Traveling cheap through Europe has never been easier. With the plunging value of the euro, the increase of budget airlines, and the “sharing economy” (think Airbnb and Uber), it's now easier than ever to get the most out of your Eurotrip. But with so many cool European cities to check out, planning your Eurotrip can still be an overwhelming experience, especially if it's your first time in Europe. Here are some great tips to make your trip to Europe the most exciting it can be, without putting you in debt!
Book a budget airline.
Take out the annoyance of travel with speedy, (and inexpensive!) airline options like Westjet, Easyjet, and Wow Air. Knowing the right places to get cheap flights can get you low fares, and is great for both the plan-in-advance traveler or the traveler who likes some flexibility with their planning. With a low base fair, you only need to pay for any carry-on items with you for a minimal fee. For the savvy traveler, signing up for an airfare watch site will send you alerts when major airlines dramatically reduce their fares over a specific set of dates, allowing you to save even more money.
Take a ride on the Eurail.
Perhaps the most famous of travel options throughout Europe - and a great way to travel cheap in Europe—is the Eurail, which, in order to compete with these budget airlines, has become less expensive over the years, and provides a comfortable and fast method of transportation to essentially anywhere you’d like to go on your Eurotrip. Though traveling at night can be a bit pricier than during the day, the Eurail can cover vast distances at a more flexible schedule than provided by a Budget Airline, and there are many intriguing places to travel by train in Europe.
Take local transportation or rideshare app.
When reaching your destination, a common question is how to get around during the day—some distances are just too far to walk! One option may sound familiar: many major European cities now have utilized Lyft and Uber, allowing you to see in advance how much your ride will cost, and then allow you to track your ride on a map as you head to your destination. But a great way to travel cheap in Europe—and an overall great cultural experience—is to utilize the local transportation in your city—the Underground (or the "Tube") in London and the Metro in Paris are considered some of the easiest modes of transportation to navigate, even for those experiencing the city for the first time.
Book an Airbnb.
Airbnb is a fun way to experience the culture of a city straight from the source: the locals! Hosts open up their homes to travelers looking for an authentic experience, providing recommendations of things to see, or even assisting you in booking activities unique to the area. Airbnb is a cost-effective way to get a true experience of whatever city in Europe you’re visiting, and it’s a great way to travel cheap in Europe—most Airbnbs are comparable in price, but often less expensive than local hotels or hostels. Much like airfare, booking in advance can get you the best availability and deals, but often you can snag a great rate for a last-minute trip. You can even now rack up travel points when booking Airbnb stays to use on future trips.
Get a museum pass.
Many major cities in Europe offer tourist-friendly museum passes for a flat rate. These passes allow access to the magnificent museums open to the public over a certain period (usually starting from a two day pass to a six day pass). For example, Paris’ museum pass offers entrance to such famous places as the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, and the Arc Du Triumphe—amongst dozens of others—for a fraction of the cost of what it would be to buy each entrance ticket separately. Tickets can often be found at the Tourist Center of manor major transportation hubs, or at the ticket counter of many museums. Many cities also offer the ability to buy tickets in advance via their website.
Check out "no fee" days and local free events.
Even if the museum pass isn’t for you, check in advance to see if must-see sights offer “No Fee” or (if applicable) student discount days—this is an amazing way to make traveling cheap through Europe possible. Many museums and local art centers will allow free access to their galleries, showrooms, or theatres, but make sure you arrive in advance—some museums may cap the number of entrants, or have certain hours in which fees are waived.
Frequent Flier & Credit Card Travel Perks
Traveling cheap in Europe shouldn't break the bank, so definitely utilize the travel offers that come with many major credit cards. Many major airlines have now opened up their own credit cards that allow cardholders to rack up miles, that can be used on airfare or associated hotel and car companies. For example, the American Express Delta SkyMiles Credit Card offers its cardholders one point for every dollar spent on any purchase, and two points for any Delta related purchases. It also offers perks like waiting the fee for your first checked bag, and priority boarding, in addition to big milestone perks for spending a specific amount on the card in a specified time, or referring new cardholders. It’s likely that your own bank offers a credit card with great travel incentives as well.
Exchange currency in advance.
A key hint to traveling cheap in Europe is to check the currency exchange rate with the European city you’re going to. Often times, credit card companies will charge you a large fee when spending money in a country that doesn’t use your currency—money you could be spending on a crepe in Paris! Check with your bank prior to travel not just to alert them of your upcoming plans, but to get informed on the exchange percentage fee. Some travelers often find that Travelers Checks are the way to go, or prefer to order a set amount of currency from their home bank in advance of traveling, so that the rate doesn’t fluctuate in the midst of your plans.
To avoid pesky overweight baggage fees, be sure to layer up! Wearing light, easily removable layers gives you versatility in your clothing choices—changing up your style from European city to city—but also can cut down on your laundry. Laundry is not something that’s always possible in your hotels—or if it is, it can be outrageously expensive. If your goal is to travel cheap in Europe, this an especially helpful tip to make sure you’re always feeling comfortable, no matter where your adventures take you
Find a reliable mobile internet company.
Looking into a mobile internet company is an excellent way to travel cheap in Europe. Just like credit card companies, your phone company will charge you (often outrageous) roaming fees just to make and receives calls and texts. Companies such as Skype and Google Voice allow you to make international calls, regardless of what European city you’re in. Making sure you have a plan in advance of how to make calls in an emergency is an important step to making sure your Eurotrip is as great as can be.