How to travel Europe on a Budget

how to travel europe on a budget

How to Travel Europe on a Budget

During our semester abroad, Exeter University, gives students the month of December off to prepare for finals. James and I decided we would spend that time traveling and we were able to visit 9 countries for $600 ea. Flights, accommodation, food, transportation, and attractions included. How in the world did I manage to arrange this you might ask?! A lot and a lot of research, check out this post for how to travel Europe on a budget.



James and I were visiting all these countries in a 2 week span because we wanted go home for Christmas. Since we had such little time, we decided to fly everywhere – however, if you have the time, buses and trains can be cheaper.

I should point out, being based in the U.K. was an advantage, had we been departing from the States it would have been a lot more money.

  • Budget airlines – I booked all of our flights months in advance, using budget airlines like Ryanair and WizzAir. Now they may not be ‘comfortable’ and luxurious but we figured out how to survive on these flights. It is extremely important to be aware that while a budget flight sounds great, sometimes they fly into airports that are 2 hours outside of the city. Definitely do your research about where exactly you’re flying into.


  • Private Mode – ALWAYS search in private mode/incognito window. Due to cookies, sites can track when you have looked at a flight route previously and will sometimes increase the price.


  • SkyscannerSkyscanner was a massive friend to me while I browsed. You can search for a flight leaving from a specific airport going to ‘everywhere’ for a specific day or month. The results will consist of all flights from that airport, on your given time period. If you don’t know what airport you want to depart from you can just choose a country as your place of origin.


  • Google Flights – I used Google Flights similarly to Skyscanner, but focused on their map feature. Essentially you can input your departing airport/city and pick a specific date you’d like to travel on. Then if you click on the map, it shows you every flight route available. You can narrow the options down by number of stops and price range. I essentially combined a ton of one way trips using this process to get from London throughout Europe and back. I ended up changing my itinerary and countries multiple times until I settled on a group of countries I was happy with and a cost I was happy with.

how to travel europe on a budget flight itinerary

Our Flight Itinerary

  • Poland 12/10/16
    • London, UK  -> Warsaw, Poland
    • (STN 12:05 – WMI 15:20) RYANAIR
  • Budapest 12/11/16
    • Warsaw, Poland -> Budapest, Hungary
    • (WAW 10:35 – BUD 11:45) WIZZAIR
  •  Athens 12/12/16
    • Budapest, Hungary -> Athens, Greece
    • (BUD 19:55 – ATH 22:55) RYANAIR
  • Rome 12/14/16
    • Athens, Greece -> Rome, Italy
    • (ATH 7:10 – CIA 8:05) RYANAIR


  • Munich 12/17/16
    • Barcelona, Spain -> Munich, Germany
    • (BCN 7:00 – MUC 9:10) VUELING
  • Paris 12/18/16
    • Munich, Germany -> Paris, France
    • (MUC 15:35 – ORY 17:10) TRANSAVIA
  • Amsterdam 12/20/16
    • Paris, France -> Amsterdam, Netherlands
    • (CDG 12:40 – AMS 13:55) AIR FRANCE
  • London 12/22/16
    • Amsterdam, The Netherlands -> London, UK
    • (AMS 7:00 – LTN 7:05) VUELING



Going into this trip James and I knew we would not be staying in five-star hotels. We ended up staying in 4 hostels, 1 air BNB, 2 couchsurfs, and 1 airport overnight.

  • Hostels – Hostels are the holy grail of budget accommodations. Typically younger travelers utilize them, but with more and more people traveling the demographic has been changing where older travelers and even families frequent hostels. If you want the cheapest rooms possible they’re usually the rooms with 18 bunk beds crammed in and mixed genders. If you want a little more privacy and breathing room you can have that but at a higher rate per night. There are single rooms, same sex rooms, or rooms with fewer bunks per room. Obviously, James and I took the cheapest option – max bunk beds per room. While saving money can be important – so is sleep. If I were to do this again I definitely would consider paying a little more each night for fewer people in a room. I did make sure the hostels we stayed in had decent reviews as far as wifi connections/amenities/safety/hygiene/location to city center.


