It’s all fun and games….until you run out of money. Don’t be that person. So unless you’ve discovered how to make money grow on trees, it is best to have a clear budget going into any trip. It seems like a daunting task at first, but I promise you, it’s simple. This three-part budget blog series serves as a guide to managing and saving your money while on a low-budget trip to Europe. Share your own tips or ask questions in the comment section below!
It all starts with one question.
What’s important to you? What is going to bring you the most happiness?
Okay, that was two questions. But think about it: What is important to you in a trip?
Is it important to have a clean, comfortable place to come home to after a long day sightseeing? Do you want to enjoy a nice meal for dinner? Do you prefer wandering through museums and galleries? Do you like to go to shows, such as attending the opera in Vienna or taking an internationally awarded cooking class in the Amalfi Coast? Do you live for the nightlife? Do you want to visit the “must see” spots, even if they come with a high admission ticket? Is it important to stay in a central location, or are you comfortable using public transportation into the city?
Determine those one or two important things and don’t even think about compromising on them.
From there, the trade-offs begin. When I backpacked Europe for three months, there were two important “non-negotiables.”
1) A female-only accommodation that didn’t exceed $35 per night (ideally $20 – $25). I grew to really love hostels, which all stayed at or below my maximum per-night budget. I read the reviews on HostelWorld to ensure the female-only rooms were clean, spacious and equipped with personal lockers. I also found really nice and affordable accommodations through Booking.com.
2) An authentic, local dinner at least once in each city. Enjoying the local cuisine (with drinks) is one of many great ways to experience the culture. To offset the cost of dinner, we chose to dine at cheap cafes for breakfast or took advantage of the complimentary hostel breakfast. We also aimed to eat a late breakfast so we could combine lunch and dinner. Introducing, LINNER (lunch + dinner)! I ate a delicious dinner at a local restaurant almost every night by being conscientious of spending in other categories.
Here are some easy ways to save money while traveling:
**Walk as much as possible and/or rent bikes. It’s not only cost effective but also an easy way to work off the delicious meals you’ll be eating!
**Take overnight trains – that’s one night you won’t pay for a hostel/hotel/etc. The overnight train when traveling to Budapest from Krakow was super comfy and easy!
**Find hostels with free breakfast. Take a banana/apple/granola bar from breakfast as a snack for a later in the day.
**EAT HEALTHY. You will stay fuller much longer. Even better, find a local supermarket to purchase healthy snacks.
**Avoid shopping. Your backpack is heavy enough! I repeat … YOUR BACKPACK IS HEAVY ENOUGH! If you’re an over-packer, check out my tips for packing light.
**Try to kick the coffee habit. Although in some places, the coffee is incredible. So if you’re in Vienna, for example, don’t skimp on the coffee!
**Go hiking! Amazing views, a great workout and completely free! Hiking is completely free and one of my favorite ways to stay active when traveling!
**Do some pre-trip research to find out when museums give discounts/free days. For example, if you’re traveling to Paris, many of the museums are free one Sunday a month.
**Take tip-based walking tours. Exercise + educational + affordable = a win all around!
Read part two of the budgeting series to learn how to create a daily budget for your trip. Or check out these other travel guides to Europe and travel planning tips:
- How to Choose the Perfect Hostel
- How to Plan a Long Trip Abroad: A Step-By-Step Guide
- 90-Day Itinerary for Traveling Europe
- 14-Day Itinerary for Traveling Europe by Train
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