Travel on a Shoestring

Tips from my euro trip

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Life is easier with money. Only people with money say it isn’t but that doesn’t mean you can’t travel and save along the way.

This scrap is about value for money and will pass on some tips and hacks I found along my trek across Europe to other eager backpackers. Some of the advice posted I learnt through experience whilst others were given to me by the people I met when I traveled from city to city. I visited 13 cities within 32 days of inter-railing and excluding the cost of flights from Dublin to the continent, the euro trip cost just under 2000 euros, 400 of which was the euro train pass itself which allowed me to take as many trains (standard, non-high speed trains) within 31 days. I’m surprised inter-railing isn’t more popular than it is but I suppose it’s not for everyone. If you’re willing to go a day or three without a shower, to sleep on a train floor for 7hrs or around 12 other travelers, using tips and hacks – backpacking across Europe is one hell of an experience, where money can be spent on where it matters on good food, events and sight seeing.

Feel free to comment & share your own tips. These are just some of mine.

Happy Trekking,

J.

  1. Hostels tend to be the cheapest accommodation but not always. Many of the American travelers swore by airbnb but ordinary B&Bs may be cheaper too - shop around. I couldn't imagine having to travel around with just a map and help from tourist information. Thanks to smartphones, you have everything at your finger tips while on the move. Hostelworld is great too and offers off season deals
  2. Sign up for a hostel membership card. It will get you many savings and is a must if you travel a lot.
  3. Upload TripAdvisor and use it. It will give you an idea of where to stay and go and more importantly, where to avoid. Help fellow travelers out too and post your own reviews!
  4. Paying extra for 'breakfast included' is worth it (most hostel prices per night are between 10-20 euros & include bed and breakfast). Many of the hostels where I stayed had a self-service buffet style breakfast table with cold meats, breads and cheese. Stock up on them and bring them with you as a packed lunch. Often I did not have to pay for food until the evening as the fruit and breads I packed kept me going. It also meant I could spend a little more at dinner time to try out & taste the cuisine of the place I was in.
  5. If booked in a hostel which doesn't include breakfast, don't pay for the breakfast or food served there. Although it means you have to walk further for your meal in the morning. The quality and value of food down at the local cafe is better.
  6. Look out for hostels that have a guest/common kitchen. That way you can grocery shop and cook at your accommodation - saving money.
  7. Laundry services are expensive and you don't want to be spending money on it. Instead wash your dirty clothes in the shower with you. (So what if my T-shirt smelt of tea tree oil?!) Washing your clothes that way means you only have to cover the price of drying them or simply hang them along your bunk-bed, if like me you traveled south, where the weather is hot - let them air dry.
  8. Buy travel insurance. It's worth it. It cost me 75 euros for premium cover from www.backpackertravelinsurance.ie but shop around. For me, the risk of being robbed was on my mind. It covered a loss up to 500 euro cash plus more.
  9. Buy a body wallet. A wallet which can conceal your passport, rail pass and cash strapped around your waist and hidden under your shirt. Carry a decoy wallet in your pocket, with a twenty in it and a few non-important cards (library etc). If the worst happens and you do get mugged - let him rob you and give away the decoy wallet. Thankfully this decoy method wasn't tested but it seems smart to me!
  10. Assume beggars are pick-pockets, watch your back for thieves trying to open your backpack. Barcelona is the capital of pickpockets and as tourists looking up at the sights - you're a prime target. Wear the body wallet/money belt and keep vigilant.

