16 tips to travel to Europe on a budget
How about some to travel to Europe on a budget and to save money while you travel? It’s possible to travel on the cheap without necessarily being a “backpacker”. If this is not your travel style (as it’s not mine, I’ll not lie) then these tips to travel on a budget might be handy for you.
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Tips to travel to Europe on a budget
I wish that traveling would be as cheap as chips. Unfortunately, to travel further away and more often we always have to spend some (or a lot) of money. But that doesn’t mean that traveling is impossible or that we have to be millionaires to travel.
you don’t necessarily have to travel by hitchhiking or use “Couchsurfing” to sleep (which of course if you like, you can). I don’t like backpacking and it’s not because I’m snooty. First of all, I like shopping, a lot, so I need a big suitcase. I still don’t have the nomadic life I’d wish, I have a home to return and I like to bring back souvenirs of my travels. Besides, I tend to get anxiety when I travel, I don’t have that adventurous spirit that other people have 🙁
So, In the years I’ve been traveling these are some of the ways I save money and have managed to travel to Europe on a budget.
Take advantage of low-cost airlines
Sometimes low-cost airlines are not the most comfortable but if what we want is to travel to Europe on a budget we must take advantage of them. Also, we have to consider that these airlines charge separately for almost everything. For example, luggage, blankets and even food and drinks. On this website, you can find some of the airlines offering great deals in the US.
One of my favorite companies which have direct flights from Mexico to Europe is TUIfly. I have flown several times with them from Cancun and the flights have been very good for me. This company has flights from Miami and Orlando in the US for as cheap as €500 round flight. They only include 10 kg of hand luggage but the meals, drinks, and blanket are free of charge.
Also within Europe, there are several airlines that connect the important cities. One of the most famous is RyanAir. But there are several more that you can take advantage of. It’s one of the great advantages of Europe. On this link, you can check out a detailed list of European low-cost airlines
Book your transport in advance
Also, remember that time is money. If we book in advance our transport, it is possible to get cheaper prices. Especially the train and the bus. In companies such as Eurolines, they have very low prices if you book at least one month in advance.
With flights, I recommend that you track prices since it’s not always cheaper to buy them in advance. I usually buy it up to a month before traveling and I have found decent prices. Also if you choose “uncomfortable” departure times (very early in the morning or late at night) you’ll find cheaper fares.
Be flexible with your dates
The same goes for the dates. I usually have a range of dates to travel but not a fixed day. When you search for your flight, choose in your search engine to see the flights for the whole month. So you can choose the ones that are cheaper and more convenient for your plans.
Travel in low season
Research which is the least popular season with tourists in your chosen destination. In the low season, you will find everything cheaper, from hotels to transportation. Needless to say, you will get rid of the queues and the crowds.
Europe has tourists every day and months of the year, but normally the lowest months are November, January, and February. Of course, find out what festivals and celebrations there are in the place you are going to visit. Not all cities are the same. For example in Venice, they celebrate the carnival in February, and for that reason, it’s full of visitors.
Christmas, Easter, and summer are usually busy times in almost all European cities. Avoid these dates (of course, unless you want to live that experience) to travel to Europe on a budget.
Organize the trip on your own
I’ll be honest. Sometimes I would love to be able to buy one of those packages with tours around Europe to be able to relax. Planning a trip on your own can be stressful, it takes a lot of time and effort, but in the end, it’s worth it. Not only because you will see a big economic difference, but because you can go at your own pace.
Don’t think much about it, if it’s your first trip to Europe, I assure you that you can plan it on your own. Of course, you have to be willing to dedicate much of your time and effort. It’s important that you organize your trip on your own to travel to Europe on a budget
Book an apartment or hostel instead of a hotel
On my first trip to Europe, almost all my accommodations were hotels. And although there are some cheap and good hotels, when I stayed in an apartment, it became my favorite accommodation option.
If you are traveling as a couple or as a family, they are very convenient. You will have more privacy, more space, a place to prepare your own meals and many times it’s much cheaper.
If you travel solo, you can opt for hostels or rent a bed or a room with a local family. Traveling like this you will save a lot on accommodation and it will also be easier to get to know the local culture. So now you know, if you want to travel to Europe on a budget choose an apartment or hostel.
And if you want to know more about what type of accommodation is the ideal for you, check out this post: Hotel, hostel or apartment? A Complete accommodation guide
Wash your clothes in the apartment
If you packed enough clothes for every single day of your trip then ignore this point. Anyway, those of us who have been traveling for a while or travel for many days know that this is not convenient. Heavy suitcases cost money when taking a flight. The low-cost airlines will almost always charge you the suitcase apart and the more it weights, the more you pay.
I usually pack light (at least on the outward journey) so I have no choice but washing clothes. That’s why I always choose an apartment with a washing machine so I don’t have to pay for the service separately. Also, some hostels provide you with a laundry area for communal use.
