If you’re ambitious, then right now you’re probably balancing your desire to enjoy your life, and a desire to buckle down and get rid of that crushing student loan debt. Depending on the day, you may be ready to drop everything and fly to Europe. We’ve been through that exact experience, and one of the things we did to pay off our $100,000 of student loan debt and still enjoy our late 20’s was to work hard…and play hard. Our favorite way to play is to take trips abroad, Europe being our favorite.
Here’s the catch, when it comes to traveling to Europe, there are ways to do it on the cheap…and ways to break the bank. Here are the main categories I look at when I’m planning a trip to Europe (or any other large trip), and how we get the best “bang” for our buck!
A Trip to Europe: 11 Ways to Get the Best “Bang” For Your Buck
1. Book Multi-Destination Trips
If you are already paying for a flight overseas, the bulk of your travel expense is typically in the initial flight. Rather than flying in and out of the same city, think about doing a multi-destination trip. For example, we’ve flown into London and out of Athens. Try not to plan a loop, but rather make a line. We went to London, Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome, and ended up in Athens. You don’t need to stay in just Europe either. In May, we flew into Dublin and out from Cairo.
When you are traveling longer distances within your larger trip, also look at overnight trains and flights so you can sleep on the ride rather than wasting a day of sightseeing!
2. Be Flexible With Travel Dates
Try to travel on the “shoulder season” when booking your trip to Europe. We find going to Europe in late April is a great time.
3. Travel Together
When you have a group of between 2-5 people, things tend to get cheaper. Often you can all split a hotel room, rental car, or a taxi rather than each buy a public transportation ticket.
4. Bring Along a Rick Steves Book
Rick Steve writes books that are always worth it. For $10 you can buy last year’s edition of his travel book to your destination and it will be one of the smartest purchases you’ve ever made.
5. Research City Passes
We’ve come across these in all sorts of places such as London, Rome, Paris. Sometimes it’s a fabulous deal and you get to skip long lines! Just make sure to look closely at the tourist attractions it covers.
6. Buy Tickets Ahead Online
You can save money by booking a ticket ahead online, and more importantly, some places sell out if you don’t book tickets in advance. We’ve done this for the top of the Eiffel Tower and for Vatican City.
7. Use the Student Specials
If you’re a student, check out the student pricing when you’re visiting tourist spots. It doesn’t just apply to undergraduate students either so if you are in grad school or work for a school, look into this.
8. Research Hotels and Hostels
Surprisingly, we’ve learned that sometimes it is cheaper to get a hotel rather than a hostel. I’ve stayed in hostels with private rooms, rooms of 12 in mixed company and even rented apartments. When you’re traveling in Europe, try to look at all of your options.
Also, when you’re looking at reviews, don’t just look at overall stars. Look at what people actually say. Sometimes Americans can give the place a bad review, when it is very typical size of a room in Europe.
10. Location vs. Price
Research whether you can save a few bucks and stay further away from the tourist spots when planning a trip to Europe. For example, in London you can stay many different places because the tube will zip you all over. In Athens, it was worth it for us to stay close to the tourist spots because we were going to be walking everywhere. Paris also has a great Metro but staying by the airport is probably a bad idea when it can take you an hour to get into the heart of the city.
11. Ask Friends
Ask friends about their travel experiences. We’ve learned many great tips about where to stay and how to save money from our friends.
To read more about traveling on a budget and to follow our journey of paying off $100,000 of student loan debt, feel free to visit us on the blog, kittyandkevin.blogspot.com.
Have you been on a trip to Europe?
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