Europe is a mixture of cultures, languages, heritage, architecture, and customs all across the continent. If you’re planning a trip to any part of Europe, it’s worth taking a look at the following travel tips to make it a once in a lifetime experience.
1. Check visa requirements
The biggest travel spoiler is NO VISA! But in Europe, most countries don’t require a visa for short trips, so it’s best to know those countries before starting your journey. There are several websites online that lists visa requirements, so find out ahead of time. Of course, if you’re a European citizen, it makes things a little easier but don’t let VISAs put you off exploring the world. The process is normally straightforward and just involves some extra checks as you travel from country to country.
2. Use budget airlines
There are dozens of economical airlines that fly country to country or city to city throughout Europe; you can use a budget airline carrier to travel almost anywhere with good connections and routes.
The cost of flying with these airlines, like Ryan Air and EasyJet can be cheaper than train tickets (depends on the distance), but you have to get your tickets booked ahead of time! Make sure to get all the information on fares, taxes and luggage fees so you’re not hit with extra costs out of your budget.
3. Travel off-season
Travelling during the off-season is the best way to avoid the crowds and save money on accommodations, airfare, train tickets, and tours. While you might dream of sunbathing on the Mediterranean beaches during the summer months so does the rest of Europe, which can cause overcrowded beaches and long queues at tourist attractions. Most of the main tourist attractions are open year-round, so don’t limit yourself. Just be aware that some might have shorter hours during the off-peak travel season.
4. Travel to countries with their own currency
To save a few pennies, hit the countries that still retain their own currency. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, and Hungary are all fascinating countries with plenty of beautiful travel attractions and tend to be less costly than their Western European neighbors.
5. Travel by train
Travelling by train in Europe is often efficient — and depending on your destination — easier than air travel. Better to book your tickets in person, and be sure to validate it before departure to avoid excess fines. As I did, you can also invest in an Interrail or Eurorail pass (if you’re from outside Europe) giving you great value train routes to travel on for a set number or journeys or days, depending on your budget. Read my tips for what to pack for interail here.
Travelling by train is often more comfortable and easier than air travel. There are almost no lines, and you can buy your ticket minutes before departure as well as choose a night train to catch-up on some sleep. Don’t forget to download a rail planner app where you can track schedules and buy tickets.
A great way to save time and money when travelling across Europe is by taking the night train. There are lots of sleeper trains between major cities and they are comfortable and convenient. For example, you can take advantage of Deutsche Bahn’s excellent SparNight promo fares where you can go from Amsterdam to Copenhagen for around €29-€49 range (at time of article).
6. Stay central
You may have heard the budget-friendly advice to spend the night in a cheap hotel a bit further out, but trust me, it’s worth spending money to be close to everything you want to see and limit time spent travelling to and from your accommodation. When you also take into account the hassle of trying to find a place to eat in a quieter area, it usually isn’t worth it unless your budget is very tight.
The solution is to book a reasonable place in or near the city centre where the main sights are reachable, and you can find cafes and restaurants easily. If you want to save money, then you have the choice to experience more of the city in detail and authentically by walking, rather than taking the metro or a bus. To grab a good deal, use comparison sites and book as far in advance as possible. I’ve done this recently for my trip to Las Vegas and the hotel prices are now double what they were when I booked eight months in advance.
7. Learn the local language
Before going to any country in Europe its recommended to learn a few phrases and words to use with locals as you order food, shop and ask for directions. In almost every situation they’ll appreciate you putting the effort in and it could help you get a warm welcome wherever you go and will be more welcoming. Key phrases to learn include; hello, thank you, where’s the loo? and goodbye.
8. Take city walking tours
Walking tours are a great introduction to local culture and if you’re travelling alone, it’s a great way to find other people to talk to as you explore. The guides usually do the tours as they’re naturally friendly and have an in-depth insight into the town or city. Most hostels offer free walking tours, which makes them even better if you’re working to a budget. They’ll inspire you with local anecdotes, history lessons and you can return the favour by tipping them in exchange for their lively service.
A quick tip! You must have a pair of comfortable walking shoes. After a long day of walking around the city, your feet will thank you!
I worked on this article with Tom, a blogger, and a nature lover. You can catch him writing about his adventure experiences at http://kayakcritic.net/. If you have any tips to add, let us know with a comment below and if you’re planning a trip this summer… good luck and have a fantastic time!