How to Travel Europe Inexpensively31 January 2013
Often the most expensive part of traveling Europe is just getting there. Once you've reached the continent, it's actually extremely easy to get around and quite inexpensive also. I remember being blown away by the cheap price of train tickets and the extensive train routes which can take you anywhere your heart desires. Seriously, as an American, it was so refreshing to be able to travel and not need a car.
Here are some of my tips for getting around Europe for cheap:
"I'm a student"
In Europe, there's a very different attitude about the fiscal abilities of students. In America, the second you turn 18 you are an adult and thus must pay adult prices. However, in Europe, it's not expected for a person to get a job until after they are done with school so it is understood that students don't have much money. Thus, many bus lines and train stations offer a reduced price if you show a student ID. They may also offer a student pass which can be used throughout the year and offers you special discounts on certain dates. In France, I saved 10 euros on every train ticket by traveling during these dates. *Note, some may only accept European student cards so this may not work unless you are enrolled in a European school. Otherwise, anyone under 25 (in France at least) is considered a student.
Know the cheap companies
When traveling by plane, not much outdoes RyanAir. Keep on eye on this site as special deals can change within the day. I once got a round trip flight from France to Norway for only 20 euros. You can't beat that!
When traveling by bus, one of my favorites is Eurolines. Their routes aren't extremely broad but they can be cheap. For traveling the United Kingdom, Megabus is a great choice that offers tickets as low as 1 pound.
Now, I'm not saying you should make friends for the sole purpose of using them for their car. But, if your friend does have a car and happens to be going to Paris, there's no reason you can't ask to join along and split the gas.
Some may find it uncomfortable to get in a car with a stranger in a foreign country but I actually had a great time carpooling in Europe. I met nice people who even took me out to dinner and offered to let me stay at their place instead of paying for a hostel. Carpooling is a great way to meet locals and get to know how they live (which, in my opinion, is one of the best things about traveling). There are plenty of carpooling groups on couchsurfers such as this one or this one where you can see who's offering rides or even ask for a ride. There's also this facebook group which is worth a try. One site that I've had several successes with is Karzoo.
It's very easy to jump on the first bus line deal you see online but take a little time to do research. Some lines will offer you a bus pass for $400 which allows you to get on and off any time at any stations for 3 months. This sounds like a deal for the convenience but in reality, if you do a little googling, it's just as easy to find these bus tickets for a fraction of the price. In fact, I did a trip from France->London->Eastern Germany->Western Germany->Prague->Vienna->Budapest->France for only $200 just by researching bus, train, and airplane tickets on my own.
So, that's my main tips for traveling Europe inexpensively. Do you have any advice of your own?