One of my favorite things to do is travel. I have had the travel bug my whole life and when in college I was itching to go on a trip with my boyfriend.
Being in college we didn’t have a ton of money, however, we were able to plan a trip to Europe on a budget. Keep reading to find out what I did to cut costs and be able to afford me a European trip!
I had never been out of the country except to the Caribbean on a cruise with my family. My boyfriend is an avid cyclist and had always dreamed of seeing the Tour de France, so we decided we wanted to go to Paris for our big trip.
The idea of a big trip sounded really fun, and doing so we were taking a big step in our relationship by going on a big trip out of the country together! However, there was one little but the very important thing to keep in mind, I didn’t have much money to spare since I was in college.
After planning when we wanted to go on our trip, which was 12 months later, aka next summer for the next Tour de France, I was able to save up enough money. We bought everything on a budget before the trip, such as flights, and budgeted our money while we were on our Europe vacation for two weeks!
In this article, I’m going to tell you how I was able to travel to Belgium, France, and London for two weeks for cheap!
1. Browse Plane Tickets On The Regular
Plane tickets can be a big chunk of your traveling expense. What we did was we bought our tickets in the fall for our summer trip, so about 8 months in advance as soon as they became available. We also flew in and out of Brussels, Belgium because it was the cheapest to do out of all of the countries we were visiting.
When looking at tickets sometimes early is better, but also keep an eye out for deals such as events like Black Friday. Also, when looking at plane tickets compare prices of how much it would be to fly into the various countries you are planning to visit or if it’s cheaper to fly to a specific city you weren’t planning to visit first and make a day out of it before traveling to your destination!
We also flew out of Brussels which was a bit of pain instead of taking a flight out of London where we ended the trip. However, we made the most of it and were able to save hundreds of dollars doing so!
2. Stay In Hostels and/or Airbnb’s
Initially planning this trip we were going to stay in Airbnb’s to cut down on costs. However, the hotels were just about the same price as staying in an Airbnb, I think this is because we were staying in cities that were known for attracting tourists, aka Paris and London. Because of this, we decided to just stay in hotels while visiting and used Kayak or Expedia to find the best deals.
When looking at places to stay on your trip, take a look at Airbnb first to see if there are any good deals compared to the high price of a hotel. Also, look at hostiles! Hostiles are a wonderful way to save a bunch of money on your trip and great when you are traveling on a budget! Take a look at the different hostiles in the cities that you are visiting, some hostiles are as cheap as a few dollars a night!
3. Plan Ahead
You’re probably thinking, well duh. But I don’t mean just plan where you are staying and when you will be traveling.
I mean, plan the nitty gritty details of each day and what you want to do. If you make a travel plan with what you want to do each day of your trip this can help you cut some costs.
A few months prior to our big trip, my boyfriend and I sat down and wrote down everything we wanted to do and see while on our trip.
We then planned out what days we wanted to do attractions.
This gave us a good idea of how much we would be spending each day, but also helped us save money.
By doing this, we could also save money on transportation by planning the activities we wanted to do that were in the same area on one day, instead of spreading it out.
We also planned out how much we wanted to spend each day, so if we were spending x amount of money on a museum or activity we would then pair that with something free for the day, or make sure to eat somewhere cheap for dinner.
4. Spend More Time In The Cheapest Country
This is if you are planning to go to multiple countries. If you are only headed to one country but plan to travel around, do this with cities!
Do some research and figure out what country is the cheapest to stay at. Such as hotel costs, food, etc. For our Europe trip, this was Brussels, Belgium. We spent more days in Belgium than anywhere else.
We were still able to see and enjoy the other countries, but we definitely saved a couple hundred dollars with this method.
If you aren’t traveling to different countries on your trip but want to visit various cities, try this tip as well.
5. Use Public Transportation
If you can, use public transportation whenever possible! Sometimes it may seem easier to just call an Uber or a cab, but in the long run, you will definitely be saving your mula.
Again, do your research before your trip! Look up how you will get around town and what you need to do to get to the sights and activities you have planned.
Sometimes you might have to take an Uber or a cab, but when you can, take the bus or subway, which will result in saving some money! It will also be nice to get around like a local and gain a new experience!
6. Get Food From The Supermarket
This tip will save you a lot of money when you are traveling! When we were in Europe we would go to the supermarket and get breakfast and lunch food and go out for dinner!
Some days we would also get dinner at the grocery store. It seriously saves you a bunch of money if you aren’t constantly eating out.
If you are a foodie and are looking forward to the food, try to have one meal out a day and the rest you get much cheaper at the grocery store!
You can also find some yummy regional food you can’t get at home but for much cheaper than at a restaurant!
7. Visit On The Off Season
Research what the tourist offseason is for the city or country you plan to visit and schedule your trip for then!
For Europe, this is around November through March. We would have gone on the offseason and saved even more money if we weren’t going to see the Tour de France!
During the tourist off-season it’s easier to find cheap airfare and sometimes prices for hotels drop due to the lack of tourists needing a place to stay.
8. Take A Friend Or Two
On my Europe trip, I took my boyfriend, which would seem obvious since we wanted to travel together and take that next big step in our relationship as well as experience his dream of watching the end of the Tour de France in Paris.
However, it saved me so much money and was the reason we were able to go on this trip. This is because we split pretty much everything 50-50.
Bring a friend or two to cut down costs on pretty much everything. Hotel, food, etc. You will only need to pay for half of the hotel rooms you share, food from the grocery store, and cab/Uber rides if you need to take one.
This step seriously saved me hundreds of dollars and was the reason I was able to take my trip on a budget.
9. Give Yourself An Allowance
Give yourself a set amount of allowance per day or per country to spend on gifts/ souvenirs.
When I was a child traveling with my family I was sometimes given a trip allowance that I could spend on gifts and souvenirs.
I used this tactic while traveling in Europe since I was limited on funds. I gave myself a set amount that I would be okay with spending on little gifts and souvenirs in each country and I wouldn’t go over this amount I set for myself.
For me, it’s easy to waste money on trinkets and shirts that you think are super cute, especially when traveling.
I also love getting gifts for my friends and family when I go on vacation. This is such a waste of money!
I got one small gift around $5 USD for each of my family members and friends while abroad and a few things for myself.
By setting an allowance for myself I was able to stick to my budget and not waste money on the first cute sweatshirt I saw!
10. Visit Free Tourist Attractions
A lot of popular tourist destinations have free attractions. When you are doing your research and planning out your trip, look up what is free to do and see where you are visiting!
A lot of free attractions, such as various museums, historic locations, parks, etc. are really interesting and fun to see!
This is a great way to save money and spend the afternoon learning more about the city or country that you are visiting.
11. Visit Areas Without Tourists
If you are staying in a tourist area and feel comfortable venturing away, check out local restaurants and shopping! Sometimes the touristy areas hike up the price of food and goods because they can and know you will probably still spend a pretty penny since you are from out of town.
I highly recommend venturing away to a safe local area and checking out the shops and restaurants. You get to experience the authentic culture/cuisine and probably save a few bucks doing so! It’s a win-win!
12. Book With Costco/Sam’s Club
If you are a member of Costco or Sam’s Club you should check out their travel offers. Many people don’t know that with your membership comes traveling discounts!
My sister booked her honeymoon through Costco to an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean and said she got $400 in cashback.
If you are a member definitely check out their travel deals when planning your next vacation, it could save you or give you back a good chunk of change!
Now that you’re heading to Europe for vacation, read 13 Airport Travel Hacks That Will Change Your Life or pin for later!