Traveling can sound so enticing until you try to justify the price behind it. But there are ways to travel without breaking the bank! Once the initial flight into Europe is taken care of, traveling on a college kid’s budget can be very possible, if not down right simple. It just requires some planning, flexibility and a whole lot of creativity!
Be flexible with where and when you fly
Contrary to popular belief, it can be much cheaper to fly to countries than to take a bus or train for even shorter distances, like country hopping in Europe… if you know where to look. To plan traveling wisely, you must look at location, timing and airport selection. The best way to save on plane tickets is to plan your trips around the airline’s schedule; look at the cheapest countries to fly in to. I have seen flights as cheap as 4 quid (7 dollars) that take you from one side of Europe to the other. The cheapest time of the week to fly is Tuesday and Wednesday. The weekends can be more than three times as expensive as mid-week. As for the airport selection, you have to look at all aspects of the trip to see which option is the most affordable. One airport may be cheaper to fly into, but there could be added expenses of the transportation into the main city.
Take advantage of the hitchhiking culture
I’m not saying that this is generally the safest option, but it is definitely the cheapest! Keep in mind that if you are traveling solo do, this with extreme caution, and there are certain situations where hitchhiking is safer. Don’t try to hitchhike in large crowded cities, but if you are trying to get from one village to another for free, it is a viable option. Many people in smaller towns are actually very likely to pick up a hitchhiker if he or she looks presentable and nice. I know some travelers that use hitchhiking as their main form of transportation, and they say it will always lead to meeting some interesting people along the way.
Use the non-traditional forms of lodging
There are so many options for cheap or even free lodging all over the world. If you are traveling solo or as a couple, “Couch Surfing” is a great and free option. In my experiences, the people involved on this site are social, generous and very helpful toward travelers. Plus, many homes will give more than a couch. I am a Couch Surfer and we give travelers their own room, make their dinners, and take them out. People who are on these sites are more than willing to help you out in any way. Take advantage of that! Just remember proper Couch Surfer etiquette; be social with your host, and buy them a beer to thank them!
Be social with everyone everywhere
Once while I was abroad, I struck up a conversation with a sweet middle-aged British couple. After talking for about 10 minutes, I had their email and an offer to stay at their cottage in Manchester. When my older brother was in Morocco, He made friends with a couple and within a few hours, he was set up to house-sit their beautiful beach house for a few weeks. These types of situations are not uncommon! The key is to strike up a conversation with all types of people. Tell them your story. Put on your best face and make people want to hang out with you. You never know what kind of possibilities a simple friendly conversation can bring you!
Reach out to any connections you may have, no matter how distant
Does your dentist have a daughter living in Berlin? Does your older brother’s friend’s Fiancé’s cousin have a flat in Dublin? Ask everyone you now about his or her connections in wherever you are planning to travel. It is safer than staying with a complete stranger, and chances are they will also treat you as a guest and you will get free meals or free transportation as well. It is also always nice to feel like you have someone connecting you to home.
Happy travels, Everybody!