Europe on a budget is very possible and If you are like me and love the idea of travelling frequently for the rest of your life, travelling on a budget is a must! Having spent a month in Europe I can say that with the right attitude it is possible and not too difficult. I had a great time in Europe and returned to Australia with some money in the bank, I also felt that I experienced more of the local living than that of a tourist.
Plan your itinerary
I feel that unless you plan on living in Europe for 12 months or more you should plan an itinerary to keep the costs down. If you intend on visiting more than one country try to visit bordering countries and do not back track in your travels. Take into account transport to and from the airport or train station. For example from London airports the train is a whopping 21 pounds one way!
Some places are cheaper to travel by air or train, explore these options.
Persist! There are always cheaper alternatives you just have to really look and quite often Google will not point you in that direction. Try to look for local European websites or blogs that will give you access to quality information.
Join or read travel forums for up to date local knowledge. Ask questions on these forums. They have always guided me in the right direction.
Pre-book those accommodation and transport specials
If you see a special that fits with the budget i suggest you lock it in. I found that travelling between countries in Europe at the last minute were expensive. Travelling on the transport network within a country was cheaper than booking in advance.
Know the transport options before you go
Some cities have different transport infrastructure options. For example apart from the metro in Paris there are also velib bicycles which are bicycles free for the first 30 minutes after they have left their docks.
Live like the locals
Find a supermarket and buy water and snacks. This will save you spending a small fortune when you are sightseeing.
Look around, what are the locals doing? Chances are it is cheap! In Paris Street cafes are filled with people sitting around for hours with their short black or wine, do this! In Chamonix the crepe stand is packed all day long. In Berlin people are eating bratwurst from the local stand with beer that is as cheap as water in Australia. In Amsterdam the locals get around on their bicycles. Another Paris one; everyone is going home with a French stick.
Eat the local food and stay clear of the brands you see back at home (The Dome, MacDonalds and Starbucks to name a few). In Europe fast food is expensive, explains why everyone is thin in Europe, its too expensive to sneak in that cheeseburger from MacDonalds
If you are not entirely happy with the price, get up and go elsewhere.
Bring your own (BYO)
Believe it or not a backpack with water, soft drinks and snacks will save a huge amount of money. I remember being at the Eiffel tower and the only nearby store was selling a bottle of water for 4 Euros and the one I purchased in a supermarket only cost 0.75 Euros.
Even if you are staying in a hotel you can prepare a simple roll for 3 Euros, perfect for a snack or lunch. Do it yourself (DIY) or book when you arrive. Organised tours can be expensive in Europe and will burn a hole in your budget very quickly. Europe’s travel network is brilliant and easy (with some patience) to navigate. Most sights now also have audio guides (free or at a small cost) so you do not miss out on that information and you can wander at your own leisure.
If you do want a few tours where you can be chauffeured around, book when you arrive as you will secure cheaper prices. Tour prices advertised online are just ridiculous.
There is an array of museum and sight passes available and depending on what you want to do in Europe.
Coffee and Drinks
Ordering a coffee or drink is cheaper than ordering a meal. A great way to people watch and take in the setting.
Holidaying on a budget in the Alps
When we booked our Alp holiday we knew it would be more expensive then the rest of our travels as there was the additional costs of ski hire and passes etc… So to minimise our spending but maximise our experience here are a things we recommend:
Rent a self contained accommodation with at least a kitchenette
Find the nearest supermarket and stock up on essentials such as snacks and drinks
Make sandwich rolls (it’s cold so they will keep in your bag for a few hours) and take them up into the mountains for a snack
Pack a thermal canister for soup and warm tea whilst you are out and about on the mountain tops
Fast food chains is expensive, stay clear of it however you will find a Burger bar
Useful Websites that helped me when going to Europe
A travel network website offering ALOT of valuable advice and information about anything travel related. Information on this website is generated from the members so it gives you an honest view. The forums are very helpful and your question will be answered within hours by people who know what they are talking about! Alot of loyal members on this website including me!
Find accommodation or rooms and rent directly from the owner. I have used this website for an apartment in Paris and Berlin. Highly recommend, It was cheaper than a hostel!
This website is absolutely amazing for train travel! A step by step guide to travelling and booking trains in Europe. There are even photos of the trains and different classes. I used this website to book train tickets on the French website! Turns out tickets were cheaper than the English website, truly brilliant this website!
A blog with CONSTANT information about Europe and budget travel. It’s not the best designed blog and looks pretty dull however it is worth signing up to their newsletter and receiving the weekly emails.