Regardless of my assertions that I’m throwing caution to the wind and doing wtf I want with my money while on my vacation, I am, in fact, still budgeting and still watching every penny. At this point in my life, after so many years of careful penny-pinching, I couldn’t possibly just start throwing euros around even if I really, really wanted to.
Case in point: I’ve been looking for an olive green bag for the past 4 years. I need one that looks professional but is big enough to hold my things and also the right shade of green to watch my nice winter coat. I found it yesterday and it was 12E. Did I buy it? No. Because I can’t afford it right now and if I do I will stare at it and it will forever be The Bag That I Could Not Afford.
But I digress.
Here are some of my tips, in list form because everyone likes lists and it’s 11pm:
- Hostels, hostels, hostels. I cannot stress this enough. Obviously common sense should prevail and you might not want to stay in a hostel in… Mexico… but in Europe? There are SO many hostels and they are mostly clean. With all the options available (bunks, privates, semi-private), you will be able to find somewhere to rest your head for under 50E per night. My average so far is 19E per night (or about 600E per month) which is pretty good in my books!
- Pick a hostel that provides free wifi and free breakfast. The savings on breakfast alone could be huge since Europe likes to charge a million dollars for a tiny cup of coffee IN ADDITION to whatever you pay for your breakfast. If the breakfast is an open buffet, eat twice and eat a lot
- Take the bus. A train pass is restricts you to certain countries and costs hundreds of euros. A bus pass covers all of Europe and is 215E for a month
- Ride buses and trains overnight to save on accommodation costs. That 19E average? It should really be 17E because I took an overnight bus from Paris to Madrid which saved on a night’s hostel cost. No one takes the bus so you can literally curl up on the two seats and bunch your coat into a makeshift sweater on the window*
- Travel in the off-season. I arrived just as the Australians are headed home from their summer jaunts to Europe and the hostels are empty! The tourist attractions are still a bit crowded (although… compared to what I imagine the summer would be… Oi.) but cheaper.
- Take a red-eye plane to your destination, if possible. The difference in cost between my flight at 9pm and a flight at 9am? About $50. Plus I got a whole extra day in Paris and didn’t have to pay to sleep somewhere the night before!
- Depending on your language skills, pretend to be an EU resident to get discounts on museum tickets.
- Be flexible! There’s a reason that I left for Paris so abruptly — the ticket prices jumped $70-100 in the days that followed
- Be flexible 2.0! I really wanted to go to Morocco and Egypt but flights (and even bus tickets!) are extremely expensive so alas…
- Be flexible 3.0! I forgot to pack a towel and decided that, instead of renting one in each city that I visit, I would be better off to buy one in France’s Wal-Mart. So off I go to the store, lalala, and I see that they have these weird fleece mini-towels that were 2 for 3.50E. They don’t cover my body at all but they dry super fast and were cheap. Sold!
- Grocery stores are your friend — especially in the more expensive countries. I bought a bag of apples in Paris for 3E and I’ve still got a bunch left. I also bought a 0.50E baguette and a 3E microwave lunch thing and bam! dinner
Well that’s it! Maybe in this coming week I’ll have more tips for you but those are the basics right now, hahaha.
Total spent in week 1: $530.19 plus my flight. Remember though that Paris is a very expensive city. This is also about 15% less than what I spent on my last trip to Europe.
Now some photos!
*I have back problems but honestly, I sleep so well in buses that it’s ridiculous. My back hurt more from the Paris hostel’s bed than it did from the bus
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