Whether you’re planning to take a gap year after studying and have very little to spend, or you’d just like to take a break without breaking the bank, travelling around Europe is a fantastic experience that can most definitely be done within every price range. Europe is a hugely expansive continent, so you have many options to choose from, be it history and culture, beautiful landscapes or lazy beaches.
The first thing you need to think about when planning to travel to Europe is when you will go. Countries across Europe tend to suffer from the worldwide problem of seasonality. In the high season, between April and October, prices generally soar for flights and accommodation; even the food and attractions can be more costly at this time.
You should definitely research the places you’d like to visit first, but you’re likely to get the best for your money if you’re willing to be flexible on dates. Just remember that the best things to see won’t be closed just because it’s not the best weather. Also, late holiday deals tend to be cheap. Even if it means leaving it until a couple of weeks before you plan to travel, prices can drop hugely in that time.
If you’re looking for a city break in Europe, try to pick a cheaper option rather than one of the pricier capitals such as Rome or Paris. Your best bet would be to look at Eastern European cities such as Istanbul and Dubrovnik. Since they are not as well known, they are a lot less likely to be overcrowded with tourists, but still have fantastic histories and beautiful buildings.
When you arrive at your chosen destination, the number one way that you can start saving money on your trip is not to be picky with accommodation. If you’re travelling alone, you should consider staying in a hostel. They may not have the best reputation, but you’re guaranteed a warm bed and as long as you head for a better one, they’re guaranteed to be safe and clean. If the thought of this overwhelms you a little, skip the hotels but stay at a local B&B. They’re generally far cheaper than a hotel while still being unique, and you’re more likely to get a taste of an authentic breakfast at one.
On the topic of food, another way to save money is to choose where you eat well. You don’t want to go around looking for cheap restaurants that may or may not serve you dodgy food, but you should be on the lookout for places where the locals go to eat. Eateries off the beaten tourist track are generally much more suitable for a budget and they’ll offer up authentic delicacies just as the locals would eat them, not changed to cater for foreign taste buds. Even better, buy your food from a market or store and cook it up yourself. Most hostels will have a kitchen for visitors to use, and B&Bs may also offer the same.
A final tip is to watch out for free attractions; not everything you see and do has to cost you. Museums are the best example of this: if you’re in London, all the big museums such as the British Museum and the Science Museum are free for everyone all the time. In Paris, if you’re under 26, the Louvre is free. And most major museums throughout Europe will offer a free day around once a month, so make sure to research them and head for those. There are plenty of other sights to see for free, all you need to do is walk a few trails and hike a few hills.
Europe need not be an expensive trip if you follow these few simple tips.
How about you? Have more ideas for saving money on a trip to Europe?
Think that photo of Dubrovnik is a beauty? Check out my Craving for Croatia Wanderlist on AFAR.