot cappuccino.
5. Cheap Airfare: Using airlines such as Ryan Air, or websites such as Sky Scanner and Kayak can provide you with cheap flying options. Try to leave on Thursdays and come home on Mondays for the cheapest options. Also bring a carry on and do not check a bag, this can save you 30-50 euros per flight. Make sure you check in before your flight and print your boarding pass to avoid extra charges at the airport. When you buy your ticket also be sure to pick the random seat option, this is free while choosing a seat costs money. **Tip if you are studying in/flying to Florence, try to fly into and out of Pisa. The airfare is way cheaper and the train to Pisa is only 8 euro. You can use Pisa Mover to get from the airport to the train station and vice versa.
6. Trains: Training through Europe can be the best option in some cases, but also always check all your options before booking a train. There are some instances where flying can get you there faster and cheaper than the train. GoEuro is the best website to book trains off of, it almost always gives the cheapest option. If you will be training all over Europe, look into a Euro Rail pass, they are expensive but for some people they can save a lot of money.
7. Buses: One of the cheapest ways to travel between countries is by bus. Overnight buses between countries can be as cheap as 25 euro. Flixbus is a great company to use, the bus ride can be long, but if you have the time and you want to keep travel cheap this is a great option. GoEuro also has bus options with other companies besides, Flixbus.
8. Travel in Off Season: October through April is prime travel time. There will be cheaper airfare, you will spend less time in lines and you will get more for your money. Do not be afraid to travel in winter and spring. My time traveling Europe was from end of January until May and it was nice not being surrounded by tons of tourists and having hot sticky weather. Plus in Spring all the flowers bloom and it is breathtaking.
9. Cook Meals: If possible try and go grocery sopping and cook as much as you can. The grocery stores are way cheaper than in America and you can get a weeks worth of food for $30. All hostels should have a kitchen and your Airbnb will too. If you don't want to cook then follow tip number 4 and make sure you find the authentic places.
10. Money Exchange: Exchange rates can be high depending on where you exchange your money. I have found it best to use my travel credit card as much as possible to stay clear of ATM fees and high cash exchange rates. Credit cards are the best option to use in Europe, just check with your bank to ensure you have a travel card, or open one before you leave. There will be some places that are cash only, in this case if you do not have a travel debit card, pull out enough cash to last you the whole trip so that you only get one transaction fee. Pull out cash before you come to Europe and use it all before you leave. Try to stay clear of exchanging money at Hotels and Airports. Bank of America partners with many European banks and avoids many transaction fees.
As you can see there are many ways you can save money while traveling. Do your research on the countries you will be traveling to and pick and choose what you want to spend money on. It's the little added costs that will add up in the end. Besides worrying about money make sure to enjoy yourself because Europe is beautiful and you should soak in every second you have.