Have you put off travel plans to Europe because you think it’s too expensive? You might be surprised to hear that a trip to Europe is possible for travelers on a budget too! Here’s a guide on how you can get cash-savvy when planning your dream trip to Europe.
Have you fantasied about having your own love affair in Europe ever since you watched Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge as a kid? Or maybe you fantasied over having your own whirlwind love affair on a train a la Jesse and Celine in Before Sunrise.
Or how about something a little less cliche and cheesy and a bit more realistic; you just want to travel through Europe because you have friends who did it and said it changed their life or, well, because travelling through Europe is awesome.
If a trip to Europe has been on you travel bucket list for a while but you’ve been put off by how expensive you’ve heard it is, it’s time to take it off your ‘places to go if I ever won the lottery’ list.
Yes, in comparison to most of Asia, Europe costs more. However, it can be done on a budget.
Travelling in Europe, you can almost feel the history that surrounds you. It has masses of culture, delicious food, a thriving nightlife, beautiful architecture, great parks, plenty of open spaces and natural scenery, warm and friendly people, and so much to do.
And yes it’s true, your eyes did not deceive you, you CAN plan a trip through Europe for under Rs. 1 lakh and this article is going to tell you how you can do it (FYI, it hasn’t taken into account flight costs to and from Europe but you can jump to the travel hack section at the bottom for tips on getting the cheapest deals).
There are 44 countries in Europe (according to the UN) and 26 in the Schengen area. You probably want to see them all but for the sake of this article I’ve proposed an itinerary of a few:
The travel hit-list: Hungary, Croatia, Italy, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany.
Budapest (Hungary), Zagreb and Split (for Dubrovnika) (Croatia), Florence and Rome (Italy), Paris (France), Brussels (Belgium), Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Hamburg and Berlin (Germany).
Now here’s how you’re going to visit them all for under Rs. 1 lakh.
Firstly, the most important step. Before you finalize any travel plans, you need to get your visas sorted first. Twenty-six European states have officially abolished any other type of border control at their mutual borders, they make up the Schengen Area. You’ll need a Schengen visa, which will allow you to move freely in and between these countries. It’ll costs approximately ₹4,100 and must be applied for no later than two weeks and no earlier than three months of your travel date. Make sure your check the website for a list of documents that you’ll need when applying.
(Be sure to check news updates for any changes to travel restrictions across Europe.)
Travel in Europe
Next you’ll need to plan how you’re going to get around once you’re there. Non-European travelers need to get a Eurail Pass (interrail is only for Europeans and residents of Europe) and this will allow you to travel to a choice of 28 countries. Ticket prices differ with duration of stay and how often you want to travel. If you’re 27 and under, good news, you travel cheaper. Those aged 28+, you’ll pay a little bit more.
So for your 1 month, 7 countries trip, a pass will cost you ₹31,200 (age 27 and under) and ₹38,800 (age 28 and over).
The best way to explore any new city is by foot. Stay away from taxis as much as possible. Instead, pack a day bag, put on some comfy shoes and get lost. It’s honestly the best way to do it, You won’t just save money, you’ll discover things you wouldn’t otherwise have done, you’ll become quickly oriented and you’ll burn off all the pizza, pasta and burger calories you’ll no doubt be consuming!
The next best option is by bike. Lots of people ride bikes in Europe and renting a bike is easy and relatively low-cost. It’s also really fun! If you only do it once, make sure it’s in Amsterdam!
As a last resort, if you really MUST use transport then make sure you utilize the local transport such as local trams, subways or bus. Getting around via local transport around most European cities is usually inexpensive and if you opt for a day pass then your travel will be unlimited too.
You may also like: The 7 Best Ways to Travel Without Burning a Hole in Your Pocket
You’re accommodation choices can help you save a great deal of money. If you opt for staying in a hostel, dorm beds will be your saving grace. Hostelling International (HI) is a global network of hostels offering good quality and safe accommodation at affordable prices. A membership card will cost you around ₹1,230 and will give you up to 10% discount in any European hostel, as well as other benefits such as discount on food and drink. There are hundreds of HI hostels across Europe so it’s definitely worth getting and you can purchase one upon arrival at your starting hostel.
