Before you can see the Eiffel Tower, taste the mouthwatering dishes in Rome, or experience skiing in the Alps, you have to plan a travel itinerary first. For most people, though, they find such a task too overwhelming or just straight-up tedious. After all, Europe is a vast continent with so many countries jampacked into one—each with its own distinct culture, language, and way of life.
However, without planning a travel itinerary, you’re more likely to lose amazing travel opportunities that live up to your expectations and cost cheaper. And you’re probably familiar with how expensive traveling to Europe is.
Fortunately, with the right travel guide, you can learn how to plan a budget-friendly trip to Europe. Check out these budget-savvy
6 Essential Tips for Creating a Budget-Friendly Travel Itinerary to Europe
1. Consider the Season
Before booking your trip to Europe, you should be aware of the different travel seasons and each one’s pros and cons. After all, seasonality would greatly determine the price of your European tour from transportation to accommodation, activities, and food.
- High Season – This runs in the summer months of June to August. During this time, you can enjoy the pleasant weather, longer days, and various festivals. However, since huge amounts of tourists also visit during this season, expect to see inflated prices.
- Low Season – The winter months of December to February see the least amount of tourists in Europe. Pros include low prices, no crowds, and a range of winter attractions. Cons include the likelihood of bad weather, shorter days, and reduced hours of tourist attractions.
- Shoulder Season – This refers to the spring months of April to June as well as the autumn months of September to November. Aim to travel during these months to get the best of both worlds. You can enjoy nice weather, relatively few tourists, and lower prices.
2. Choose Cheaper European Cities
Aside from choosing the ideal season when to travel, you also have to pick where you want to go. You may want to look at places that aren’t large tourist hubs which means they are far less expensive than popular and iconic European cities such as Paris, London, and Barcelona.
Greece and Portugal are just two of the several affordable cities in Europe where you can take in the magnificent sights while having a full-blast experience with the rich culture. In fact, Eastern Europe is filled with many amazing yet underrated sights that offer far greater value for money than countries in Western Europe.
Tip: While it may be tempting to go to many European destinations at once, know that it would require more transport costs. In short, overpacking your travel itinerary with too many cities means more expenses so avoid it as much as possible. After all, you can stay in one country for weeks but still have many attractions to explore in your list.
3. Develop a Rough Itinerary
It’s easy to purchase a roundtrip flight to Paris (or any other European city) and a hotel room. However, don’t go ahead buying these travel essentials unless you’re sure of what you’re gonna do once you arrive.
You should develop a rough day-to-day itinerary first. Make sure to research the country or city you want to visit then list down all the things you want to experience in the area. If this list is too long, you can eliminate some by figuring out which ones you have the budget and time to go to.
Know that big tourist hubs often have countless activities and sights for every visitor but they often cost too much money. Learn how to say “no” to what travel guidebooks recommend especially if the attraction doesn’t spark a genuine interest in you and are expensive—often in the case of museums. What you can do instead is search online about free activities to do in the city or country of your choice. This would help you plan a trip to Europe without costing you a hefty amount of money.
4. Research the Cheapest Mode of Transportation
Once you’ve (partially) decided on the things you want to do in a specific European country or city, it’s time to look for your options when it comes to transportation. Some people said that flights to Europe are ridiculously expensive. However, with the right amount of web-surfing, you can easily find cheap flights.
Flying into a specific, less-known European city? It’s best to enter the continent through a busy international airport such as Paris’ Roissy Airport or London’s Heathrow Airport. Then you may take a connecting flight to your intended destination.
When traveling to Europe, it’s important to be flexible and resourceful at the same time. You’ll be genuinely surprised at how cheap it is to enter Europe.
5. Stay in Budgeted Accommodation
You might be tempted to stay in a 5-star luxury hotel on your trip to Europe but remember that one of the biggest expenses while traveling is the accommodation.
You’ll be better off staying in a budget hostel, especially if you’ll be backpacking across different cities. There are countless affordable options that range for about $15 to $30 a night—it can even go as cheap as $10 per night in the cheaper cities located in Eastern Europe.
6. Eat and Drink Like the Locals
Another large chunk of your budget would go to eating food and buying drinks during your stay in Europe. After all, the continent is brimming with cities that offer so many world-famous cuisines as well as must-try beers and wines.
It’s indeed tempting to indulge in it all but dining out every day would put a considerable hole in your pocket. In order to avoid expensive costs, you may want to consider going to the local supermarket to buy fresh produce. You can then cook these locally-produced goods for a hearty meal.
If you do dine out, try your best to avoid tourist-trap restaurants that are often too overpriced. Instead, ask locals about their favorite restaurants and visit these hidden gems for dinner. You’re sure in it for an authentic and delightful treat!
Planning on drinking? You’ll surely enjoy Europe’s varying nightlife scene. Know that buying individual drinks at the bar can cost you a lot. To save money, you can purchase the local variations or simply buy a bottle of alcohol at the liquor store.
At first, planning a trip to Europe can be intimidating. After all, there are a lot of countries—each with their own sense of culture, identity, and language—that are just too tempting to visit on your tour. However, know that this magnificent continent is notorious for its high costs of living and basic necessities. So in order to make the most out of your trip to Europe, it’s best to create a budget travel itinerary.
Planning your trip to Europe soon? Make sure you are equipped with the right travel requirements, including the new ETIAS Visa Waiver. Designed to allow unrestricted travel to Schengen member states, it would make entering European countries quicker for visitors.
Want to learn more about this new travel system? Check out our news page for more information about the ETIAS scheme.