This past fall, I got the amazing opportunity to live in Europe. This was one of the most rewarding and life changing experiences of my life, and I cannot recommend it enough. In the past, I wrote an article on How I Travel On A Budget but I wanted to do an updated piece specifically targeted towards Europe since I know a lot of students and people in general like to visit there. While I was in Europe I was able to visit 10 countries in under 3 months, and I’m so blessed to have done that! I’d love to help others have the opportunity to do the same so let’s get started!
It’s no secret that hotels aren’t exactly the cheapest place, and Europe is no different. With that being said, most of my accommodations were hostels. Hostels are a great way to not only save money, but you get to meet people from literally all over the world. If you don’t know what a hostel is, basically it works like this: you can most of the time either book a bed or if you want privacy book a room. Most hostels have multiple rooms and in each room there’s a few sets of bunkbeds and a bathroom. The bathrooms are cleaned usually 2 or 3 times a day, and the hostel always provides new sheets/towels for your bed and shower.
In the past hostels have been given such a bad rep, and while some things may be true a lot of them aren’t as bad as you may have thought. It’s all about doing your research though! Since Europe is so hostel friendly there’s always tons of options for nearly any price range. I usually book most of my hostels through Hostel World, however I always check reviews for the hostel I want to book on a few other sites before booking. If you don’t feel comfortable in a hostel, rent by the room on Airbnb instead of doing the whole place. I know this may seem weird, but it’s like all you are doing is sleeping and getting ready so does it really matter?
Honestly, god bless the EU for wanting their citizens to be able to travel easy. Europe is where it’s at when it comes to finding cheap and reliable transportation around their continent. If you think Frontier is a budget airline, compare it to the budget airlines from Europe and then we’ll talk. It’s honestly mind boggling how cheap you can get flights to different countries with European budget airlines. RyanAir is a GREAT place to book your flights with their almost too-good-to-be-true deals, because of them I went to Italy for $28, Morocco for $120, and Belgium for $40! If you are a student on exchange in the Erasmus program you are in luck because RyanAir offers a 15% discount and free checked bag for all Erasmus students. As I’ve mentioned in the past, momondo is a great place to monitor flight prices and you can even set it up to email you when prices drop.
Let me just start this next paragraph by saying glamorous travel and budget travel can’t always go hand in hand. Next to flying, Flixbus bus is the most efficient way to get around Europe (now they are in America too woo!) Flixbus is a coach bus service dedicated to getting travelers to their next destination in a safe, reliable, and wallet-friendly way. Sometimes you will get unlucky and have a full bus/bad wifi/etc. but the occasions are more rare than people make them out to be, and I always just try to rationalize it by thinking “I paid $20 to drive 8 hours, I can deal with this.” Flixbus is such an awesome service with buses to cities all over Europe big or small. This was super helpful for me when I was trying to see a few different spots in a country because it allowed me to be able to do that without having to rent a car. Out of the probably 30 flixbuses I’ve taken, only 2 or 3 have ever been late which is totally not the case with most other bus services. Another great aspect about Flixbus is if you have to cancel your trip for some reason, they will give you a refund in Flixbus credits so you don’t have to lose your money entirely.
Food and Experience
Lastly, the things that are the hardest to say no to. Believe me when I say that it is so so hard to not blow all my money on food and experiences when I’m in a place, but if you are trying to save money it’s just not a feasible task. I’ve found the best way to avoid this happening is by actually planning things out. I know there’s a lot of people who just like to book their ticket and go, but if you actually take the time to have somewhat of a plan then you can save yourself a lot of money in the long run. When I plan a trip I try to list 4 or 5 places I’d like to eat at (if it’s only a 2-3 day trip I pick 2 or 3) and I list 2 or 3 experiences I’d like to have then I get to the researching. After I decide how much I can spend I look at menus online so I can check prices, and then for experiences I check the prices for those and then go to sites like Groupon to see if there’s any deals. Based off my findings, from there I narrow it down to what’s most important and plan based off that. It’s all about give and take, and realizing what’s most important to you.
I think researching online, especially before you do some sort of experience is always necessary. For one, you could be missing a seriously amazing deal that could save you money, and secondly you could be getting ripped off by not knowing the prices in advance. This applies to most places but when you are trying to find places to eat in Europe for the love of god PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE avoid the main squares. These places are 90% of the time packed with tourists and people who would love to take your money. The food is often overpriced, and not very good so you really aren’t missing anything, I promise.
Thanks for reading along, comment below your favorite/bucketlist European country!