A few years ago, there were fashion trends in European tourism prices like one month with 40 million or 30 million for two weeks in Northern Europe, etc., all were seemly unbelievable numbers, however, cheap European trips were real. Depending on your travel style and extra simple tips for a strategic plan, everything is possible to save money.
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Figuring out the cheapest ways to travel in Europe, finding good and cheap places to stay in Europe, and picking the best hostels in Europe was a trial-and-error type of effort.
I don’t follow the trend of frugality, sleeping in, hitchhiking, or eating sparingly, on the contrary, 10 saving money tips for Europe are revealed to help you enjoy your perfect Europe trip. Let’s check out the best tips on how to do and the best things to know, all of which are very useful for your initial trip, even a hangout for experienced tourists to travel on a budget around Europe.
When to go to Europe? (#how to travel europe on a budget)
Anyone who lives in Europe or has been here a few times must know that European tourism has a very distinct season. In the peak season, hotel rooms can be more expensive up to 2-3 times. Renting a self-drive car, train ticket, or bus ticket can increase by 3-5 times. Especially, air tickets can be increased up to 10 times.
Therefore, when is Europe’s peak tourist season? It is the time when the kids are off. Unlike in Vietnam, students not only get summer vacation, but also Christmas, autumn, spring, and winter holidays in Europe.
- Summer vacation for two months from July to August
- Autumn holiday from one to two weeks in October
- Christmas holiday in the last week of December and the first week of January
- Winter holiday for two weeks in February
- Spring holiday for two weeks in April
Nobody knows when Western children go to school. They will take a rest after three days in school. Depending on each country, these holidays may vary more or less. Just search in google with the keywords “school holidays” with the name of the country to immediately find their holiday schedule. Among these holidays, the scariest ones are from July 15 to August 15, and spring holidays because April also includes a holy week, which is an important festival in some Southern European countries.
Hence, if you just know and avoid this peak period, the total cost for the trip will naturally decrease from one-third to half. I find the most ideal traveling period in Europe will be “Shoulder Season” in March, April, and May (except spring break) and in September, October, and November in southern regions. The weather is cool and the prices are affordable as well.
Surely, in the low season such as November, December, January, and February, the price is still valid, but the weather is not so nice, and many services are closed, which may cause inconvenience for tourists.
When to book flight tickets? (#tips to travel europe on a budget)
People coming to Europe often together book tickets early. However, quickness is not surely good. Europe has a lot of low-cost airlines and tourists should find ways to quickly get promotions from these airlines. For example, before the covid pandemic, I often went out on weekends with plane tickets for only €30/2 way, or the most impressive is that I have ever been from France to Venice with only €2/way, which was cheaper than the ticket from the bus to the airport. In Europe, it’s a bit high to fly for over €50/1 way.
These low-cost airlines often have discounts about 1.5 to 2 months before the flight date. For example, January will be opened in March, August will be opened in October, and so on. For more sure, you can access the companies’ websites and sign up for their newsletters. They will e-mail to notify you of discounts. However, remember that you should not use the major email address to register to avoid receiving spam on it.
Some European low-cost airlines are Ryanair, Easyjet, Volotea, Vueling, Transavia, and more.
Do not check up on weekend flight tickets (#cheapest way to travel europe)
It is easy to get cheap tickets in Europe, but the airlines still have tricks. Do you see the good price tickets for the early day, but they suddenly increase many times on the weekends? That’s because airlines will raise ticket prices every Saturday and Sunday. Don’t worry, just wait until next Tuesday, tickets will be reduced again. The best time to search online for airline tickets and buy is Tuesday and Wednesday of the week.
Note that the above tips only apply when you buy tickets early. If your booking is late, the price will only raise not down.
I often find tickets on a kayak or Skyscanner and access to the airline’s website for booking.
What to pack to travel to Europe?
It is still about plane tickets, how to earn money from cheap European airlines? The answer is that they will focus on the luggage. Since the covid epidemic, most airlines in Europe, including other countries such as Airfrance, Lufthansa, etc., no longer added signed luggage in the fare but can be charged for overweight. Some low-cost carriers don’t even have carry-on suitcases. In the basic ticket, only one backpack size 40x30x20 cm is allowed. Extra luggage will be charged more, and the charge for 8kg hand luggage is sometimes twice as expensive as your ticket.
For example, the day before, I bought a ticket to the UK for €10 but was charged an extra €18 for a carry-on suitcase, if I bought a 15 kg suitcase, I would be charged another €30. Therefore, you should only bring enough luggage to save money on airfare.
Go with a small group (#how to visit europe on a budget)
In Vietnamese tourists’ habit, they usually go together to get cheap fees. But that is not suitable for European tourism. Europe is a place with good public transport, tourists can reach a lot of places without a land tour. If you go by public transport, the ticket fee for one person or ten ones is the same as for one. It may be more expensive for ten people because of limited cheap tickets.
The ideal group with each four to Europe. 4 people will fit in one car if you rent a self-drive car. It is very rare here to rent a 7- or 9-seat car and if it is, the rental price is many times higher than a common 5-seater car. A 5-seater car should only seat 4 people because the place to keep the back seat is often not very comfortable.
