The best of world on a budget of €15 a day…
TRavelling on a budget is brilliant fun and very rewarding. But €15 is really very little cash, so it’s also tough work and can get repetitive.
Here’s the top tips for making the most of the trip all while sticking to the budget….
1. Hello Friend, Hello Stranger…
There are few countries in Europe where you can pay for accommodation out of a budget of €15 a day, and even then you won’t have much leftover for food and fun. So it’s time to get a little bit creative with your accommodation; get out your little black book and call on whatever friends you have drifting around the continent, and call on their friends, too.
Alternatively, websites and organizations like Wwoofing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms –Volunteer on farms in exchange for board), CouchSurfing (This website connects travellers who need a bed, with locals who have a spare one – tart up your profile now and start hosting in advance of your trip so you have references and friends) and also WorkAway (a fantastic resource that joins businesses that need temporary help with travellers who have time, all in exchange for bed and board).
Along the route, you’ll meet people in Berlin who have cousins in Hamburg and offer you their place to stay. Say yes! You’ll meet plenty of new people who think you’re completely mad for doing what you’re doing – but who will invite you for dinner anyway. Roll with it, but remember that just because you’re travelling cheap, doesn’t mean you can forget your manners.
2. Bring Wheels;
Few cities in Europe are not cycling friendly. And though the public transport is efficient and well-priced in most cities, it will sadly still take a solid chunk out of your budget. Bringing your own bike is a great idea and making sure you’re signed up for the CityBike schemes in each city a bare minimum necessity.
Every city you visit, you can hop straight off the train, unfold and cycle (with the help of screenshots taken on your phone of maps from when you last found WIFI) to your host – so quick and easy, and you’re sightseeing en-route. No messing about with metro maps, or lining up to buy tickets.
Aside from saving time, having a bike is also a money saver in it’s own right. Think of the days cycling around Vienna, Berlin or Copenhagen and the amount of money that could be spent either hiring a bike OR money-gobbling public transport around, without even getting to see the city on your journey. Day cards in Europe are a minimum of €5 – a whopping THIRD of the fifteenaday budget.
Any bike is good; Bromptons are best. Not commonly associated with budgets due to their purchase price, I’d still say that my Brompton’s been the best value addition to this trip thus far.
3. The Where and When
Prior to departure, consider the where and when of your trip. Traditional budget tips say that travelling in the off-season is friendlier to the wallet as accommodation is cheaper than at peak season. With fifteenadaying, it’s less relevant because you’re never going to be able to pay for the accommodation anyway.
With accommodation out of the way, you may want to think about the weather! You’ll inevitably spend more in cold weather as you need food and coffee to warm up, and after a while you need to get inside and attractions often cost money. So, think about the peak period after all!
I learned the hard way that the where is equally as important as when: fifteenadaying in the more expensive countries can be exceptionally tough work. In testament to the challenge of Switzerland, the clerk at the Tourist Info Center looked concerned when she misheard me that I was travelling on €50….
4. Food, glorious, Food…
The lion’s share of your fifteenaday budget goes on food. Make friends to keep costs down, as sharing a meal OR splitting a market-bought picnic is always cheaper with higher numbers, and offers more variety. Bananas and street food are your friends.
You should also brush up the art of the shared €3 supermarket meal: pasta and pesto, veggie noodles or baked potatoes are goodies. Consider taking a few condiments like olive oil, peanut butter and a stirfry seasoning should help you keep your taste-buds happy.
Also consider that you should eat as healthily as possible, in the more expensive countries you will only be able to afford bread and heavy meals and after a few days you’ll feel a bit rough: stock up on veggies when you can.
5. Get Informed
Locals and travellers are a great source of information about what is free, and nearly free, in each city. Museums might be free on one day a week, there might be free tours of a city or restaurants that have half price specials at certain times of the day – ask your friends who have been before, the people you are staying with and other travellers you meet.
Tourist offices are also a great source of information and are also often located at train stations if you’re travelling on an InterRail pass: the very least they’ll be able to do is give you a map and show you the best walking routes around the city sights: walking is always free!
Now, go forth and conquer!
Take your map, your new-found knowledge, you banana and your bike and hit the road.
With fifteenadaying, I would always recommend having a little pot of extra money for those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that pop up.