So you want to go to Europe, but you don’t think you can. You work too much, you don’t make enough money, you don’t know any other languages. So? Stop thinking of reasons why you shouldn’t go. And start planning. Flight prices have dropped so drastically that you can easily fly across the atlantic for under $500 round trip. Can you go right in the middle of tourist season for that price? No, of course not. And why try? All the sights are overcrowded, places to stay cost more, and you will probably have a harder time taking days off at work because everyone else is trying to take their holiday as well. The last trip I took to Europe all started because I was lucky enough to find a one way flight to Copenhagen for $70 on WOW AIR . Will this happen all the time? No. Do you have to be flexible? Yes.
Step One: Find the right flight for you.
You’ve got your passport right? Good. I have a number of emails coming to me daily from airlines notifying me of sales every day. I use apps such as Skyscanner and Hopper. These give you a lot more options from the typical airline most people know. You can watch flights on specific dates to see the best time to buy. While most major airlines for overseas flights will include a checked bag, carry on, and a meal, some budget friendly airlines do not. Be sure to check each airline to find out their specifications or you’ll arrive at the airport with more fees tacked on you didn’t plan for. Want to fly in to a city and out of another one? No problem – some times this is more expensive so make sure to research all options available. Once you’ve chosen a flight next you will want to decide if you will be stationary in that city, if you want to jump around from country to country, it’s a lot like flying from state to state here in the US but cheaper and easier. Using airlines such as Ryanair or EasyJet you can find one way flights from country to country for as cheap as 20 Euros. But be warned: These budget airlines NEVER include checked bags and some charge for each carry on. I have always traveled with the largest book bag that will still qualify as a carry on and a purse, but have booked flights with EasyJet to find out I can only take one carry on. You don’t want to frantically try to jam your purse into your carry on at the last minute.
If you are like me, and do not have the best credit you don’t really get the option to book with a credit card with travel benefits, but if you do have that option, use it. A lot of airlines have other affiliates that will still count toward your point system. Even if they don’t the purchase of a flight will add up quickly on points.
When you have decided upon your itinerary and you’ve got your flights all booked it’s time to start looking for places to stay.
Step Two: Booking places to stay.
I spend a lot of time comparing prices on Hostelworld and Airbnb in different cities to decide what the best deal for me is. I always look for a place that provides free wifi, that is close to the city center, and I try to stay around 25 Euros or less per person per night. There are TONS of options that fall under these categories and for me honestly where I stay is just where I sleep so I do not choose to spend more. I am lucky enough to have a best friend who lives in Spain so this cuts a lot of my costs. I have a free place to stay as well as a friend who is local and knows all the best deals and places to go. Hotels are always an option and a great one if you have a rewards system with any hotel chains. Always use your points if you have them. This is something that is never an option for me so I stick to the above mentioned sites. While you won’t spend a lot of time at these places the people who work there can make a work of difference on your trip. My first trip to Rome, my host at the hostel was beyond helpful. He took out a map and literally planned our walking paths, showed us how to organize our day to get the most out of it, circled budget friendly places to eat, told us the best places for coffee and gelato, and more. Informed us of places in Rome we would have never known about if not for him. He made such a positive impact on us that we chose to stay with him again the second trip we went on as well.
A tip that I have found works best for me as far as booking goes, I like to have all my hostels, hotels, airbnbs paid off before the trip. I will end up spending just as much on them but my spending budget just seems larger when all you need money for is food, drinks, and transportation.