Even Joey from Friends used the “backpacking across Europe” story to woo the ladies. However, poor planning might mean reducing a three-month trip to three weeks. Here are five tips to exploring the continent, without needing to draw a loan from the bank of ‘Mum and Dad’.
Invest in a budget book
Give yourself a daily budget and keep track of your spends using a budget book. While you might feel like a bit of a dork whipping out your budget-bible to take note of each purchase, it will give you a clear overview of where you are spending and how much you have left.
Split it into categories like “Travel, Accommodation, Entertainment, Food and Booze.” This way, if you find cheap accommodation, you can chuck the remaining funds into the Booze account!
Free walking tours
Obviously, when visiting the likes of Paris, Prague and Porto, we (well, most of us) want to indulge in the histories these cities are built upon. But £5 here, and £10 there, for national museums, art galleries and tour guides soon add up! We want an education, but not one that will exhaust the booze fund.
Get involved with free walking tours. Nearly all major cities offer a variety of different tours. Averaging around three hours long, a guide will take a group of curious travellers around the major sights of the cities, giving an in depth historical overview as you go. The beauty of the concept is – as you have (or should’ve) guessed – the tours are free. You only tip at the end what you think the tour was worth. So, if you’re tight and stingy, you don’t actually have to pay anything…try living with that on your conscience.
Be season smart
We all dream of southern French beaches, swimming in the crystal clear waters of Lagos, and coming back with a spectacular European tan, but trekking through Europe during the summer months is one of the worst things you can do if you are looking for affordable travel. Everything from planes, trains, accommodation and even food prices are hiked for the high tourist season.
Try travelling in September, just after the high season. The weather is more tolerable, the water’s still warm enough for swimming and prices in everything begin to drop. Some hotels discount rooms by up to 40%!
Travel at night
Really, it’s a no brainer. A 2-in-1 travel and accommodation concept where you get your eight hours kip and wake up in a new country or city. Use sleeper trains to get from Prague to Krakow, or island hop through Greece using the overnight ferries for around €30 for a sweet cabin. This is perfect for anyone who is not only cash poor, but also time poor.
Cheap eats are everywhere
Without investigating, prices for eating throughout a lot of Europe might make you want to live off baked beans and instant noodles. But scratch the surface a little and there are easy and affordable ways to eat well, cheaply and without sacrificing any local gastro experiences.
Use social media to find restaurant promotions, get down to the local markets for delicious and cheap street food, and try cooking yourself. Supermarkets are incredibly cheap and are actually entertaining to walk around.
A prerequisite for any Aussie or Kiwi living in London, is to travel to Europe while we are over this side of the world, but the costs involved can be daunting. However, a little bit of planning, researching and money management can really make the difference.