The Typical Budget for Backpacking in Europe
Hitchhiking is dangerous, and it is illegal on European highways. (Photo: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images )
If you’re planning a backpacking tour of Europe, one of the most pressing things on your mind (apart from where to get the best croissant in France and the best beer in Belgium, of course) is likely how you’re going to afford the trip. After all, Europe can be a pricey place to visit. However, the good news is that it’s entirely possible to cut corners and get by on a small budget ‒ as long as you monitor your money carefully and learn the secrets of true budget-friendly travel.
What to Consider While Making Your Budget
When you’re in the beginning stages of planning out your budget, there are some important considerations to be made. First off, your plane ticket will likely be the priciest part of your trip, so it’s crucial to know how to cut costs in this area. When researching your flights on your computer, use incognito mode so that the site you’re searching doesn’t become aware of your search habits. Airlines are notorious for showing higher prices if people are repeatedly searching for the same flights. Fly with a budget airline like Norwegian Air or WOW Air; it won’t be the most comfortable flight you’ve ever taken, but it will likely be the cheapest.
Apart from getting a cheap flight, the best backpackers know how to cut costs on lodging and transportation, since these are also expensive parts of any trip. When you’re formulating your budget and thinking about the most-affordable lodging options, consider staying in group dorm rooms at hostels or participating in a work-exchange program. For instance, WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) allows you to work on organic farms in exchange for lodging. For transportation, try taking local buses or walking everywhere whenever possible. Europe is well-known for its cheap public transit options, so you can likely get by on spending less than a few euros per day on transportation (not including train costs to other cities).
How to Cut Costs
It’s possible to spend less than 75 euros per day (or even less than 50 euros per day, if you’re really thrifty) in Europe by adhering to a few rules. For food, try going to supermarkets and eating street food for most of your meals. By not eating out at restaurants, you can easily save 20 euros a day or more. Also, try planning your museum visits on free admission days. In Paris, for instance, the Louvre is free for all visitors on the first Sunday of each month from October to March. Other famed local museums (like the Musée Rodin and Musée d’Orsay) are free on the first Sunday of every month. Finally, try drinking less alcohol or going alcohol-free on some days; daily cocktails and wine can eat up your budget in no time.
The Best Countries to Visit for Backpackers
While all of Europe is generally considered to be “backpacker heaven,” some countries are better than others allowing travelers to stick to a tight budget. For instance, if you’re trying to get by on 75 to 100 euros per day (or less), consider skipping the Nordic countries like Sweden and Norway. Though this is an incredible region, it’s also the most expensive in all of Europe. Embrace Eastern Europe and the lesser-visited destinations like Bulgaria, Poland and Romania; these countries are cheaper than most of Western Europe and are just as beautiful and culturally rich.
Leaf Group is a USA TODAY content partner providing general travel information. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.
- StudentUniverse: Top 10 Cheap Backpacking Tips
- The World Pursuit: How Much Does a Europe Backpacking Trip Cost?
- Frommers: How to Travel Far on a Tight Budget
- Louvre Museum: Hours
- Museo Nacional del Prado: Ticket Sales
About the Author
Justine Harrington is a freelance travel journalist (and lifelong wanderer) based in Austin, Texas. Her essays, profiles, and destination guides have appeared in Fodor’s, Forbes Travel Guide, Backpacker, Scandinavian Traveler, Frommer’s, The Austin-American Statesman, Austin Monthly, Misadventures Magazine, and many others. She has bachelor’s degrees in French and anthropology, and has held nearly every travel-related job imaginable, from study abroad program director in France to ESL educator in Ecuador. To find out more, visit www.justineharrington.com.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
- Attribution: San Jose; License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license