  • Air BNB – Air BNB is a site that lists homes and apartments for rent. You can rent an entire home/apartment or you can rent a room in someone’s home. We managed to score an apartment for four for about £48 in Athens. If you’re planning to use AirBNB here’s $40 off your next reservation.


  • CouchsurfingCouchsurfing is similar to Air BNB except its free. The idea is that you pay the hospitality forward and meet some locals in the process. Obviously, always err on the side of caution. I felt quite comfortable doing this because I had two guys traveling with me.


  • Sleeping in an Airport – While this a great way to save some money, be aware some airports have STRICT rules on passengers sleeping in the terminal. I usually do some research beforehand on which airports are open 24-7, and where to sleep in an airport. I really will only do this if I’m backpacking, and I have an early morning flight in an expensive city.


Taxi fares will be notoriously high, however many European cities have great public transportation. From trains, buses or trams that depart right from the airport to the city center – however, there are also private shuttles available at a higher cost. In order to minimize costs James and I only used public transportation.


There are tons of things that you can do in a city for free. I went to London and managed to find 100 FREE things to do. This is not an anomaly. The easiest way to find out what’s free or not is to get on google or tripadvisor prior to your trip and research. Also as a student, always ask for discounts. For example if you visit Athens, the entire Acropolis is free for EU students.


There are so many ways to eat authentic and cheap while traveling. As a rule of thumb – NEVER eat anywhere near a tourist site. They will charge you more because they can and often the food isn’t that authentic.

  •  Budget Restaurants – There are tons of budget friendly restaurants available. Spend 30 minutes on TripAdvisor searching for best cheap eats or budget restaurants and you’ll get hundreds of options. Another tip for those looking to eat on the cheap is to eat during lunch! Tons of restaurants do fantastic lunch specials geared towards tourists.


  • Street Eats – What’s more authentic than eating from a street cart like a local? While they’re often fast service food they’re still cheap, authentic and delicious!


  • Grocery Shopping – The most obvious and the most glossed over option of eating cheap while traveling. You don’t need to eat out for every single meal. While you may not have a kitchen to cook in, you can still purchase from a grocery store to help save money. James and I often munched on store bought granola bars or a bag of fruit during the days and then treated ourselves to a restaurant meal. Sometimes we bought deli meat, rolls, and cheese and made ourselves sandwiches on the fly as our lunch to save a few bucks here and there.


With all of these tips, I managed to score James and I a trip to 9 countries over 12 . days for just $600 each. Do you have any useful how to tips for traveling Europe on a budget? If so comment below!

Total Cost: $601 per person = $1202 total

Cost Breakdown:

  • Flights: $301 per person = $602 total
  • Accommodation: €50 per person =€50 total *$100
  • Transport/Attractions: €100 per person = €200 total *$200
  • Food: €150 per person =€300 total *$300

*At time of purchase the Dollar and Euro were almost 1:1



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  1. andthebee
    February 3, 2017 / 4:16 PM

    Very informative! Thanks! I am heading to the Netherlands this coming fall. Any saving tips or travel advise specific to the Netherlands?

    • February 3, 2017 / 4:31 PM

      Yes I have a ton! I’ll be writing a post all about Netherlands shortly and I’ll be sure to tag you in it!!!

  2. andthebee
    February 3, 2017 / 10:55 PM

    Amazing! Can’t wait! I’ll be sure to check back but definitely tag me in it!

  3. February 5, 2017 / 4:45 PM

    Wow, this post is so inspiring! I live in Europe too … I’m over in Spain. I’m constantly on the Ryanair website looking for the best deals for a weekend here or there. I will have to bookmark this and save it for this coming June when I’ll have some time to do some more lengthy traveling.

