So I am currently in the middle of planning a few more trips while I am here in Europe, one in March to Paris with my sister, one over Easter to Ireland and at the end of the year a two or three week tour of Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece. As you guys know I have already done my fair share of traveling this year and A LOT of people ask how the hell I afford all this. Well its obvious that traveling isn't cheap but I have picked up a few tips on how to make it easier on your bank account so I figured I would share them.
1. Research, research, research! I know that this seems obvious but doing a lot of research is the best way to save on your trip. You should research everything from your accommodation, to the sights, museums etc you want to see to where you are going to eat. My favorite tool for finding good and cheap accommodation is www.hostelworld.com . This is such a great tool for anyone traveling on a budget. It allows you to find hostels and budget hotels in what ever city you are going to and tells you everything you hope to know about them. You can also make an account and make all your bookings online and it keeps track of everywhere you have been plus allows you to talk to other travelers. My favorite thing on it is the reviews of accommodation that users write they are so helpful and thanks to this website I have avoided quite a few dodgy hostels! Also remember that everything is online now a days so instead of buying a bunch of expensive guidebooks just look it up online. Be sure to research all the museums and other things you want to do because there is usually a day of the week that its cheaper or even free.
2. Always be aware of discounts offered. One of the great things about Europe is that if you are under 25 or a student almost everywhere you go you get a discount. Seriously don't be shy to ask if there is a student discount because there most likely is and a few euros off here and there really adds up.
3. Avoid taking taxis at all costs because they are expensive!! This can be tricky because when you first arrive in a new city it can be very overwhelming and trying to figure out a new transit system can seem impossible. So make sure at the very least you know what bus/tram/or subway will take you to your accommodation from where you are arriving. If you booked on www.hostelworld.com then it will tell you! As long as you can get to your accommodation then they will give you a map and answer any questions about the transit system you may have and hopefully you wont need a taxi at all! Also when buying transit tickets try to buy a pass based on the amount of time you will be there. Every city I have been to offers a 3 day and week long pass which will save you money. Please don't compromise your safety to save money either, if you are coming back late at night or you get lost in a bad neighborhood etc obviously you should take a taxi, make sure you use your head.
4. Take full advantage of supermarkets wherever you are! This is one of the ways I saved the most while traveling. Almost everything I ate was either a free breakfast or groceries from a supermarket. Food is expensive and eating out all the time will drain your bank account quicker then you can imagine. Stock up on snacks and fresh fruit, bread to make sandwiches, and of course beer and you should be set! Try to only eat out once a day and if you go out then drink before hand so that you only need to buy one drink at the bar or club you are going to. I know part of the fun of traveling is eating out so try to set a strict budget for food for eating out and stick to it.
5. Avoid buying souvenirs when possible. I know how fun it is to go crazy in a gift shop (which are attached to every tourist location you could imagine), but do you really need that ridiculously over priced key chain shaped like the Eiffel Tower? Do you really need to buy a tacky t-shirt for your uncle? No probably not, so just avoid them whenever possible. If your backpacking you probably won't have much room for them anyway.
6. Pack for the weather! Obvious right? Maybe not If you are traveling in the winter, bring warm clothes! You may have been checking the weather of your destination everyday and it seems warm enough so you ditch your hat, mitts and scarf in favor of fitting that cute dress into your bag (which you may or may not end up wearing). Well don't do that because weather can change and BAM before you know it a huge snowstorm! Haha trust me, I know! So just pack smart because having to buy warmer clothes while your on your trip is a big dent in the bank account. And I would suggest no matter what time of year you pack an umbrella and just a light rain jacket. They don't take up much space and make sight seeing in the rain much more enjoyable!
7. Avoid tourist traps. Try your best before you go to research some favorite local bars and restaurants in the city you are going to. I can almost guarantee the food will be half the price and twice as good.
Well there are a few tips for you, like I said traveling is not cheap but if you put in the time to do proper research and planning and stick to your budget there is no reason to break the bank!