- Fly city to city. There’re several budget airlines within Europe. Some fares can be as cheap as $50 round trip, sometimes making it cheaper than traveling by bus or train. Stay long term in a centralized city with a major international airport. Then hop back and forth to neighboring countries.
- Don’t miss out on Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe has a ton of charm, and it’s a lot cheaper! You’ll still see castles and medieval villages. Because Eastern Europe sees fewer tourists, it still retains much of its original culture and customs.
- Travel off-season. Off-Season is the best time to travel to Europe. There are fewer tourists, and you tend to get better deals and flights and lodging.
- Slow down. Slow travel is the best way to see Europe. As an American, you might only get a couple of weeks of vacation a year, but you’ll lose out on the cultural experience if you rush. Aim for one city a week or 2 weeks per country. Cramming more in means, you’ll spend more time traveling and less time experiencing.
- Pack less. Pack everything you think you’ll need and then leave half of it home. Save yourself the cost of extra baggage fees. If you’re traveling for a month or less, you should be able to fit everything you need in a carry-on.
- Don’t just stay at Hotels. Don’t burn your budget on a hotel room when all going to do is crash there. Find alternative lodging. Consider hostels, Couchsurfing, and Airbnb. If you are staying long-term look at a local listing for a short-term apartment.
- Don’t eat out all of the time. Eating at touristy places adds up. Restaurants near major tourist hubs gouge the tourist. Their objective is to move the masses through as quickly as possible. If you want to go out, find out where the locals go. However, the best budget-friendly way to eat is to go to the local grocery store or farmers market. Experience the culture and taste of what the locals eat daily. If you’re staying at a hostel or apartment, you’ll have access to a kitchen. Try making a local recipe.
- Rent a car if there are 3 or more of you. If you are in a small group rent a car to get around. You’ll save more than buying individual passes or tickets. It’s also super convenient. You’ll have the freedom to roam and see places you might not otherwise. If you’re leasing a car for your entire trip, check out Auto-Europe.
- Take public transport. Most cities Europe have terrific public transportation systems, including subway and train systems. They are generally safe and clean.</li
- Use a credit card with no foreign transaction fee. Check with your financial institution to find the best options for you. I used Navy Federal Credit Union, which does not charge a foreign transaction fee. Use an ATM to take out the maximum allowable for the day in local currency. You can always call your financial institution and ask to have the limits raised so you can take out more cash.
- Get a local SIM card. Face it, you want to show everyone on Instagram what a good time you are having. International roaming charges rack up fast. Buy a pre-paid SIM card within the country. It will give you a European mobile number and access to cheaper rates. For the best rates, buy a new SIM card every time you arrive in a new country. SIM cards are sold in mobile-phone shops, store electronics counters and vending machines. Usually, they cost around $5–10, and includes about that much-prepaid calling credit, without the contracts and commitment.
- Take advantage of the free walking tours. Most European cities have free walking tours. Often times they know of other budget-friendly attractions and where to eat for cheap. These tour guides work on tips so be generous when you can.
- Connect with the locals. There are apps and meet-ups where you can meet locals. Pubs are also great places to meet people. I find meeting the people and experiencing the culture makes a place much more memorable.
- Don’t be afraid to haggle. Prices aren’t written in stone. Treat the sticker prices at markets as a “suggestion” and then bargain from there. I have scored some incredible finds for pennies on the dollar.
What are your tips for traveling Europe? Please leave them in the comments below. We would love to hear them!