How to do Europe on a Shoestring

Susie Byrd

By Susie Byrd
25 May 2017

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There are hundreds of ‘how to travel on a budget’ articles and here’s another one. This is nothing new but I thought I’d cover it anyway to get you well pumped for your upcoming adventure. It can be daunting if you’ve been scrimping and saving for months (or years!) to finally let go of that hard-earned cash, so here’s a few ways to make sure you and your money don’t part ways too soon…


Picnics are one of the most underrated activities while travelling. Most globetrotters feel like going a million miles a minute and ticking off sights but sometimes you just need to sit down for a second and take in the surroundings. A picnic is the perfect thing to relish local culture and foods and also save yourself a bit of coin. Rather than eating out for all your meals, choose one meal per day to eat in a restaurant. Pick up a few local delicacies from the supermarket and find yourself a patch in the sun for some prime picnicking. Ants not invited. Green grass, scenic views and Eiffel Tower welcome!

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Student Discounts

If you’re one of the lucky many to still be in that elusive student club, make sure you set yourself up for some heavy discounts. Especially if you’re booked as a student with Busabout, we’ll need some proof so make sure you get your ISIC card. This is one of the most universally recognised student cards and you’ll often get some money off entry to sights and museums. If you’re planning a bit of a shopping spree, some stores will even offer a 10% student discount. Bargain!

Public Transport

It can be tempting to catch a cab or hail an Uber but your savings will thank you to take advantage of public transport. Most cities in Europe have fantastic options to get around so whether it be by train, bus, tram, funicular or gondola, it’s time to get your tickets. It’s good to have a bit of cash or coins on hand, because not all ticket machines will accept card payments. If it’s one of the bigger cities like Berlin and you don’t feel like wearing out the soles of your shoes then a day ticket can often be the most economical way to explore!

Free Museum Days

Most museums will have free days each month or week to visit. So to save yourself an expensive few days checking out the masterpieces of Europe, make sure to check times and days that museums offer free entry. In Paris the golden day is the 1st Sunday of the month where all the museums are a spending free zone. The Prado in Madrid is free Tuesday to Sunday night from 6-8pm, or to see Picasso’s Guernica head to the Reina Sofia Monday to Friday from 7pm or even earlier on the weekend! Another option is to take to the streets for some incredible art in cities like Berlin, Valencia, Lisbon, Paris and Barcelona.

Skip the Souvenirs

Though it can be tempting to buy magnets, shot glasses or key chains for loved ones back home, I can assure you, it’s not worth it. For one, eventually you will realise it’s the reason why you’re having to pay an extra €50 of overweight luggage. Is that tacky souvenir really worth it? Take pictures, make a fun video for the family and friends instead. Wouldn’t you much rather be rather be having an extra cocktail on a rooftop somewhere? If you must collect mementos, bag patches are a cheaper option and you can iron or sew them onto your bag as you go. No need to boast on your country count if the flags you’ve collected do it for you!

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Carry a Water Bottle

Most countries in Europe have suitable drinking water straight from the tap. Though it may not be bottled up with a waterfall sticker, it’s perfectly safe to fill up your own water bottle. So save your Euros and purchase a reusable water bottle. Your guide will be able to tell you if the tap water is not suitable to drink but most cities even have public water fountains to fill up during the day. Adventuring is thirsty work! Nothing is more satisfying than drinking straight from the cool waters of a 14th century cistern after walking the Dubrovnik Walls.


Check out Busabout’s Hop-on Hop-off passes that allow you to decide where to stay and for how long. Saving you time and even more money!