When people ask me about my travels through Europe, the number one question I am asked is “Wasn’t that a fortune?!” and then they follow with “I could never afford that.” One thing I can say is traveling Europe is affordable and do able. It may take flexibility, time, and a partner with the same type of goals, but it is do able.
1.) Flexibility and Time
When it comes to saving money for your travels, flexibility and time go hand in hand. When you set dates for travel, it restricts you from finding flight deals outside of those dates. The flight is the most expensive thing you should spend on this trip, so if you can save money there you’re already winning. With that being said, try to plan your trip out months in advance to give you plenty of time to request off for work, save for your trip, and prepare. You want to have plenty of time to book rooms, trains, activities, and plan for the sights you would like to see.
Finding an affordable flight can be exhausting and frustrating at times but believe me, once you get that amazing deal on a flight, so much stress will be lifted off your shoulders. Most websites say to start shopping your flight two or three months in advance but realistically that’s not enough time to plan your trip while saving money. It is definitely do able, but when it comes to booking hotels and train tickets you will save more money by giving yourself more time for deals to pop up. Typically I start planning for an international trip seven or eight months in advance. I start by thinking of locations I would like to visit and do research on cheapest airports to fly out of and into. Being from Louisville, KY, there are two airports within a reasonable drive. CVG is typically cheaper to fly out of, but you may find some deals flying out of SDF, so I always keep an eye out for both. The cheapest place to fly into in Europe is Stockholm, Sweden. This may not be where you plan to fly into, so always keep an eye out for deal. Amsterdam and Dublin are cheap places to fly into as well.
My first trip to Europe was actually the easiest. I received a call from my aunt who informed me that there were flights to Paris for $400 in April and wanted to know if I would go with her. I instantly replied with a yes and that was that. This second trip to Europe was slightly more exhausting. I typically use the app Hopper when searching for cheap flight deals.
It’s quite simple to use, you just type in where you want to fly out of and the destination you want to fly into and it shows you the prices from numerous airlines. Typically the price is marked high because you have to put in a date of travel, but you may “watch” the flight and Hopper will send you notifications of when this flight is at its lowest. Hopper will inform you on the best time to purchase or to wait for a better time because prices may drop. I typically just use Hopper to help me follow flights. I have found that Hopper doesn’t keep tract of ALL airlines so it’s also important to look at webpages of different airlines before purchasing.
Like I said previously, my aunt had found a deal with American Airlines for $400, to fly from SDF into Paris during the month of April. This year, with patience and flexibility, I have found tickets to fly from CVG to Amsterdam for $495 for the end of April to early May with Air Canada. If you can find a flight under $500, you are winning! Flights with selected dates typically go for $1,000 and up! Just think what you could do with that extra $500 or more that you saved just because you took time to follow airlines and were flexible with your dates.
2.) Find a Partner!
Although MANY people, female and male, travel alone, it will always save you money to travel with another person. If you’re not planning on staying in hostels (cheaper option) and would rather stay in a hotel you will find that the prices aren’t so “friendly.” If you can find someone who enjoys traveling and would like to see the same sights as you, you can same money by splitting the cost of hotels. Keep in mind that some hotels may charge a fee for an extra person, so make sure when booking a room you are honest with the amount of people staying per room. While in Amsterdam last year, my aunt had accidentally selected one person instead of two people when it came to booking the hotel. When we arrived to the hotel they stated that two could stay in the room booked, but we would have to pay a 30 dollars fee. Amsterdam hotels were very expensive so we didn’t stay too long. Along with splitting costs, it was very convenient that my aunt had a Marriott credit card. Most of our hotels were booked using her points collected on her card. The only thing with this card is we could only use the points at Marriott hotels, which wasn’t a bad thing.
Another thing you can save money on while traveling with another individual is splitting meals. When you’re in another country you want to stimulate your taste buds and try everything you can. While in Paris, Amsterdam, and Belgium, my aunt and I saved money by splitting crepes (they’re HUGE! and yummy), appetizers, entrees, and desserts. We didn’t split EVERYTHING, but things we both wanted to try were split. This gives you more options when trying new foods and drinks.
Traveling is something that never goes out of style. You can truly find yourself in the mix of cultures surrounding you. For those consumed in wanderlust, traveling can be very affordable, you just need time, flexibility, and a good travel buddy. Fill free to leave comments or questions! I’d be happy to answer any and all questions thrown my way. Stay tuned for more tips and stories of my travels around Europe!
–Consumed by Wanderlust