Are you ready to learn my secret tricks for cheap travel? Here is how I visit Europe without breaking the bank!
I get asked often how I can afford to go so often. I am not kidding when I say that my trips have been ridiculously cheap. By watching our spending, not taking any other yearly vacations, and knowing when the cheapest flights will be, we have been blessed to be able to make these trips for equal to or less than what most people will spend to go to Florida for a week.
In 2007, I did a summer abroad with my university and remember gasping for air upon returning to the states at the staggering amount of money it had cost me! In my heart of hearts, I just knew I would never be able to go back. That was my one trip. I would never see Stonehenge again, never walk the halls of Versailles again, never swim in the crystal clear oceans of Crete again.
I honestly believed that I would never afford another trip.
Until one fated day, after my husband listened as I complained yet again about how miserably cold Chicago is, and about how much I missed Europe and just really wanted to go back and was so sad I would never see it again, he said two words I never thought I would hear from him- “Why not?”
Clearly, I explained to him, it was too expensive. We had other things we needed to take care of, we had bills to pay and rent to pay and I could logically not expect to be able to return ever again. And that was that. I told him why, and I left it alone.
He is really good at not letting things go, though. Later that evening, he said “Nelly, you can go to Europe for $127.” (You just read that right. Pick your jaw back off the ground!)
My mouth flopped open, clearly my husband was off his rocker.
He then showed me the website for Norwegian Air and the flight he was looking at. I could literally fly from NYC to Oslo for less than I would spend to fly to Texas. Who am I kidding? I could fly ROUND TRIP to Europe for less than what I would spend to fly roundtrip to Texas, in most cases! I called my friend, Krystal, and told her we were heading abroad to Norway! So, there you have it- Part 1 of my secret!
Part 2 consists of another airline- WowAir. They’re amazing as well, and in fact, they allow you to layover in Iceland for a few days for free before continuing on your journey. Two downsides of WowAir are 1) they don’t have in-flight entertainment like Norwegian does, and 2) the allowed carry-on size is super small!
For getting around Europe, you can’t forget about the little guys- Ryanair, EasyJet, Wizz Air, and Vueling. You can also take a look at GoEuro and Momondo. These are great for getting you cheaply from one country to another, and as long as you have headphones, you can ignore all the in-flight perfume they try to sell you. The downside is that especially during the winter, it can be very hard to get from one country to another specific country- hence the great 7 country excursion of 2015. “Well, we can go to Dublin for $10! Oh, but the airline doesn’t go to Paris from there! It goes to Rome though! And it goes from Rome to Paris! Let’s do that!” etc.
Downside #2, is that you are VERY limited in how much you can carry. For instance, most of the airlines will allow you to carry on a bag weighing up to 22lbs. The dimensions are very particular, of course, and while these bags are the not greatest quality in the world, they are cheap and do the trick excellently. I love that the Cabin Max website lets you sort bags by airline so you can be sure to find the right size. I’m about to venture onto my fourth month-long European journey with my bag and it has held up very well!
Additional Cheap Travel Options
On my last trip, I made us of another form of transit- the train system. I booked an overnight train from Amsterdam to Munich. It costs a whopping 36 euro, and saved me from having to rent a hostel room for one more night! I believe it was a 12 hour train ride, which was more than fine. I planned to sleep on the train anyway. As it turned out, the heater in my train car was broken, which ended up scoring me a FREE sleeping car for the night! I would definitely not count on this to ever happen again, but it was awesome! You can read the ENTIRE hilarious tale here!
Cheap (But not crappy!) Accommodations
So while I have just shared with you how to travel on the cheap, why not cut the costs down even more? Why shell out all the costs yourself when you can split with a friend? Figure out who your perfect travel partner is and take them along for the ride. Want a bottle of wine? Split the cost! Want to take a taxi? Split the cost! Want a nice place to stay? Share a house on AirBNB or VRBO! If you have not used one of these programs before, you are missing out! My family and I shared a flat in Ireland with views of the Wicklow Mountains and what did it cost us? Around $10 a night per person! You can’t beat that. For $10 a night, you definitely won’t be breaking the bank!
I hope this post will help you come up with the perfect itinerary for visiting Europe without breaking the bank.
Here’s to hoping you get all the excited tingles as you browse all the possible destinations for your next trip! Comment below if you find an amazing deal you can’t resist or have questions!