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Already In Europe? Here’s How You Can Travel To 12 Countries With Just S$5,000

5 min read

What is the cheapest way to see Europe?

plane flying sunset
Source: Giphy

For many, going to Europe is a long-standing item on their bucket list.

Yet, with high costs and a hefty plane ticket price to boot, going to Europe remains a far-fetched dream to many.

That was how I felt before going to Europe myself a year ago.

But fast forward one year and 12 countries later, I realised that with the right budget and a little planning, it is possible to travel to Europe at a relatively affordable price!

Here’s a breakdown of my budget, as well as some useful hacks you can use while travelling around Europe.

TL;DR: Here’s How You Can Travel To 12 Countries With Just S$5,000

travel europe budget

#TravelHacks For A Budget Trip To Europe:

  1. Skip overrated locations and popular cities
  2. Explore Eastern Europe
  3. Go solo
  4. Look for student-run eateries and bring your student card for discounts!
  5. Stay with locals if possible, if not, hostels!
  6. Look for cheap transport and accommodation alternatives

A Breakdown Of My Expenses

Of course, not everyone’s travelling style is the same. And how your budget works out really depends on the different situations you’re in.

Travelling around with your family? You will probably need to cater more for bigger, safer transportation.

Going with a “high maintenance” friend? You might need to set aside additional expenses for better accommodation.

travel high maintenance friend
Source: Giphy

Before delving into my expenses, here’s a bit of context as to how I managed to pull this off:

  • I travelled to these countries while on my exchange programme in Berlin, which means that
    • I had to travel as and when my school’s schedule allowed, which explains the short duration spent in each country
    • Not all of these places are travelled to consecutively (one after another), and
    • I was already in Europe and was travelling to and from Berlin, Germany

Note: For those who want to factor in the plane tickets to and from Singapore to Berlin, simply add S$1,100 to the expenses as that’s what I paid for my return flight.

  • I also have friends scattered across Europe. Some are Singaporeans, some of whom were locals I’ve met. This meant that in certain countries where I’m not in a hostel or an Airbnb, I’m sleeping on their couch (hence $0 for some accommodations)
  • The exchange rate at that time was 1 Euro = S$1.65, so this will be the exchange rate which I will base my currency conversion on

I understand that having connections in a foreign land is a privilege and not many have the luxury of staying in their friends’ homes.

If you do not have friends in a country that you’re visiting, a good alternative is to try couchsurfing. It’s a platform which allows you to meet and interact with locals while having a place to crash after a long day!

CountryTransport
(in Euros)
Accommodation
(in Euros)
Expenses
(in Euros)
Duration Total
Denmark 31.74791434 days253.74
Netherlands350181.71 week216.7
Austria4127202.54 days270.5
Germany32.88501402 days222.88
Paris112.572.6118.055 days303.15
Budapest92.2844.51204 days256.8
London60.927.5161.22 days249.6
Scotland4740161.2 4 days248.2
Italy 154.51725365 days431.5
Poland80+90562053 days215.1
Switzerland6801133 days181
Prague35.7351163 days186.7
TOTAL46 Days3035.87 EUR
TOTAL: 12 Countries |18 CitiesS$5,009
(Exchange Rate: 1 EUR = S$1.65)

*Transportation costs refer to buses, trains, and flights that bring you from city to city. Regular transport costs accounted for within the city is covered under ‘Expenses’ 

With an S$5,000 budget spread over 12 countries, this means a budget of S$416.70 a country, including transport, accommodation, food and expenses. This amount varies across countries depending on the duration of stay, cost of living in that country, etc.

Tips And Tricks When Travelling Europe With A Budget

1. Skip ‘Overrated’ And Popular Cities

Pictured above: Me in Paris, in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral

On hindsight, if I were to do this all over again, I would choose to skip cities such as Copenhagen, Paris, and London, which racks up a relatively huge portion of my budget.

Pictured above: My 25 Euro meal in Paris

My expenses for a mere two days in London racked up to 161.2 Euros (~S$265.98) largely due to high transportation costs.

Eating out in Paris is pretty expensive too as it costs an average of 25 Euros (~S$40) a meal. For someone who’s a cheapo like me, S$40 a meal is quite a stretch – even on a holiday.

I tried keeping to my budget by walking a lot instead of taking local transportation. And I saved on accommodation by staying in shared hostels.

2. Explore Eastern Europe

krakow poland
Pictured above: Me in Krakow, Poland

There is a common misconception that Eastern Europe is unsafe and dangerous, which is probably why this part of the world is relatively unexplored by the common tourist.

Having been to these countries myself, I would like to emphasise that this is far from the truth.

Countries in Eastern Europe like Hungary and Poland are not only safe and clean. They are also appealing in more ways than one. Plus they only cost a fraction of what you would spend in big cities like London, Paris or Rome.

