Once you graduate, regardless if it’s from high school or college – many youngsters with some money in their hands and plenty of free time decide it’s time to branch out and see the world. Getting to Europe is a dream for many people, but unfortunately many simply don’t get the chance. Luckily there are many cheap ways to travel, which you can check out more in this post or read on to discover how traveling cheap is really the best way to see Europe.
There are many different ways to travel throughout your own “Euro trip” but the best way is that which is economical, so you can see and experience much more of the continent – and put off going home for as long as possible! It’s no longer intimidating to be on the other side of the world, especially with all the advances in modern technology. Many people choose to come to Europe because of a massive amount of culture, art and experiences on offer, alongside a healthy amount of travelers following the same path. If you’re not confident about traveling, try this course and build your travel skills while reducing your nervousness in a foreign country.
First you need to make sure you have enough money saved, and commit to putting some away from your paycheck every week. Airfares fluctuate, and will be anywhere between $500-1000 for a flight to Europe from the US. London is normally the cheapest destination, and from there you have a great base to depart to anywhere in Europe you’d like to go. If you don’t have a passport already make sure you organize this well in advance, as they can take up to 6 weeks to receive. For those looking for cheaper options, check out this course on travel hacking and find out how you can get airfares for next to nothing.
The next step is to get organized, and decide where you want to see. This is the most difficult part of the entire process, because people are normally limited by either time, or money – so put together your absolute “must-see” list and make a plan that lets you get to all of them. This also helps you build a travel route through Europe, as you can make a logical connection between every place you want to visit. Decide at this point how many days you want at each destination, and allocate accordingly. Having only a day in Paris or Budapest would be a shame. When you’re travelling everything always takes longer than you expect, normally it’s good to have 2-3 nights in a destination, depending of course on your personal interests.
Think about making reservations before arriving in a town, so that you don’t get stuck paying higher rates at the last minute. Hostels will be your cheapest best, and are a great place to meet fellow travelers. Don’t forget to review the feedback of your accommodation before you book, and plan to spend around 20-40 Euros a night on a decent hostel. The highest rated hostels book up fast, so plan in advance and make your bookings 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule at a minimum. Couch surfing is an even more budget way to find accommodation, and it’s exactly what it sounds like – crashing on a strangers couch. Despite the sketchy initial feel, you’ll meet fantastic characters and it’s free! There’s not a better way to find out all of the non-touristy places than staying with a local. Remember that you need to stay safe at all times, this course on staying safe covers everything you need to know to deal with an emergency overseas.
Getting around in Europe is very easy, but the costs can add up as you visit destination after destination and slowly see your bank account drop. The benefit of planning your trip in advance is that you can lock in some great deals on the best transportation options, so check out the different ways you can get around Europe – cheap and easy.
In the UK the Megabus is your best way to get around England, Scotland and Wales, and if you book a month in advance tickets can be as low as $1.50 USD for individual legs. Outside of this prices rarely go above $15 USD, so it’s definitely the cheapest way to get around the UK, and they are now expanding internationally with new routes just opened to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.
There are many different service providers offering “hop on/hop off” transportation services that are primarily used by backpackers. All you need is a ticket, and you can get on and off again on any of their set routes, wherever you like. They are very comparable in price to the long distance trains, and make it to some great little cities, often dropping you at the door of their recommended hostels,. The only downside is if you want a city that’s not on their list it can be a hassle to reach as you make your own way there.
The huge amount of competition in the budget airlines makes the airlines one of the cheapest ways to get around Europe, with companies like RyanAir leading the pack. EasyJet and Transavia are two others that do great fares, especially if you have no check in luggage and you don’t mind a budget flight. There are often promotions where all you pay is airport taxes, meaning you can get flights for ridiculously low prices. For this you definitely need to book early, and you’ll find more sales during the off-peak winter months. Just be sure to read the fine print, as the second you do something wrong (i.e. you’re over your checked baggage allotment) you can get whacked with largely inflated fees – because this is where they make back much of their money. Follow the rules and get your flights cheap!
The Eurail pass is a great way to get cheap rail fares, especially if you need to travel a long distance. Train lines connect the majority of Europe and whilst a short trip on a whim can be cheap, longer distances that cross country borders are much more expensive. You can save lots of cash by getting a Eurail pass and making use of your trips for long distance travel. Eurolines are the bus version of the train system, and despite being a little less roomy than a train can be great for budget conscious travelers.
Hitchhiking is the cheapest way to get around, and despite the stigma is quite common throughout Europe. Always use your head when you’re hitchhiking, and just because someone stops for you doesn’t mean you need to get in their car! If you don’t want to stand on the roadside, a number of websites like Gumtree and Eurotrip let you find like-minded travelers who will give you a ride in exchange for help towards the gas.
The key to successfully traveling around Europe is to plan. If you know where and when you’re heading to new places you can find the deals in advance before you get hit with the prices skyrocketing at the last minute. Book your transportation in advance and save!
Getting It Even Cheaper
If you’re stuck, and you really want the trip but don’t quite have enough saved up – there are another bunch of tips that can help you get to Europe on the cheap, and have a great holiday at the same time.
1. Do the opposite of normal people.
Traveling in the off-season is a great way to get cheaper deals on flights, accommodation and transport. All it means is that you need to head over to Europe throughout winter, and if you book in a period like after Thanksgiving and before Christmas or the week following New Years day you can save even more.
2. Don’t book a round trip flight.
Planning in advance means you can arrive in one city, and depart from another – which saves you the hassle of getting back to where you started from. You can often book these flights for the same, or slightly more, and you save both time and costs by not going back to where you started for your return flight
3. Compare the fares of all transport options.
Using any of the massive sites that compare fares between airlines is a great way to find the best deals, and also don’t forget the local train and bus companies that may offer cheaper deals still. Book in advance and search until you’re sure you’re booking the best price.
4. Get daily public transportation passes.
Within most of the major cities, there are excellent public transportation systems that save you a ton of money when compared to renting a car, or jumping in a taxi. They’re available from most subway stations and ticket booths, and are much more economical for a day sightseeing than 4-5 single journey tickets.
5. Stay in the college areas.
If you can stay in a hostel in the area nearby to a college campus you’ll be able to find much cheaper accommodation than in the city, but they will typically have great public transportation available. Being off the typical tourist path you’ll also find great local restaurants, cafes and shops.
6. Visit the museums and art galleries on their free days.
There is usually a day a week or a month that is free for everyone to enter particular museums and art galleries. If you plan in advance you can make significant savings by checking out the museums you want to see when there is no admission fee!
The best trip to Europe is the one where you can see and experience everything you have been dreaming about in the different countries. Make this happen by planning accordingly, and create a travel plan that makes sense, and takes advantage of booking ahead to get the best prices possible for accommodation and long distance transport. Take this course on travel journal writing and capture every delightful moment of the trip and you can make the whole holiday last even longer by following the 6 tips for saving even more money. After your own Euro trip you’ll return home with a wealth of experience unparalleled by any of your friends.
There’s really nothing like an extended holiday, so get planning today!