Paris. Amsterdam. Barcelona. Athens. Berlin. Madrid.
Would you like to visit one of these cities in Europe? Well, so do a lot of people. Unfortunately, many give up on their dream destination because they instantly think, "too expensive".
They decide this without doing any research to actually find out how 'expensive' a place is. Granted, these are a few of the most outstanding cities in Europe and in the world. So, automatically, they are branded as costly.
However, you can live in these cities, and visit all the tourist attractions without going beyond your budget. But first, you need a ticket, visa, blah blah blah. However, when all that is sorted, your European dream is within grasp.
In September 2015, I packed up my bags and went to France on a study abroad program.
While there, I not only experienced how broke a student could become, or how hard it is to get a job (if you don't know where to look) but also learned how inexpensive Europe can be (it took me long enough).
Not only did I live in Paris for close to four months, I also visited 4 cities in Europe.
Amsterdam. Barcelona. Geneva. Frankfurt.
TRAVELLING AROUND EUROPE ON A BUDGET.
Barcelona, Spain (with a friend)
There aren't many places more exciting than Europe. You know why? Well, if you have a Schengen visa, you have access to 26 countries. A visa issued to any of the countries in the Schengen region is a Schengen visa. This visa allows you to cross from one country to the next without acquiring another visa.
These countries include France, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Italy among others. Basically, once you are in, you are free to roam around (legally, of course). Some of the top destinations are; Barcelona, Amsterdam, Athens, Rome, Paris, Madrid, the list goes on.
Yes, you can visit them all. All you need is a plan and some savings. Oh, and useful tips for budget travel all around Europe.
1.Book in advance; If you plan to travel to any destination, it is key to book in advance, especially if you are making reservations online. Hotels/hostels and air tickets are all cheaper if booked in advance. The earlier you reserve, the better. Flights within Europe can go as low as 30 euros (for a round trip).
Check out websites such as booking.com for cheap accommodation. This website has free cancellation and you can pay upon arrival (this depends on the hotel policy, though). It is helpful to invest in a visa card or a Paypal account that you can connect to your debit card. Remember, things are cheaper when purchased online.
2. Avoid traveling during peak seasons; In Europe, the peak season is commonly between June to late August i.e summer. Due to the immense inflow of tourists, plane tickets and accommodation are extremely expensive during that season. During the off season (the rest of the year), prices are lower and places are less crowded.
3. Group travel; It is generally cheaper if you travel in larger numbers. When 3 or more people check into a hostel/hotel, they pay less compared to an individual traveler. Ryanair.com also has great deals for group travelers. My friends and I used this website to score cheap plane tickets from Paris to Barcelona. Each of us paid about 39 euros (return ticket). A flight can be as cheap as taking the bus.
1st day in Spain with a couple of friends. Oh, Spain... how I miss you!
4. Stay at hostels, not hotels; Hotels are for loners and rich people and since you are reading this article, I assume you are neither ;-) Fine, I don't know what's in your pocket. What I know is that hotels are way overpriced in comparison to hostels. Since you will probably spend the entire day roaming around, you only need a bed, breakfast, and a shared bathroom. Isn't it great? (Check online reviews to find out how clean the bathrooms are before booking)
Plus, when you are in a new environment, you need to be around equally uncomfortable people. You are all new to this, so it's fun. How many people can say that they have shared a room with a Japanese, a Brazilian, a Canadian,and an Ecuadorians all at once? Huh? Hostels do that.
Plus, these equally excited strangers will be happy to share some tips on top tourist attractions and hang out spots.
5. Meet the locals. There is always that local spot without an online presence. Only the locals know about it. However, it's the place to be. In most cities, the locals will be happy to assist, especially in Amsterdam and Barcelona. Just smile, and ask. They will show you where the magic happens. Hello, Red light district!
6. Alternatively, hang with native speakers. On our trip to Spain, my friend and I traveled with our good pals from Mexico. Since they speak Spanish as a native language, this made communication so much easier.
7. Free tours; In most of the large cities in Europe, there are freelance tour guides who share their knowledge of the city at no extra cost (well, you can tip them at the end of the tour.) They usually start the tour at a central location and standard times. It is a great way to make friends and learn about the city you are visiting. You can google or ask at the hotel/hostel about these tours.
8. Get lost. Yes, I mean exactly that. Get up in the morning with no plan. Board a train and pick a random stop. In Spain, my friend and I ended up at the beach. In Germany, at a house party. In Paris, at a roof-top party. In Amsterdam, at the Amsterdam Light Festival. Unplanned experiences make the best stories.
9. Where to eat. Most hotels and hotels offer breakfast at no extra cost. As a budget traveler, there isn't any need to spend on a 4-course meal every day. Unless there is a local dish you have heard so much about, go simple and save up for a cable car ride or something that tickles your fancy. On the go, you can always pick up frozen pizza (2 euros), warm it in the microwave and voila, dinner!
Did I miss any important tips? Share them in the comment section below.
Happy travels :-)
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About the author
Hi, I am Angelica, a creative writer with a particularly intense interest in travel blogging.
I started this blog to write about what I love to do...Travel. And occasionally, a few other topics.
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