  4. I do what I want to
    February 6, 2017 / 3:30 AM

    I agree completely with your tips although some places we can’t resist good restaurants (doesn’t mean expensive), we don’t put much thought into hotels instead AirB&B is our usual option in Europe

    • February 6, 2017 / 12:11 PM

      Oh I completely agree a good meal is always great! Just don’t think people should pigeon hole into ONLY eating out for every meal! && I love Air B&Bs! Such a great way to stay in Europe.

      • I do what I want to
        February 7, 2017 / 2:04 AM

        Of course! Not every meal has to be out not even every day but it’s great to give yourself some way out to whatever you enjoy the most

  5. February 6, 2017 / 11:08 AM

    Great post! It’s so true, flights in Europe are so cheap! I’m from the Uk but currently travelling central and South America. They don’t have budget airlines so I’m mostly taking super long coach rides…oh how I miss Easy Jet haha.

  6. February 7, 2017 / 9:37 AM

    This used to be so much easier! I backpacked through Europe 12 years ago after I graduated high school. Things weren’t as expensive back then, but we also didn’t have smart phones, apps, and a digital connection to help us out. Just sort of bought a rail pass and went for it! I’m glad people still do it though! Awesome post!

  7. Danique
    February 7, 2017 / 7:38 PM

    That’s actually really cheap! I am from the Netherlands (but currently staying in Australia) and I often flew for a weekend to other countries. Plane tickets are sometimes so ridiculously cheap! Sometimes they were even cheaper than that train ride from my hometown to the airport haha. Stupidly never really thought about to go a bit longer than a weekend. But maybe when I am back ;).

  8. Fair Dinkum Traveller
    February 8, 2017 / 5:29 AM

    Nice post and good tips for when I finally make my way to Europe. Can honestly say I am rather unsure about coach surfing for accommodation, perhaps I will just stick to a cheap hostel.

    • February 8, 2017 / 11:37 AM

      I was definitely unsure about the CS at first but knowing that I had two people with me I felt a lot better!

  9. February 10, 2017 / 5:35 PM

    Great post. You really broke down some key factors and provided great tips. Your travels reminded us how much we enjoyed traveling throughout Europe this past summer. We too couchsurfed and it was a great experience! We were able to couchsurf with 6 different host in 4 different countries. Your trip sounded busy. If you had the whole month of December off why did you only travel for 12 days? Just curious.

    • February 10, 2017 / 5:47 PM

      It was so much fun definitely and the CS was a great way to meet new people! We technically had school until December 9th, and then in early January had to take our exams but we were having our exams proctored back home in the States so we bought our return tickets to the States so we had enough time to study for our exams. Hence we booked a flight home for Dec 23rd so we could also be home for Christmas!

  10. February 11, 2017 / 10:56 PM

    OMG! I’m from Australia and have been planning for a Eurotrip forever! This is a ray of hope for my measly budget! 🙂 Are you saying that it’s cheaper to fly than take the Eurail? i’ve been wanting to cover as many countries for 1 month 🙁

    • February 12, 2017 / 5:55 PM

      It depends I think on your situation! I think the absolute cheapest would be bus rides, but since I was traveling over a short period of time I opted for flights since they were fastest and still cheap. I think if you have more time the Eurorail could be just as good of an option!

  11. February 12, 2017 / 3:00 PM

    These are some great tips and I follow most of these for budget traveling. The private mode will be super useful for future searches; I had no idea you wouldn’t necessarily get the cheapest flights due to cookies! That’s so lame so that’s good to know. But amazing that you were able to visit so many countries in a short time period.

  12. February 24, 2017 / 6:05 PM

    Wow, definitely a deal. When I first started reading I thought to myself 1200$ doesnt really sound like budget travel…but once I saw that it was for 2 people and everything was included I was very impressed. Great read!

  13. February 25, 2017 / 7:14 AM

    I miss being a young, broke wanderer. I did two 3-month backpack trips through Europe and they changed my world view. Today I’m not young, don’t wander enough, but still broke. I guess one out of three ain’t bad.

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