Practical, how-to budget travel advice is indispensible. There’s something particularly valuable about travel advice that opposes the emphasis on expensive hotels and other forms of high-end consumption that characterizes the contemporary travel media, perhaps especially in regions like Europe where costs are generally quite high.
Budget-friendly travel in Europe is no impossible dream, and the following sites are good for inspiring shoestring feats, assessing likely costs, and, above all else, disproving the idea that you have to spend hundreds of dollars a day to see Europe well. For some ideas about where to travel affordably in Europe, check out last week’s ten budget-friendly European destinations post.
1. Less Than a Shoestring. Though no longer publishing on a regular basis, the archives of this blog are astoundingly helpful in their low-budget audacity. Particularly useful for anyone scared off at the thought of Europe’s cost index are the blog’s “Baring my Budget” posts, which run through budgets for various short trips in great detail: three nights in Malta for €50 (currently $66); five days in London for £85 (currently $133); four nights in Venice for €91 (currently $120), all departing from Berlin. Costs breakdowns are provided in these “Baring my Budget” posts, as are the freebies encountered along the way. The mention of freebies is particularly helpful, as it reveals how often tourist information, maps, museum admission, and various cultural performances can be accessed free of charge. Though this series ran over two years ago, it is still very relevant.
2. EuroCheapo. Disclosure: I worked as an editor at EuroCheapo for almost three years and continue to do occasional freelance projects for the site. Phew. Glad I got that out of the way. Personal loyalty aside, EuroCheapo really is an enormously helpful resource. It is first and foremost as a hotel review site with useful descriptions of hotels written by trained hotel reviewers. EuroCheapo also edits a great blog full of essential budget-oriented tips penned by correspondents on the ground.
3. Guardian’s budget travel section. To be fair, the Guardian’s budget travel section is good for destinations around the world, though the density of articles on the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and other European countries is impressive. Recent articles that showcase well the newspaper’s creatively open approach to the subject of budget travel include Susan Greenwood’s budget Stockholm journey story, indebted to insider tips provided by a local blogger; a piece on backpacking in the Crimea by Maxton Walker; and Benji Lanyado’s TwiTrips series, for which the author receives tips via Twitter about the city he’s visiting and then liveblogs his discoveries. The most recent TwiTrip series installment sees Lanyado visiting Liverpool.4. Flycheapo. This site felt buzzing and electrified back when Europe’s low-cost airlines were announcing new routes weekly. With all the route cut-backs and cancellations of the last few years, the site sees far fewer regular updates. Nonetheless, Flycheapo is still an essential place to look for route information for inexpensive flights around Europe. The site provides new route news snippets, a route index, an airline index, and a route search, all of which are helpful for figuring out potential itineraries for low-cost air journeys across Europe.
5. Deutsche Bahn. Indispensible for figuring out train itineraries, Bahn.de features Europe-wide train schedules in enthralling detail. Bahn.de is also a much cheaper place for purchasing advance train fares than US-based agents. A very helpful run-down of how much cheaper these fares can be as well as information on how to access Deutsche Bahn sales personnel in English can be found in two posts by the editors of hidden europe magazine, here and here.
(Image: Flickr / vxla)