Travelling to 25 countries for less than £500 sounds impossible… and I can see you trying to figure this out:
‘Where did they start from, and visit on their travels? Flights can’t be that cheap. What continent was this even on?! Does this include accommodation? Hmm, perhaps they made a mistake.’
Believe it or not, we actually booked all the transport for a 10 week Eurotrip for less than £500.
I assure you, it’s a lot more simple than you think, and you could do this too!
About Our Eurotrip
In January, we took a short trip around Scotland and Ireland. We flew with two budget airlines, carrying small backpacks that qualified us for hand luggage only.
This sparked our interest, and we began wondering how much it would cost to do another short trip to somewhere else in Europe. As we looked, we were constantly shocked at how cheap we could travel from one place to another.
Most of the flights we wanted to book were with Ryanair and Wizz Air, both of which are known for their simplicity, lack of customer service, little space and basic comforts. We didn’t really care though, as most flights were less than 3 hours.
We hit the 10 country mark and the total was still under £200, so we decided to keep going and make a proper EuroTrip out of it. As we ventured further into Eastern Europe, flights were only returning to the places we would’ve already hypothetically booked, and so we turned to buses and trains instead. This also meant we wouldn’t be restricted with our luggage size, and meant we could bring food and drink without any issues.
We got a bit carried away and ended up going further and further away from home. Our 23rd country would be Montenegro, and we decided that would be far enough for now, and spent a bit more to make our way back to the UK.
In the end, we booked flights, buses or trains to each of these cities (not in this order though):
Barcelona – Berlin – Bratislava – Brussels – Budapest – Copenhagen – Dubrovnik – Haarlem – Kiev – Krakow – Ljubljana – London – Milan – Mostar – Oslo – Paris – Plovdiv – Porto – Riga – Rome – Sofia – Split – Stockholm – Tallinn – Tivat – Venice – Vienna – Vilnius – Warsaw
How much did it cost: £486.35 each.
What Did We Do Different, That Enabled Us To Book So Much For So Little?
I’m glad you asked.
- There Wasn’t A Planned ‘Route’
Ahh, the beauty of not having a plan. Sometimes, the thought of that makes me very anxious, but it worked in our favour for this trip.
We knew we were going on a Eurotrip, but weren’t insistent on visiting Spain first, followed directly by France, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, etc., because they shared borders. I mean, sure that makes sense, but planning an exact route would have made the trip more expensive.
We started by making a list of things we knew:
– Which countries we definitely wanted to go to
– Other countries we were interested in
– How long we could travel for
Next, we hopped on to Skyscanner and had a browse:
Date: One month ahead.
Anticipation built as the blue loading symbol rotated, the website finding the best prices possible. We were presented with a list of countries we could visit, most of which were under £25 per person, for a one-way flight.
Barcelona caught our eye, as the flight was only £24 per person from London. Once the hypothetical date was selected, we looked at where we could fly next, giving ourselves 4 days to explore the city. From Barcelona, we could travel to Berlin on the next hypothetical date for only £19 per person…
We started carefully jotting down all the info into an excel spreadsheet, so we could find the exact same flights again as we continued searching.
From there, we let the databases determine the cheapest route for us. By selecting the ‘everywhere’ button as the destination, we could look at multiple cities and compare prices, avoiding places we had already selected in favour of new locations.
I must admit, we got a bit carried away. The further into Europe we ventured, the cheaper the flights became; some as low as £5. But, ultimately, the ‘everywhere’ feature is the real secret as to how we booked so much for so little.
- Transportation Databases Compare It All For You
I know people who only fly with the same airline, regardless of their destination or the time of year. Sometimes it’s for ‘points’ but mostly I find people stick to what they know because it’s familiar, comfortable even. This is the same for buses, coaches and trains.
If you want to travel for less, you’re going to have to shake things up a bit!
There are plenty of transportation databases that will compile a list of what you’re looking for, and compare prices for you.
For example, you hop on Skyscanner and search for a flight from London to Amsterdam on Friday 31st May, for one passenger. BOOM. On one page, you have a complete list every airline and flight flying from London to Amsterdam on that exact date, and you can change their order to be listed by cheapest price, departure time or most expensive flight.
You can be as specific or vague as you’d like, but it might mean using new companies and trying something new for the best price.
For our Eurotrip, we used the following:
** Note, Omio can compare more than just trains, also including buses and flights.
This may vary depending on where you are travelling to/in. Feel free to check out the websites we’ve recommended to get yourself started, but don’t be discouraged if they don’t work for you; there are others that are more country-specific, you’ll just have to look for them.
- Flexible Dates And Looking Ahead
I totally get that flexibility doesn’t work for everyone; You might only have two weeks off work for a holiday, or perhaps it’s the exact opposite because you just quit your job and hope to backpack for a year. Every person and their situation is different.
Fortunately for us, we had all the time in the world; no jobs and no place to be, having saved a lot and quit work for a new adventure.
When we sat down and started looking at flights, we put the first departure date exactly 6 weeks ahead. This already made flight prices cheaper than if we looked at leaving the end of that week. Of course, we didn’t need to start the trip in 6 weeks, it could have been 6 months.
Although a last-minute getaway sounds perfect, you can save more by planning and looking earlier.
- Be A Basic Flyer And Only Take Carry-On Bags
Imagine not having a suitcase or rucksack while travelling, but instead, a small backpack the size of a bookbag. Now imagine that for a 10-week trip. Crazy, right?
Most international flights include one checked bag. Unfortunately, on a budget airline in Europe, your checked baggage is almost never included in the price of the flight. Carry-on luggage is included, but bear in mind that these budget airlines will fine you for being over their weight or size limitations.
Both Ryanair and Wizz Air hand luggage allowance is 40cm x 20cm x 25cm. They do give you the opportunity to pay and upgrade to ‘Priority’, where your carry on size increases to 55 x 40 x 20cm, and you could also bring a second small bag on board. While this sounds more appealing than £20+ for checked luggage, ‘Priority’ passes are £10 per flight, and it will add up quickly if you’re doing a long trip with many flights.
If you can fit everything into a small bookbag, do it.
In addition to avoiding luggage costs, skip the extra add-ons and ‘comforts’ such as selecting seats and purchasing in-flight meals. It’s not worth the cost!
- We Travelled In ‘Off -Season’
Although summer is a lovely time to travel and backpack Europe, there are a few things you should consider:
— Everyone else is also travelling Europe at this time. Expect crowds everywhere you go.
— Summer season means increased prices. You’re paying more money for the same accommodation, tours, transportation and food, just because of the time of year.
— The weather is usually a lot warmer in summer. This is great for some people, but the heat can become unbearable when you’re walking around a clammy city full of people, especially if your accommodation or transport doesn’t have A/C.
Off-season doesn’t necessarily mean winter, but you’ll find there are more people travelling around summer and Christmas holidays. Spring, autumn and winter can be just as beautiful, with a fraction of the people and costs.
Obviously, you’ve still got food, accommodation and excursions to pay for, but if you’re happy staying in hostels, that will be pretty cheap too. To save some pennies, you’ve got to be able to make sacrifices.
If you’re the type of person who refuses to travel anywhere without 5 pairs of shoes, your hairdryer and straighteners and a full-size luggage case, this probably isn’t for you. But you may be surprised how little you actually need. Check out what I had in my backpack here!
At the end of the day, you’re going to get what you’ve paid for. Has anyone else managed to find a bargain trip? Tell us how in the comments.