I have always wanted to travel to Europe but the biggest discouragement was being told that traveling is expensive. Few years ago, I did my research and discovered that the biggest myth that will stop you from traveling is that it is expensive. I was able to travel to 5 countries (Ireland, England, Spain, Italy, France) for two weeks and the total I spent for flights, housing, food, and everything else was $941.39. Below are the steps I took, if you follow them, you can travel to almost anywhere very affordably:
- Sign up for Kayak.com “Price Alert”. This tool can notify you once a desired destination is available for a price that you set. This is what I used on my trip. Be Flexible on the country and time of travel: I set up “Price Alert” so that Kayak would notify me once there is a ticket from Kansas City to anywhere in Europe available for under $800 and I got an email once there was. The less flexible you are with dates and destination, the less likely you will land a cheap deal.
- Use Ryanair.com and easyjet.com. This is what I used to travel within Europe. Tickets can be extremely cheap. For example, my flight one-way from Dublin to London was $28. Getting a train pass is a great option and can be a great experience. I didn’t personally use it because I wanted to cut as much travel time as possible.
- Alternative Option: Use “Name Your Own Price” tool on Priceline.com. Even though I didn’t use this tool for my trip to Europe, I have used it for numerous other trips. It works by naming your own price and Priceline instantly acceptes, counters, or decline your offer. It’s a hit or miss but it can save you a lot of money.
- Use hostels.com. This is the most affordable way to stay in Europe. The website lets you compare hostel rates, locations and reviews. Most places were very affordable. For example, the Hostel I stayed in Dublin was for $14/night. Hostels are also a great way to meet other travelers. However, you’ll have to be flexible with the fact that you will be staying in a room with several strangers.
- use Couchsurfing.com. I used couchsurfing all over the US. I got a chance to stay 100% free in great places with amazing hosts. The challenge with couchsurfing is landing a reliable place. Make sure to review feedbacks left by other travelers and that you feel safe with the hosts. I personally only used couchsufing when I had a traveler with me and that’s why I didn’t use it in Europe.
- Alternative Option: Airbnb.com is growing in popularity and you can find unique options on it. However, Airbnb is typically more expensive than hostels and of course, counchsurfing.
- Use yelp.com to find authentic and affordable restaurants. Eating authentic food is something that is expected when traveling abroad. However, the trick is to be intentional and to budget.
- Avoid touristy restaurants that brand themselves as “authentic”; but in reality, they are over-priced spots for tourists that locals never go to.
- Also, you have to be willing to eat cheap. When I was in Italy, I went with my new hostel friends to local grocery stores and got affordable Italian meat slices and cheese and made our own delicious Italian meals.
- I found that most quality and authentic attractions are free. Seeing the Eiffel Tower, walking through the ruins of Ancient Rome, exploring city streets, and swimming in the mediterranean are some of the most enjoyable activities I did and they were all free.
- Use Tripadvisor.com. (and download the app) to find the best rated attractions. It’s important to plan in advance the specific activities you will pay for. Some of the things I paid for were going up the Eiffel Tower and paying to get in few museums.
- Get a credit card that offers high rewards and points when you sign up. I personally have “Capital One Venture Card”. The card currently offers 40,000 points for signing up (That’s $400 in travel credit!) and 2 points for every dollar spent. At the time of purchase, I redeemed $342 worth of points which saved me a total of $742. People are usually against getting a credit card so that they can avoid debt. If you have a problem only buying what you can afford, you may want to skip this option. However, I never paid a penny in interest for credit cards so credit cards have always served me with free rewards.
- If you live in a small city, consider looking for flights in a larger city close to you and have someone drive you there. This can also save you hundreds of dollars.
- Don’t get carried away in the moment. One of the big mistakes people do when they travel is that they spend money for things they don’t need. Overpriced souvenirs, alcohol, non-authentic touristic restaurants and attractions are some of the things you should avoid.
Breakdown of my trip Expenses
Flight: Kansas City to Dublin $744.67
Flights within Europe (5 total) $210.78
Hostels Total: $354.87
Food Total: $265.91
Attractions Total: $107.16
Credit Card Rewards applied -$742
Do you have any additional tips on saving when traveling?
– Johnny Youssef