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At the end of the post, I have also collected a bunch of useful resources for Europe, so stick around until the end!
You can also check out my Europe Trip Planner guide for 91 pages worth of Europe travel tips + bonuses!
SAVE MONEY ON FLIGHTS
#1 Book your flights at least 3 months in advance.
This will help you make sure that you have the best price for your dates. The later you book, the fewer seats will be available and chances that the same flight will cost you 1.5-2X are very high.
I find three months before to be the optimum time to book, especially if you plan to travel in the peak season in Europe.
#2 Pick the city you fly into Europe first carefully.
Choose ‘Everywhere’ option on Skyscanner to see where you can fly for the cheapest.
You can then drop down a month and see which destinations have the cheapest flights. This would also help you to plan your itinerary once you know your expected destination port.
You should also keep in mind that some countries have more relaxed Schengen visa requirements compared to others. As a first time traveller, it is advisable to fly in via Western Europe as they are more used to handling tourist visas.
I have heard of incidents where some countries (I will not name which) have rejected visas for pretty much no reason and do not offer a reasonable repeal process.
Some of the cheapest flights and also smooth countries (visa wise) to fly into Europe are London, Paris and Frankfurt. Depending on where you plan to travel, pick one of these and branch out!
#3 Look for multi-city layovers.
Layovers can be painful but if you are flying in from another continent and you have limited flights, one way to save money on return tickets is to opt for a longer or multi-city layover.
Sort flights by duration or “stops” and check if the longer multi layover flights are cheaper. Chances are, they will be!
# 4 Set up price alerts six months or a year in advance.
SAVE MONEY ON HOTELS
#5 Book hotels one or two months in advance.
Even though flights get booked out faster, many hotels try to get rid of last minute excess inventory by offering various deals and offers. For popular places, book two months in advance. For small cities or villages, you can also book just a month in advance.
#6. Explore small guesthouses or rent apartments via Airbnb.
This will allow you to have more privacy, a kitchen and parking space if you plan to rent a car and travel. Some places also offer free breakfast made by locals that is definitely a perk.
7. Check out Housesitter to see if you can stay for free in exchange for housesitting.
In this case, you pay a small upfront fee and can stay in as many places as you want for a year once the host accepts you. You may have to take care of pets or have some additional household duties but you get to stay for free. How crazy is that?
8. Consider renting a luggage locker at the train station to save money on accommodation.
This may not be possible in small European cities so always check up before time to make sure you have the possibility to deposit your luggage for a small fee.
9. Stay in places with free breakfast.
Even though some budget hotels or hostels may only offer a small sandwich with coffee, you can easily save $5-$10 per person, per day if you have breakfast included in your hotel tariff.
10. Consider sharing a dorm in a backpacker hostel to cut down costs drastically.
Sharing a room with 15 other loud backpackers may not be ideal, but its one of the cheapest way to find accommodation, meet new people, get free maps and find cool local tours that may even be subsidized.
11. Consider using cheap airlines.
For long distance travel, consider booking cheap airlines such as Ryan Air, Easy Jet and Wizz Air.
Beware of luggage restrictions and check-in penalties, so when you travel with budget carriers make sure to read your ticket in fine-print to avoid any last minute penalties.
12. Travel with a carry-on luggage.
Traveling with budget carriers can be even more useful if you only carry free cabin luggage and avoid checking in any luggage altogether. For this, you would need a Ryan Air approved backpack or suitcase and is an excellent way to travel if you don’t want to pay excessive fees.
13. Rent a car.
When traveling in a group, consider renting a car especially in countries where train travel requires reservations and isn’t always efficient. Generally, France, Spain and Italy are good places to cover by road as trains can be incredibly expensive, hard to book last minute and have hefty reservation fees.
14. Think about taking buses for short distances.
For last minute, solo and slightly longer travel, buses are an excellent way to travel between major cities. You can even get a 5-time pass from Flixbus for roughly $105. Sometimes bus tickets can be found for as low as $5-$10 each way.
Hitch-hiking is common especially in Western Europe but I wouldn’t recommend it to solo-travelers visiting Europe for the first time. Nevertheless, if you are used to traveling around Europe and have company, you can get from point A to B, relatively free.
16. Consider a Eurail pass.
Get a Eurail pass if you plan to visit more than 3 countries and take high-speed trains. The Eurail pass allows you to travel across selected countries for a fixed period of time on a standard fare. If you plan a long trip and expect to take a few high-speed trains that are generally expensive, getting a Eurail pass before hand can help you save on travel costs.
17. Don’t exchange cash at airports.
Exchange cash at the city center instead of at an airport where you are likely to be charged more. Check your withdrawal fees with your bank before traveling to avoid unpleasant surprises at ATM’s abroad.
18. Always carry $100 in cash minimum.
Some places in Europe like Germany only take cash in the majority of places. This may be counter-intuitive but if you rely only on paying by credit or debit cards everywhere you go, you may be either unable to pay or be charged heavy withdrawal fees in countries that are cash-intensive.
Keep at least a $100-$200 in the local currency with you at all times.
19. Get a free overseas withdrawal credit card.
You can save money on withdrawals by opening a Transferwise Borderless A/c in advance.
This allows you to keep various wallets in different currencies and you can also use the debit card to pay and withdraw cash as you go. If you run out of cash, it is also easy to get a reload from friends or family abroad fairly easily.
EXTRA MONEY SAVING TIPS FOR EUROPE
20. Check out free walking tours.
In such tours you only have to tip the host at the end of a trip. These tours are short (two-three hours) and available in English. Sandeman is my go-to favorite but you can also check other free walking tour companies online or where you are staying.
21. Consider skipping the city card.
The city card is a classic tourist trap. Unless you plan to visit a lot of museums and use a ton of public transport, it is likely you can do your trip cheaper if you DIY. Europe is very pedestrian friendly and you can easily cover a lot of sightseeing on foot for free.
22. Check free museum entry days to avoid hefty fees.
All major museums offer free entry once a week or on special dates. You can check this online in advance and save $5-$20 in fees just by visiting the museum when there is free entry.
23. Pick up food from a supermarket or street vendors to cut back on food costs.
Service in Europe, especially in Western Europe can set you back on your budget pretty fast. To avoid piling up these costs, consider picking up fresh bread, cheese, wine, beers, sandwiches, and local snacks as you go.
24. Get a local sim card to avoid roaming fees.
You can purchase a Lyca-mobile or a Lebara sim card from most supermarkets or train stations. These providers offer excellent prepaid calling and data plans that start from $5. The European Union also stopped charging roaming fees that means no matter where you pick up your sim card it will work pretty much everywhere on the same plan.
25. Use free toilets in trains, buses and airports as much as possible.
Most city centers or public toilets will charge you $1-$3 per entry. This can quickly add up on a long trip. Most major transport hubs should have free toilets, although some may also be chargeable. However toilets are always free on board buses, trains and planes.
Want more tips on what to see and how much to budget for Europe?
OTHER USEFUL EUROPE TRAVEL TIPS
- The Complete Europe Travel Checklist
- How To Apply For A Schengen Visa And Tips For Success
- 15 Tips To Travel Safely In Europe As a Female Traveler
- The Ultimate Europe Backpacking Route
- How Much Backpacking In Europe Costs ( It’s Less Than You Think)
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I’m Shruti, the founder of Indian Girling & Digital Empires. I believe in creating a life that you don’t need a vacation from.
On this website, you will find tips on how to travel Europe, personal growth and how to become a blogger.