We’ve been trying very hard to keep things quiet, but we’re getting too excited! We are heading to Europe!!! Between planning our first Wandergive Project while in the Philippines and taking Tom’s family around, everything has been a big whirlwind of events. In a few weeks’ time, we are packing our bags and heading to Europe, land of charming old cities, amazing landscapes, and well….good cheese and wine!
Now, being that Europe is MASSIVE, a lot of planning needs to take place, especially if we want to do it as cheap as possible. Europe on a budget? Sounds impossible. Consider it a challenge accepted. The task of planning your dream Eurotrip may be daunting but fear not, use this guide to help you make the most out of your holiday.
First up, naturally is sorting out your visa. If you’re part of the lucky ones that don’t need a visa, give yourself a pat on the shoulder. If you have a third world passport like me, brace yourself because the application process is tedious! The minute you begin toying with the idea of planning a Eurotrip, start thinking about your visa. I have personally applied for the Schengen visa twice, once from the Spanish embassy and the second from the French. My word of advice, be thorough.
Make sure you have all the paperwork ready and most of all, don’t be nervous. Stand your ground and make sure you can prove that you have no reason to extend your visa and you have plans of returning to your home country. Apart from visas, make sure you have travel insurance booked (a requirement for applying for a Schengen visa). If you’re planning on renting a car and driving around, you need an International Licence (or at least a valid one from your home country).
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Show me the Money
One of the very first things that you should do is determine how much money you’re willing to spend on your trip. Do your research and set a budget. Your budget will help determine which places you will go, how long you will travel for, and which modes of transportation you will use. Eastern Europe tends to be much cheaper than the rest of Europe so if you’re in a bit of a tight budget, consider going to those areas. There are loads of information online on the average cost of living in each place. If you’re traveling with a companion, make sure you have similar budgets in mind!
Money Saving Tricks while in Europe:
- Go on picnics– Rather than eating out, opt to hit the grocery and go on picnics instead.
- Travel during off season– Summer seasons is quite expensive so to save some money, avoid planning your travels during summer and other peak dates like Christmas and New Years.
- Connect with old friends/relatives– Accommodations will always be your biggest expense. Reach out to friends or homestay communities for a free night’s sleep on their couch!
- Bring a student ID card– Most tourist attractions or museums will give a student discount
- Get to know your free entertainment options– Not all activities have to be expensive. Make the most out of free museum days and city walks.
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Planning your Itinerary
Traveling in Asia is slightly different that traveling around Europe due to the costs. In Asia, it’s so easy to just rock up in a place, find a cheap hostel or even jump on the next bus when you want to move places. Although this is still possible in Europe, most of the time, if you want good deals, having an idea on where you want to go and the places you want to see will help reduce your costs. Will you be traveling through neighbouring countries or will you have to fly from one place to the other? A great way to begin planning your itinerary is by deciding on what you want to see.
Do you want to see the Eiffel Tower? Do you want to stuff your face with as much pizza and pasta as you can (true story)? Do you want to spend your time in small villages or visiting castles? By deciding on what you want to do, you can start mapping out a set route depending on what you want to see and things you want to do. Interested in catching some festivals? I personally love planning my itinerary around festivals. A couple of years ago, I flew to Amsterdam twice just to catch a couple of music festivals which were super fun. Planning to run with the bulls? Drink your way through Oktoberfest? Or experience a true Hannover Christmas Market? The key is to look ahead of time and try to plan around key events and things that you want to do.
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One of the beautiful things about traveling around Europe is you can hop from one country to another in a span of a day! In the past, I travelled around Europe using mainly buses and flights, taking the occasional train. This time around, we are beyond excited to be sponsored by Eurail for train passes.
Yes, you heard right, FREE RAIL PASSES (cue in happy dance)!
With our rail passes, we plan to compare the costs of traveling by train and booking low cost budget airlines or buses. I am so excited to be riding in trains as we enjoy the awesome scenery around Europe. You will definitely be reading more of this in our upcoming posts! Another great option to consider when planning what transportation to use is by booking last minute airline deals. Sometimes, flying can come out cheaper than land transport if booked ahead of time! Be wary though of budget airlines and their many hidden costs and additional fees-always read the fine print.
Related: Best Ways to Travel around Europe
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When I was traveling Europe, I slept in so many random couches of both friends and random strangers (thank you, couchsurfing!) I was lucky because so many of my friends offered to put me up which helped minimize my overall expenses. Apart from the usual hostels, consider alternative accommodations like couchsurfing, home exchange, or even house sitting. Alternatively, if you have any special skills, you might be to work out an x-deal with where you can stay in hostels in exchange for some help with their marketing, reviews, or even something as simple as housekeeping. Also, don’t be afraid to explore other options like airbnb, which we love! P.S. Want free travel credit on your next holiday? Sign up using the link below!
Free Travel Credit: $36 Air Bnb credit
After you’re done sorting out your general plan, will come the most important part…getting excited about your trip! Remember that at the end of the day, it’s your trip so only do the things that you want. There are loads of available itineraries on the internet on ideal routes but if you follow it to a tee, you will end up missing out on things that YOU want to do. So remember to pack light, be resourceful, and see and do as much as you can!