Cook instead of eating out
Another advantage of renting an apartment is being able to cook your own food. You can prepare a fulfilling breakfast before going out to explore the city. And I’m not saying that you can’t enjoy a good local dish, but not having to take all your meals in restaurants will be a big saving.
Avoid getting too excited and buying the whole supermarket. Especially if you are only staying for a few days 😉
Eat where the locals
When you want to try some delicious local dishes, choose the places where the local people eat. You can ask for recommendations to your host, or ask the people in the street if you are not shy. Or see where the tourists eat and go in the opposite direction.
The restaurants and places where local people go have better prices and better food. I think I don’t have to explain the reasons, right?
Avoid tourist traps
To travel to Europe on a budget be careful with places that can be tourist traps. You’ll find these restaurants, shops, and attractions near tourist sites, and what they sell you costs an arm and a leg. Also, they are usually of not very good quality.
Once again ask your host if you have doubts about any place. But as a general rule, the further away from the tourist sites, the less expensive they will be.
Also be careful not to fall for scams, which are also planned to trap unwary tourists. They just want to keep your money. If you want to read more about this topic check out this link Travel scams, my experience in Europe
Use the bus
Especially for short distances, it is convenient to use the bus. There are several bus companies that will allow you to travel to Europe on a budget. The train, especially if you buy it at the last minute, can be quite expensive. The bus tickets, at least the times that I’ve traveled, have been always available and at modest prices.
So do not discard using the bus. Although it may be the most uncomfortable transport option, bus companies in Europe are getting more and more modern. So you can find buses with amenities such as individual screens, wi-fi connection and even coffee service on board.
Check out more about this transportation option in Pros and cons of traveling around Europe by bus
Buy at local markets
Buying and walking through local markets will not only help you save money. You will also enjoy the smells, the colors, the products and the coming and going of the local people.
In local markets, you can find everything. Not only fruits and vegetables but also prepared food, clothing, and interesting souvenirs
Before traveling, find out which local markets are close to your booked accommodation, or which are the most interesting. You’ll have a very rewarding experience visiting them and you’ll save money.
If you want more ideas about how to find cheap and nice souvenirs check out this post: Tips for buying travel souvenirs on the cheap
Take day trips
Another way to travel to Europe on a budget is by taking day trips to nearby towns. Making a base in a city and from there visiting the surroundings will allow you to see more places and save money. You will save on your accommodation, which is what usually costs more when we travel.
Transportation is inexpensive, especially when it’s regional transport. You can even prepare your own sandwiches before leaving to save money on food. In Europe, there are many parks and natural areas where you can have a picnic.
Use passes for public transport.
Another service that you can take advantage of to travel to Europe on a budget is the public transport passes. They will be especially useful in large cities and when you want to visit many places. Also when you are staying away from the center and you’ll have no choice than using public transport.
You can usually find 24-hour passes, weekly and monthly passes, or passes for a specific number of uses. They are convenient because, for example, in Vienna, each metro ticket costs € 2.20. A 24-hour pass costs € 7.60 but you can use it for the whole day.
Check which is available in the place you visit and which one suits you best. I like to walk, but there are very big cities like Paris where it will be inevitable to use the metro.
Take advantage of free attractions
Sometimes we don’t need to visit all the museums or pay for all the attractions. Many times we can simply enjoy sightseeing the monuments and doing free activities.
The most famous monuments you can see them without paying. For example the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and The Rialto Bridge in Venice. Many churches are also free to access. And in some squares there will almost always be a street performance.
So we shouldn’t be bitter because we can not see everything we’d want. We are lucky to see with our own eyes the streets and monuments of another city and another country, don’t you think?
Check out this post about Suggestions on what to do in Florence for free to find out all the attractions you can find for free in Florence.
Take advantage of free museum days
There are also days in Europe where culture is available to everyone. Usually, this day is the first Sunday of every month. Only once I was able to take advantage of a Sunday of free museums, and it was in Florence. If you are lucky, take the opportunity to visit the most expensive museums or visit as many as you can.
I’d also like to mention the tourist passes offered by several cities. They are not always recommended, but depending on your plans they can help you save money. These passes usually include access to the most important museums, public transport, and discounts in stores
The only time I used it was in Granada, Spain. I used all my public transport tickets and visited several museums. Although there were other interesting attractions that were not included. I did take advantage of it on that occasion but if what they offer is not of your interest, better don’t buy it.
Final thoughts on how to travel to Europe on a budget
And finally, an extra tip is that you investigate everything you can about your destiny. The free attractions they offer, the festivals, what is worth seeing, what not. And start organizing your trip in advance. This will allow you to define your itinerary and choose which nearest cities to each other to visit.
These are my tips on how to travel to Europe on a budget without sacrificing much your comfort. I promise that I will expand this article if I learn more in my travels. If you have some tips I invite you to share them with me and other readers in the comments section.
You can also help me and other people by sharing this article on your favorite social media. And finally you can contact me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook if you have any questions, I will be happy to help. Thanks for reading and bon voyage!