Ten steps to cheap travel in Europe

Chances are, you look for airline tickets at least once and think they will still be there when I am 65 and retire. Don’t be discouraged! I’m going to explain how you can travel to the European country of your dreams for less than you imagined possible.

Step 1. Forget about your exact travel plans

The quickest way to make your trip as expensive as possible is to narrow your search to something incredibly specific.

For example, just because you have a four-day weekend at Easter doesn’t mean it’s a good time to travel. Be flexible about your travel dates, the places you travel to, and the type of places you stay. The more flexible you are, the cheaper the trip will be.

Step 2. Determine where you really want to visit.

I know I just said be flexible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t choose where you want to visit, it means you have to be open to getting there in ways you didn’t anticipate. If you want to visit Dublin more than anything, don’t look for flights from the US to Dublin only. You can most likely find a plane ticket from the US to another European city for much less. Then you can book another short flight to Dublin for less than $ 80 round trip. It’s also a great way to see an additional country!

Step 3. Determine which city you will be flying from

Flights to Europe vary greatly in price depending on the airport you are flying to, where you are departing from, and your travel dates. Therefore, a good first step may be to determine which airport you will be flying from. If you live in a big city like New York, Boston or Los Angeles, good luck! You will find the cheapest flights to Europe from these cities. If you don’t live in these cities, you will likely end up flying through them to get to Europe. So if you can drive to one of those cities, that may be a cheap option. Otherwise, consider booking a flight to one of those cities from your hometown. Oddly enough, you can get cheaper flights by booking each leg individually instead of booking a ticket from your home to your destination.

Step 4. Determine the cheapest European city to fly to

The easiest way to do this is to check the websites that aggregate all the cheapest airfares so you don’t have to search hundreds of flights yourself. Some sites allow you to type the United States or the city you know you will be leaving in the “from” field. In the “to” field, try to choose “everywhere”. Then scroll down the resulting list looking for the first cheapest country / country in Europe to fly to. If, for example, Norway costs $ 340 and France $ 380, then France is probably worth choosing if that’s your desired destination; however, if the difference is more than $ 100, I would choose the cheapest airport first. The annoying thing about Skyscanner is that the deals are often no longer active and sometimes you also have to search many dates in search of the cheapest one to travel with. But patience is key and this is how you find the cheapest flights. Another tip is that sometimes flights are made through travel agencies and it is probably worth looking for reviews at the agency before booking your ticket, considering that satisfied customers rarely write reviews. But if the agency has a five-star rating, that may be a clue to pass.

Step 5. Find a flight between Europe that will take you to the European destination of your dreams.

One thing that most people don’t realize is that flying from one European country to another is very cheap.

I have flown across Europe for $ 14 one way. It is not a joke. I have never paid more than $ 60 for a flight within Europe. Use Kayak.com to find a flight to your actual destination from any country where you’ve booked the cheapest flight to Europe.

Step 6. Now that you have arrived, find a cheap or free place to stay

Everyone has their own idea of ​​a dream vacation. If yours stays at the Ritz, then I’m surprised you’ve read this article this far. For most of us, we just want to stay in a decent place while enjoying all that Europe has to offer. I have never been left in a garbage dump in Europe. I don’t want to and I’m not so desperate. Accommodation is reduced to four options: hotel, rental, hostel or Couchsurf.

  • hotel. Staying in a hotel is a safe way to go and if it is your first time in Europe or it is not very risky, then this is probably the route you want to take. Hotels, depending on where you visit, range from $ 20 to $ 200 per night, so you may want to take that into account when choosing a destination. I wouldn’t recommend staying in Monaco unless your oil company is making record first-quarter profits, but staying in the vicinity of Nice might be an option. In other words, keep your options open.
  • Rental. Booking a room, apartment, villa or house for rent is also a safe bet, but it can be a bit more complicated than simply checking into a hotel. Sites like Homeaway and Airbnb offer really unique locations and I must say that some of my favorite places I’ve stayed in Europe were rentals. From a winery villa in Tuscany to a secluded mother-in-law in a quiet neighborhood outside of London, I really enjoyed staying in rentals and the price is often much less than staying in a hotel if there is a group of you who can share the cost. .
  • Hostel. The word hostel brings up thoughts of horror movies, but the reality is that the difference between a hostel and a hotel is sometimes imperceptible in Europe. Sure there are hostels where you can get a bunk in a room with five other travelers and for some people this is exciting and interesting. But just because bunk beds aren’t your thing doesn’t mean you should discount everything that has the word hostel in the title. I have stayed in some “hostels” that were as nice as a hotel.
  • Surf coach. If you really have a tight budget or if meeting local people is really important to you, there is no better way than Couchsurfing. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, visit the Couchsurfing website. Basically the site allows you to request to stay with someone who wants to host travelers in their home for free and vice versa. People leave comments about travelers and hosts so you can be sure they are respectable. Of course, this carries risks and safety precautions must be taken. Also, you should always have a backup plan in case the situation doesn’t work out.