Valenicia

 

  1. If you're a student, ask for discounts - you'll likely get them.
  2. When inter-railing you must pre-book night trains. It's not always possible but try and book at least two days in advance as it is cheaper. For long journeys you can book a bunk in a tram dorm, sharing with 5 other passengers (it's the cheapest) or simply book a seat for 5euros, if you don't mind sleeping sitting upright in a chair. For a real backpacker experience, sleep on the carriage floor as I did!
  3. Travel at off-peak times. This is common sense really but it means cheaper rates and the chance for more room aboard.
  4. Use ATMs to get your cash out and avoid most transaction fees by taking out fewer but large sums of money. I took out 250euros at a time. It was a great way to keep track of how much I was spending too as until it all ran out I didn't take another 250 out from my account.
  5. Avoid exchanging currencies at train stations. They don't have the best rates and I learnt this far too late!
  6. In Europe, in most places there is a table charge. Unless you plan to sit for awhile and enjoy the view, buy your drinks at the bar - it's cheaper.
  7. Most restaurants (especially the touristic ones) charge for water and often come to the table with a bottle of still water. Unless tap water is undrinkable, as is the case in Southern Spain, Italy and parts of Eastern Europe, ask for tap water. The waiter may refuse (that happens sometimes) but if not you'll save some euros.

    Naples Hostel View

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

  1. Drink the House and local wine. It's good value and part of the experience.
  2. Go for local produce and do some research. Get what is in season. It will be at its best and cheaper.
  3. For large museums and for cities in which you plan to stay for a few days, get a museum pass. It means you can skip the queues and you will save money as long as you go to as many attractions as possible. Only buy a pass, if you're a museum junkie (like me) and plan to see many of the city's art and museums. Otherwise pay the normal entry fees.
  4. Use your feet, where ever possible. Walking is free and a 40 minute walk doesn't seem so long when exploring and making your way round a new city. When you can - don't rush, just explore.
  5. For more walking - look out for red umbrellas at major tourist landmarks. The Sandemans (www.neweuropetours.eu) tours are 'free' (though they ask for a tip - but it's brilliant value). I went on every free Sandeman tour available in the cities I visited. They're are a great way to plan activities for the next day and will give you an idea of how to make your way around the city as well as learn its history and meet new people. They offer special paid tours as well, which are excellent value (I'm sure I'll post a scrap about them here soon enough ...)
  6. Travel light. As mentioned earlier you will do a lot of walking and will regret the weight. Take only what is necessary and be smart. Pack shampoo/conditioner combos and depending on the climate, pack light and airy clothes.
  7. Make the most of group deals. If you're traveling alone, get to know other backpackers. They may want to see the same attractions as you and if you group together - there can be savings and friendship too
  8. Don't be regimental! When I first started travelling I planned nearly two weeks ahead. This was a mistake. Be flexible and have your itinerary open to new experiences and places not originally planned. Local or traveler recommendations may lead you elsewhere which could save you money but more importantly  - make a trip of a lifetime.  I had planned to stay in Barcelona for 6 days before my flight back to Dublin but in Berlin and later in Prague, I met a Spaniard, Fani. She was sweet and awesome to hang about with. She finished her trip before I did but suggested I visit her back home in Valencia. I'm so glad I did and my stay in Catalonia's capital was cut by two days. Instead, they were spent with a local newfound friend and an old friend, where we were brought for Paella out on the beach, and later, to one of the best tapas bars in the city.

Hostel Shenanigans

Austria swim

Let life take the reins for a while. If it feels right – go for it! You’ll never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll find. It was hard to let go at first but I’m glad I did. Some things can’t be planned, just prepare for adventure!

Author: TheAddict'sScrapbook

About the addict: Irish, a madman, a writer, a freelance editor, ranter, a whiskey drinker, a talker, a traveler & a big eater.

3 thoughts on “Travel on a Shoestring”

  1. You spent a total of $2000 in 32 days? That’s pretty good, I always tell my friends buying those interrail passes are pointless when you can always get buses which are cheaper and you can get overnight buses which is another plus so you don’t need to pay for accommodation. Maybe I’ll consider getting one next time :).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice tip! Trains are quicker than buses you see and cover larger distances. It depends on your itinerary & how much time you have to travel. I didn’t use any night buses myself but It’s definitely an option. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Like

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