You've likely dreamed of the quintessential Euro-trip before. I know I have, so I was ecstatic when I finally got the chance to visit last year. I pictured myself wandering the streets of Paris, eating every flavor of the gelato in Italy, and swimming in the crystal clear waters of Croatia. However, there was one thing holding me back: I was worried about blowing my entire life savings on this trip. I knew that I would need to spend wisely. In case you're planning an upcoming trip with your girlfriends, or studying abroad this semester, here are some tips for exploring Europe on a budget, because it's totally possible.
Once I arrived in Europe, I discovered that I didn't have to spend nearly as much as I expected. I got resourceful, but it was possible to cut corners and save in different areas. First off, I made a big decision about where I would travel. There are so many different countries in Europe, and straying off the beaten path can leave you pleasantly surprised. I did a lot of research on saving methods that could be used in various countries, and it payed off in many ways. At the end of my trip, I realized that traveling in Europe doesn't have to be over-the-top expensive. It's only right that I share those tips so that you can plan the trip of your dreams, too!
1. Choose Destinations Wisely
Your European travels don't have to break the bank. I visited Eastern Europe last summer and discovered that prices were much lower than in some of the more popular European destinations, like Paris. Poland, Hungary, Bosnia, and Montenegro may not be on your radar right now, but they should be, because they're just as beautiful. Consider spending less time in the tourist hotspots, and plan your itinerary around other gems.
2. Travel During The Off-Season
Summer is peak tourist season in Europe, and most of the world. You'll be dealing with crowds of tourists, selfie sticks, and outrageous prices. You're likely to pay less in many areas if you choose to visit during the fall, winter, or early spring. Last year, I visited Europe in the fall and found that I was able to enjoy it much more than my previous visit in the summer. Tourist sites will be less crowded, and you'll save plenty of money.
3. Take Advantage Of Free Museum Days
Europe is home to some of the best museums in the world. Museum lovers may find that entry fees add up very quickly. To avoid blowing your budget, consider visiting on late nights and free entry days. In Paris, some museums are free on the first Sunday of every month. Plan your visits around these discounted days, and your night at the museum will be that much sweeter. (Also, don't forget your student ID at home! Take advantage of your student perks while you can.)
4. Go To Happy Hour
You don't want to miss out on the fun happy hours while you're in Europe, so check out their version of happy hour. For example, you can indulge in some delicious snacks and cocktails during Italy's aperitivo from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Don't forget to try an Aperol Spritz while you're there.
5. Take Advantage Of Free WiFi
Take advantage of free public WiFi to avoid roaming charges while traveling throughout Europe. You'll find free WiFi in many restaurants, parks, and shops. Use WhatsApp or Facebook to communicate with your loved ones using free WiFi.
6. Use Budget Transportation
Europe is the perfect place to explore neighboring countries and cities on a budget. Countries are often in close proximity to each other, so you travel from one destination to another without spending much money at all. I've flown from Germany to Portugal for as little as $8 on Ryanair, used BlaBlaCar to visit nearby cities, and rode FlixBus to travel to visit other countries.
7. Use Budget Accommodation
When you take advantage of budget accommodation in Europe, you'll save hundreds of dollars. Hostel culture is widely accepted throughout Europe, so you'll have no problem finding a cheap place to stay. If you're open to it, you can try couch surfing, too. There are many hosts that will welcome you in their home free of charge. I couch-surfed in Paris, which resulted in saving a lot of money and making a lifelong friend.