How to travel Europe for cheap

Europe travel has been a lifelong dream of mine… but making it an affordable reality is a much different story.

I can promise you that with a little bit of cash and a little bit of finesse, it is possible to live out your travel fantasies.

I traveled to Europe winter of 2021, and I would like to share how I’ve managed to travel cheaply.

Travel Hack #1: Housesitting/Petsitting

As I scoured the world wide web for affordable lodging, the best hack I came across was housesitting/petsitting. I began my journey to London with a 24-day petsitting gig!

I love this hack because it automatically gives you a local perspective, a furry playmate for those who get lonely, and all the benefits of someone’s home (kitchen, washer + dryer!) Plus—it’s free!

It’s important to note a few things: Some Housesitting sites have membership fees. I use TrustedHousesitters, and you can use my affiliate link here for an X discount. I also use MindMyHouse which only costs $20, but that site has fewer housesit options.

You’ll need to spend some time crafting your profile and applying for multiple housesits. Learn how to optimize your Housesitter profile here.

Keep in mind, that there won’t always be gigs in your preferred place of travel. But, isn’t traveling about trying new places? You may be surprised about what you come across in some beautiful cities like Dubai, London, Sicily, and Athens! I highly recommend planning out a few housesits while staying at some hostels/Airbnbs in between.

Travel Hack #2: Make Money Online

Yes, this is easier said than done. But having some extra cash flow on your trip can help you avoid a panic attack each time you check your bank account.

There are always going to be unexpected travel costs. You don’t want to end up in a situation where your Airbnb has mice and you suddenly need to book a hotel room (true story!). These unexpected costs could make or break your scrupulous travel budget.

If you can find a way to make some extra cash online every now then, I highly recommend keeping this skill in your back pocket.

I am a freelance writer and have regular gigs that bring in some good money every month. Some days, I’m spending all day in a cafe living off coffee getting my work done, but it’s worth it to make my travels affordable.

If you’re seriously considering spending a few months traveling, then I would also spend time learning how to make some online money and getting a few clients. I am a freelance writer, but there are plenty of ways to make money online. Check out my comprehensive post, here!

Travel Hack #3: Work in Hostels or try WorkAway

This hack can simultaneously cover the costs of your lodging and introduce you to some pretty cool people! If you choose to work or “volunteer” in a hostel, you’ll work 3-5 hours a day, 5 days a week. The rest of the time is your own. You’ll probably help make breakfast, check-in guests, and do some light cleaning. Don’t worry, most hostels have a professional cleaning crew for the gross bathrooms.

I recommend reading the reviews and doing some research, so you can feel confident that the work opportunity is a good fit for you.

Some hostel staff ended up becoming some of my closest friends. If you’re up for a little bit of daily work, you can use this hack to stay in pretty remarkable places.

Travel Hack #4: Use Google Flights or Scotts Cheap Flights

You better be using Google Flights or some flight website to make sure you’re getting the cheapest deal. We love Spirit Airlines or RyanAir, even though they’re annoyingly strict on toiletries. But spend time making sure you’re getting the best flight deal for you.

Travel Hack #5: Limit eating out/make grocery stores your friend

Unless you truly have the money for it, I think eating out should be a special treat. One of my favorite travel hacks is buying to-go meals from local grocery stores. I usually secured a yummy dinner for around $5 most nights. I’d also pair it with a $4 bottle of Portuguese wine that gives cheap Barefoot wine a run for its money.

Research the best restaurants in each city, and then plan a couple of night outs at these “must-hits” eaters. You’ll still get to taste the local cuisines, but you’ll spend your money much more wisely.

Above all else, if you can, cook. I made pasta in a hotel room, so there’s no excuse!

Housesitting/working in a hostel is a great way to have access to a kitchen and also limit your costs of eating out.

Travel Hack #6: Don’t check a bag

You’re planning on checking a bag? Are you crazy? If you’re planning on traveling Europe, then you can’t lug luggage!

I’m proud to say I packed a tight carry-on suitcase and personal bag for four months of travel. Did I have to pack it meticulously each time? Yes. Was it often a headache? Also, yes. But I probably saved a few hundred bucks because I didn’t have to check a bag.

Even if cheap airlines request you purchase a carry-on bag in addition to the ticket cost, oftentimes those tickets are still cheaper than other airlines. Don’t be afraid to embrace minimalism and save yourself some money along the way!

Travel Hack #7: Have a Budget

Hindsight is 20/20. I didn’t make a budget for my travel, and I lost a lot of money due to conversion rates, and the dollar being shit in comparison to the pound.