So, going to Europe has probably been on your bucket list ever since you turned 18. Despite being smitten by wanderlust, you gave up all hope of this dream materialising due to two main reasons:
- You’re tied down by financial responsibilities
- The price of air tickets to these places is way beyond what you can afford
Nevertheless, a trip to Europe isn’t a farfetched dream. However, getting there on a frugal budget may seem slightly tricky, but it’s certainly possible.
Travelling itself is therapeutic. But, if you’re on your way to Europe you’re bound to get mesmerised by all the baroque style architecture, the massive forts and palaces, quaint little bridges over beautiful streams and the uniformed red tiled roofs and glass windows.
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But, even before we get to all of that, you must cultivate a habit of saving. Even if you’re travelling on a frugal budget, you can’t go all the way there with nothing but coins in your pockets.
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So, if you have a small amount saved up, here’s how you can get to Europe on a shoestring budget.
Seasons come and go, but you go off season: Yes, you heard that right. Although summer is considered the best time to visit Europe, you must know that everything is twice as pricey during this time.
Try and avoid travelling in summer. Besides, Europe in the winter can be quite an interesting experience. After all, you get more than enough sun here in India. Going to Europe towards the end of autumn is probably a great time too. Not only will you enjoy the colourful foliage all around, but also the slashed prices for everything including airfare.
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Book ‘em when you see ‘em: Once you’ve decided on when you’re going, the next thing to do is to book those tickets. Usually, air tickets are way cheaper off season. When you know your dates, it’s always better to book them well in advance.
Don’t always hover over booking sites. Some airlines offer great deals and offers on their own websites too. Subscribe to their websites to learn about their offers.
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Understand the Schengen Visa: The visa you need to apply for to travel around Europe is called a Schengen Visa. The beauty of this visa is that it lets you travel to 26 countries in the Schengen area.
Typically, you can get a Schengen Visa within 10 working days, provided you submit all the required documents and proofs with the consulate. However, apply for a visa as soon as you book your tickets to get it out of the way. Depending upon the validity and duration of your visa you can also plan day trips across borders and visit more countries. Isn’t that cool?
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Live like a king, but don’t spend like one: Here’s how you can do it. When you book your stay, make sure that you check for hotels, Airbnb, and couch-surfing options. These are far more affordable than booking a hotel. Most of these places will come with a kitchenette too. So, you can cook small meals and save up on all those hefty restaurant bills you’ll otherwise be spending on.
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Hop on a train or bus: If your Euro trip consists of visiting more than one country then its best to look for train and bus options rather than flights. The trains and buses in Europe are not only faster and extremely comfortable, they’re also a lot cheaper if booked in advance. The connectivity is impressive and you’ll be surprised at how punctual they are.
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Why not just walk? : Once you get to Europe you’ll notice how everyone prefers walking since there’s so much to explore. Taking a cab or using the subway could see you miss out on all the tiny road-side café’s, colourful souvenir shops or little bakeries. Moreover, walking and soaking in the atmosphere of a place is way more interesting than just driving past it.
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“Tap water, please”: Did you know that bottled water is fairly expensive in Europe? You can cut down costs significantly by simply asking for tap water in restaurants. Also, because tap water in most European countries is filtered, it’s as safe as drinking bottled water. Countries like Austria and Germany get their tap water straight from the melted snow of the Alps! How cool is that?
If it’s free, I’ll take three: Well, guess we don’t have to spell this one out for you. For most of us Indians, it’s an unsaid rule to simply grab whatever is free. And why not? Especially, when you’re on your way to Europe, it will make sense to keep an eye on things like free SIM cards, entry to a few museums, city maps and sometimes free rides too.
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Buy the Day Card: Most big cities have something called a day card/pass, which looks like a Debit/Credit Card that you can buy from either a tourist information centre, from a grocery store or even at a train station.
This card will cover entry passes to select destinations and is a good way to visit famous tourist spots. Besides, some of these passes also let you use public transport for free. If you’re going to stay in a city for more than two days, it will make sense to invest in a 48 hour day pass and cover all the places you wish to see.
Remember the rule of the three C’s:
- Never convert currency at an airport: Most exchange counters at an airport charge an exorbitant fee for conversion, plus their conversion rates are usually hiked up. Get all your rupees converted at your nearest Western Union or at a legitimate Travel Agent’s office.
- Never withdraw cash from an ATM: The minute you use your Debit Card to withdraw cash overseas, your account will be charged a hefty foreign exchange fee.
- Always carry your Credit Card: Credit Cards make payments easier, so you don’t have to carry huge wads of cash everywhere you go. Plus, they work great in times of emergencies as well.
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Now that you have a fair idea about how to travel to Europe on a budget, maybe you could check out these Travel Credit Card offers to get the most out of your trip. Bon Voyage!