Budgeting advice for European travel

2023-01-30 10:48:04 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of Vytravels.com, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.

Wishing I Could Travel to Europe I'll share what I've learned about traveling across Europe on a shoestring budget.

Travelers often feel unprepared to take on Europe.  

Finding your way around this fascinating continent can be challenging because of the close proximity of so many different countries, each with its own unique language, culture, and way of life.

Truth be told, there is no one "best" way to see Europe. Every nation offers something special, and it's always a good idea to travel to a few different ones.  

It is possible to spend an extended period of time in a single country, discovering all that it has to offer. One option is to take a world tour, where one visits many countries quickly while taking in some of the local flavor at each stop.

Map of Europe

No matter what kind of vacation you're looking for, Europe has something affordable for you. In this way, even a group of young, budget-conscious tourists can visit a wide variety of countries without going broke.  

The best way to maintain a reasonable budget while traveling around Europe is to put in place a few strategies before you leave.  

Here are my best suggestions for having an unforgettable European adventure on a shoestring budget.

Don't forget to read up on these suggestions for low-cost transportation to and around Europe.

Tips for frugal European vacationing

Infographic: how to travel Europe on a backpacker's budget

Prior to departing

Always put money aside.

It is recommended that you save as much money as possible before departing for Europe.

If you don't intend to earn money while abroad, having a healthy savings account will ease your mind. A sufficient amount of spending money, as well as some cushion in case of unexpected expenses, should always be planned for.

You'll be glad you made the sacrifices you needed to make at home, whether it's extra hours at work or reduced spending, when you finally reach your destination abroad.

How to travel Europe on a backpacker's budget: Prague, Czech Republic

Plan your trip for the best time of day

Once you've saved up enough money and begun planning your trip to Europe, it's time to think about the best time of year to go. When is the best time to travel to Europe? That depends on a few factors.  

For frugal vacationers, price is always a primary consideration.   Off-season months (when tourism is at its lowest) are the best time to visit Europe if you want to save money.

In Europe, June, July, and August are the busiest months due to the good weather and high demand for travel. The winter months of December, January, and February are the least popular with tourists, so airlines offer cheaper fares to Europe during this time.  

Shoulder season refers to the spring and fall months between the busiest and slowest travel times, so if you want to save money on airfare without sacrificing the quality of your trip, plan your trip for those times.

Evidently, winter travel is not as pleasant as summer travel. It all boils down to personal preference. Buy a coat and stay inside during the winter if you want to save money. Don't let the possibility of bad weather prevent you from visiting Europe; the continent is beautiful year-round.  

As it happens, winter in many nations takes on a magical quality. Imagine going skiing in the Alps, strolling through a Christmas market in Germany, Austria, or Denmark; dog-sledding in the Arctic; or exploring a snowy village in Transylvania. Visiting Europe is always worthwhile, so plan ahead to find the most affordable flights and make the most of your trip.

How to travel Europe on a backpacker's budget: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Find the most cost-effective means of touring Europe.

How to Reach Europe

Finding ridiculously cheap flights to Europe only requires a little bit of online searching and investigation.  

To find the least expensive flights, use Skyscanner. To use this tool, pick your airport of departure, then your preferred "cheapest month" and your final destination airport (which can be "anywhere"). You can then look at the prices of flights on different dates and at different airports to find the best deal for your needs.

There are times when it's more cost-effective to enter Europe via a major hub like London or Paris and then take a connecting flight to your final destination within the continent.  

The key to successful flight planning is to remain adaptable and open-minded. Traveling to Europe doesn't have to break the bank if you're willing to get creative.

Inside of Europe

As soon as you book your plane ticket to Europe, plan how you will get from one country to the next.  

Though it is not necessary to arrange every mode of transportation in advance, it is wise to do some homework if you intend to travel to many different countries.  

Traveling throughout Europe by train is often misperceived as being inexpensive. When preparing a move, it's important to weigh all available modes of transportation.


At times, flying across international borders can be less expensive than taking a train.  

Low-cost carriers such as RyanAir, EasyJet, and Norwegian fill the skies over Europe. However, since their ticket prices are so low, budget airlines frequently charge exorbitant fees for checked bags. These carriers are ideal for those taking only hand luggage on their trip.  

