How to travel to Europe on a budget

There is no need to blow your savings on an epic journey.

Hello! My name is Jemima, and I’m all about traveling on a budget.

Looking for some budget travel inspiration? Here are the best tips and tricks I picked up that allow me to travel well without spending all my savings.

1.

Take advantage of free walking tours.

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Every time I got to a new city, I would take a free walking tour. Just do a quick Google search to find one in the city you’re visiting. I’ve found these free tours to be the best way to head to a new place, learn about the culture and history, and get some local tips on where to eat, drink and sightsee. Just remember to give your guide at the end!

2.

Consider doing a job exchange for free housing.

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If you are traveling alone and have a great deal of time, you could consider spending a month or two working at a specific location. On websites like Workaway, Hostel Jobs, and lots of others, You can find short term jobs where you will work a few hours a day in exchange for free accommodation. I spent a month working at a bed and breakfast in Florence where I stayed for free for my work, and it was a great way to really get to know the city.

3.

Keep a playlist of places you want to go for easy last-minute planning.

4.

Use the buses wherever and whenever you can.

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The trains are convenient, but they can also be expensive. Many people choose Eurail when traveling for a long time in Europe, but For the sake of your wallet, consider traveling by bus instead. Personally, I loved traveling on the Flix Bus.

Sure, the bus takes longer and stops are often less convenient, but when you’re traveling long and not in a hurry, the savings make it worthwhile.

5.

Plan a little, but keep your schedule flexible.

6.

Find the most expensive countries to travel.

7.

For more savings, stay away from the ordinary.

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Even while visiting these affordable countries, the capital cities can be relatively expensive because most tourists flock there. If you want to save money, it is worth looking for other destinations outside the big cities. I do a lot of googling, watching YouTube, and scrolling through Reddit to find recommendations for non-mainstream hidden gems and destinations.

8.

Stay somewhere with free breakfast…or better yet, a kitchen.

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Complimentary breakfast is the backbone of any budget travel trip. Yes, I am that person who will serially make a sandwich at breakfast time and keep it in my bag until lunch. There is no defect.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a food lover. And for me, the best part about traveling is trying new foods and cuisines. But eating every lunch and dinner can get very expensive very quickly. On a two week trip, I’ll lose most of my budget on meals. But when I travel for a longer period of time, I make sure I stay somewhere with a kitchen so I can prepare my own food a few times a week.

9.

Book direct and avoid third party booking sites to get the best rates.

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By all means, use Agoda or Hostelworld to find the best place to stay, but whenever possible try to book your accommodations and transportation directly with your hostel, hotel or bed and breakfast. You’ll avoid random charges, and if something goes wrong with your reservation, it’s always easier to solve when there’s no third party involved.

10.

Take advantage of Skyscanner’s ubiquitous search feature.

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If you’re flexible, you can travel wherever the deals take you. I love Skyscanner’s search everywhere feature because you can plug in dates and find the cheapest flight available without having a specific destination in mind. This is how I ended up with a €24 flight from Rome to Bulgaria and had the best time in a place I wouldn’t have otherwise.

11.

Get a local SIM card.

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Don’t get stuck paying exorbitant data roaming charges. If your phone is not network locked, you can buy a local SIM card very cheap. Get a basic data plan — enough to use Google Maps and Messenger when you’re out and about — and do most of your web browsing and social media pass when you’re on Wi-Fi. Try to get a SIM that works in all (or most) European countries.

12.

If you’re traveling for a long period of time, budget by month instead of by day.

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When I tried to stick to the daily budget, it didn’t go well. I found it difficult to juggle larger expenses such as bus tickets with smaller expenses such as meals on a daily basis. I found that budgeting on a monthly basis was more effective. Some days I’d spend $10 and some days $100, but seeing it all on average over 30 days made more sense.

13.

Use a magazine or an app to keep track of your spending.

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During my first month abroad, I wasn’t keeping track of how much I actually spent, and it got a little confusing. It didn’t help that I was in London, which I felt was the most expensive city on earth. But then I started using the TripCoin app, which makes the entire budgeting process easier by helping you plan and record your expenses. I set up one trip with TripCoin for every month I went, which helped me stay on the right track.

14.

Consider traveling in the shoulder or off-season.

15.

Don’t underestimate hostels – they are often better than you might expect.

16.

Make friends if you’re traveling alone and maybe split some costs.

17.

Use public transportation whenever you can.

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Taking public transportation to a new place can be daunting, especially if you don’t speak the local language, but Ubers and taxis are already adding in. Get advice from your hotel reception on how to use public transport. Then rely on Google Maps, which has a transportation option that will show you the best way to reach your destination using buses, metros or trains complete with timetables and route numbers to make things easier for you.

18.

Prioritize and decide what’s worth spending money on.

Do you have any great tips for saving money while traveling? Tell us in the comments below!

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