Deciding to travel Europe requires a lot of planning, particularly if you’re traveling on a budget. Luckily, you won’t be the first person to plan a low-cost tour for Europe, so there are plenty of resources available.
In this article, we’ll look at 5 essential tips for getting the most out of planning to travel the EU.
Most of the EU is covered by the Schengen visa-free agreement. In short, this means you can spend up to 90 days (in total) traveling around the EU without a visa. It’s worth noting that the EU (European Union) is different from Europe. The EU is an economic area that covers most of continental Europe, but some countries aren’t included. One such example is the UK.
Check whether your country can travel in the EU without a visa. If you do need a visa, make sure you arrange it before traveling.
Next, make sure you check current Covid restrictions for the countries you plan to visit. There aren’t many travel restrictions in EU aside from Covid measures. You can check whether your country (or the ones you plan to visit) is restricted here.
Deciding when to travel Europe ultimately depends on what you want to do. For example, if you want to go skiing, it’s logical that you’d go in the winter. Similarly, if you plan to attend music festivals, you’ll need to go in the summer.
But if you’re not too bothered about when you travel EU, consider going in shoulder season. This is the time between on and off seasons, so it’s typically spring and fall. Costs will often be lower, and some countries look just as good in fall as they do in summer.
For example, Portugal will be just as sunny in fall as in summer, and you won’t have to deal with loads of tourists. Eastern Europe (e.g., Hungary, Croatia, Poland, etc.) all look pretty amazing in fall too.
As there’s no specific answer about when is best to travel Europe, begin by thinking about what you want to do. This should help you decide when is best to travel, as some events are only available at certain times of year.
Again, there isn’t a single answer about how much it’ll cost to travel Europe, as it depends on what you do and where you go.
Start by deciding whether you want to travel alone or take a group tour for Europe. A group tour could be a package vacation, which includes flights, transport, accommodation, etc. While it’ll be a bit more structured, you’ll at least have a clearer idea of costs.
On the other hand, deciding to travel alone gives you complete control over your budget. There are plenty of ways to save money when you travel EU (as discussed below). The advantage of traveling alone means you can save money in whatever way you choose.
Next, decide whether you want to visit one country or several. Public transport between European countries is pretty good, so you could use trains or buses to get across borders. The EU runs something called Interrail, which is essentially a low-cost train pass. The version for non-EU citizens is called Eurail and is the same price.
If you plan to visit several countries, it makes sense to group them together. For example, you could do Western Europe, which includes France, Germany, Spain and Portugal. Alternatively, you could tour Eastern Europe on a single trip.
While nothing is stopping you from going wherever you like, bear in mind that you’ll probably have a maximum of 90 days to travel Europe. It doesn’t make loads of sense to spend a lot of time traveling when you could be enjoying the countries instead.
Consider using an Interrail or Eurail pass for inexpensive cross-country travel once you’re in Europe. Here are some further tips for traveling economically in Europe:
Cheap flights are a no-brainer, both for getting to Europe and traveling around it. A flight from one side of Europe to the other will only be a few hours, so it does help to reduce travel time. Also, as mentioned, Europe has good public transport, so take advantage of this where possible.
For accommodation, consider staying in hostels. If you only need somewhere to sleep, they’re ideal. Plus, hostels are often centrally located in towns and cities, so they offer a much cheaper way of staying in a prime location. You’d find a hotel in a similar spot could cost 10 times the price of a hostel.
Don’t overlook street food as a viable way to eat – it’s certainly cheaper than restaurants. But supermarkets are obviously another great place to get inexpensive food. You can save a lot of money if you travel alone by eating from street food vendors and supermarkets.
Finally, take advantage of free WiFi in bars and cafés. Doing so can help you keep your phone bill down, as roaming gets very pricey when you’re jumping between countries. You might even find that trains and buses have WiFi, depending on the country you’re in.
Bear in mind, though, that free WiFi is limited. Also, there are security concerns with using a publicly accessible network. Instead, set up an eSIM profile on your phone. It’s convenient and affordable because you can get international plans – or simply switch between countries.
Textr is soon launching its eSIM service that’ll help you set up a data plan to stay connected while you travel Europe. It’ll include numerous plans at much lower costs than standard carriers. Plus, it’s specifically tailored to traveling the world, with its low-cost call minutes and data plans.
You can also use Textr Team to call and text while traveling – all in one app. Download today to see how Textr can help you travel EU conveniently.