Most people think that doing a big trip and spending some time traveling around Europe has to cost a fortune, but just a few decades ago backpacking through Europe was something you did on a shoestring budget. If you’re willing to rough-it a little, you can actually see a surprising amount of Europe’s treasures without spending that much.
If you’re traveling around and want to see a lot of things, not hauling around a bunch of stuff is going to make it cheaper and easier. Luggage is an impairment to both your sight-seeing and your wallet; you have to always have a place to store your bags, taking trains will be much more of a hassle, and you’ll be paying for taxis when a lighter traveler could just walk.
If you’re traveling and the goal is to see a lot and spend very little, bring a couple (as in two) shirts, some undergarments and socks, a pair of pants, and a pair of shorts. This may sound ridiculous if you’re not used to it, but it’s really not that bad. When things get dirty, wear your other outfit and wash the rest of your clothes in a sink. Merino wool and other fast-drying materials will dry while you sleep and be ready to go in the morning.
Buy a Eurail pass
The train system in Europe, especially in Germany, is pretty amazing, so if you want to see as much of Europe as possible, you might want to purchase a Eurail pass. You can travel from country to country without spending much, and if you’re super-savvy, you can figure out night-trains to take so you can sleep on the train (saving the cost of other accommodations) and wake up in a brand new location you’ve never seen before. Eurail passes can be expensive, so find one that works for your trip’s length and scope and check the math to be sure it’s the best choice before buying one.
Stay at hostels
If you don’t have the money for a nice hotel, but you’re not willing to camp out on the ground, either, hostels are the perfect cheap in-between. You share a room with several other people, often strangers from all around the world, and get a bed to sleep in for only a few Euro. While it may seem a little odd at first to sleep next to someone you met ten minutes ago or go use the bathroom down the hall, it’s a fun adventure and will help you get a better sense of the culture (plus some great stories) that you’d miss out on in a hotel.
Find out the discount days
Many of the most famous museums, such as the Louvre and inside Vatican City, have specific discount days each month where you can go see priceless artwork and stunning artifacts for a discount or even for free. The Sistine Chapel is amazing, but it’s even better when you get in for nothing. Check before you go so you know if you need to have a Student ID or some other documentation to take advantage of the discounts.
Traveling can be very expensive, but if you put some thought in before-hand and are willing to make a few sacrifices (like regular showering, sleeping in a bed, or makeup), you can have the time of your life while spending very little cash.
Photo credit: Eiffel tower by Terrazzo/flickr
Author: Thomas Hathaway is a world traveler, financial consultant, and content contributor to payday loans online, a site providing information and advances when you may need money quickly.