1. Plan well in advance:
This coming from someone who doesn’t plan at all! Though I simply got lucky with the airfare, plan as early as possible, so you can use the low fares to your advantage. Airlines are eager to fill some seats as quickly as possible to ensure they break even. Once the seats start filling up, chances are prices will drastically increase due to airline slab pricing that automatically moves to higher price slabs as soon as the earlier slabs fill up. Look out for schemes, discounts and offers. Companies are always coming up with excellent deals- it helps to track airfares for a while before booking them. (Make My Trip sometimes has an AppFest, where you can get a return flight to and from Vienna at as low a price as 19K on KLM.) A return airfare for 25k doesn’t sound bad at all, does it? Take the cheapest flight to Europe and then a train to the city of your choice. That’s cheaper and you end up discovering two different cities. Remember to clear the cookies on your browser (and phone- since its all linked now!) before you book though.
2. Plan shorter trips:
You might call me a lunatic for saying so, but ever considered a 5 day trip to Europe? A trip to Bali or Russia for the same duration would cost you somewhere close to 90k as well. It only seems cheaper! Chances are, you’ll be a little tight on your budget while you’re in Europe. Though not once did I pass up anything I wanted to eat/drink/see, let’s just say I didn’t blow my money on cabs either, just for it’s convenience.
3. Public transport and day passes:
A full-day pass will cost you somewhere between 10-20 euros. It’s valid for a total of 24 hours, and can be used for any metro, bus or tram in the city. It includes the option for all three, and if you’ve got some serious sightseeing up your sleeve, these day passes are lifesavers. Walk a little, plan your day better and your wallet will bless the European public transport system.
4. Day trips are a great idea:
There are small cities and towns in Europe that are absolutely worth discovering. Salzburg is a 2 hour drive from Munich, and Karlovy Vary is a short ride from Prague as well. Day trips are easy and affordable, and you don’t have to cart your luggage everywhere. Just get on a train and spend the day in a different city. While you get there, enjoy the breathtaking lush green meadows, rivers, lakes and bridges that come your way. Sure, it’s not nearly enough. Pick 2 cities or 3 at best (depending on the duration of your trip) within close proximity to one another.
5. Hop-on Hop-off buses:
Little is said in praise of these HoHo buses! Every major tourist town/city has a Hop-on Hop-off bus service that’s affordable, convenient and well-located. These buses have dedicated stops around the city, allowing you to get on and off the bus at your convenience. Every few minutes another bus comes along and you can board this to your next stop. You can get off anywhere and spend as much time as you like, then get back on the next bus. Tickets can be purchased at railway stations in most cities and you can board the bus right away. I bought mine for 16 Euros in Salzburg, and it came with a map of the city as well as headphones to plug into the seat pockets for information on each stop. It might have just been the most useful purchase of my entire trip. The HoHo bus in each city operates differently- remember to check that out and pick one basis your preference. They sometimes have different routes and you can pick the one that you prefer based on their designated stop locations. These HoHo buses also sometimes have 3 day passes that are perfect for anyone who plans to do a lot of exploring over the next couple of days.
6. Trains to different cities:
The closer you buy your tickets to your travel date, the more expensive they become. Reserving seats costs additional Euros. If you aren’t traveling during peak season, or a busy sector, go ahead and book your tickets without a reservation. It could save you serious bucks! Pick early morning trains so you can make the most of your day. Nobody wants to waste precious Europe hours! Goeuro.com is a quick and reliable place to book train tickets, aside from being easy to understand.
7. Overnight trains/buses are God’s gift to travelers:
This will save you accommodation cost for a night. That said, make sure you’re prepared for the grind. I can’t count many people willing to sleep on the bench for an hour in the cold because their bus arrived too early. Buses could be awfully uncomfortable. See if you can get the special overnight trains. If not- choose carefully. I took the bus overnight from Prague to Munich, which was a 4 hour drive. I hadn’t thought about informing my Airbnb host, so it was a bit of an issue early morning when I got there with nowhere to go. I went about my day with barely any sleep the night before. If you can rough it out, go for it!
8. AirBnb all the way!
Call it your knight in shining armour if you will, but there’s no way you can make it around Europe without AirBnb. It’s a hundred times more exciting to rent a gorgeous apartment for 5k a night than to stay at a relatively cheap (read: 25-30k a night) hotel on the outskirts of the city. If you want to experience true European culture, there’s no better way! Besides the obvious saving of the big bucks, it’s also a wonderful way to meet new people and make friends in a new city. The recommendations from local hosts are a big bonus too!
9. Eat good food that pleases your wallet:
Walk by the cobbled streets early morning, and the fresh smell of frankfurters that beckons you doesn’t come from a fancy cafe, but from an adorable street stall serving fresh buns, delicious mustard, sausages that smell divine, and juice to go with it. You can fill your stomach in somewhere between 7-10 Euros and get going. That said, if you gotta splurge, spend it on the cocktails! Fresh cranberry and raspberry infused into your alcohol can give your life a whole different meaning. With fresh fruit and bakeries everywhere, it’s easy to make do in a budget.