When I signed up for a year abroad, I knew that I wanted to spend the year travelling to as many places in Europe as possible. Luckily for me, my study placement in the Netherlands made most places I wanted to go pretty accessible. The only issue I had was affording the trips I wanted to go on. When I sat and worked my budget out, I realised that I wouldn’t have enough money to go to all the places that I wanted to visit. Not wanting to give up any of the places I wanted to visit, I set about figuring out how I could travel across Europe as cheaply as possible. Having already been on a couple of trips, these are some of my top tips.
The first thing you have to tackle when booking a trip on a budget is travel costs. Typically you’ll have to spend a lot on flights, especially if you’re not booking a trip months before your travel date. An app called ‘Rome2Rio‘ helped a lot with this. On the app, you just put in the place you want to go and it’ll give you the cheapest journey you can take. Unless airlines are having a particularly impressive sale, the cheapest journey usually involves taking a lengthy coach or train trip. For most people, spending between 8 and 14 hours on a coach or train sounds like hell, but if you’re well prepared, it’s not the hell you’d imagine.
Booking the journey at night-time will make it easier. By doing this, you don’t lose a day of your trip; also, 14 hours of travel is a lot easier if you can sleep through at least some of it. All you need is a travel pillow, blanket, some ear plugs and an eye mask and you’re all set. Lots of journeys may even have the possibility of a night train, which includes pull out beds. In addition to this method of travel being far cheaper, the environmental impact of coaches and trains is far less. Therefore, you’re saving money and reducing the negative impact your travels will have on the planet.
Another easy way to save money is by staying in a hostel or an Airbnb. Hotels in major tourist cities are usually quite pricey, so a hostel or budget Airbnb is usually a good idea. This is also a good way of saving money as Airbnbs and hostels will usually have kitchen facilities. Obviously, it’s nice to try the local food when abroad, but if you cook at least a couple of meals yourself, you’ll save a lot of money. In addition, if you’re going to a country which is particularly pricey, there’s no limit on what you can take on a coach or train, so it’s easy to buy snacks and alcohol in a supermarket to bring with you.
When travelling, it’s likely that you’ll have a long list of places you want to see in the short time you have. You could pay between 20 and 30 euros for a tour, or you could sign up for a free walking tour, which is equally as good. Most major European cities have free walking tours which you can sign up for online. Of course, tips are expected, but it’ll be far less than what a paid tour would cost.
Although I’m only a quarter of the way through my year abroad and still have lots of places left to visit, I’ve saved a lot of money on my trips so far. It’s important to remember that if you want to visit places on a student budget, things like comfort may have to take a backseat, but this certainly doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy your trip.