If I had a dollar for every time I heard how expensive traveling across the Atlantic is, I could afford a few round-trips per year (economy class, unfortunately). The most common line I come across is “Traveling will cost thousands of dollars… I will just wait till I retire.” To many, this might be the logical and financially responsible thing to do, but as you will come to learn, those are two adjectives that I often fight with and usually lose against. Instead of thinking “Does this make sense financially? or “Maybe I should wait a couple of years for this?
The thought that takes center stage and doesn’t fade until flights are booked, hotel or Airbnb picked, where to eat is decided (that’s the most important aspect of my vacations as I often plan destinations around food. I’m serious. Don’t judge me!) is WHY WAIT? For a long time now, my mindset when it comes to traveling has been if I am able to do it now then why put it off for a time where there are so unknown variables (health and money the leading two). For this reason, I firmly believe that traveling while you are young and able is the best for the soul.
If I told you, you could travel to Europe for under $1,000 dollars you would think I am crazy or a magician. Honestly, I like to think I am a magician however not the case. But there are simple steps that I will show you that can easily fly you to your dream destination with a simple stamp on your passport (and a really good neck pillow)
1. Don’t Wait or Make Excuses (Seriously!)
The biggest mistake that people make is telling themselves that they cant travel. I also get the same answer, “You must make lots of money to travel so much”. The simple answer is no. I budget really well and I don’t make excuses for why I cannot do something. I used to envy people who I saw traveled a lot. That green-eyed envy got the best of me. I used to think that traveling was for the affluent. The only way to travel was to spend thousands on hotel accommodations. This is far from true. You can easily travel on a simple budget and see locations that you have only seen on National Geographic.
The next step is to figure out where you are wanting to go and your itinerary. Budget what you can afford. I would suggest planning a European trip as early as you can. I started 10 months out from my trip and budgeted about 200-300$ to go towards my trip each month for expenses (obviously I didn’t spend 200$ per month that would be $2,000). The earlier the better this way you can keep track of how much money will be needed and the locations you want to see.
Find out when the offseason times are for the locations you want to visit. This is the best and easiest way to fly to Europe on a budget. I know you’re thinking “but I wanna go when it’s warm and I can wear cute dresses”, well so does everyone else. The price for tickets to Europe from May-September average between $600-$1200 on a good day. But hold the phone… don’t have a heart attack but by going offseason I was able to find tickets for $360 round trip. There is an amazing airline called WOWAir, they have inexpensive plane tickets (with a lovely stop in Greenland) for $180 one way. Many major US airlines will have sales similar to this but the main thing is when you see it, buy it!
The amazing thing about Europe that is not prevalent in the US is the fact that once you are domestically in Europe it is sickening in a great way how cheap it is to travel. In most cases, you can travel in most places within Europe for as little as a trip to Target (we all know how we go to target and walk out with 50$ worth of things). The airline that I recommend is Vueling. They are a cheap airline that offers amazing deals between major cities for as little as 20$ one way.
Disclaimer: the way that these flights are so cheap is they do not include your luggage. I personally hate having to check my luggage. I’m so afraid to lose it especially in an overseas flight. For this reason to add a checked luggage you have to pay a fee before you get to the airport. You can however have a carry on luggage for free. Packing light is a must (I talk more about it in another blog post). Trust me you can do it!
After your flights are all booked and you have overcome your nervous excitement you just bought plane tickets to Europe, next is to have a place to sleep. The cheapest and easiest way to cut costs on accommodations is to book a hostel room or Airbnb. Hostels are the absolute cheapest. I would suggest to read the reviews and research the area they are in, how close to public transportation, and how accommodating the staff was. These will really make or break your trip. In most cases you can find a hostel with a room for rent for under 20$ a night. For a 10 day trip to Europe I was able to spend 200$ for the entire trip on a hostel. I always choose women-only dorm style. It allows me to meet some really interesting people, grab dinner with them, and exchange life stories. I have never felt unsafe at a hostel in Europe or in the US. A lot of hostels also have free breakfast with your reservation. This allows for you to cut your budget for food for more shopping money!
4. Food.. oh how I love food
I personally had a large budget for food.. what can I say all the food is my favorite part. I would suggest the remainder of the time till your trip to save a good deal for food and drinks while on your trip. There are many little cheap places in Europe that you can get your solid three meals from that are well under 10$ per meal. I would also allow yourself a budget for all the sweets. There are some amazing chocolate makers in Europe that will have you shunning others.
Lastly, have fun! Don’t limit yourself with excuses but instead create amazing memories.