8 TIPS FOR TRAVELLING EUROPE ON A BUDGET
So, you've chosen to travel Europe. LBW salute you! We simply adore this corner of the world, which is exactly why we've been sailing its seas, flitting between its Latin cities, and partying through its summertime nights for so long. Of course, there's going to be a toll on the wallet if you want to do all that, so check out these top budget-saving tips…
Cook meals in the hostel
Yep, we know that one of the main things that's got you pining for Europe is the food, whether that's cushiony pizzas between the tight-knit streets of Naples or sizzling schnitzels amidst the peaks of the Austrian Alps. Still, every budge traveler knows that eating out every night is to be avoided. Thankfully, this continent has an alternative: hostels. Yep, most all of Europe's backpacker digs are now loaded with kitchen facilities, which makes it easy for fellow globetrotters to band together in the evenings and cook up a storm for less. Some places even offer themed meals throughout the week, or have regular barbeques in the sun. The upshot is that eating together won't only be great fun, it's also sure to save you a whole load of dosh on chow.
Use museum passes
Many of Europe's major cities – Rome, Barcelona, Warsaw, Berlin – have adopted the practice of offering visitors combo cards. These will often provide cheap, reduced and sometimes even free access to many of the main attractions in town. In Germany's capital, for example, you'll be able to flit between the ancient exhibits and awesome at works of Museum Island. In Barcelona, one pass covers everything from the Nacional d'Art de Catalunya to the Picasso Museum. If you were planning on doing all those things anyway, then you're sure to save some euros. Oh, and it’s a whole load less hassle when you're trying to get in!
A word of warning: Asia, Europe is not! While tuk-tuks are the solution for flitting around pretty much anywhere in Thailand and Vietnam, Europe is noticeably void of everyone's favourite three-wheeled taxi. That means you're going to need to come up with another way to move around the place for less. The answer? Cycle. Over the last couple of decades, governments right across the continent have moved to make their cities some of the most cycle friendly in the world. Contraflow lanes and dedicated cycle paths now crisscross everywhere from Copenhagen to Krakow, offering cheap and pleasant ways of discovering that new destination.
Low-cost airlines are your friend
There's perhaps nowhere in the world better linked by low-cost airlines than Europe. Ryanair, Easyjet, Norwegian, Vueling, AirBaltic, Wizz Air, they've all joined the party. For travellers eager to save on the cost of their trip to the continent, that's paying off too – literally! Check out flight aggregating websites to see what sort of mind-boggling deals you can get on hops from city to city. We're talking crazy deals, like Rome to London for $40, or Milan to Poland for $30. That should leave plenty of cash for those nighttime blowouts along La Rambla or the Croatian coast.
For budget travellers in Europe, there's long been one rule and it still holds true: Go east. Yep, while western Europe boasts the totemic sites of the Eiffel Tower and romantic Paris, sun-kissed Spain and the olive groves of Italy, it's fair to say that all of that comes at a premium. Heading east, into the beer-soaked lands of the Czech Republic, the mountains of Slovakia, the medieval cityscapes of Poland, the ramshackle metropolises of Ukraine or the post-communist depths of Romania, is one sure way to reduce the cost of moving around. Everything from food to transport, hotels to hostels, will take less of a chunk from the bank account.
Make use of aperitivo
You sit down in a gorgeous al fresco bar in the midst of Rome's La Trastevere and order a beer. Before you know it, you're being showered in plates of crispy bruschetta and bowls of olives, crunchy local breads and sun-dried tomatoes. You're a little worried about how much it all costs, but – of course – you dig in anyway. Who wouldn’t? When the bill arrives you realize they haven't charged you a dime, apart from the beer. Accident? Move away swiftly before they notice? No need. Welcome to the custom of the aperitivo, which is the practice of serving little mezze plates with any drink in the afternoon. Many a budget traveler gets by just on those free extras in countries like Spain, Italy and Portugal.
Go in winter
You'll have to put those dreams of sun-kissed Croatian beaches and sparkling Adriatic waters on hold for the YachtLife next year if you want to make use of the cheapest season in much of Europe: winter. Yep, when the snow falls and the temperatures drop, everywhere from the rugged coves of Crete to the jet setter towns of the French Riviera become far more affordable places to visit. Of course, there are some exceptions, like the glaciers and ski fields of the Alps, which boom with winter sportsters looking for some of the best pistes this side of the Rockies. Still, major cities and their fascinating museums, old Roman ruins and awesome eateries are all still on the menu, so it's not all bad!
Do free stuff
No matter where you are on the planet, whether the throbbing cities of Southeast Asia or the hill towns of European Tuscany, you can rest assured that there's always going to be something totally free to do. Instead of forking out loads of euros to hit that museum, you could simply make a beeline for the park and people watch the day away (both are awesome choices). Instead of partying all night, you could go in search of some panoramic lookout over the city and catch the sunset (you'll probably remember more). Instead of flying to your next destination, why not consider hitching a ride with a local (you might make a new pal)? And so the bank account remains intact.
Can you think of any more top tips for the budget traveller in Europe? We'd love to hear about them in the comments below (we know there are loads!). Or, if you think it's time you headed out to explore this awesome corner of the globe, be sure to check out LBW's bucket-list-busting offering of trips…