Have you ever thought about backpacking in Europe? Of course you have! However, if budgeting was stopping you from this adventure, this post will help plan the perfect trip without spending a fortune.
Every moment counts on your once-in-a-lifetime adventure — and so does every penny! Poor planning can sadly cause even the most experienced backpacker to go over-budget. From unexpected costs to last-minute purchases, planning ahead saves you money and time. So, let’s Plan a Backpacking Trip in Europe on a Budget.
Looking for a packing list to backpack Europe? Check super this Backpacking Europe Packing List by TripnTricks.
How to Plan a Backpacking Trip in Europe on a Budget
Planning a daily expense sheet and booking the highest-quality accommodations at the most economical price will keep things running smoothly. Add some of these thrifty spending tips to help you avoid travel disappointment, and you’ll be well on your way to the perfect European getaway. So, pull out your map and get your checklist ready – you’re officially headed to Europe!
Budget-friendly Plans: Know Your Daily Allowance
While you’re planning, it’s best to sort out the average cost of food, drink, and touring expenses per day for each place you plan to visit ahead of time. Set a daily budget and plan to stick to it. Here are some tips to keep you within your spending limits:
- Consider the cost of traveling to large metropolitan areas versus small rural towns and make sure your daily budget reflects that. You might survive with $40 a day in rural Slovenia but budget a much higher amount for a day in Paris.
- Your daily budget may or may not include accommodations. Some travelers book all of their accommodations ahead of time to avoid thinking about the daily added cost.
- We recommend not including transit in your daily expenses and paying for transportation ahead of time as a separate cost while developing your itinerary.
Once your daily budget is planned for each area you plan to visit, it’s easier to eliminate or reduce the time spent in higher-cost locations. After all, you can see many cities on your bucket list in just one spectacular day.
Expert Travel Tip: If you have the luxury of time, consider long-term accommodation as another cost-cutting measure.
Pay for Transportation in Advance
Before you leave, consider making a plan for transportation in advance to cover more ground. We say that because Europe is a train lover’s paradise and a budget flyer’s dream. There are so many advance-purchase options for transit, and you’ll save money just by informing yourself about the ups and downs of each one.
Trains: Buy a rail pass that covers the countries on your backpacking checklist. There are so many options for rail passes and if you happen to be a student, you will reap the benefits!
Planes: Budget air travel is a huge perk in Europe. If your trip includes skipping over the English Channel or jet-setting from Spain to Greece, you might want to plan ahead and buy a cheap seat!
Buses: If you don’t mind sleeping on-the-go, an overnight bus can allow you to save a night’s accommodation and arrive bright and early to your next destination!
Car: Renting a car is a great option in Europe but it works better when you travel with friends. If you go this route, make sure you pick up an international driver’s license from your home country to avoid any extra hassle with rental cars.
Hitching: We don’t recommend hitch-hiking as an effective mode of transit but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen in the heat of the moment! Before you hitch a ride, consider the safety risks involved and make sure you weigh the pros and cons beforehand.
Speaking of safety, inform yourself of any possible travel risks and concerns in each country before you go. A simple act of petty theft can really stall your trip if you lose your documents or cash. If you are a woman traveling solo, take a few extra safety measures ahead of time to make sure transit is safe and stress-free.
Expert Travel Tip: Check out some of the most popular travel apps to help you find the cheapest mode of safe transit.
Identify Other Pre-Trip Expenses
If you spend a bit of time planning before you go, you can predict the other pre-trip expenses that might tip you over-budget in advance. Here are just a few expenses that might surprise the ambitious traveler:
- Don’t forget your passport! Check the expiry date on your passport and make sure that you have the appropriate visa for each country you plan to visit in advance.
- Medical Insurance: Expect to buffer your current medical plan with at least the minimum medical emergency travel insurance.
- Travel accessories: Stay fit and save your back with a sturdy backpack and plan to buy at least a few compact accessories to make your trip more enjoyable and organized.
Many of these expenses can be accounted for in advance. Save yourself the task of debating headphones at the airport and going over-budget by having them in your pack already. Impulse-buys are at the top of our list of ways to cut your vacation short.
Exert Travel Tip: Pack light! Commit to buying souvenirs that are both cost-efficient and lightweight for your pack. We recommend picking up magnets, keychains, postcards or unframed art from local artists.
Nightly dwellings are one of the biggest expenses you’ll have on any European getaway. With an array of options, a Europe getaway can be as budget-friendly or upscale as you want. But unlike touring other continents, hostels can be a very comfortable way to see Europe and experience a central location without breaking the bank.
- Independent hostels can be spectacular but make sure you read the reviews for the most up-to-date experiences.
- Some areas in Europe are great for camping. If you love the outdoors, pack your compact tent!
- Splurge on a luxury room after a few weeks to take a break and soak in the tub.
It’s not a bad idea to book accommodations in advance if you have a set itinerary — but we recommend leaving some wiggle room in case a certain European city calls to you, and you plan to extend your stay in one area and shorten it in another.
Expert Travel Tip: Check the cancellation policy before you book to make sure you get the most flexibility out of your stay.
Your European budget may be minimal, but you will still have the experience of a lifetime exploring all of its offerings. With a bit of forethought and expert budgeting, get the most out of your trip by planning ahead. Read some more expert tips and get ready to have a peaceful journey!
About the Author
Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and travel enthusiast. With a love for adventure and the great outdoors, she spends much of her time writing outside.