Monday, 13 October 2014

How to Travel Europe on a Budget

1. Buy in Advance
- Last minute deals are good but buying in advance is sometimes better.
- I have found amazing deals for euro-rail, plane tickets, bus tickets, hotel reservations etc all because I was booking months in advance. 
- Use a website like Sky Scanner that compares different airlines so you don't have to

2. Allow for layovers or longer transportation options
- On a regular basis I would do all I can to avoid layovers but if you are traveling Europe with only carry on baggage, it is not that bad and you can save a good chunk of change.

- To fly to Malta from London, we did a layover via Oslo Norway (complete opposite direction) but we saved around 100 GBP just by making a pit stop.
- To get to Paris one time my friend and I took the Megabus from London - which ended up only costing us 12 GBP each way. It took us over 9 hours to get there but we quite enjoyed the ferry ride with views of Dover and the coastal side of France. It was a budget trip made possible by finding cheap tickets.

3. Hostels
- Hostels can be as low as 9 euros a night.... need I say more
- Theres nothing more budget than a hostel, and the surprising thing is how nice some of them are
- Do your research and find one that's right for you
- New to hostels.. book a private room - it is still cheaper than a hotel 

4. Street Food
Copenhagen has amazing street food
- Skip the restaurants, Europe has some great food trucks and street food and you will save a fair bit of cash you can spend 5-10 euros instead of 20-30 euros
- some restaurants and cafes have sitting fees - so the hot chocolate that was only 4 euros is now 10 euros just for getting it in a mug and taking up a table (ask before you choose to sit)
- if you want to treat yourself to a sit down it is usually cheaper to do so at lunch time and then opt for some street food for dinner

5. Walking Tours
- they are inexpensive
- great for getting your orientation of a city
- learn the ins and outs - where to go, what to see, what to skip
- learn some history

6. Look into whats free 
- museums
- art exhibits
- parks
- outdoor spaces or monuments
- look into events happening in the city while you are there

While in Bergen, Norway we discovered that there was an Edvard Munch (The Scream Painter) Exhibit - and because we were there opening day is was FREE!
7. Prioritize
- For attractions that cost you money to get into, prioritize what are your MUST dos and what are your MEHs (for lack of a better word lol)
- Make a top 10 list
- Do your research and read reviews so that you don't end up spending money on something that leaves you disappointed

8. Use your Feet
- Save on your transportation costs and walk, it is also the best way to find hidden streets with cute shops or parks that you didn't know existed.
- If walking is out of the question, public transportation is always cheaper then taxis!

In Malta we did an hour long walk to Valletta instead of taking the bus and in doing so found this cute little garden space where we took a break in the shade and had a snack.

9. Local advice
- From doing a walking tour in Paris I learned how to save money buying Metro tickets
- In Salzburg my tour guide told me where to get the best Mozart balls (F├╝rst confectionery)
- Just make sure you still follow your gut - as some locals will guide you to particular places based on commission and not out of your best interests

10. Create a Budget
I always create a list of known costs during the planning process - this helps me eliminate things that are over my budget and also stops me from being over ambitious. I often find that if I make a budget before hand I am much more likely to use all the other tips above.. where if I just wing a trip I tend to overspend.

Here are some costs to look into beforehand:
- transportation - not just plane tickets but also taxis, metro, bus etc
- food
- hostel or hotel costs
- sight seeing costs - to get into attractions
- souvenirs

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