Studying abroad is an irreplaceable experience, my time in Paris now a cherished memory. I lived and I (most definitely) learned. These are the things that Google doesn't tell you before you go It’s important to research customs before traveling to a new country.
Traveling through Europe on a budget can be tough. There are SO many tempting things to spend your money on, so how do you decide? After spending a semester studying abroad in Europe I've learned how to travel Europe on a budget and where to go cheap and where to splurge. If I could do it on a college budget, you can too. Here are some cheap ways to travel through Europe and some tips and tricks I learned along the way. I've grouped my tips by eating, getting around and being a tourist, so you can jump around and read whatever best suits your needs.
Yelp can be a great place to find cheap and yummy restaurants.
Yelp can be one of the best ways to find well-acclaimed food in a foreign country for cheap. Not every country will use Yelp, but a quick google of "food near me" will do the trick. Be sure to do your research before eating somewhere as many times restaurants will try and scam tourists.
2. Grocery stores
Grocery stores are the most important place to pick up quick snacks and meals.
You don't have to eat every meal at a restaurant. Sometimes the grocery store can tell you just as much about a country's culture as food at a restaurant can. Stock up on some snacks to carry with you or get a small lunch to tide you over and save money.
3. Market hop
Markets have tons of fun food options for cheap.
So many European countries have huge markets filled with food, drinks and fun goodies. These markets are great ways to experience the food of a country, plus they're usually really affordable and a great time.
4. Public transportation
Subways, trollies and busses make travel across cities cheap and easy.
A lot of the time public transportation in big cities is meant to accommodate tourists as well. Look at the prices of a subway ticket versus an Uber ride before you order the Uber. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to get around, especially with the help of city mapper.
5. Airbnb vs. hotels
Hotels can sometimes be cheaper than Airbnb's or offer more perks.
In some cities, Airbnb is a great way to save money and still experience life in the city, but in others, you can be stuck super far outside all the action. Shop around when looking for lodging and don't be afraid to spend a little more if it means you'll be saving on transportation and having a significantly better experience. Sometimes a hotel can be the better option especially when you factor in the free breakfast.*
*Hostels are also an option but they kinda scare me.
6. Train vs. plane
Trains make a good option when airfare gets too pricey.
Doing your research is the most important factor when traveling through Europe on a budget. Depending on how long you will be staying in Europe and how far you will be traveling, it may be worth it to purchase a rail discount card, for a percentage off each of your tickets. Sometimes traveling by air can be cheaper and easier, if that's the case I totally recommend EasyJet, I had great experiences with them every time. (RyanAir is horrible, avoid at all costs: here's why.)
7. Pinterest walking tours
DIY walking tours are free and fun.
Why pay for a walking tour of a city when you can find free ones on Pinterest? Many times bloggers will have mapped out walking tours of a city ready to be followed. Pick out what you want to see and follow along for free!
8. Planning & prioritizing
Save money by picking what's most important to you.
Unless you're spending a month in each country you WILL NOT be able to see everything, if you do, you won't get the full experience. Make sure you sit down and prioritize what you want to see and what you want to spend the most time at. Also be sure to check and make sure things will be open to the public on the date you plan to go so you don't waste time and money getting there (I may or may not have made this mistake).
9. Sharing & group rates
Group rates offer discounts for people traveling together.
Traveling in a group of 10 or more? You might be able to get a discount on things like train tickets or admission passes.
The other perk of traveling in a group is being able to share. Only want half a meal? Share. Want an appetizer and a main? Share.
10. Just looking
Just looking from the outside is another hack to see everything and to save time and money when traveling in Europe.
Another cheap way to travel through Europe is by just looking. There is no shame in not going into every castle and every church, sometimes looking from the outside is more than enough.
11. Chain stores
Chain stores often offer souvenirs at good prices.
Chain Stores like Primark or Walmart often have great souvenirs for whatever city you're in, and at a reasonable price! Plus going to stores like this gives you an excuse to shop and a look at what fashion around the world may look like.
12. iPhone camera lenses
iPhone lenses enhance camera quality on the cheap.
Carrying a camera around with you can be heavy and risky, not to mention nice cameras are expensive. Try purchasing lenses meant for your iPhone camera for a much cheaper and more compact option.
13. Burner phone
Prepaid phone plans make getting around cheaper and easier.
Sometimes it's just not possible to get around without a phone, and paying for international data may be expensive. Instead buy a cheap phone from a convenience store and use this for all of your data needs. This way you won't have to worry about your phone dying either.