Step 7. Eat cheap.

I am focusing on the needs of visiting Europe: travel, accommodation and food. Of course, there are many other ways to spend money, but these are the things you have to spend money on, with food being one of them.

The food is amazing. I love food and the first few times I went to Europe I was disappointed because I randomly walked into restaurants and most of them were unsatisfactory. This all changed when I started looking for restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor, that’s all it took to make every meal amazing. It was not so much a money-saving tip as a general tip. However, TripAdvisor allows you to search by general restaurant prices, so $ is cheap $ is moderate $ is getting expensive, etc.

Here’s a money-saving tip: Buying groceries in Europe is usually very inexpensive. So if you’ve booked an apartment with a kitchen, take advantage of it! Go shopping at a local market and buy strange new foods to cook! If you’re on a road trip, buy some sandwich to save a few bucks.

Step 8. Realize that there are still more expenses

While travel, accommodation and food are your main expenses, of course there will be others. Things to think about include transportation once you arrive, attraction fees, and souvenirs.

Transportation options include public transportation. Most European cities have fantastic and inexpensive public transport that can be purchased with local currency or a debit card at a kiosk. Keep in mind that American credit cards often don’t work on these as you need a chip and a PIN number.

Renting a car is a great option if you plan to travel outside of cities, it is usually quite affordable and gives you maximum freedom of mobility. Trains, while charming, are rarely a cheap way to travel around Europe. The flights are much less expensive and faster. But if you are in love with the idea of ​​seeing the countryside by train, it is worth a try. Tickets can be purchased in advance on the Eurorail website for a fee. Or if you’re more flexible and feel like the risk is worth the risk, you can buy them in person at the train station for quite a bit less.

Step 9. Travel light

Although you don’t think traveling light will save you money, trust me, it will. First of all, all airlines will charge baggage fees. Therefore, each leg of your flight will cost you between $ 25 and $ 100 for each bag. That adds up fast. Second, if you have two suitcases, you are going to fill two suitcases full of things that you probably don’t need. Third, taking cheap transportation like the subway becomes frustrating and impractical when you’re carrying two unwieldy suitcases. Fourth, your bags have to be with you at all times or in a hotel, so if you plan to check out in the morning and go to another city, you won’t be able to do anything until you get to your hotel. and check your bags. All in all, it is a great pain to carry a lot of things around Europe with you. My advice, and I can’t stress it enough, is to fit everything in one backpack. I have a 50L backpack and had everything I needed for a month and a half in Europe. Yes, there are also places to wash clothes in Europe. If you’re saying, well, you don’t get it because you’re a boy. I traveled with two young women and they both fit everything in a backpack. If you say you don’t understand because you are young, I traveled with my mother to Europe and she packed everything in a standard size school bag! You can do it too!

Step 10. Always plan for the worst and hope for the best

Whenever I travel to Europe I plan my planned expenses and round everything up. I also plan for at least $ 200 of unexpected expenses. In the end, my expenses are always well below this number, but I never want to end up in a situation where I am overwhelmed by the cost.


In 2,000 words I have given you the summary guide to Europe on a budget. Of course, there are many other things to think about when booking your trip to Europe, but the most important thing is to do it! Find those cheap airline tickets to Europe and book them. You can fill in all the blanks later, don’t try to plan everything before you get your tickets, and don’t try to plan every second of every day. Allow time to be spontaneous and immerse yourself in European life.

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