How to travel in Europe on a small budget

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There’s no need to blow your savings on an epic trip.

Salvation! My name is Jemima and I like to travel on a budget.

Looking for inspiration for a budget trip? Here are all the best tips and tricks I’ve found that allow me to travel well without spending all my savings.

1.

Take advantage of the free walking tours.

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Every time I arrived in a new city, I took a free walking tour. Just do a quick Google search to find one in the city you are visiting. I’ve found these free tours to be the best way to get oriented in a new place, learn about culture and history, and get local tips on where to eat, drink, and go. tourism. Don’t forget to tip your guide at the end!

2.

Consider doing a job exchange for free housing.

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If you’re traveling alone and have plenty of time, you might consider spending a month or two working in a fixed location. On sites like Workaway, Hostel Jobs and many more, you can find short-term jobs where you will work a few hours a day in exchange for free housing. I spent a month working at a bed and breakfast in Florence where I stayed for free in exchange for my job, and it was an amazing way to really get to know the city.

3.

Keep a running list of where you want to go to make last minute planning easier.

4.

Use the buses where and when you can.

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Trains are convenient, but they can also be expensive. Many people opt for the Eurail pass when traveling long term in Europe, but for the sake of your wallet, consider traveling by bus instead. Personally, I really liked traveling via Flix Bus.

Sure, the bus takes longer and often the stations are less conveniently located, but when you’re traveling for a long time and you’re not in a rush, the savings are worth it.

5.

Plan a little, but keep your schedule flexible.

6.

Research the most affordable countries to travel to.

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For even more savings, think outside the box.

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Even when visiting these more affordable countries, capital cities can be relatively expensive as most tourists flock there. If you want to save some money, it’s worth researching other destinations beyond the big cities. I do a lot of Google research, watch YouTube, and scroll Reddit for recommendations of hidden gems and not-so-common destinations.

8.

Stay somewhere with free breakfast…or better yet, a kitchen.

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Free breakfast is the backbone of any budget trip. Yes, I’m that person who sneakily makes a breakfast sandwich and keeps it in his bag until lunch. There is no shame.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a food lover. And for me, the best part of traveling is trying new foods and cuisines. But eating out every lunch and dinner can get very expensive very quickly. On a two week trip, I will spend most of my budget on meals. But when I’m traveling for a long time, I make sure to stay somewhere with a kitchen so I can cook my own food several times a week.

9.

Book direct and avoid third-party booking sites for the best rates.

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By all means, use Agoda or Hostelworld to find the best place to stay, but whenever possible, try to book your accommodation and transport directly with the hostel, hotel or B&B. You’ll avoid random charges, and if something goes wrong with your booking, it’s always much easier to fix the problem when no third party is involved.

ten.

Take advantage of Skyscanner’s search everywhere feature.

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If you’re flexible, you can travel wherever the deals take you. I love Skyscanner’s search everywhere feature because you can enter dates and find the cheapest flight available without having a specific destination in mind. That’s how I ended up taking a 24 euro flight from Rome to Bulgaria and had the best time in a place I wouldn’t have visited otherwise.

11.

Get a local SIM card.

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Don’t get stuck paying exorbitant data roaming charges. If your phone is not locked to a network, you can buy a local SIM card for cheap. Get a basic data plan – enough to use Google Maps and Messenger on the go – and do most of your web browsing and social media scrolling while on Wi-Fi. Try getting a map SIM that works in all (or most) European countries.

12.

If you are traveling for a long time, budget by month rather than by day.

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When I tried to stick to a daily budget, it didn’t go well. I found it difficult to juggle larger expenses like bus tickets with smaller expenses like daily meals. I found that budgeting on a monthly basis was much more effective. Some days I was spending $10 and some days $100, but seeing it all averaged over 30 days made a lot more sense.

13.

Use a journal or app to track your spending.

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During my first month abroad, I didn’t really keep track of how much I was spending, and it got a bit overwhelming. It didn’t help that I was in London, which seemed like the most expensive city in the world. But then I started using the TripCoin app, which makes the whole budgeting process easier by helping you plan and log your expenses. I organized a trip with TripCoin for each month I was away, which helped me stay on track.

14.

Consider traveling during shoulder or off-season.

15.

Don’t underestimate hostels – they are often better than you might expect.

16.

Make friends if you are traveling alone and maybe even share some expenses.

17.

Use public transport whenever you can.

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Using public transport in a new place can be daunting, especially if you don’t speak the local language, but Ubers and taxis really add up. Ask your hotel reception for advice on using public transport. So trust Google Maps, which offers a transport option that will show you the best way to your destination using buses, metros or trains complete with timetables and route numbers to make it easier for you.

18.

Prioritize and determine what is worth spending money on.

Do you have any tips for saving money while traveling? Tell us in the comments below!

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