Tips for Traveling in Europe on a Budget

If your trip includes multiple destinations, the Eurailpass could save you a lot of money. Depending on which pass you choose (Eurailpass, Eurailpass Flexi, Eurail Selectpass, Eurail Regional Pass, or Eurail National Pass), you could get access to almost unlimited travel in up to 22 countries for the duration of your pass.Your pass also gives discounts on some bus lines, ferries, hotels, museums, etc. There are different passes for those traveling in groups, youth travelers, etc. Please note that you still have to book tickets ahead of time. You just show the eurailpass at the train station and get tickets. The Eurailpass is not an actual ticket. Go to for more information.

Many big cities in Europe offer city passes that give free or discounted prices for transportation, attractions and restaurants. If you plan on using the bus all day and visiting a lot of attractions, consider buying one of these cards. For example, the London pass (if purchased with the transportation option) grants access to city buses and the “underground” (subway) and over 50 attractions, including city tours, the Tower of London, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Windsor Castle, etc. Most passes come with a guide book and allow you to go straight to the front of the ticket line at any attraction.

Buckinham Palace, London

Buckinham Palace, London

Buy public transportation passes. In most cases, an all day bus ticket is cheaper than buying 3 or 4 single trip tickets. If your day includes a lot of stops, consider the all day pass.

Walk as much as possible. Some days all the attractions will be in one area, and walking is cheaper than taking the bus. Avoid taking a taxi at all if you can. Europeans can spot a foreigner, and most will take advantage and take the longest route or go slower to keep the meter running longer.

Stay in hostels as much as you can. It’s true that this option is not the best for everyone, especially if you expect your room to be perfectly clean and quiet. A lot of hostels are meant for young adults who stay up all night and do not mind sharing a room and shower with strangers, but there are some really good hostels out there. Your best bet for getting a good hostel is researching on or Look for one that will give you a private room if that is what you prefer. Many hostels are as nice as a regular motel room in the United States; you just have to look. If you travel in the off season, chances are your room will be unoccupied anyway.

Go to grocery stores instead of eating out for dinner. Eating out for every meal gets expensive fast. If you are staying in one place for a few nights, buy some groceries and eat a quick meal in your hostel before going to explore the city.

Get up early enough for the free breakfast at your hostel. This one is a no-brainer. The food is free. Eat it.

Buy a discount card. If you are a student, get the International Student Identification Card (ISIC). This card will get you discounts on attraction fees, transportation, accommodations, etc. Most places in Europe will not accept your school I.D. Only the ISIC is internationally recognized and will get you the student prices. There are similar cards available for youths under the age of 26 and faculty members. Check out for more information.

Ancient Roman Forum, Rome

Ancient Roman Forum, Rome

Prioritize what you want to see before you go, leaving room for a few last minute additions to your attractions schedule. Otherwise, you’ll see everything at once and run out of money fast. Rick Steve wrote some amazing guide books that give an insider’s take on which attractions are worth seeing and which are tourist traps. His books provide directions to each attractions, complete with sketches of the area. “Rick Steve’s Europe through the Back Door” is the most complete guidebook for Europe, but he has written a separate one for many countries.

Take advantage of combination passes. Many attractions will offer discounts on other related or equally popular attractions. For example, if you visit the Museé du Louvre, you will get an opportunity to purchase a discounted ticket to the Musée d’Orsay.

Exchange money only at banks. Though that little exchange booth at the train stations or information center may seem convenient, they charge much higher commission and do not always give the best exchange rate. Consider walking another few blocks to a bank to get the best deal.

Find out if you know anyone who knows anyone that lives where you want to go. I once stayed with the mother of a girl my friend went to school with on my trip to Berlin. When in Switzerland, I stayed with another friend of a friend. Or maybe you have a relative you have never met. If you belong to a church, consider contacting some of the churches where you want to stay. They just might let you stay in that church, or a church member may let you stay with him or her. Hey, it never hurts to ask!

Talk to the locals. They will tell you where the good restaurants and shopping are, the ones away from the touristy areas where the prices are insanely high.

Go during the off season. Basically, try not to travel in the summer. Prices for everything are much higher.