Keeping a low budget for Europe holiday travel is tough. The temptation to spend money on good food, luxury hotels and the delightful souvenirs is difficult to resist. Yet, having the ideal low budget holiday with an InterRail Pass is possible. A few simple steps such as picking the right place, timing and looking for Europe holiday packages can make the difference between a costly great holiday and a low budget great holiday.
First check the extra benefits you are entitled to with an InterRail Pass! Read Here:
PICKING THE RIGHT PLACE
The right place is the non-traditional vacation spots. Do you want sun and surf? Then give the Mediterranean coast of Croatia a try or the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. Both locations have great weather, sandy beaches but not the over priced hotels as other vacation hot spots. Moreover, after a few years when these locations become the hot spots you can brag that you were there before it became the hottest place to vacation in Europe. In general northern Europe is the most expensive and eastern Europe the cheapest.
Off-season just means before or after the vacation rush. Many hotels and campgrounds reduced their prices up to as much as 80% after the summer holidays. Italy is a popular destination to visit during the summer but by waiting a few extra weeks, you can save a lot on hotels. For vacationers with children this can be a problem but spending fall or spring vacation at a resort in Italy still means you can appreciate the price reductions. For winter sports such as skiing, the Chamonix-Mont Blanc ski season is from December to early May. Why go to the crowded slopes in February when April is less crowded and cost less?
Avoid train reservations and supplements
Although most high-speed trains require reservations and/or supplements, it's often possible to avoid paying these supplements when you research alternative routes! This means that you'll use domestic trains which are slower, but it normally means also that your travel is free from those extra costs.
USE YOUR INTER RAIL TRAVEL DAYS WISELY
Do you travel with an InterRail One Country Pass or an InterRail Global Pass with flexible travel days? Then use your travel days only for longer or multiple train journeys. If you only want to travel a short distance, then buy a separate ticket or take a cheap bus. Also keep in mind the the 7 pm rule. If you board a direct, overnight train after 7 pm, only the following day of travel is counted.
Big cities often have various train stations, so you can use your InterRail Pass to go from one part of the city to another by train. In bigger German cities, your InterRail Pass is also valid on the S-Bahn (but not on the U-Bahn).
If you will make extensive use of public transport in one city, then travelcards will be cheaper than single tickets, especially for a longer period. For example: in Stockholm a single ticket will cost you 20 SEK, a day card cost 100 SEK and a 7-day card is 260 SEK (9 SEK is approx. 1 euro).
Apart from public transport and walking, you can also hire a bike. Bicycle rentals can be found near most train stations. In some countries there are even free or cheap city bikes, for example in Copenhagen.
A C C O M O D A T I O N
Hotels and hostels
Many luxury hotels have lower fares for mid-week visitors. Hostels are usually cheaper than hotels, especially when you don't insist on having a private room. A membership of Hostelling International will grant you discounted overnight prices in a large network of hostels. Many hostels will rent sleep-sheets to you for an additional cost, so bringing your own is cheaper. You can also consider staying at a bed & breakfast which exist in all price ranges. You can find addresses in directories like this one.
If you don't mind carrying a tent, camping is still an economical way of spending the night. A disadvantage is that camp sites are usually not near train stations. In Norway, Finland and Sweden even wild camping is permitted if you keep certain rules in mind.
A relatively new phenomenon is couch surfing, which is a social network for travellers. People from around the world are willing to share their homes with fellow travelers for free. Some of the most popular networks are CouchSurfing International, Global Freeloaders and Stay 4 Free.
TIP: if you take a night train, you have to pay a supplement, but you save on accomodation cost.
S I G H T S E E I N G
Most cities have special tourist cards with discounts on museums, restaurants and public transportation. For instance, the Krakow Tourist Card grants tourist free museum access, and bus usage. Another example is the Bratislava City Card available in Slovakia which gives free admission to museums, art galleries and a discount on a city walking tour. These cards can be found at local tourist information centers.
STUDENT AND YOUTH CARDS
There are several student or youth cards with interesting discounts on museums, zoos and other sights. The best known student cards are ISE and ISIC. Non-students under 26 can apply for the Euro<26 card or the International Youth Travel Card (IYTC).
In some cities you can visit (national) museums for free, like in London. In other places museums offer free admission once a week, like in Copenhagen. There are also various yearly museum nights in Europe with free entrance, e.g. in Berlin.
E A T I N G AND S H O P P I N G
Eat local food and picnic where you can. Just buy food in supermarkets or at a market and search for a spot with a nice view to eat your meal. Tourist areas are full of restaurants calling out for more customers but by walking just a few extra streets further, you can find nice quite restaurants with lower prices. Especially in university areas you can often find budget cafes and restaurants.
You can also consider having your main meal during lunchtime, when menus are usually cheaper. Many hostels have bagged lunches to order or small picnic boxes. Carry a water bottle and refill from drinking taps.
Go to to shopping centers to look for gifts in place of expensive gift shops aimed at tourists. Giving dry goods from foreign countries make interesting gifts.
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The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. ~St. Augustine