Tips for the European Traveler on a Budget

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

European travel can be an expensive investment when done incorrectly. Budgeting months (even a year) in advance is always a good idea. When you arrive in Europe, your temptations will be overwhelmed with new interests (shopping, dining, museums etc.) Whether it’s a tour of an ancient art museum or an amazing pair of European shoes in a store window–you’ll need money.

How hard is it to stay on a budget in Europe? What can you do save money during your trip? Here’s a list of budgeting ideas from tried and true methods of European travel:

Always stay in a hostel

Hostels are the best way to travel in Europe on a budget. Certain hostels are better than others, so choose wisely. Some hostels can go for $20 a night! It’s a great way to save money and meet new people from all over the world. All hostels have someone who will speak English, making your stay much easier. They also have discounts on restaurants and clubs and are able to guide you to the best attractions to visit during your stay. All around a win-win situation!

Bus tours are your best friend

You may never consider using public transportation until you come to Europe. But bus tours in Europe are much different than those in the U.S. and they come at low prices! If you’re in the mood to travel on a weekend bus tour, they can accommodate your hotel, attractions and some meals all in one price! The bus rides can be long, but the money you’ll save by giving them a try will be worth it in the end.

Find local restaurants and avoid tourist traps

Restaurants LOVE tourists. The closer a restaurant is to a big city attraction, the more expensive the food. Avoid these tourist traps and find a restaurant off the main street. Ask your hotel/hostel reception for recommendations that are more traditional. There’s nothing worse than getting sucked into a tourist trap when you could be paying close to nothing at a restaurant down the street with amazing local food. Don’t give in to the convenience of eating close to tourist attractions, stay off the grid!

Limit your souvenirs

Who doesn’t love souvenirs? They are little reminders of an amazing time that we got to spend on vacation. But sometimes if we go overboard, we end up spending our budget on magnets and key chains that we won’t ever look at again. Instead of spending extra money on souvenirs, bring a small journal and fill it with your old ticket stubs, restaurant receipts, and favorite pictures. This “travel journal” is a great way to keep a piece of the experience with you while staying on a budget.

Make an itinerary and leave room for spontaneity

When planning a trip, I always make an itinerary. It’s the best way to keep track of your reservations and easy to schedule in time to visit certain attractions, restaurants, museums etc. European travel, however, doesn’t always go according to plan. There will be obstacles in a well-planned trip and you may find yourself with a completely unplanned day. Take advantage! Discover a new city by foot and see where you end up. It’s a great way to save money on tourist attractions and just enjoy your time in a new place.

Florence, Italy

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