How to plan a trip across Europe on a student budget

eurotrip fin

Shannon Cuciz in Ibiza, Spain during vacation. (Courtesy Martha Cottrill)

While spending summer at home and working is a good financial decision, it is not nearly as exciting as a European adventure. The food is better, the weather is warmer and there are more beautiful beaches. So why not go?

Here are six steps to take to make the dream trip a reality:

1. Plan the route
There are many scenic countries to choose from in Europe. Sit down and plan out which ones are the most important to see and the best way to get there. Some countries may be a mere train ride away, while others may be farther, making flying the only option. Planning this out in advance will lay down the basic schedule for the trip.

2. Book flights in advance
Don’t wait until the last minute, thinking the best deals on flights come later. Holding off on booking could end up costing more than double the original price. Saving that extra money could mean the ability to stay a week longer on the trip. By watching for deals and booking when the prices are low, flights can be cheaper than train or boat rides.

3. Reserve a spot at hostels
Hostels are the best way to travel for cheap and meet friends along way. Not only does the booking often include free breakfast, but some hostels have information desks with guided tours and activities for youth around the city. Booking online only costs a few dollars to reserve a spot. This is worth the time and money to reserve ahead of time because once the last-minute bookings come in, there will be few spaces available at the best hostels.

4. Go shopping early
Staying on top of deals and special offers will save money that can be put towards the trip. This is especially true during the spring season, when there are many clearance specials for clothes and shoes. Take advantage of them and save as much money as possible.

5. Read travel blogs
Buying a guidebook is not necessary when there are hundreds of online travel blogs to choose from. Spend a few hours reading through blogs that give budget tips and tricks that seasoned travellers use.

6. Pack up
The worst thing to do before leaving is to rush around doing last-minute errands. Not only will prices be high at the start of summer, but there will also be lines and crowds. Most items will be available in Europe, so don’t worry. Have everything packed and ready to go in advance so the morning of the flight is stress free.

After planning how to get there, where to stay and having a few ideas about what to do and wear, stop planning. Spontaneous travel is the best way to enjoy a Euro trip. Having every activity planned takes the fun out of the experience. All that’s left to do is to sit back, relax and get ready for the trip of a lifetime.

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on February 26, 2014.

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