Due to COVID right now, Traveling Europe might have to be put on the backburner for a bit. However should you start planning ahead for your next trip, here are some really thrifty tips we used to plan our trip and save money.
Yes! If you like point system credit cards or cash back credit cards and are already in the habit of using credit properly and paying it off right away, then utilize a good travel card. For instance, well before our trip, we signed up for the American Express Cobalt card because it offered a great sign up bonus of 2500 travel points for every $500.00 spent for the first year. This was on top of the 5x points you already receive regularly. Long story short, by the time we booked our trip in total we had a $500 discount on flights just from points (and we had only had the card for a few months).
If signing up for a credit card to get some money off your flights isn’t your cup of tea, that’s understandable. Another great tactic is to look through the discount airlines. Although the flights may not offer a whole lot because you’re getting a discounted rate, it’s still doable. We are all capable of bringing our snacks and screens these days anyway! Some great discount airlines I can recommend researching are Kayak.com, Kiwi.com, Hopper app, airwander.com.
I am snickering while typing this because our group of 5 travelling from Europe to Spain stayed in a hostel. Why? Because it was SO cheap in comparison to a hotel. Depending on where your travelling within Europe (or Spain – we did both), it CAN be expensive. Our first ten days in Lisbon we had rented an amazing Airbnb.
The entire ten days cost my husband and me CAD 275.00 because we split it with our other friends. In total there were five of us travelling together and our Airbnb had three bedrooms and two bathrooms with everything fully equipped as well as a beautiful rooftop patio. My tip to keep the cost down is if your travelling with others, use that to your advantage and split the cost on a place rather than something like a hotel stay.
Now, another great money saver is staying at a hostel. Again, we were a group of five so we were able to rent out a room that had 6 pods and take over the room with our group. Not only did this save us hundreds of dollars because our entire stay cost us CAD 70, but we experienced an endless amount of laughs and memories as well.
For the typical backpacker or single solo traveller, a hostel is one of the best money saving options. As married couples that are somewhat past this stage in life (especially because we now have children), it wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice again, but in terms of money-saving, it was worth it. We made the best of it and we laughed A LOT.
Renting a car is always appealing if you want to get around and see numerous attractions and spots, but it adds up quickly. Instead, buy a metro pass and use the metro, train, and bus system Europe has to offer. For the most part, it is easy to figure out and even if there’s a few wrong connections or turns, just take it as a fun experience to see some new things. It might take a day or two to get your bearings but when you do you will be thankful you saved money on renting a vehicle.
Europe does NOT have to be expensive if you eat and drink like a local. This means skipping out on the swanky tourist restaurants/bars and hitting the local neighbourhoods.
Utilize the local grocery stores! Trust me, the wine selection varied from about 1-4 Euro. We rarely ever bought anything over 1.5 Euro. And the groceries are just as inexpensive. We loaded up on staple breakfast items and even one night decided to stay in and cook! Another way to save!
The same goes for restaurants or fast food. Right around the corner from where we were staying was a local kabob/donair place and it was 1 euro! It was amazing and the perfect end of the night snack or dinner item. Needless to say, we ate there A LOT.
We also experienced a full sit down dinner at a local restaurant. Our entire group of five each had a large dinner, we split a bottle of wine, we had an appetizer AND two desserts. The entire bill four our group of five was only 45 euro for all of that! Take-home point: Never be afraid to ask some of the locals their favourite places. You never know what hidden gems you will find.
My number one tip would be to order your euros ahead of time and stick to the budget you set. Having cash on hand allows you to easily keep track of your spending. Bringing just enough cash for each day can also help you stay on track because when it was done, it’s done. But you always want a backup in case a place only accepts cards, or maybe you do feel like splurging a little. If that’s the case take a no foreign exchange fee credit card. We signed up for a Home Trust Preferred Visa just for this trip as it offers this service. It will save you a good chunk in the long run.
Thrifty Tips To Travel Europe On A Budget
I hope you found these 6 tips useful and helpful. These are the exact things we did to stick to travel Europe on a budget and get the most out of our trip without breaking the bank.
An eventful day of sea voyage on the Sognefjord by express boat, and train journeys on the dramatic Flåm Railway and the scenic Bergen Railway.