Traveling on a budget is possible with a little research and perseverance. There are so many options for travelers with any budget – I recently spent three months backpacking across Europe and have learned a lot of things along the way. Below are some of the tips and tricks that might help you on your next adventure.
Airfare and Transportation
I’m a big fan of using apps such as Hipmunk that give me price alerts for the airline tickets I’m looking for. It tells you as the ticket prices as they go down so you know you’re getting the best deal. Skyscanner is another favorite. It was my most used app for booking airline tickets not only because it was cheaper, but it also included a lot of the smaller airline companies that you might normally miss.
Trains are almost synonymous to backpacking in Europe, I get it. But, I think out of all the things I have learned to cut corners on, this is the one that saved me the most money. Trains in Europe can be extremely expensive, and I couldn’t afford to get the Eurail pass. A one-way ticket from London to Paris put me back a whopping $366! As you can imagine, I was not happy. It took me a few more cities and lot more cash to finally realize this was crazy!
Upon a lot of research and a few tips from travelers along the way, I came across what became my main mode of transportation in Europe – buses. Not as glamorous and romantic as their train counterpart, but let me tell you they will save you big bucks! Just to give you an example, a train ride from Zurich, Switzerland to Munich, Germany was $20 on the train and $15 on the bus. My favorite bus company while I was there was Flixbus.com but there are plenty to chose from! You might even get lucky and get on a bus that has free Wi-Fi.
If you have done any kind of research on backpacking, I’m sure you’ve come across Hostelworld.com. It’s pretty much the gold standard when it comes to booking hostels. Hosteling is such an amazing way to see the world on a limited budget. Not only is it cheap, but it affords you the opportunity to connect with other travelers, which is worth its weight in gold.
Some of my best memories are with my hostel mates and I would not change them for the world. I understand some people might need a little bit more space and privacy and may find hosteling a little bit daunting, so options like airbnb.com are also worth exploring. Don’t be intimidated by thinking they’re expensive because I have found incredible deals for almost the same price as a night in a hostel! Do your homework and be diligent and make traveling work for you.
Food and Drinks
If really on a pinch, keep in mind when booking a hostel that some offer free breakfast for their guests. Normally it’s just cereal, toast, and juice but it could be a lifesaver! If you find yourself in a country that’s more expensive like me in Iceland, don’t feel embarrassed to scour local hotdog stands and convenient stores for your meals. I literally had a hotdog everyday while there and I would do it again! I always try to eat the local cuisine while in a country, and I make sure I treat myself to one nice meal before I go. As far as drinks, take advantage of your hostel’s happy hour! This is a great way to save money on alcohol and mingle with your hostel mates.
Free walking tours! I cannot stress this enough! They are often my favorite activity in the city and they are free! Of course you have to tip your guide, but even that is well worth it. I do this usually on my first day to learn a bit about the city’s history and lay out, and it gives me the opportunity to figure out what areas I want to focus on when I’m out exploring. I do recommend bike tours for bigger, more vast cities such as Berlin because you’re able to see more of the place. There are different walking tours offered as well, one of my favorite was the photography walking tour I did in Barcelona, such a cool opportunity to improve my photography skills while enjoying the city. Also, take advantage of cities with free museums! London is a great example, almost all are free admission. Other cities also offer discounted tickets for certain days of the week and two hours before closing. Keep your eyes peeled for deals, they’re out there!
I hope you guys find these tips useful. Don’t let a lack of a big budget prevent you from going out there to explore!
About the author:
Mitchy Behn is a travel enthusiast and has a passion for the female solo travel movement. She works as a travel nurse and goes out for adventures in between assignments. She’s also a budding travel photographer and is a self-proclaimed instagram (@mitchybehn) addict! When not traveling, she loves to cook, read, be with friends and research her next destination.