How to Travel Through Europe on a Budget

The recent surge in the strength of the U.S. dollar combined with the fall in the value of the Euro has made traveling throughout Europe for American tourists cheaper than it has been in quite some time! So economically speaking, now is a good time to get your passport ready for a few more stamps! In general, travel in Europe, especially in western Europe, can be quite expensive. However, after living and studying abroad in Spain for almost a year now, I have learned a few ways to make traveling throughout Europe much more easier on the wallet.

Budget Airlines As far as flying goes, the best value tickets almost always come from budget airlines. I have used budget airlines like Ryanair, EasyJet, and AirBerlin to travel to almost a dozen countries in Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East. Oftentimes it is possible to find flight prices for less than half the price of tickets from non-budget airlines. When I have no destination in mind, one cool trick that I have used to find cheap flights is the “fly anywhere” tool from Skyskanner. All you need to do is enter your destination in as “anywhere”, pick your departure dates, and then Skyskanner will search the depths of the internet for the cheapest flight options to many popular European destinations. Google flights is also a great search engine that is especially useful for travelers without definite plans. Google flights lets travelers compare the cheapest prices for flights to cities all over Europe on a map! Other easy to use flight comparison search engines that I have found cheap tickets on are Last Minute and Orbit.

Here you can find a guide filled with information on how to fly cheap in Europe! 

RideSharing Communities When I first started traveling in Europe, I made the mistake of spending over €150 euros to take the AVE high speed train from Madrid to Barcelona roundtrip. If I had known then what I know now, I would have used the rideshare website BlaBlaCar and I would have spent around €60 Euros roundtrip and saved about €90 Euros! Blahblahcar operates in 17 countries and is especially convenient for last minute travel plans. On Blahblahcar and other reputable rideshare sites each driver has a profile with reviews from past passengers. So, a traveler can choose a reliable driver. Another benefit of rideshare transportation is that it forces you to be social. If you are squashed in a car with 3 or 4 other people for 4 or 5 hours it can be very easy to make new friends and make the time fly by. Even now, I still keep in contact with friends that I have made through using Blablacar.

Here is a list of more rideshare companies that operate in Europe and beyond!

Trains In general, trains are much more expensive than buses when traveling in Europe. However, if you are planning on traveling to many destinations, the most comfortable and practical option for your travels will be getting a Eurail pass which allows travelers to plan their trips at their own pace and provides a range of different types of passes for travelers with different needs.

Click here for a more complete guide on choosing, buying, and using European railway passes

Buses While trains and flights are perhaps more comfortable and convenient than buses, buses are usually the cheapest mode of transportation for traveling around Europe. In my experiences, European budget bus companies operate bus trips that are superior to buses in the United States. Travelers can expect bathrooms, free wifi, comfortable reclining chairs, and even electricity outlets on the majority of European buslines. I personally have successfully used ALSA buslines to travel all over Spain and a German budget bus company called Meinfern Bus to get from Berlin to Prague for only €19 euros!

Checkout this list for more information on Europe’s best budget bus companies!