However, there are occasions when one can find flights for less than ten dollars, which is truly remarkable.


Europe's bus system is a great low-cost way to see the continent.

There are several dependable and reasonably priced bus companies that go all over the place; three of these are FlixBus, MegaBus, and OuiBus. When traveling from London to other European cities, you can save a lot of money by taking a bus.  

When compared to other modes of transportation, the bus is less convenient due to its longer duration. However, if you're flexible with your schedule, bus rides can be quite inexpensive.


It's true that prices for train tickets in Europe vary widely from country to country.  

Across Western Europe, including the United Kingdom, train tickets are notoriously more expensive than bus fare. However, in southern and eastern Europe, train travel can be quite affordable.  

Websites such as Omio (formerly GoEuro) and Rome2Rio are great for researching train prices for each individual country. You can find the most cost-effective mode of transportation between two cities by using one of these websites, which compares train, bus, and flight prices.

Trainline, the most popular train and coach app in Europe, is also a helpful tool. With the help of our 207 partner rail and coach companies, we can connect you to thousands of destinations across 45 countries in Europe. Trainline's mission is to consolidate all forms of rail, coach, and other transportation into a single platform where users can find the best deals and the most up-to-date travel information.

If you plan ahead and think about how you'll get around Europe, you can save money.

How to travel Europe on a backpacker's budget: Greece

While you're away

One way to reduce food costs in Europe is to eat and drink more judiciously.

Prepare meals as frequently as you can.

One of the largest costs of any trip is the money spent on food and drink. You have to try everything when you're in Europe because there are so many delicious options.  

However, with caution, you can avoid rapidly depleting your savings. You should begin your grocery shopping at the local food market, of which there are one in nearly every European city.   The prices are generally fair, and you can find both fresh food and interesting regional specialties. You can save a lot of money on food if you cook at home rather than eating out.

Get a taste of the local cuisine.

If you must eat out, avoid the overpriced, touristy spots where the menus are likely to be bland and the service slow. Try to find local establishments that serve authentic cuisine, as it will most likely be of higher quality and cheaper.  

In most cases, you'll have to look for these establishments; they won't have a prominent sign out front and are located far from the madding crowds at Inquire among the locals about their go-to dining spots, and you're guaranteed to discover a fantastic establishment.  

Get a taste of the local libations

The same reasoning holds true when one is imbibing.  

Instead of paying more at the bar for each drink, try picking up a case of liquor instead. It's a great way to save money without sacrificing access to locally sourced beverages. You should order what the locals order if you're going to splurge on drinks while out.   Throughout the European countries of Italy, Spain, and France, pick a bottle of the home country's vino Wherever you go in Germany, the Czech Republic, or Belgium, I recommend you sample the local beer.  

Rakija in Croatia and Serbia, Brennevin in Iceland, Vodka in Poland, Port in Portugal, and so on. It's best to do as the locals do and try the local alcoholic beverages, which will give you a taste of the culture and will likely be less expensive due to the greater demand for them.

(2) Take walks whenever you can.

When possible, walk rather than drive if your destination is within walking distance.   Walking is beneficial because you burn calories, you can observe your surroundings at your own pace, and it costs you nothing.  

There's something enchanted about wandering the streets of a foreign city. If you must incur the cost of transportation, however, take the bus or train instead of a taxi.   Taking the bus or tram is almost always less expensive than calling a cab. you can still engage with natives wherever you go

How to travel Europe on a backpacker's budget: Cinque Terre, Italy

Pick destinations that won't break the bank

Attractions in tourist hotspots tend to be pricey, sometimes prohibitively so. Traveling with a guidebook can be overwhelming, so remember that you don't have to do everything it suggests.  

Do it if it piques your interest; if it does, you can rest assured that it was money well spent. But don't shell out cash to enter a museum or gallery because you'should.

The phrase "Free Things To Do In in order to get some tips on how to have fun on a budget while traveling abroad Numerous urban areas feature lovely parks where residents and visitors can relax and have a picnic without cost. You should also take advantage of the free walking tours that are available in many cities. For information on the top free walking tours all over Europe, visit Curiously Erin.

