Traveling in Europe can be expensive. Air fares, high-speed trains and night ferries – all this consumes your limited (and precious) travel budget.
Fortunately, there are many ways to get around Europe on a tight budget. The sharing economy, new bus options, discounted train passes and many low-cost airlines will help you navigate Europe without breaking the bank.
I have been traveling around Europe since 2006 and have seen many changes during this time. I’ve seen travel gimmicks come and go and prices change and change again. While recent times has affected things, I can honestly say that getting around Europe has never been easier because there are so many new and inexpensive ways to travel the continent.
These are the best ways to travel around Europe on a budget:
1. Arrival by bus
Traveling by intercity buses is one of the lowest ways to get around the continent. The most important international bus companies are Eurolines and FlixBus, based in Germany, which expanded enormously with the acquisition of Megabus and now offer routes all over the continent.
Flixbus is usually the lowest bus option with prices starting from 5 EUR. Their buses have Wi-Fi, sockets, free luggage (one hand luggage and one under the bus) and comfortable seats. (Megabus still works in the UK.)
FlixBus quickly became my favorite way to cross Europe without a train at a low price. It’s by no means fancy, but it’s the lowest way to get around. They are the largest part of Europe. Here is a map of your routes to help you plan your trip.
However, there are many other region-specific bus companies that will take you somewhere else. For example, Alsa is the main supplier in Spain and its neighboring countries.
You can use bus radar or go by bus to find the lowest and fastest option on the desired route.
2. Traveling with a low-cost airline
By far one of the lowest ways to travel long distances in Europe is a low-cost airline. These airlines are very productive on the continent, and competition has led to incredibly low fares. It is not uncommon to find flights for only 10 EUR! I use Skyscanner to search for the best deals. They do all the legwork!
Remember that low-cost airlines make most of their money on tariffs. They are very strict with baggage restrictions and many will annoy you if you forget to print out your boarding pass. Also, do not expect free drinks or meals. But if you follow the rules and know what to expect, you can save a lot of money.
3. Travelling with a Eurail Pass
I love traveling by train: sitting on a big seat, relaxing with a book and watching the stunning scenery. It is more convenient than a bus and much more stress-free (and sustainable) than traveling by plane. And the European railway system is one of the best and most extensive in the world.
4. Traveling in BlaBlaCar
The rise of the sharing economy has allowed people to travel with locals in their own way, and BlaBlaCar is the reigning king of this service. It is very popular and widely used in Europe and I have used this service many times. It allows you to form carpooling with people who have extra space in your car. You find a trip, they agree to take you with them and you leave. The prices are set by the driver and are designed to compensate for the cost of gasoline and the general wear of the vehicle.
This is the highest paid way to get around in Europe, because you can meet a local, have a friendly conversation, save money and get to your destination faster. It is available in almost 20 countries in Europe.
BlaBlaCar is not always affordable than the bus (FlixBus can be super inexpensive!) it’s usually much faster and much more interesting!