My college roommate and I had a chance to backpack Europe. The problem was we were on student budgets—basically nonexistent! Most websites told us it would cost into the thousands, but we thought, “What the heck! Let’s give it a try anyway and see how far we get!”
We travelled from London to Brussels to Paris to Bern to Rome and then to Athens, and we spent less than $350 each.
Here are a few simple tips for major savings when travelling through Europe.
It’s usually the same few things that kill any budget, and transportation is a big offender. Luckily, Europe is very suited to public transport, which means there are super cheap bus and plane options nearly everywhere.
Though easier said than done, plan ahead. Book as early as possible, and you can enjoy major savings on travel. We’re talking flights for as low as $20 and buses between countries even as low as $1—for real! Look for deals on sites like megabus.co.uk, ryanair.com, etc., etc.
Let’s be clear about something: there is nothing “mega” about the Megabus! But if it can get you from one country to another for a couple of dollars, who cares?
Within a country one-day passes on tubes and undergrounds can be expensive. However, most big cities have bicycles you can rent and drop off all over the city for next to nothing. One of the highlights of our whole trip was biking around Paris.
It cost us about $2 for the day and was a truly amazing way to see the city! Most of the main attractions in any city are easily accessible by bike. Oh, and there’s always the option to walk—it’s free. And good for you, apparently.
To be honest most of my money goes to food because I am a horrible cook! You can eat well on the cheap when you’re on the road. Europe has some great options to eat out without being too expensive: fish and chip shops, gyros, etc.
Pro Tip: Take the time to eat just a couple streets away from the main tourist spots. Food will be significantly cheaper and often more legit!
Supermarkets are you new best friends; food is local, fresh, and cheap! Genuine French baguette, chips, and water easily fed two of us for less than $3. Side note: We opted for the supermarket-brand bottled water. It was cheap—17c, perfectly safe, and lasted all day.
Don’t Pay to Pee!
In many parts of Europe, it costs money to use the restroom. 30 to 50 cents (75c US) a time starts to add up over a trip, so don’t pay it! Pee on the street in protest! I kid, I kid, don’t do that! Find a McDonald’s, a hotel, or a bar. There are places you can go gratis.
Get the Local Know-how!
Get as much local insight as you can. Hit up the concierge in a hotel for advice, and you will get a free map and guide. Ask locals for advice on what to see. Get off the beaten path and you are almost guaranteed to find free places that are even better than the regular tourist spots! Amazing views are completely free if you know where to go. Plus, making friends with people from around the world is surely one of the best reasons to travel, right?
written by Ben
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