Tips For Cheap Travel In Europe
We all want to know how to take Europe by storm while managing to stay on a budget. Whether you’re studying abroad, or just have a desire to travel within Europe for a few weeks, this is the best way to make that happen!
I broke it down by finding flights/transportation, housing, tours, and my own personal experiences (and mistakes) to help you create travel plans that won’t break the bank.
Honestly, before I left America, I was ALL about Student Universe. I found a one-way flight from Cleveland to London for less than $200, AND it was on United, not some random sketchy airline. I ended up having a whole row to myself, but I think that was pure luck. This is pretty much exclusively for college students (you have to provide proof you’re in college) but they also have deals for people under 26.
Since I have been in Europe, I almost exclusively use Skyscanner (though I still always check Student Universe as well). Just make sure to put your laptop on incognito/private browsing; otherwise, they will track your IP address and jack the prices up when you visit in the future!
If you’re looking for organized travel within Europe, I HIGHLY recommend Bus2Alps. They have tons of trips within Europe for weeks or just weekends. My roommate has used them 5+ times to various places, such as Budapest, Austria, Greece, Morocco, Ireland, and a loop trip including 3-4 countries, and she raves about them! I’m going to Morocco with them next week, and the entire trip was about $300, including everything except the flight...and that is one of the most expensive trips they offer. (If you want to go to Morocco I recommend going with a group because it is cheaper and safer!) They also have super cool recent college grads as guides who can share coupon codes for you to use as well as recommend the best places to hit up in the cities. They even have optional excursions to add if they don’t have the specific trip and day trip you’re looking for.
Hostels are awesome ways to meet other people and travel for cheap. I just came off of a week-long trip to 3 countries where I stayed at different hostels. I prefer a female dorm, just staying with other girls, but you also have to remember hostel etiquette! A lot of them also offer free walking tours of the cities. I did this with my hostel in Berlin and Stockholm. A lot of my friends prefer them to meet other solo or small group travelers. We met some really cool German guys who invited my friends and me to play cards at the bar in the hostel, which was super fun! I stayed at the Generator in Stockholmm — they were fantastic, and they have chains all over Europe! Just don’t forget flip flops for shared showers, earplugs/ headphones if you are a light sleeper, your own towel, and pillowcase for cleanliness.
Airbnb tends to be more expensive for solo or small-group travel, but if there aren’t any good Hostels available, they can be great option. On the other hand, if you’re traveling with a group of 5 or more people, then splitting an Airbnb can be a great option simply because the number of people will bring down the price — I just booked one across the street from the Louvre in Paris for $35 per person! Airbnb also allows you to have your own space without hotel or hostel rules to follow.
Flight prices tend to drop on Tuesday mornings. I was looking at a one-way flight from Rome to Paris on a Monday for $53; on Tuesday morning, it dropped to $33! Sometimes, they will drop the prices the later you wait, so just keep checking. I also pull up the month on Skyscanner to see the cheapest prices throughout the month, so if you have flexible dates, that can help a lot! The majority of the time, I book my travel as two one-way flights, sometimes on two different airlines, to keep the cost down.
To lower costs even further, I recommend downloading Honey, the Chrome extension. They will give you coupon codes as you’re checking out… not just for flights, but for TONS of places across the internet!
One thing to remember is that flights within Europe are pretty inexpensive because of budget airlines (some are Ryanair, Vueling, Iberia, Wizz Air, Alitalia). They often don’t allow you to bring more than one backpack without paying extra and offer to sell you drinks, food and perfume (weird I, know). You don’t receive food and water like various American airlines will give you. This makes it relatively easy to get around once you’re in Europe.
Finally, always double-check your travel dates… don’t make my mistake of buying a ticket for a Tuesday, then showing up at the airport on Monday and realizing I was 24 hours early for my flight. Whoops.
So there you have it… my best advice, my silly mistakes, and everything you need to travel around Europe without breaking your budget! Good luck!
-Ally Andrus, University Tees Campus Manager and University of Dayton student