22 tips to travel cheaper in Europe
Do you dream about traveling in Europe, but think your budget is too tight? You are in the right place! Here are 22 tips to travel cheaper in Europe - and often. You will find here a complete guide about how to eat, stay, commute, and do many other activities for less.
Hostels have a lot of benefits: low price, meet-up opportunities, and they’re well situated.
A lot of travelers avoid hostels because they don’t like to sleep in a dormitory with others. However, a lot of hostels offer private rooms, some even with an en-suite bathroom! HostelWorld and Booking are the most famous websites to find a good offer.
2. Night bus
Falling asleep in France and waking up in Spain, Portugal or Italy is possible, thanks to night buses. Traveling by night will save you a night at the hotel and you won’t waste one day of your holiday.
A lot of bus companies offer great deals. The most famous are : Flixbus, the leader with more than 2,500 destinations, and Blablabus, formerly known as Ouibus.
One piece of advice if you travel by night: travel light or find a porter service while waiting to check-in (usually between 12 and 3 pm). Alternatively, you can ask your hotel if you are allowed to leave your luggage at their desk.
3. Compare the price
Always compare the price on the booking website of the hotel and the different booking platforms. On the booking websites, use the “Filters” section to find hotels from the cheapest to the highest price, then finalize your choice by using the reviews and pictures.
Create an account on the price-comparative and booking websites you use the most to receive fidelity points and promotions, like Genius on Booking.
4. Barter platforms
The concept is simple: people offer or receive homestays – for free or at a cheap price – in exchange for performing agreed-upon tasks. A lot of platforms exist nowadays, and here are the most well-known:
- HELPX : Volunteer work in exchange for food and free stay in hostels and lodges.
- WWOOF : Work as a volunteer on a farm – organic – in exchange for meals and homestay.
- Couchsurfing : Staying at a local as a guest, there’s nothing better to help with cultural exchange.
- NightSwapping : When you host someone at yours, you earn points you can exchange for money or a free stay during your trips.
- TalkTalkBnb : If you want to improve in a foreign language, this platform is for you.
- Pet-Sitting : If you love pets, you can stay for free in exchange for taking care of your host’s pets during their holidays.
Everyone knows Airbnb, so instead of introducing the famous platform, here are some tips to make your stay cheaper :
- During off-peak season, try to call the owner directly and negotiate the price.They’d rather rent at a cheaper price than have an empty place.
- New owners on AirBnB don’t have history or reviews yet, so they quite often accept a reduced price.
- Don’t forget the sponsorship offer. If you’re a new customer, you can ask for a discount of up to €30 on your first booking.
- Depending on the duration of your stay, you can be granted a discount of between 5% and 40%.
6. Avoid the peak season
If your budget is limited, avoid traveling during summer, Christmas, and more generally the end of the year. These are the most expensive times to travel in Europe. Also, accommodation options are more likely to be fully booked and you will have to queue longer for any of the activities of your choice. During winter, hotel prices can drop down to 40%.
7. Choose nearby transport
Before booking your accommodation, check where the subway or train station is. This is very important, as you will spend more money on taxis otherwise. You should also check for the safety of your location, for example, is it a lively neighborhood? To check these two potential issues, you can :
- Contact the hotel directly and ask them. On Booking, the presentation of the hotel and the reviews should tell you more about the area you wish to stay in.
- Use Google Maps to check if there’s a station nearby and Google street view to have a look around the neighborhood.
8. Plan and optimize your trip
Write down a to-do list of the activities and visits you wish to experience in advance. Try to list attractions nearby to each other on the same day to avoid wasting your time and money with commuting. You could also walk if they’re close together and save more money.
If you don’t like to plan, keep a map of the city with you; most of them show the main touristic activities. You’ll be able to check which ones are close together.
9. Commuter pass
A commuter pass is a very effective way to save money. Usually, in all European countries and cities, you might find commuter passes for 3 days, 7 days, 15 days, and a month. Choose the one that fits your stay best as you can usually use these passes for all kinds of transportation (metro, bus, tram).
Before your trip, compare the different kinds of passes and figure out which one fits your needs.
10. Travel pass between cities
InterRail Pass is a train ticket allowing you to commute on the European railway network at a lower price than usual. You can pick up a certain amount of travel days during a fixed time.
