Backpacking through Europe is almost a rite of passage for people in their 20s — though it certainly isn’t out of reach if you’re older than that. Whether you are a college student traveling for the summer or a couple celebrating your honeymoon, when you’re traveling across this content that is rich with history, culture, and architecture, you want to be able to see as much of it as possible… without breaking the bank.
It might sound expensive to travel across Europe, but in reality, it doesn’t have to be costly. With a little foresight, you can make the most out of your backpacking trip and stay within your budget.
Here are some tips for saving money while you backpack across Europe.
Travel by Foot
There are many benefits to walking when you’re on a trip. You get a good amount of exercise, plus it is the best way to truly immerse yourself in a new city. Not only that, walking is a great way to save money on your vacation. It may take more time but wandering around a new place can be one of the most rewarding ways to travel and is the absolute cheapest way to get around a city.
Make Your Own Meals
Something that can really eat up your budget is food. Eating in restaurants for every meal is expensive. That’s why one of the best ways to save money while traveling is to make your own food. Many hostels offer kitchens you can use, or you could stay in an inexpensive Airbnb for greater privacy. If cooking isn’t really your thing, having a simple picnic from what you can pick up at the grocery store can save you big time. You’d be surprised how far a baguette and a hunk of cheese can get you!
Take Advantage of Free Events
There are many things to do in Europe, particularly in big cities such as Paris or London, that are expensive. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to spend a lot of money to have an enjoyable and enriching experience. There are many free or low-cost activities to take advantage of while backpacking through Europe.
There are many free museums, for example. You can get a taste of history and culture without spending a dime. In addition, most major cities offer free sightseeing tours. Do some research before you head to a new city to see what free experiences are available to you.
Invest in an International Wi-Fi Device
Unfortunately, staying in touch with your friends and family back home can get expensive while you’re traveling across Europe. Many pay phones charge exorbitant prices, or will overcharge your credit card (and sometimes, fail to even work). Hostels will also charge ridiculous prices to use the internet. If you’re looking to stay in touch with your family while you’re abroad, you can save a surprising amount of money by investing in an international Wi-Fi device.
At Sapphire, we offer a variety of affordable data plans, whether you pay-as-you-go or prepay. Shop our international Wi-Fi hotspot before you backpack through Europe!
Look for Student Discounts
If you are a student (or a recent graduate with a student ID), there are a variety of opportunities for discounts. Whether you’re looking for a train pass or admission to a museum or tourist attraction, there’s a good chance you can get a student discount, and if you don’t see one advertised, it never hurts to ask. Just be sure to have some sort of identification with you. You might invest in an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), which is an international document that declares your student status if you don’t want to bring your student ID.
Visit Eastern Europe
Western European countries, such as the UK, Germany, and France, are very popular for backpackers, but they are more expensive than their eastern counterparts. If budget is a big concern for this trip, it may be worth it to try Eastern Europe, where your Euro will go a bit further. As an added bonus, you will have a unique experience that is different than many other European travelers. Poland, Latvia, and Bulgaria are bargains. Check out Sapphire data rates.
If you want to travel by air, there are plenty of budget airlines to fly you around Europe without dropping a bunch of cash on your excursion. That being said, these trips become significantly more expensive by adding on extra costs, such as baggage fees. You can avoid these costs by packing very lightly.
Take an Overnight Train
If you have the opportunity to combine your transportation and accommodation costs, why not? You can often book an overnight train and catch some shut eye while being transported to your next destination. You can get a sleeper bed “seat” for greater comfort, or if you want to rough it in favor of a cheaper ticket, sleep in the traditional upright seats. Make sure to pack a travel pillow and ear plugs if you plan on taking advantage of this strategy.