So many people have been asking me how I saved 4000$ to travel Europe in just four months. When I graduated high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t want to go to university just yet so I decided that I would travel. At first, I wanted to go to Thailand but since I had no one to travel with, my parents felt more comfortable with me going somewhere in Europe. I was working at a restaurant at the time making minimum wage (10.50$ an hour) and working my ass off to be able to live my dream. Went in September 2016 and stayed for about two months. When I left I had saved 4000$ including a plane ticket.
Saving Money For Your Trip
The biggest thing that I had to do to afford my goal was to make sacrifices. When I turned 18, I had a burn on to move out and live on my own. Unfortunately, that was not realistic if I needed to save 4000$ just over the summer. If you’re wanting to travel, maybe consider moving back home, finding a place that costs less or getting a roommate to split costs with you. I also loved to eat and get something to drink with friends out. Before saving I was eating out multiple times a week. What I started doing was inviting my friends to my home for homemade drinks instead of buying drinks and food at restaurants. These bills can quickly become 60-100$ a night. Friends are usually okay with it and will not ask you to go out if they are aware that you’re trying to save money.
I literally worked like crazy and I’d even recommend you have a way to bring in extra money. I was lucky that I lived at home and didn’t have to spend much on living expenses, but if you do, getting a side hustle would be an excellent way to make extra money that can be strictly dedicated to saving for your trip. If you run a successful blog, try putting advertisements on them. If you own a car, start driving for Uber or Lyft. If you know how to wait tables or bartend, pick up 2 or 3 shifts a week and make good money on tips. Sign up to become an online assistant. With the internet, the possibilities are endless. Use this extra money to put towards your trip. Since I worked at a restaurant, I’d get a tip out every 2 weeks and I’d put that directly into my bank and not touch it. I also kept my change in a jar and rolled it before I left which gave me an extra 200$!
To save money, it’s important to get motivated and remember why you’re saving the money or you’ll be tempted to cut corners here or there. I had a countdown set so every so often I could look and see how many days until I left. Another cool idea would be setting your phone lock screen as a picture of the place you want to go so you have a reminder every time you open your phone.
Saving Money On Your Trip
The plane tickets and housing will be the most expensive part of your trip. When I was in Germany, I stayed the majority of my time with friends which cut a lot of my costs. If you don’t know anyone where you are going, try couchsurfing.com. Hotels are usually the most expensive option, although they may be the most relaxing and exclusive. If you’re looking to cut costs, try hostels instead. You may have a shared room with six or more other travelers, but it is a cool way to meet people who may become your friends and help you with your next travels while saving money. Hostels can cost 3-50$ a night depending on where you are in the world! I know it’s crazy! Airbnb.com is another great website to rent apartments and this is an easy way to save money on food as well! Choosing an Airbnb may be an easy way to have a roommate and save even more money on living costs. If you plan on traveling Europe, it is important to note that Eastern Europe is very much cheaper than Western Europe and is still gorgeous.
Since I stayed a lot with friends, plane tickets were easily my largest expense. From Regina, Canada to Frankfurt it was close to $1300 Canadian. I booked my flight directly on the Air Canada website but many times you can get cheap flights through skyscanner.com and Expedia.com. Google “cheap flights” and you can comb through the many price comparison websites that there are. I just happened to get the best deal straight from the source. I had a one stop ride simply because I was leaving home from a smaller airport, but if you take more than one stop your flight will be cheaper. I traveled in September so I just missed the summer peak time and got cheaper airfare (plus a full row of seats that I got to lie down on!). When traveling, it is important to think about the time of year you’re going. If you’re traveling to a hot destination, going on Christmas and February breaks are going to make the prices higher. When traveling to Europe and destinations like it, going during the summer and at Christmas may make your trip more expensive. Remember to pack lightly to avoid being charged for heavy bags. If you don’t know when you want to come home, opt for a flex ticket so you can change your departure at any time without being charged extra. It may cost more but you will save money if you change your mind. If you plan on traveling around Europe, make use of the cheap budget airlines like RyanAir and the Eurorail train. You can fly from one European city to another on RyanAir for 50-100 euros, just remember to pack very very lightly.
Sightseeing can also be an expensive part of your trip. I think the best way to a see a city is by walking around, people watching and exploring and that is free! If possible, try to avoid super touristy areas and these tend to have higher hotel, food and sightseeing prices. In Europe, cathedrals are some of the most beautiful landmarks and they happen to usually be free to enter. Many cities have free things to do so do a quick google search or ask around. Remember you don’t have to buy something for everyone you know when you go on a trip. This can get costly and may make bags heavy and cost you money when you return home. In Paris, there are many people selling Eiffel Tower key chains on the street I bought 20 of these keychains for 2 euros and gave them to my family and friends.
Take advantage of kitchens at hostels, suites or Airbnbs as much as possible. Buying groceries and making it yourself can be fun and also saves you a ton of money. If you choose to stay in hotels, choose one that provides complimentary breakfast. Some hostels allow you to pay a few dollars more a night and get a breakfast too which may be worth it. I also enjoyed eating street food. It’s very tasty and is half the price of a fancy sit down restaurant. Local bakeries in Paris sell fresh baguettes for 1 euro! I ate so many baguettes it was crazy.
Remember to make friends with locals! I cannot stress this enough. It is a possibility that they may invite you into their home for an authentic meal, possibly invite you to stay a few nights (saving you a few dollars) or host you next time you plan to visit. You also never know who they may know. They may have friends who live in another place and would be willing to host you when you visit their region. If you don’t know where to visit or to eat, ask a local to recommend a place to you. That way you can have a more authentic experience and likely away from tourists which mean no hiked up prices.
Hope you found this article helpful. These tips all come from my personal experience traveling and Europe in 2016. If you want to see some photography from that time, search “travel” through my blog tags. Safe travels everyone.