Being on a budget doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice doing the things you’ve dreamed of, it just means you have to be smart with your money. My husband and I decided to backpack Europe for four months in between graduate degrees. Needless to say we were on a super tight budget. That being said, we had the time of our lives on our trip and didn’t miss a thing on our wish lists.
The following are tips we lived by on our budget trip!
1. Travel in the Off-Season
Besides saving you tons of money on cost of accommodation, traveling in the off-season also means that you get to experience the most famous sites without massive crowds. If you’re okay with some places having reduced hours and maybe needing to bundle up a bit, off-season travel can save you some big time cash.
2. Make a Budget
There is nothing scarier than getting to last week (or month) of your adventure only to realize that you’re out of money. Don’t leave yourself in this situation. Make an informed budget ahead of time and stick to your budget along the way.
3. Do Your Homework
Probably the most important budget travel tip is to do your homework. So many people waste tons of money when travelling simply because they haven’t sat down, looked at the options and hashed out their trip.
Is the Eurail pass really saving you money? Should you take a train, plane or bus to the next city? Is Uber cheaper than a taxi? Are taxis cheaper than the tube? Is the budget hostel outside of town really a more economical choice than the slightly more expensive one in the center? Should your group stay in a hostel or can your get a hotel room for cheaper?
Do the math, make a plan and avoid expensive oversights.
4. Book Ahead of Time
In some countries like the UK, booking trains ahead of time can save you some serious cash. Taking the time to look into booking hostels, hotels, transport, and tours ahead of time can get you the best deals.
I also recommend using Booking.com to find your accommodation. You can search based on any criteria you want and they offer great perks. They also cover the cost of any cancellations on the part of the hotel. They have saved us a lot of money and headaches more than once.
5. Consider Becoming a Workawayer
If you’re travelling for several months, you may want to consider spending some of your time at workaways. It can be downright impossible to make a small budget stretch for months on end if you have to pay for food and accommodation every day.
Going to a workaway or two can be great way to stretch your budget while getting to know local families in authentic settings.
6. Pick Your Priorities
Are you like us and you live to experience the best food each country has to offer? Do you prefer to spend your money climbing each monument and exploring each church? Is shopping your thing? Or maybe you would rather travel cheap and save your money for the all night party scene.
No matter your priorities, pick them when you are creating your budget and make sure you leave yourself plenty of room to enjoy those aspects of your trip even if that means spending a little less in other areas.
7. Pack Your Lunch
This is what made our trip possible.
My husband and I love food and absolutely prioritized it in our budget… selectively. In favor of getting to eat at some of the best and most famous restaurants sometimes, we ate packed meals most of the time.
For around 5 Euro a day we were able to eat filling meals that could be packed and taken with us. Keep it interesting by buying local breads, cheeses, meats, and veggies at each stop.
8. Know That the Best Experiences Can’t Be Bought
Looking back on our Europe adventures I certainly cherish the tours and experiences that we paid for, but my favorite memories are from the moments that didn’t cost us a cent.
Don’t be bummed if your budget keeps you from being able to pay for every tour you’d like to take. Instead, seek out the authentic experiences that you don’t have to pay for. You’ll be surprised at how many there are!