9 Ways to Travel Europe for Cheap
There's a reason why Europe is the starting point for many travelers, especially long-term budget travelers. When it comes to traveling for cheap, you can't go wrong with choosing this destination.
Europe is a year-round travel destination, where any time is a good time to visit some corner of the continent. This is good news for you as you can travel to Europe cheaply at any time.
Check out 9 ways to travel Europe for cheap below.
1. Flexibility is the name of the game
When it comes to traveling for cheap in Europe, flexibility is key. Unfortunately, here's how most people approach traveling:
- Figure out where they want to go
- Choose their dates
- Look up available flights for their trips on those dates
- Book accommodations for that destination on those dates
What do you get when you approach travel this way? Higher prices.
Instead, use sites like Google Flights, Skyscanner, and Momondo that allow you to see daily flight prices so you can choose your dates based on the cost of airfare. In essence, you’ll be working backward. As airfare is usually the highest cost of a trip, planning your dates using this method will allow you to save significantly on flights to Europe.
We especially love using Skyscanner to book cheap flights to Europe. It takes planning a trip a step further by allowing you to search for "Everywhere" as your destination instead of one specific location. Therefore, you can see which cities in Europe have the cheapest flights at any given time. Once you find the cheapest flight, now you’re ready to select your dates.
2. Get to the Continent
Here's the great thing about traveling to Europe, hopping around to different countries is super easy and affordable. All you need to do is get to the continent.
What do we mean by this? Let's say you're trying to visit the Cinque Terre in Italy next summer; this is usually a high season time, so airfares are more expensive. However, there are still some deals to snag and ways to work around high season times.
Look for the cheapest international flight across the Atlantic to any country in Europe, and then grab cheap local flights around Europe. Once again, sites like Skyscanner will be your best friend to find cheap flights. Rome2Rio is another app you can download to find the cheapest mode of travel around Europe.
3. Keep Traveling and Carry-On
Want to ensure that your Europe trip remains cheap? Look no further than slimming down your suitcase. According to the MONEY survey, baggage fees can tack on an extra $50, or $200 for a family of four, onto your trip.
First check bag fees start at $25 on most airlines and go up from there. And these baggage prices are for those who pay online. If you pay at the airport counter, you could be looking at paying 2-3x more.
There is also an additional cost for overweight bags. On American Airlines alone, the fees for checking overweight bags are $100 for bags weighing 51-70lbs and $200 for bags weighing 71-100lbs. So, to avoid all of that, carry-on.
And if you want to travel cheaply throughout Europe, this is the way to go. Not only will it save money, but it will also save you time and your sanity as you hop around different cities. Just make sure that your carry-on meets international airline standards.
4. Choose your countries cheaply
If you want your dollars to go far, there are countries in Europe that are more affordable than others. Instead of choosing places like Switzerland or Sweden that can run you a pretty penny, try other beautiful and affordable destinations like Portugal.
One of Europe's best-kept secrets, Portugal, is a budget traveler's dream. Fantastic beaches, great food, and delicious wines will cost you a few dollars. Depending on when you travel there, lodging in the form of hostels or vacation rentals are cheaper alternatives that will keep you resting in style. Key cities to explore include Lisbon, Porto, and Funchal.
Another Western European country that boasts reasonable accommodations, affordable transportation, and inexpensive tapas compared to other European destinations, is Spain. For even more saLEvings, skip Barcelona and Madrid and head to Valencia.
GET YOUR MELANIN IS LIFE MERCH AND TRAVEL IN STYLE!
5. To hostel or to home share
The fifth way to travel Europe for cheap is to skip expensive hotels and use hostels or vacation rentals. If you're thinking, shared dormitories and bathrooms with 17 drunk college students, think again. You can book single rooms with bathrooms in hostels, or if you're traveling with friends, book the entire dormitory.
Whatever you decide, hostels are cheaper than staying in hotels. Not only are hostels more economical, but many of the amenities that are usually included will help to keep you on budget. From free breakfast and WIFI to free walking tours and happy hours, hostels offer many perks to help you save money while traveling to Europe.
Want to save money on dining out? Hostels also include shared kitchens that you can use to cook your meals. Also, hostels make it very easy for you to meet other travelers. Who knows, maybe you'll meet other savvy travelers who will share more travel saving hacks with you or perhaps even share a taxi with you. Ching-ching, savings is that you?
