“Is this even a road?” I asked Dennis as we drove in his Volkswagen Golf down what may be a road to find our hotel in Amsterdam.  Honestly, I couldn’t tell if we were on a very large sidewalk or a road the way people and bikes crowded the narrow space our GPS told us was the path to our hotel. Dennis and I had made a spur of the moment decision to go to Amsterdam for a quick weekend holiday.  And no amount of planning would have been able to assist us in deciphering whether or not we were on an actual road.  Although, planning to travel to Europe on a budget, or planning in general, would have saved us the headache of getting lost on a tandem bike trying to figure out which site we wanted to visit next.   It did make for a fantastic adventure.  I truly cherish the memories I have exploring Amsterdam and Europe with Den.

Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to be able to stay with family, friends, and travel with Dennis to his golf tournaments. This made my travels pretty budget friendly.  Even with all the extra support traveling could still get expensive at times.  Looking back there are a couple of things that I would do differently to make my travels more budget friendly. So here are my top tips for planning your travel trip on a budget!

1. Planning

Do some research, make a list of cities and counties you’d like to visit on your trip and what you may want to do there.  This will help you plan your travels within Europe. I personally recommend traveling by car or train so you really have the opportunity to see the country. Because Den and I traveled a lot for his golf tournaments we usually traveled by car, which was absolutely amazing because I was able to see the German countryside.  Their hills are like Florida mountains and it was almost as if the landscape had popped off the page of a picture book.  Well, a picture book with Eminem, Den’s favorite rapper, playing on a loop in the background.

Once you know which countries and cities you’d like to explore, I would find out when their off season is.   Generally, it’s cheaper to travel in the off season.  In many places in Europe, winter is the off season because it’s colder, which generally equal fewer tourists. Unlike Florida when the snowbirds come down during the cooler months.  Just remember as it is in any place you travel, it’s best to avoid major holidays like Christmas and New Years because the cost of flights prices goes up. Overall though, traveling during the off season really can help you save money and save your budget.

2. Accommodations

So when looking for a place to rest your head during your travels try to explore ALL of your options.  If you are still in college look to see if there are any study abroad programs or international internships.  If those aren’t viable options, I recommend putting it out there on Facebook. You never know where you friends may have moved to or are doing their own internships at.  If you’re lucky, who knows, you may be able to couch surf across Europe.  Den and I have family friends in Scotland who let us stay with them. We had a blast and were able to see Scotland from the locals perspective.  And not only did that help our travel budget, but we also had the opportunity to spend quality with some of our dearest friends, which I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Also, when planning your accommodations it is extremely important to think about where you personally are willing to stay.  Would you be okay with staying in a hostel? or do you have to stay in a hotel? 

Either way no judgment, but these are things you need to think about before you get there, and so you can make reservations in advance.  Reservations, by the way, are not only for booking hotels but for staying at hostels.  It will save you a lot of headaches if you do your research and book the hostel in advance. That way you don’t end up in a foreign country with no place to stay.  Trust me it’s no bueno, and can end up very expensive if you have to book a hotel last minute because you didn’t make reservations.   

3. Spending Money

As far as spending money goes, it is important to figure out how much the activities you’d like to do in each city generally cost, so that you have an accurate idea of how much you should budget for. You don’t want to be excited and plan on visiting the Van Gough museum in Amsterdam only to realize you didn’t budget enough for it. Take the time to pre-plan some of your “must see” site and activities to ensure that you have the appropriate amount of money saved for what you’d like to do

Also, when budgeting, don’t forget to take into consideration that you have to eat and drink.  (You are human. These are necessities.) No, you don’t have to go to the nicest restaurants.   Personally, I would go to more local places if I were you, but regardless it still costs money.  A budget friendly way to eat on the go is to shop at local grocery stores or bakeries. Bakeries tend to be on the more inexpensive side and the pastries and loaves of bread are super delicious!

Last, but certainly not least, remember the exchange rate.  For me, because I am from the US, I lose money, well really my money is worth less because the Euro is stronger than the dollar.  I even lose more when my money is converted over to the Pound.   Last time, after my money was converted to the pound, my pockets felt empty more than full.  So when planning and budgeting be sure to take the exchange rate into consideration.

Overall, the main key to traveling on a budget is to plan, plan, plan.  Give yourself time to make the plans as well.  The further out you plan, most of the time, the more budget friendly your travels will be. It will also reduce stress and leave more room for fun because you won’t be worrying about making arrangements or having enough money.  No matter where your travels take you there will always be an adventure, and the unpredictable can and will happen.  So hold on tight and hang on for a journey you will never forget.   I hope after reading this you will get right into planning your next travel adventure! Good luck, and if you have any questions or want to share any of your traveling tips please feel free to comment below!