Europe: the bold, the beautiful, the ridiculously expensive.
It’s a quintessential life experience for most, but by George, a Eurotrip can sure burn a hole in your hip pocket. So how then, does a self-professed “broke girl” actually afford a holiday to Europe?
Well, we’re going to have to be a little smart about it.
For the purposes of this article, I thought I’d try a little experiment. I did some heavy research with the ultimate goal of seeing see just how cheaply one can score a six-week Eurotrip.
The itinerary is as follows: London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Budapest, Prague, Berlin and Amsterdam. It’s a pretty broad (and basic) spectrum there, but one that gives you enough cultural points that soon enough you’ll be type of person who insists on calling it “Bar-thé-lona”. *eye roll*
In theory, if we’re budgeting right, planning ahead and being a little stingey, we can do it all pretty cheaply and save some big buckeroos.
Let’s imagine you’ve saved $5,000. This is going to be your budget, and you’re going to stick to it like a dog to a bone.
I promise you right here, right now that you’ll be able to do it all with enough money left over for gelato. Because that’s what holidays are about, right? Engorging yourself on exotic and cheap food ’til you’re left defeated by a plate of mushroom risotto. What. A. Thrill.
First up: flights
If you haven’t done so already, sign up for sales emails from STA Travel, Student Flights, and airlines like Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin and so on. This way you’ll be getting sales promotions sent right to your inbox. Check out a flight comparison site like Skyscanner too, to see the cheapest prices from thousands of airlines.
Let’s say we want to fly Melbourne to London, in August. I’ve done a quick look around and STA Travel is offering $1,080 flights with Vietnam Airlines. Because you’re willing to skimp on amenities (you’re being stingey, remember?), you’re going to nab them.
Let’s be honest here, flights are where you can save the big bucks. You’ve just got to weigh up what’s really important to you. Load up your smart device with TV shows and movies if the offerings on board are sub-par, bring a mini pillow and your own sleepytime tea for comfort, and just keep thinking about how it’ll all be over very soon. You can do it, we believe in you.
Total price so far: $1,080
Don’t forget those internal flights!
A girl’s gotta get around somehow, right? You can also try your luck with Europe’s envious high speed rail, which not only lets you see a side of the country that you just wouldn’t see by air, but it can also be cheap as hell.
With a little research, I found some bare minimum flights and train tickets to get us where we need to go. Here are the sums in Aussie dollars:
Flight from London to Paris ($89) + Flight from Paris to Barcelona ($70) + Flight from Barcelona to Rome ($55) + flight from Rome to Budapest ($84) + train from Budapest to Prague ($60) + train from Prague to Berlin ($40) + flight from Berlin to Amsterdam ($72) + flight from Amsterdam back to London ($47) = $517
Six weeks of internal transportation: $517
Total price so far: $1,597
It might seem obvious, but an easy way to save money is by being frugal about accommodation. When you think about it, all you really need is a comfy bed, a warm shower, and a place to store your crap during the day. You’re more than likely going to be spending the majority of your time out exploring, so all those bells and whistles often go unused. Gym? Computer room? Whoopdi-freakin’-do.
In Europe, you’ll find yourself choosing between hostels or Airbnb. It’s a universally known fact that hostels are the cheapest way to stay in Europe, with room prices varying from the dirt cheap ($20/night in Barcelona) to the splurgy ($80/night in Paris). If you’re looking for something a little more homely, you can nab private rooms or entire apartments on Airbnb for next to nothing.
Here’s what I got:
5 nights in a London Airbnb (5 x $50) + 5 nights in a Parisian hostel (5 x $80) + 4 nights in a Barcelonan hostel (4 x $20) + 5 nights in a Roman hostel (5 x $40) + 4 nights in a Budapest Airbnb (4 x $40) + 4 nights in a Prague hostel (4 x $20) + 4 nights in a Berlin hostel (4 x $30) + 4 nights in an Amsterdam hostel (4 x $40) = $1,450
Six weeks of accommodation: $1,450
Total price so far: $3,047
Then there is, of course, food
Though it doesn’t sound like that much fun, try and stick to a daily food budget to keep things cheap. Assuming you get free breakfast, try to aim for about 20€/day for food (about $30). For a cheap bite, try local street vendors or hole-in-the-wall cafes. Six weeks of food on 20€ per day is $1,260 AUD.
Six weeks of food: $1,260
Total price so far: $4,307
Other ways to save big bucks
- If you’re a student, get yourself an International Student Card ($30) for discounts on food and accommodation.
- Do your research and invest in a travel-friendly debit card or cash card that skip those sneaky currency conversion fees and bank fees. Try Citibank, 28 Degrees, Commonwealth Bank cash cards or check with your own bank to see if there are any extra perks.
- Nab some travel insurance online for as cheap as $150 (go here to find a cheap price).
- Look out for those illusive free days to enterf monuments and museums. On the first Sunday of every month, places like The Louvre and the Colosseum are free.
Additional costs: $180
Total price so far: $4,487
So how did we fare?
Our budget was $5,000 and we managed to do it all for $4,487, which leaves us with $513 left over for gelato (or even a pair of French leather boots. You do you, girl.)
Of course, take these calculations with a grain of salt. Everyone’s trip will be different, and you might even find cheaper options if you’re lucky! We’re just happy we came in under our budget, so we’ll be splitting tapas plates in Barcelona and throwing back shots at a multi-level rave in Berlin to celebrate. BRB.
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