4 people will fit in a 1-2 bedroom apartment. The price per capita for such an apartment is often much cheaper than that of a double-room hotel, and sometimes it’s only about the same as a hostel. In the apartments, there is a kitchen and a washing machine. If you want, you can cook a few meals yourself to reduce the cost of eating out; and laundry, reducing the number of clothes to carry.
Buy Passes in cities (#how to travel through europe on a budget)
European tourist cities often have combo tickets with many categories for visitors, called Pass. There are Pass types. One is a public transport Pass, ticket type 1, 2, 3 days, and 1 week. The second is the sightseeing Pass, which can include public transport tickets. Pass types of traveling to many museums and monuments are at a cheaper price than the single one. If you like visiting museums or historic sites, you should learn about the types of Passes in the upcoming cities.
Some of the cities I went to recently and remembered there were quite cheap Passes such as Naples, Lisbon, and Grenada.
Driving (#budget travel tips europe)
These last four tips I will give who know how to drive an effective skill for supporting the European road trip.
I just wrote above that Europe has a good public transport system. However, it is only true for your trip mainly heads to cities. If you prefer the rural, quiet and peaceful nature places on your visit, a proper option is to rent a car driven by yourself.
Your plan will be on schedule and save time for your driving. Factually, public vehicles can be found, but not regularly, and are delayed in remote places.
A budget saving is from driving. In the comparison of the land tour and car rental prices: the car rental price with insurance is about €30–80/1 day, depending on the car model and season. Of course, you shall not find this price for the four-person day tour.
Unlike Vietnam or the US, cars in Europe are mainly manual gearboxes. The rental price of an automatic car is often higher than a manual gearbox car, even doubling in the high season. So if you practice driving a manual car, you will lose get a better price.
I often find car rentals on a website at www.rentalcars.com.
Where to refuel in Europe? (#cheap europe travel tips)
Unlike in Vietnam, gasoline prices in Europe are not the same everywhere. Gasoline prices in each country are different. For example, gasoline in Italy, Greece, and Iceland is more expensive than in France, Spain, Switzerland, and Austria… Even various prices are in a country. If you only go a short distance, the cost is just a bit different. On the contrary, you may save a lot of money with a good fuel address for a long road trip.
Gasoline prices at rest stops on express highways are about 15-20% higher than normal prices. A €100 costed fuel tank brings a difference of €15-20. That is a result, I rarely buy gas on the express highway, I use the app programs on my phone to choose the cheap prices instead. If I ignore opening the apps, I will go to the gas stations of big supermarkets like Auchan/Alcampo, Carrefour, Intermarché, and Leclerc located on the roadside for an affordable price.
Please download an App for searching gasoline prices on Gasoilnow.
When to book hotels to get cheap rooms? (#how to travel through europe on a budget)
If you apply tip #1-do not go in peak season, #5-go with a small group, and #7–self-driving, then tip #9 is for you.
In the off-season, hotels in the area, with a radius of tens of kilometers, will have spare rooms anyway. Until the noon of the day, hotels will devalue, renting only 50-60% of the normal price. So if you have the initiative to move with the small group, you just need to wait until noon to book a room for that night. This is also the way I often apply to get a good hotel room at an affordable motel price.
I often book on booking.com or hotels.com. I wasn’t using Airbnb for a long time because Airbnb in Europe is no longer attractive compared to the other two sites.
Try camping like a native
If you have the opportunity to talk about travel with Europeans, you will see a lot of people like activities involving nature, such as climbing, camping, and road trip by van. Companies selling camping equipment have never been as developed as now. So, under your Europe trip, it is so interesting to try activities like a European.
All your needs are a relatively long vacation (from 2, 3 weeks or more), rent a car, invest in a tent, mattress, sleeping bag, pot, and simple picnic stove. Such a mid-sized suit costs around €150-200/per person.
After each day of sightseeing, instead of going to an expensive hotel or resort, you can go to the campsites to experience the popular travel style. This is a good opportunity for you to interact with the locals, and see how they play and live.
Most European countries have a very good campsite system. Campsites often have basic services such as hot and cold bathrooms, and washing and drying machines. Many places have swimming pools, children’s play areas, and kitchens. A land plot in the campsite has an unbelievably cheap price for a rental, no hotel can match, only €10 to €40/1 night for all groups depending on location.
In some northern Europe countries such as Scotland, Denmark, and Norway, you can stop cars for camping everywhere, as long as over 100m away from the residents’ houses. You also stay in a place like a thousand-star hotel in front of a romantic lake or a majestic canyon, all of which bring a sense of infinite freedom.
After using the camping site, if the item is still in good condition before you return, you just need to take a photo of each item and put it up for sale on second-hand sites for 50% of the original price, someone will come to pick it up right away.
Example of a second-hand site in France: leboncoin.fr
The shop sells affordable camping gear with good quality: Decathlon
Here are 10 great tips on how to travel on a budget to Europe without missing the interesting things for your good travel plan, especially if you are not aware of discounts and money-saving travel hacks. By following these tips, being prepared, and traveling intelligently, any country in Europe can be budget-friendly.