How to plan and book a trip to Europe, (for cheap)! 

Weekend Brunch (1)Hey guys! Recently I have been asked by a few people about my travels, how I create my travel itinerary, staying in a budget, and tips. So, I thought it would be fun to do a series of how to’s, for when you are planning a trip (Europe)!

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Setting a budget:

  • First thing you need to do is set a budget. In order to do so you can read other fellow travel bloggers, or pick up Rick Steve’s Europe through the back door, which gives insight into the current costs of traveling in and around Europe!
  • It will depend on who you are asking, but if you are anything like me ( trying to stretch your dollars, don’t mind walking EVERYWHERE, can skip a few tours, and can shop at a grocery store) then you can get away with spending $50 or less a day in Europe, that’s including food, site-seeing expenses, travel (bus, train, etc), and souvenirs!
  • For two people, my budget was about $5,000 dollars for 30 days in Europe, which included our flights and lodging, gear for the trip (backpacks) and daily spending money. We spent about $4,700 for TWO people! It’s doable!
  • Here are some main reasons we were able to save so much: 1: We traveled with friends, we were in a group of 4 for half our trip, so we were able to split the cost of hotels, hostels, and our air bnb’s. 2: We stayed in places near (walking distance) what we wanted to see, but just far enough that it saved us $$! This also meant we were not near the touristy food places that jack-up the prices! 3: We shopped at local grocers for our breakfast and lunch- we also tried to book as many places that had breakfast included. 4: We often skipped paying to see everything little thing, this meant we skipped seeing the inside of the colosseum (bummer), but we were still just as excited to see it from the outside (a bonus & savings )! 5: I limited myself to one-ish souvenir per country, instead of buying a shirt of everyplace or a magnet/key chain etc, I tried looking for something very unique or special from each country such as handmade earrings from a Berlin food market, or a beautiful leather purse from Florence!
  • Also, great news for those who are planning a trip this year, due to the brexit vote both the euro and the pound have gone down, which means you are able to stretch your dollars a little bit more! If your interested in knowing the exact price of dollar to euro look it up on google!

Buying tickets:

  • Once you have set your budget, you can begin looking for tickets. Everyone has recommendations for how to get the cheapest flights, here’s my advice: if you have a very specific location in mind say London you should start looking for tickets at least 6-8 months before your travel dates.
  • When I flew one-way to Norway I bought our tickets in September, and we were traveling in June! Thats 9 months early! I got the tickets for about $200 dollars a person. If I had waited until 3 months before which many recommend I would have been paying twice as much ( I checked!) I also booked our tickets home from Spain for about $300 a person, which we purchased in November 9 months early again.
  • I would recommend to keep looking and waiting, the prices kept fluctuating!
  • Book one-way as much as possible, especially if you plan on going to many countries!
  • In my opinion there is a peak in ticket buying season. If you want to buy tickets for traveling in the summer you need to look way ahead of time, but if your looking to travel during off seasons such as January-April or even September-November, then you may still be able to find great deals closer to your date.
  • In addition to tickets to and from Europe, you will need to figure out how will you get to each country ? Many others recommend the Euro-rail pass- I DON’T, here’s why: the Euro-rail pass costs anywhere from 500-700 dollars, but the cost doesn’t end there, you also have to pay for train rides once your in Europe! So how do you get around Europe then ?
  • Book flights! Domestic flights in Europe are SUPER cheap. For example we payed $18 dollars for a flight from Italy to Paris. We payed about $200 or less per person for all of our travel throughout Europe, that’s less than what it costs for ONE euro-rail pass!
  • Here’s what I’ll say about booking flights between countries- they save you so much money and Time! If your in Europe the most valuable thing you have is your time, and you do not want to waste it on a 8hr train ride, when you could fly for 2hrs instead! However, the downside of flying everywhere is some of the euro airlines have strict bag rules so you need to be careful, also if your like me you’ll be airplane sick every time you fly!
  • My other advice when booking flights, and one thing I would change from my experience is to NOT book the very earliest flight. My reason behind booking the earliest flight was that it would give us the optimum amount of time in the next country, but it has many down sides. Such as, getting up early, and having to take taxes to the airport instead of local transportation which is no fun!
  • I always use google flights, it looks directly at the airlines prices. Other sites such as orbits may have additional fees. Make sure to check multiple sites before booking!

Booking lodging: 

  • Don’t be afraid to check many many many sites!
  • Buyer beware- booking hostels may seem like the best deal, but I’m here to say it’s not quiet so if your traveling in multiples!
  • If you have a group of friends like me (4 people) then the best deals for staying in Europe is to NOT stay at a hostel!
  • Make sure to do lots of research. You will need to first think about all that you want to see, if your in Rome do you want to be near the colosseum, if your in Paris then you might want to be close to the Effie tower, etc.
  • The best sites I used were air B n B and hotels.com. More often then not, hotels.com had the best deals on close(proximity) hotels with bathrooms, and free breakfast. And because I booked so many nights through their website I was able to redeem two free nights!

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Do you have any tips when planning and booking a trip to Europe or elsewhere, let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

-Mariah-

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