Alternatively, Couchsurfing is becoming an increasingly popular way to travel for free, especially in Europe. It’s generally safe, but some caution should be exercised when using this method of travelling. You can find out more here.
HI Aventura Boutique Hostel in Budapest is located next to a metro station in the heart of the city. It’s super stylish and each room has a different theme. It’s family-run, has only 20 beds and is set in a charming 100-year-old residential home. It’s got free Wi-Fi and computer access, a self-catering kitchen, laundry facilities and a library.
Price: Dorm beds from ₹800
HI Adriatic Train Hostels in Zagreb is unique in the fact that it’s an actual train-turned-hostel. Forget what you already know about sleeper trains, this one has all the comfort regulations of a regular hostel so there’s no compromising for this experience. It has free Wi-Fi too!
Price: Dorm beds from ₹900
HI Dubrovnika is a cosy hostel on a picturesque cobbled street within a short walks reach from Dubrovnik’s Old Town of Stari Grad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has easy access to the many beautiful, historic sites within the town and provides all the amenities you’ll need for a great stay.
Price: Dorm beds from ₹1,250
HI Florence Ostello del Chianti is a charming hostel located on a winery and a short bus ride away from the city. You can zone out whilst you eat and drink to your heart’s content surrounded by beautiful scenery, excellent wines and cuisine and delightful medieval villages.
Price: Dorm beds from ₹1080
HI Casa Pessina in Rome is an excellent starting point for seeing Rome’s spectacular sites like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, all of which are very close. With Rome being known for it’s exceptional pasta here you’ll be able to gorge like never before as you’ll be surrounded by some of Italy’s best eateries.
Price: Dorm beds from ₹1,200
Auberge de jeunesse HI Paris Yves Robert is located in an old warehouse of a French railway company and is an international leader in green and sustainable budget accommodation. The hostel hosts a theatre, a bar area, a restaurant all overlooking a beautiful garden. It’s the perfect place for socialising and making new friends, and for exploring the wonders of the City of Love.
Price: Dorm beds from ₹2,000
HI Bruegel in Brussels is conveniently located just 5 minutes from the main train terminal. It’s comfy, it’s clean and it has it’s own licensed pub and disco room. The museum of cocoa and chocolate is close by so you can satisfy your sweet tooth with some authentic Belgian chocolate.
Price: Dorm beds from ₹1,750
HI Stayokay Amsterdam Stadsdoelen overlooks one of Amsterdam’s famous canals. It’s bang in the middle of vibrant Amsterdam and besides bars, coffee shops and restaurants you’ll will find theatres,cinemas and museums for the ultimate cultural experience.
Price: Dorm beds from ₹1900
HI Munich Park in Munich is a renovated hostel situated in downtown Munich. Some of the best attractions to see when staying at HI Munich Park are the English Garden, Alte Pinakothek, BMW Welt, Munich Zoo and the many beer halls where you can drink beer the way it’s meant to be done.
Price: Dorm beds from ₹1,500
HI Berlin is an international melting pot of travellers from all over the world. Make friends and explore the city with it’s world-renowned nightlife and food scene.
Price: Dorm beds from ₹1,650
The rest is up to you now! Yes you’ll have to manage your daily travel expenses well to keep in your budget, but it shouldn’t affect the quality of your trip nor the great memories you’ll make. You’ll still have the best time.
Travel hacks to save you money during your trip
- Always try to book things in advance or online where possible to get the cheapest prices and best deals.
- Try not to eat in a restaurants every meal. Europe has some great restaurants, but they can be pricey. Find some local cafes or small eateries or buy food from a local supermarket as a cheaper alternative.
- Take night trains where you can to save money on accommodation. Compared to train rides in India, journeys are much shorter in Europe, even across countries, but you can still find train rides that will save you cash on a nights accommodation.
- There are water fountains everywhere with clean drinking water. Bring a re-fillable bottle instead of buying a new one each time.
- A lot of tourist attractions across Europe offer student discounts. If you’re a student, bring your pass and take advantage of that.
- Try to book your flights to Europe yourself rather that through an agency. Play around on SkyScanner to hunt for the best deals and check a few different routes. You’ll often find big price differences between cities in the same country.
- Most cities have free walking tours offered by guides through local companies. Join them! They are a great way of seeing the city, learning about it’s history and they’re also a great opportunity to meet new people.