How to Survive Europe on a Budget
Planning to travel in Europe and wondering how to survive on a budget? We’ve got tons of amazing tips to help you see and experience it all!
Travelling through Europe is an experience everyone should have, but there are often two things holding people back: time and money. While we can’t help you find the time to travel, we can help you find ways to travel Europe on a budget.
One of the nice things about travel in Europe is that it can be cheap if you plan accordingly. If this is your first time travelling, you can easily find yourself caught in tourist traps or paying for things you don’t need. These are the things that can totally throw your budget off, so like everything in life, it’s best to prepare by doing your research. Nevertheless, Europe is an incredible continent, welcoming travellers from all over the world to explore its history, culture, and diverse landscape. Ready to start planning your European adventure? We’re going to show you How to Survive Europe on a Budget.
1. Plan Your Trip Well
Of course it’s so much more fun if you just pack up and take off on a spontaneous adventure. But it can end up costing if you aren’t careful. This is probably a good first step in our guide ton how to survive Europe on a budget. We strongly recommend planning out exactly where you want to visit, and choosing destinations close to each other to reduce travel costs and time. This will really help you save money on travel, and will also help you avoid retracing your steps.
This applies to packing as well! When you make your plan, pack exactly what you’ll need and nothing more. Bringing extra items means you carry an extra responsibility, and could also end up costing you in luggage weight if you don’t have a habit of packing light!
2. Make a Daily Budget
This is one of the essential budget tips for backpackers. Check how much you can realistically afford to spend each day, and don’t overestimate. If you struggle with keeping track of numbers, or even sticking to a budget, apps like Trail Wallet can help! Also, it’s a good idea to watch the market and see what your destination currency is worth compared to your own.
3. Low Cost Transport
Budget tips go a long way when it comes to transportation. For transportation options, we recommend looking into an Interrail or Eurail Pass. Rather than pay for several individual train tickets, you can purchase a single country ticket for a reduced price and get additional perks. For example, pass holders are entitled to a 10% discount at all Famous Hostels locations on advance bookings. If you choose not to get a pass, we recommend using platforms like Omio to get an overview and compare prices on trains, busses, and planes.
4. Eat Like a Local
It isn’t necessary to spend a fortune to eat well in Europe. Local food is often cheaper than imported goods, and it’s more authentic and flavourful. A great way to survive Europe on a budget is to go to local spots where you can try typical local cuisine without airs and graces. Another option is to buy food in supermarkets, or open air markets (great options for vegans or vegetarians). And finally, always book hostels that offer free meals to help you slash your budget even more!
5. Be Wary of Souvenirs
We all like to buy a little something for our nearest and dearest. But souvenirs are almost always overpriced and take up precious space in your backpack. Send a postcard, or visit a flea market instead for a cheap souvenir. Postcards are usually less than a euro, and postage is never expensive!
6. Act Like a Local
Europe is one of the most visited continents on earth, and as a result, its full of tourist traps and places which will happily charge you double than the norm. That’s why we recommend to act like a local to help you survive Europe on a budget. Not only does this give you a more authentic experience, it helps you save money. Find out where locals eat, drink, and party. Not sure where to go? We suggest taking to social media and finding spots in your destination by checking the location tag or hashtags. You can also ask reception and hostel staff where you’re staying.
7. Use Public Transportation or Walk
Europe has excellent public transportation networks. Busses, trains, trams and metros run in almost every city and are much cheaper than taxis or airport transfers. Use Google Maps to find out how to get around. Many countries and cities also have dedicated transit apps. Again, just ask hostel staff!
But if you’re more inclined to go by foot, that’s also fine. It will help you stick to a budget, and is generally a nicer way to see a city anyway.
8. Get a Rail Pass
If you’re planning to see more than one or two cities in Europe, consider purchasing an Interrail or Eurail Pass. It allows you to use almost every train (and some ferries) within Europe or a specific region. Interrailing is a popular way to travel around, especially because purchasing individual train rides can be expensive. Also, having an Interrail/Eurail Pass gives you a lot of discounts, such as 10% discount at Europe’s Famous Hostels! This is probably the BEST tip we can give on how to survive Europe on a budget.
9. Avoid Expensive Tourist Attractions
After travel and accommodation, this is where your wallet can take a hit. To avoid this, we encourage you to think outside the box. For example, planning to visit Paris and want to visit the Eiffel Tower? While it might seem necessary to go up the tower, what’s the point? Wouldn’t you rather get photos of Paris with the Eiffel Tower in it? We think you get our point here. With enough planning and research, you can decide where to spend your budget and still get a fantastic experience!
10. Explore Destinations with Free Walking Tours
The best (and cheapest) way to explore a city is with a Free Walking Tour. Destinations all over Europe offer several types of walking tours, but you can always find ones which focuses on the history of the destination. Most walking tours last two hours, and are filled with interesting tips and anecdotes you’ll enjoy. While the tours are free, it’s expected you tip your guide. We recommend at least 5€ as this is the only way they get paid for their time.
11. Bring Your Student Card
If you happen to be a student, we recommend you apply for an International Student Identity Card (ISIC). This is an internationally recognised card which provides students with incredible discounts and offers on a variety of activities and attractions. For example, the Acropolis in Athens offers free entrance to anyone holding a valid ISIC. Most websites will state if they offer a discount or not, but if you’re not sure, just ask before you pay.
12. Visit Free Museums and Galleries
Visiting museums while travelling is a pretty standard activity in Europe. Luckily for you, various cities (i.e. Barcelona, Rome, and Vienna) offer free entrance to museums on the first Sunday of the month. Rather than assume the museum or gallery you want to visit is free, we recommend checking the respective website to see which days are free, or discounted.
13. Use City Passes
If you’re planning to visit a lot of museums and attractions in a single city, consider purchasing a City Pass. Almost every city/region offers a City Pass and they’re a huge money saver. The passes allow you to visit an unlimited amount of sights within a certain time frame, and sometimes include public transport or a ride on a sightseeing bus! Purchase them online for the best deal.
14. Make Lunch your Main Meal
European restaurants and cafes often offer great lunch deals. Most of the time you’ll get about the same food portion as you would at dinner, but it’s much cheaper. Filling up on lunch means you only need a small dinner, saving you some cash.
But you can’t always avoid dinner, so we recommend going to local markets and cooking something at your hostel in the guest kitchen. You’ll notice a lot of other travellers will do the same and cooking together is an amazing way to make new friends! This tip will definitely help you survive Europe on a budget.
15. Stay in Hostels
Hostels are great places to meet people, participate in free activities, or hang out with a coffee and have a chat. All hostels in the Famous Hostels network are clean, highly rated, and always offer something special. Rooftop bars, social areas, free activities, and genuine connections can all be found in our hostels! See our Destinations page for a full list of Famous Hostel locations.
16. Make Friends
This is the secret to a successful adventure around Europe and it’s one of our most cherished budget tips for backpackers. We don’t mean make friends for personal gain though; we want to promote authentic friendships. You can team up to cook together to reduce your budgets. Learn about the people you’re travelling with, and you may make a friend for life. Your backpacking adventure is guaranteed to be your ultimate life experience!
How to Survive Europe on a Budget
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide on How to Survive Europe on a Budget. Through our own practice and experience, we guarantee that using these tips will help you stretch your hard earned money to help give you make incredible memories while travelling. You deserve this experience!
If you need more information to help you plan your adventure, click here for a range of helpful tips, city guides, food guides, and more. For all the latest news at Famous Hostels, follow us or subscribe on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Youtube.