3. Going Solo May Save You More $$$

switzerland alps travel
Pictured above: Me in the Alps in Switzerland

It’s nice travelling with friends, but looking at it economically, you will save a lot more when you choose to travel alone!

Personally, I loved travelling alone and settling on my own transport and accommodation before arranging to meet my friends who are going to the same city!

While it is true that splitting the costs of accommodation for a huge Airbnb may also be economical, it’s easier to control your expenses when travelling solo as compared to travelling with people with different spending habits.

Travelling with people entails compromises, and for some, that may mean opting for more expensive accommodation that is beyond your initial budget or a travel itinerary that’s filled with shopping trips – which might not be what you’re willing to spend on.

So you have to factor those into consideration when budgeting, and say no for things that you are not willing to spend on!

4. Look For Student-Run Eateries And Remember To Bring Your Student Card For Discounts!

paris food boat
Pictured above: My meal on a boat at a student-run restaurant in Paris.

Europe is a friendly destination for travelling students.

More often than not, you will get discounts and student prices for entry to museums, palaces, castles and certain touristy spots. So do remember to bring your NRIC or passport, as well as your student card to enjoy these perks!

For places where eating out is expensive, you can keep a lookout for student-run restaurants. Some of these places serve quality, local food at a fraction of the price.

A great example of this was my last meal in Paris which was at a student-run restaurant on a boat (pictured above). Unlike the usual 20 to 25 Euros you’d have to spend on a meal, this lunch was only 3 Euros. And it even came with a nice ambience and view!

Also, always stand at the bar in cafes. Especially in places like Italy where cafes have additional charges for sitting down. This is common knowledge amongst locals, so the disclaimer is not put on the menu.

If you’re looking for a quick coffee or breakfast, stand at the bar to avoid paying for these unnecessary costs.

5. Stay With Locals. If Not, Hostels Are Great Alternatives.

Pictured above: With my international friends in Berlin.

There’s no better way to get to know a city other than interacting with locals who would know the city inside out! What’s more, by living with locals through couch surfing or staying in a hostel with other travellers, you get to go on very different adventures and form different perspectives with people of different cultural backdrops.

graz austria meal travel
Pictured above: A hearty meal with a local family in Graz

My fondest memories from my travels include climbing the Alps with my Swedish friend, Jasmine. And cycling through the snow in Austria, back to my friend’s house in Graz, where his family cooked a hearty meal of zucchini soup, bread, and the best apricot cake.

Cheap Accommodation Options In Europe

The secret to an affordable trip is to find cheap and good accommodation.

While you can easily get a room via Airbnb or Booking.com, here are other unique alternatives which you can try:

AccomodationsFree? DescriptionWebsite
Couch Surfing YesCouchsurfing is real popular in Europe, and it gets you free stay in a local's couch, depending on the availability. www.couchsurfing.com/
Home Stay NoOther than AirBnb, Home stay is another option where you can stay in a local host's home at wallet friendly prices! www.homestay.com/
WWOOFYesIf you're planning on travelling to the countryside, why not work in a farm to earn your keep? Sign up with WWOOF and work 4-6 hours in a farm in exchange for a full day’s food and accommodation.https://wwoofinternational.org/

Cheap Transport Options To Consider When In Europe

Getting around Europe isn’t expensive, here are some cheap options to get from country to country for your consideration:

Transportation Type Services Available Description
Flights EasyJet One of the cheapest ways to travel long-distance in Europe is by budget airline, where taking a flight may be cheaper than a cross-border train ride. However, Ryan Air is very strict about baggage limits or forgetting to print out your boarding pass, so make sure that you follow their rules strictly to avoid expensive fines and charges.
RyanAir
Buses FlixBus One way to save time and money is to take an overnight bus from location to location. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually comfortable to sleep on the bus. FlixBuses are also equipped with toilet, so you don't have to worry about controlling your bladder on a 9-hour bus ride.
Megabus Megabus is a cheap way to get around the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales) as well as to Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam.
Train Eurail Pass If you are looking to travel long distances across Europe, getting a rail pass is your best bet. With a rail pass, your cost per trip will be lower as compared to buying individual rail tickets. These are expensive, so do plan ahead before getting them!
Car Pooling Services Bla Bla CarBla Bla Car works just like Grab or Uber, but better. By keying in your start and end points, Bla Bla Car brings you across borders in Europe, by allowing you to hitch a ride with someone who's going through the same route. If travelling on huge buses or expensive train rides aren't your thing, this will be a relatively cheap way to get around Europe!

Travelling In Europe

At the end of the day, while it is good to be frugal with your money, you have to remember that you are on holiday.

So don’t compromise on having fun, spend on things that make you happy, and remember to stay safe! 🙂

If you’re going on an exchange programme like I did, find out if you have enough travel insurance coverage before you leave!

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