How to Travel Europe on a Budget

August 17, 2016

How to Travel Europe on a Budget

Having been married to a man who loves to travel and go on adventures, I just knew that it's going to be only a matter of time before we find ourselves exploring Europe.  

To be honest, our original plan was to go on a Europe tour once Ronnie reached the retirement age -- when our kids have already finished college.  As parents, of course, we wanted to save as much as we can to secure our children's future.  However, as my husband and I mature into our marriage, we have also come to realize the importance of making the most out of the time that we have in this world.  You know, we do not live just to pay bills.  Instead, we work our as* off so we can spend our hard earned money enjoying life with the people we love.  Thus, we decided to go for this big trip (while both of us are still young and able)!

Don't get me wrong.  I am not advocating the "travel now, pulubi later" kind of lifestyle here.  Of course, that's just irrational.  What I'm simply trying to say is that, if you can afford it (and by afford, I mean, it won't cost you an arm and a leg), then by all means, GO for it!  Have fun, create new memories, and enjoy life with your loved ones!  Remember, time is fleeting.  Use it wisely!  So, when your time comes, you'll know for yourself that you have lived a full life.  No regrets!

Going on a Europe tour isn't cheap, but it doesn't necessarily mean you have to splurge.  Take for example our 15-day trip discovering Italy, France, and Spain, where we spent around EUR 6,470 or a little less than PHP 340k (exchange rate at the time of our travel) all-in.  In my opinion, the said amount is pretty reasonable enough considering:

(1) there were four of us traveling to Europe -- we had to book a quadruple room and purchase (full-priced) tickets for Rafa since he's already 2 years old;

(2) we visited 6 cities (Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris, Madrid, and Barcelona) and also toured other attractions outside the metropolis (Pisa, Versailles, and El Escorial);

(3) we stayed in comfortable accommodations that were centrally located;
Image of Palazzo Salviati in Florence, Italy courtesy of tripadvisor.co.uk

(4) we explored popular museums and attractions (Vatican Museum, Colosseo, Louvre, Versailles Palace, etc.) using skip-the-line passes; and

(5) we dined in decent restaurants, ate gelato/ ice cream every single day, and indulged ourselves with delicious food until we're completely satisfied.

Overall, I must say that we really had enjoyed our vacation!  Sure, we had a tight budget for this trip (less than PHP 103k for each adult), but it didn't make us feel deprived at all.

Anyway, if you're planning to have that next big trip of a lifetime, perhaps, you could spare me a little of your time and read the tips I've written below on how you can save or limit your expenses to a minimum when going on Europe tour.

1.  Travel during off season.  A big chunk of your budget will be spent on airfare and accommodation.  Hence, it's just sensible and more affordable to fly to Europe during low season because airlines and hotels often have special promotions or offer discounts at these times.  Not to mention, there are also fewer tourists and a smaller crowd, which equates to spending less time in queues when entering a popular tourist attraction.

2.  Use consolidated travel search sites to compare airfare prices.  Ticket prices may vary depending on the day, time, and duration of your travel.  Usually, flying on a weekend is more expensive compared to flying on a weekday, early morning flights are cheaper than peak hour flights, and direct flights are certainly more costly than flights with stopovers.  Skyscanner is a great app that makes it easier for you to compare promos and spot cheap airline tickets available on the market.

3.  Fly across Europe with low-cost airlines like Easyjet and Ryanair.  If you have a relatively short time to travel and explore Europe, it is highly recommended to fly instead of taking the train when moving from one country to another.  It's faster, it's cheaper, and it will definitely make your travel more efficient, leaving you with plenty of time for sightseeing and relaxation.  Please take note, however, that these airlines may charge you extra for any check-in luggage/s.  Hence, it's best to pack light and bring only your carry-on to avoid unnecessary expenses.

4.  Use public transportation.  Do as the locals do.  Instead of paying extra to get around a city by a hop-on-hop-off tourist bus, why not try commuting?  All the three countries we've visited have this unlimited train/bus passes at a really affordable price.  Just make sure to grab yourself a map and use your navigation skills to find your way through an unfamiliar place.  It'll definitely take a lot of effort on your part, but trust me, it's gonna be waaaay more cost effective and the experience will also be more rewarding!

5.  Book apartments instead of hotels.  This option is more beneficial if you're traveling in big groups and staying in a place for at least 3 nights.  Most of the apartments available for rent in Europe are already fully furnished, which gives you the flexibility to do the laundry and cook your own food.  Not to mention, it also gives you more room to move around than a regular budget hotel.  

6.  Stay central.  Don't be deceived by the cheap rates of hotels/apartments that are located outside the city center.  Instead, choose an accommodation that's located next to a bus/ metro station or near local attractions, for it will surely reduce your transportation cost and save you a lot of time commuting.  

7.  Avail a city pass (eg.  Paris Museum Pass).  If you are traveling with kids and want to see a lot of attractions in a few days, then this could be of great help for it gives discounts to museum entrances and allows tourists to skip-the-line.  Thus, you get to save more time, energy, and money.

8.  Do-it-yourself.  The key to becoming successful in stretching your budget and making your trip more efficient is to PLAN AHEAD.  Do a thorough research of the cities you're planning to visit.  Scout for affordable accommodations in prime locations, read travel blogs and reviews, and identify the attractions you wish to see (including their hours of operation & ticket prices).   Having a detailed itinerary will enable you to maximize your time and manage your expenses, thereby making your dream vacation more relaxed and hassle-free.


**Click the following links if you wish to view the detail of our April 2016 Europe Tour itinerary and expenses.  (We were not required to get travel insurance since our existing health insurance plan provided worldwide coverage.)

***For more photos, stories, and tips about our adventures in Europe, you may check the following blog posts: 

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