5 Easy Ways to Travel Europe for Cheap
Updated: May 22, 2019
I traveled around Europe for three months and still saved money.
When I was growing up, I always wanted to travel to Europe. Food, culture, architecture, and history mist Europe in this magical and luxurious haze that’s always drawn me in. Minus Alexander Petoskey, the last season of Sex and the City set in Paris sealed the deal. I needed to go to Europe.
The same qualities that made Europe a dream, also made it seem extremely unattainable. I never thought it was an area I could explore until I had Beyoncé and Jay Z piles of cash.
In order to travel Europe, I thought I needed to work 100 years, have several side hustles, and sell my left kidney before I was worthy enough to step foot on such holy land.
Fortunately, that isn’t the case. Not only can you travel the continent now, but there are 5 easy ways to travel Europe for cheap.
Step 1: Be Your Own Online Travel Agent
I started my journey in Europe with a one month stay in Athens, Greece. Yes, I’ve always dreamt of vacationing through Greece, but that’s not why I started there.
The first step to traveling Europe cheaply is to research the countries you’re interested to find out when their low-tourist or off-season months are.
Obviously, Google is your best friend here, but be careful about what you search.
What to search: Best time to travel Europe, worst time to travel Europe (trust me), cheapest time to travel Europe, cheapest time to buy a plane ticket to Europe, when do people in Europe go on vacation?
*Note: You can either search for Europe in general, or specific countries.
Read through personal blogs and articles, and avoid getting information from sources affiliated with companies that could benefit from giving you misinformation. Be your own online travel agent to get the most out of your adventure.
Step 2: Find Cheap Flights
After deciding when and where in Europe you’re going to travel to, the next step is finding cheap flights to Europe.
Two websites reign supreme for finding the cheapest tickets.
My #1 choice is Skyscanner. Nine times out of 10, they have the most affordable prices out of any other website.
If you’re feeling spontaneous, I highly recommend planning your trip around Skyscanner’s “Search Flights Everywhere”feature. Instead of searching for flights to a specific place or a particular date, you can search for flights everywhere and by the cheapest month to find the really travel for cheap.
I swear by this feature. Skyscanner’s “Search Flights Everywhere”feature is how I planned part of my trip through Europe, and why I started in Greece.
My #2 choice is Momondo. It’s similar to Skyscanner in that it searches ALL major discount flight carriers, and presents you with the best options.
Although I typically end up purchasing tickets through Skyscanner, I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, compare prices to other sites. Also, I open a new private or incognito browser window to trick sites into thinking you’re a new visitor. Never make the mistake of only looking for cheap flight tickets on one website.
Step 3: What to Pack for Europe – Be Minimal
You’ve purchased your cheap flights, and requested time off of work…now it’s time to pack!
By this time, you’ve likely saved 50 articles, pinned 100 items on Pinterest, and dug through Instagram for the best places to eat, drink, explore, and take Gram-worthy pictures.
Do not pack like you’re going to Paris Fashion Week. I know it’s tempting, but you don’t need 3 pairs of sneakers, 4 sandals, 6 boots, and 15 heels. Coming from someone who’s suffered from a life-long shopping, it’s not impossible to become a minimalist. This isn’t a fashion show, it’s an experience.
I strongly recommend you only pack one 10kg carry-on bag (22 pounds). Most international airlines include on a checked bag in your ticket price, but many of the CHEAP flights on Skyscanner and Momondo don’t. Pack minimally to save money on flight upcharges.
Now, I’m not CRAZY…so this is a 22-pound bag as well as a personal item.
Packing pro tips
Personal Bag: Most airlines don’t weigh your personal bag, so I suggest putting several of your heavier items inside of it.
Also, use a personal back that can double as a cute backpack or purse. Here is the travel backpack I use.
Carry-On Bag: Many people check their bag because they have their liquids and other bath/beauty products inside. Unless you have extremely sensitive skin or unmanageable hair, I recommend that you wait to buy travel-size products until AFTER you arrive in Europe.
I put face lotion into one side of a contact case, and hand cream into the other. You can also do the same with toothpaste and face wash. I stay clean and hydrated through the flight but don’t weight my bag down for check-in.
These tips will save you money, and allow space in your bag for souvenirs.
Step 4: Stay in an AirBnB or Hostel
Unless you find an undeniable price, never stay in a hotel.
I’ve been traveling the world for over a year now, and have stayed in an AirBnB 90% of the time.
Obviously, it’s cheaper to travel Europe when you stay in an AirBnB or hostel, but there are ways to save money on AirBnB.
Along with these 6 secret AirBnB tips that will save you money, I check out “NEW” properties without reviews, because hosts offer properties at a discount until they get reviews.
The best part about AirBnB’s is that you can live among locals and get an inside feel of what it’s really like to live in an area.
Additionally, an AirBnB gives you the freedom to shop at farmers markets and cook local produce at home. Depending on your schedule, you eat 14-21 meals a week. You can either spend $5-$20 per meal eating out or $1-$3 per meal cooking at home.
Instead of running home every time you’re hungry, pack reusable silicone storage bags and a freezable lunch bag, so you can pack your own lunch. I love packing a lunch, and stopping in a park or square to people watch while I eat.
Step 5: Planes, Trains, Trams, and Buses
Why stop at one country? Now that you’re in Europe, you can see the whole damn continent for cheap.
Many people think the EuroRail or train is the cheapest way to travel Europe, but that often isn’t the case.
While in Bulgaria, I met a local names Sebina who gave me the single greatest piece of advice for traveling Europe for cheap: Never take a plane or train, always take a bus.
After flying from Greece to Bulgaria, I haven’t been on a plane since.
These aren’t your ordinary buses. Think less city bus and more Laker’s charter bus. Flixbus allows you to store a checked bag and personal bag for FREE. The company also has Wi-Fi, toilets, and reclining seats on all of their charters. PLUS, all you have to do is arrive at the bus station 15 minutes early then board your bus, no TSA or long check-in lines. Need I say more??
Finally, when you're in a city, always take public transportation. Most of the time you can board a public train or bus without a ticket, so you can travel the entire city for FREE.
There are so many ways to cut back on costs as you explore this magical continent.
With a little flexibility and planning, you can travel Europe for cheap without spending cheese like Jay Z.