It’s easy to keep to a tight budget when you’re travelling in places like Thailand or Nicaragua. But if you’ve got your heart set on the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, or that statue of the peeing boy in Belgium, travelling on the cheap will definitely be more challenging. But don’t despair. Use these five tips to make your Eurotrip more affordable.
1. Avoid peak season.
Europe in the summer is lovely – it’s also expensive (and crowded, to be honest). There’s so much demand for all things travel-related in the summer, and prices for everything from hotels to restaurants to cruises skyrocket during the busiest season. It might be a trade-off for some clouds or rainy days, but visiting Europe at other times of the year will give you a much better bang for your buck (or Euro, rather).
2. Get cosy with strangers.
In some places, private hotel rooms are so cheap that it’s easy to justify skipping the hostel dorms. Not so in most parts of Europe. While budget-friendly hotels and guesthouses certainly exist, you can often save significant money by booking a dorm bunk instead. If sleeping in a room with strangers really doesn’t appeal to you, consider alternating between dorms and private rooms each time you move to a new destination – you’ll save a nice chunk of change without going insane.
3. Head East.
While many of Europe’s most famous sights are in the continent’s Western half, its most budget-friendly destinations are in the East. Countries like Hungary, Bulgaria, and Slovenia may not have the Eiffel Tower, but they do have stunning landscapes, interesting architecture, and lots of things to do. And you can do them all with a much smaller budget – and in many cases, far fewer crowds.
4. Consider your train travel carefully.
Europe’s sophisticated train system is part of what makes it such a great region for travel. Those passes that let you hop on and off, flitting from city to city across the continent, sound like a traveller’s dream. But the Eurail Pass actually isn’t the best, or cheapest, option for everyone. Booking individual tickets could be significantly cheaper, depending on how many countries you’re visiting, how many rides you’ll be taking, and how far in advance you want to reserve your seats. Do some research based on your plans and preferences to determine if the pass is worth it.
5. Weigh the pros and cons of a city pass.
Most European cities offer city passes, which get visitors admission to various attractions for one flat fee. Like the Eurail pass, these are the things Eurodreams are made of. Also like the Eurail pass, they’re a great option sometimes – but not always. It really depends on where you’re going and what you want to do. Before you spring for a pass, double check what attractions it covers, how many of them actually interest you, and how much individual tickets would cost. The pass may well save you money, or you might find that paying separately will cost you less.
While Europe is not the world’s great budget destination, your money will go much further if you plan your trips carefully and take time to investigate things that seem like a “great deal.”