There’s no denying that traveling around Europe can be expensive. I mean, when you compare it to traveling around other continents such as Asia, it’s quite intimidating just how much it can break your budget. However, this shouldn’t keep you from venturing here and exploring till your heart is content. Here are a few of my top tips on the cheapest ways to travel around Europe.
Travel Slow and Be Flexible
One of the best money-saving travel tips, in general, is to travel slow. We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve needed to get somewhere quickly or by a certain time and have had no choice but to pay that painfully expensive taxi ride, so by giving yourself time to travel slow or by just being flexible to change, you could save yourself a lot of unnecessary expenses.
If you’re on a longer trip with no particular time frame, you more often than not have all the time in the world. Think about this whenever you’re deciding between the quick method or the slower and inexpensive (and often more adventurous!) option.
You’ll soon find that you’ll spend a lot less money that way and even come across some once-in-a-lifetime experiences. While we’ve written about the best ways to travel around Europe, get creative by mixing up traveling around Europe by train, buses, or cheap flights. You can also consider looking at car rentals or using rideshare options. Listed below are a few of the best transportation options for Europe.
Best Ways to Travel Around Europe
- Buses (Mega Bus (UK), GoEuro, Busabout, Eurolines, Flixbus)
- Eurail Passes
- Budget Airlines (Ryan Air, Air Baltic, Easy Jet, Vueling, Wizz Air)
- Ride Share: Bla-Bla Car, hitchhiking
Make the Most of Volunteer Programmes
Volunteer and cultural exchange programmes are a fantastic way to travel Europe for free! You could literally fill your whole time away with programmes and score free accommodation and food. It would be tough work but hello, FREE food and stays!
Although you can’t make money, programmes such as Angloville offer people a chance to explore European cities they may not have made it to otherwise. Then, of course, you get to stay in stunning rural locations that you may not have ventured to, swanky hotels you wouldn’t have forked out for, and you get to meet SO many locals on each course that you make lifelong contacts and get a flurry of invites to stay in said cities for the future! Yes, it’s truly this awesome.
I’ve just returned from doing a 3-week Anglo-TEFL-Scholarship in Prague, Krakow, and Warsaw and it was one of the best experiences of my life.
Programmes in Europe to look out for:
- Angloville – UK, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Malta.
- Vaughan Town – Spain.
- ACLE – Italy.
- Englishhausen – Germany.
- Diverbo – Spain, Germany.
Become a Flight Hacker
Flights can often be a killer when planning your travels, but there are ways to beat the system. In fact, we have some handy articles below that help you do just that! By giving yourself plenty of time, you can search for that all important and cheap flight that ticks all your boxes.
A few money-saving tips would be to follow flight companies on social media, sign up to their email blasts, be flexible with your times, days and airports, and to even use multiple travel credit cards to collect miles and fly for free!
Imagine you could travel Europe for free just on your air miles? Crazy right!
- How to Find Cheap Flights to Anywhere: Our Secret Weapon
- 20 of The Best Travel Hacks to Score Cheap Flights
Be Savvy with Travel
We’ll admit, being able to travel Europe cheaply comes down to how good a person is at budgeting. The effort they put in and having a general ‘travel hack’ mindset will help you cut down on basic expenses.
Obviously, not everyone will have the ability or determination to be this travel savvy, but everyone can learn to some extent! The key is to think of all the places that you can go to next with the money your saving. Here are a few top tips that I abide by when traveling around Europe:
- Use great apps like RideGuru to save precious euros on your transportation! Transport can easily be your greatest expense but with this price comparison tool, you can see whether Uber, Lyft, a taxi or countless others, is your cheapest option.
- Make the most out of free breakfasts in hostels or hotels and pack yourself a sandwich for lunch.
- Skip out on the fancy restaurant meals and hit the grocery and go on a picnic instead.
- Find out when the free museum days are.
- Bring a reusable bottle of water and refill this rather than buying bottled water.
- Check out voucher codes websites for some sweet deals.
While the changes are rather small, you will find out that making small travel savvy decisions like this will make a difference in your overall Europe budget travel tips which can help you stretch your budget for longer.
Walking Tours are Your Best Friend!
One of the best ways to experience a city is to go on a FREE walking tour from a local! Not only does this allow you to see the major sites of each place, but you always get an insight into the history of the streets and buildings, you can identify the free attractions, and you can grill the local afterwards for recommendations on where free events are held and the best places to snag food bargains.
There are so many museums and attractions in European cities that are free, so when it comes to sightseeing, you can travel Europe cheaply and just absorb all the incredible things on offer. Usually, hostels offer this so just head up to the reception desk and ask. Alternatively, a quick google search can help you find out if there are local waling tours in the area.
Get Creative with Accommodation
If you’re traveling Europe for the first time, you will soon find out that transportation and accommodations are usually the most expensive.
If you’re willing, there are ways that you can score free accommodation and these are often the BEST experiences of your whole trip! As well as being free, staying with locals is the best way to gain a true insight into a culture, plus its crazy fun and they have the best suggestions for local things to do.
Two great websites that connect travelers and locals is Couchsurfing and WWOOF, and of course, if you’re flexible with your travel plans, you will always meet locals naturally along the way which will be more than happy to have you stay.
For longer stays and different experiences, sites like Go Cambio and WorkAway allow you to stay with families in exchange for your skills such as cooking, teaching or just helping them practice their English. Alternatively, you could always try your hand at camping, house exchanges or house sitting.
Utilize Your Skills
We’ve already mentioned before that you can exchange your skills to bag free accommodation, but you can also do this for other things as well. In some smaller villages, you could exchange cooking skills, musical ability, teaching English, or even just basic handy work skills for free food and accommodation.
For a more permanent lifestyle, why not make this your job? If you have a particular niche skill such as website design, translation or even engineering, you could even acquire some work while you travel as well as exchanging work for the basics.
Again, the slower you travel, the more likely you’ll be able to settle down for a few weeks to bartend and earn some cash. Alternatively, you could even work while on the move!
Take us for example. We set up our travel blog to fund our travels and it is now our whole lifestyle! Whether you just utilize your skills to pitch for free stuff in exchange for reviews or it becomes a full-blown business like ours, you can travel Europe (or the rest of the world) while doing work that you love.
Trust us when we say it is one of the best feelings in the world.
Make Friends Everywhere You Go
One of the most important things to bear in mind while traveling is that the majority of people are friendly and are willing to help you.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but you’ve all heard the amazing random act of kindness stories that people have experienced while traveling so be open to them happening. Trust people that you meet and you’ll soon see how willing they are to give you rides, open their homes, fill your bellies and share with you their incredible culture and traditions.
There’s nothing like making connections and having friends all over the globe so embrace these experiences and enjoy them.
So, do you think you have what it takes to travel Europe cheaply? We think you do so go for it!
To travel for free requires a balance of advance planning and the ability to be flexible and go with the flow, so why not start with securing some volunteer programmes in a range of European countries and going from there?
Just remember to be travel savvy and seize opportunities that come your way! Oh and avoid peak seasons!
Need more travel inspiration for Europe? Check out our other guides
- Unreal Fairytale Towns in Europe that You Have to See
- 15 Travel Tips for Europe That You Need to Know
- Best Places to Visit in Europe: Ultimate European Bucket List