They are usually operated by locals, and can teach you as much about the culture and history of a city as a museum. Remember to always bring your student ID card with you. Don't forget to take advantage of the student discount offered by many attractions.

Travelers can save money by taking advantage of special offers available in some cities.  

Despite London's high cost of living, admission to all of the city's public museums is always free. That way, you can save a lot of money while exploring London's rich cultural heritage.  

Likewise, on the first Sunday of every month, many of Italy's most well-known landmarks are free to the public in a number of This translates to free admission to the likes of the Colosseum and Roman Forum in Rome, and the Uffizi Gallery and David by Michaelangelo in Florence.  

If you do your homework ahead of time, you may discover some surprisingly inexpensive things to do in Europe.

There are also many free natural attractions, such as some of Europe's finest beaches and other top destinations for ecotourists.

Spending adjustments for studies


One of the most costly parts of any trip is lodging.

Though a five-star hotel may seem like the best option, hostels are much more budget-friendly. European countries have a plethora of cheap hostels for travelers. Hostel dorm rooms typically cost between $15 and $30 USD per night, with some locations in Eastern Europe charging as little as $10 USD per night.  

You can see what other backpackers thought of each hostel by checking HostelWorld and reading their reviews. Hostels are great places to meet fellow travelers because of their convenient locations and relaxing common areas.


If you want to cut costs even further on lodging, you can also sign up with Couchsurfing.   By using this website, locals can advertise free use of their couches or extra beds to visitors.   Once more, always check reviews before booking, and never stay somewhere you don't feel completely at ease.

Swapping Labor

One more fantastic way to save money on lodging is to work in exchange for free lodging with Worldpackers.

Hostels, farms, and other small businesses often hire visitors to work for a few weeks in exchange for room and board. One of the best ways to save money and experience a new culture is to participate in a work exchange program.  

If you're interested in finding hosts that participate in work exchange programs, Worldpackers is a great resource, and Europe has some fantastic options.

How to travel Europe on a backpacker's budget: Begium

5. Travel to Europe's more wallet-friendly destinations

Research your destinations to make sure they are within your budget, as the cost of living varies widely across Europe.

Northward and westward movement typically results in higher prices. Costs for things like meals, lodging, and sightseeing are significantly higher in Scandinavia than in, say, London or Paris.   Portugal, on the other hand, is less expensive than its Western neighbors. Some of these more expensive locations do have options for those on a tighter budget.  

Everything is more reasonably priced in the southeast, however. Costing roughly 1 USD, a beer in the Czech Republic is an option. There are hostels in Croatia that cost USD per night, and full meals in Romania that cost around $5 USD. Southeast Europe is the cheapest part of Europe to travel around in if you're on a tight budget.

The best part about traveling around Europe is that there are countless places to visit. Many different countries, each with its own landscape and culture, can be found within each section of the continent. In every nation, there are countless towns and cities just waiting to be discovered.  

If you're planning a trip to Europe, don't let the fact that some countries and cities receive more attention than others discourage you from going there.  

Barcelona, Paris, Prague, Athens, Budapest, Lisbon, Madrid, and Venice are only a few of the world's most visited cities, and for good reason.   But there are many other cities that are just as charming and offer the same kinds of experiences with fewer visitors. Additionally, the further one travels from popular tourist destinations, the cheaper the local goods and services become.

Warsaw, Poland has a charming Old Town that's packed with history. You should go to Riga, Latvia, to see beautiful buildings, and Sofia, Bulgaria, to eat delicious food and meet warm people. In addition to the Alps, you should check out the mountains in Albania and Scotland. Travel outside of the major cities to discover genuine regional customs in Portugal, Spain, and Italy.

The beautiful locations and life-changing adventures in Europe are practically bursting at the seams.  

Keep an open mind no matter where your travels take you, and never let a lack of funds stop you from seeing the world.

When you take advantage of these suggestions, plan ahead, and travel savvily, You can find low prices in any European nation.

If you're interested in the topic, you might want to read this article:

  • Europe's backroads revealed: a complete guide
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