Other budget-friendly accommodation options to consider when traveling for cheap in Europe are vacation rental sites like Innclusive and Airbnb. Innclusive is a black-owned vacation sharing platform. For Airbnb, if you book using this link, you can get $40 off your first home booking and $15 towards an Airbnb experience, and we'll receive a travel credit.
With both Airbnb and Innclusive, you can book amazing and beautiful homes for much less than a hotel to relax after a long day of sightseeing. Once again, you'll have full access to kitchens that you can cook in. You'll also be able to get local tips from hosts that can help you avoid tourist traps that will run through your money.
6. Travel credit responsibly
What's better than cheap? Free. Free flights, that is.
And how do you get those? Travel reward cards.
Travel credit cards reward you for your purchases with miles that you can use to get you on the next plane to any European country you desire. There are many cards on the market ready to help you roam around Europe on a budget by giving you up to 3X miles on your daily purchases. Many of these credit cards have no foreign transaction fees, providing you with even more savings when you use them abroad.
A very popular travel rewards card is the Capital One® Venture® Rewards credit card, giving you a one-time 50,000-mile bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months and 2X miles per dollar spent.
Another popular credit card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card. Using this link, you'll get 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening - that's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. We'll also receive points, so it'll be a double win. For more reward cards, check here to find the best ones for you.
A couple of things to keep in mind - we do recommend a credit card that has no foreign transaction fees and to make sure that you pay your balance off in full every month. Use your credit card like a checking card. If you don't have it, don't spend it. The purpose of the travel rewards is defeated if you are paying 23% interest rate on a credit card balance.
Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash
7. Travel by train
For many travelers, getting around by train is the quintessential way to travel cheaply in Europe. It's efficient, comfortable, even magical. And for those trying to do it on a budget, it is cost-effective.
Unlike airports that are typically located 30-35 minutes from city centers, you'll find that European train stations are located right in the middle of the city. This means you don't have to spend $25-$80 on a taxi ride traveling into or out of the city since you're already there.
There are no luggage weight limits or extra fees for multiple pieces of luggage. Also, when you can take an overnight train, you kill two birds with one stone; sleeping accommodation for the night, and transportation. Win, win! Just remember to book your train tickets in advance to maximize your savings.
You read that right, house-sitting. You know, like babysitting or pet sitting?
No, don't run. Come back. Let us explain.
House-sitting means you're staying in someone's home or apartment while they are away. This could be for an extended period of time or a short break. What this translates for you is free housing while traveling in Europe.
There are many reasons why people all over the world use a house-sitter. Some have pets that they cannot travel with and need someone to look after them while they are away (boarding kennels can be expensive). Some people have plants that need watering or mail that needs to be collected. And then you have others that want someone around to act as a deterrent for burglars or make sure things don't go wrong (e.g., the pipes freezing during winter months).
Many people travel to Europe for cheap using this method. Sites likes TrustedHouseSitters and MindMyHouse are great places to start to learn more about housesitting and join this trend.
Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash
9. Utilize local tourist information center
Yes, we know it's 2019. And yes, we know you have access to a phone and can create an itinerary based on your favorite travel influencer's Instagram page. But don't be so quick to throw tourist information centers away.
One of the biggest mistakes travelers make is not utilizing these resources when traveling to Europe. They are not hard to find, and you can spot them at airports or around city centers as you're walking around. These centers house a wealth of information, and they can help you save money.
For example, instead of trying to go to every museum and attraction site, you can purchase a tourist card at a tourism center that will offer you discounts or free access to the major attractions and museums, as well as free public transportation. These cards are an amazing way to save money on attractions. Just head to the local tourist office to find out what's available while you're traveling to Europe. They will be able to answer all your questions and make sure you save as much money as possible.
Once in Europe, it is understandable that you're going to want to see many popular sites. However, brace yourself. You don't need to go to two museums a day (they all start to look the same). You don't need to eat at the restaurants situated on expensive strips (the food will probably not be good anyway). You don't need to take costly taxis everywhere (walk around to get the lay of the land).
If you're following our drift, one of the best ways to travel on a budget in Europe is to not fall for the tourist trap. Don't run to do everything that you read about on a blog. Find the unbeaten paths, look for the deals, and travel cheaply around Europe, your way.
GET YOUR MELANIN IS LIFE MERCH AND TRAVEL IN STYLE!
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