There are two kinds of passes:
- Global Pass : covers several cities in different countries.
- One country Pass : covers several cities in the same country. Travellers under 27 years old are granted a 25% discount
Bus companies offer exactly the same kind of passes. Flixbus Interflix costs €99 to discover 5 cities within Europe.
Time to choose your favorite destinations and stops!
Eat for cheap tips
This is THE solution for a tight budget, especially when you’re visiting expensive areas or if you stay for a long time. That being said, if you want to cook during your trip, you have to look carefully at your accommodation, as a kitchen fully equipped is needed. Most of the hostels and Airbnb bookings allow you to cook.
Also, cooking is a good opportunity to discover local farmers’ markets and have a chat with a local.
What is better than having lunch outdoors surrounded by all the green grass? There are amazing parks, absolutely safe, in European cities. On top of that, some of them offer a picnic area with a BBQ. Go to the supermarket and buy all you need for a perfect – but cheap – meal. Fruits, vegetables, biscuits, bread, cheese - everything is allowed!
13. Les buffets
Buffets are the best option in terms of quantity-price ratio. You can find all your daily needs in one meal and for around €10. To find a buffet restaurant nearby, check the localization on Google Maps, and choose the one with the best review.
14. Street food
Most of the time, street food markets offer quick and cheap meals, for a cost between €3 to €6 per dish, depending on the country. On top of the cheap price, it’s quite often delicious, generous, and it is a great opportunity to eat local food.
15. Fill your own bottle
Buying a bottle of water each time is not only unwise for your budget, but also for the environment. Tap water is a good solution to drink healthy and cheap during your stay. Think about buying your own reusable bottle before traveling and fill it with water during your trip.
16. Don't snak too much
If you add all the tiny ice creams, crepes, chocolate bars, coffees, crisps, and so on, your budget might melt in the blink of an eye. Try not to abuse snacks and spend your money on substantial, healthy, and cheaper meals.
17. Tourist maps
You can find specific maps for tourists – offering refunds on some activities and commuting, or free entry to the museum – in most of the big European cities. Before buying, compare it with what you want to visit and what is included in the package and decide if it’s worth it.
18. Museum free entry day
In several European cities, you can visit a museum for free one specific day of the month. Usually, it is on a Sunday or a bank holiday. If you’re around during that time, plan your visit that day. Madrid and Paris are well-known for following this free of charge day.
9. Fee walking tours
A free walking tour, as you might have guessed, is a free tour of a neighborhood in one of the most famous European cities. You can join for free, as there are no fixed fees, and if you like the walk, you can give as much as you like. Beforehand, you have to book your tour. To find where to book, you just have to search for the name of the city and add “free walking tour”. A lot of different kinds of tours are available, like food, by night, historical, shopping, etc. The booking is usually made online and you’ll be sent the meeting point by email.
20. Free activities
There are many other activities you can enjoy for free. Check on Google in advance by searching “free activities + name of the city”. You will be amazed by the amount of entries you will have: hiking, walking, free shows and festivals, exhibitions in cultural centers, historic monuments, street art, street dance, etc.
21. Choose your paid activities wisely
Always write down a to-do list of activities and select the ones you don’t want to miss following these rules :
- There’s no obligation for you to see/visit everything. Choose activities you really enjoy, or else you will spend your trip running from one place to another, queuing a lot, spending money, and not enjoying your visit once.
- Sometimes it’s worth forgetting the very touristic spots and trying to discover local activities. Like a Local Guide is a very good website you should check out.
- Always read reviews about the places/activities you want to do in order to avoid tourist traps, especially when it’s expensive. Check the name or activity on Tripadvisor and go straight to the review section. You will find all the information and tips you need.
22. Assurance voyage
Traveling is going for an adventure; discovering, feeling free, and we all know that. However, unfortunately, some unforeseen events might occur, such as an accident, a disease, or a canceled flight and lost luggage. These unexpected events might cost you a lot of money if you are not insured. With AXA Insurance, you can subscribe online to different kinds of insurance policies, with very competitive prices.
So? Are you ready for your next trip to Europe? We hope these few tips will help you kickstart your planning and discover the European places you’ve always dreamt of without spending too much.
Also discover : Top 10 most beautiful countries in Europe