How to Travel on a Budget (Europe Edition)
Post by Florenza Phung, Class of 2014
Budapest (Left), Barcelona (Center), Cinque Terre: Vernazza (Right)
Last semester, I studied abroad at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. During my time abroad, I traveled around Italy to cities such as Rome, Florence, Venice, Sicily (Catania & Palermo), Bologna, and Cinque Terre. I also visited Hungary, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Malta, the Czech Republic, and Germany. Unfortunately, I had “depreciating income”. I saved a lot of money prior to studying abroad, but I knew I had to be smart about budgeting in order to make it last. Although I wanted to spend the least amount of money possible, I also did not want to miss out on opportunities such as trying all of the pasta in Italy or seeing London from the top of the London Eye. These tips helped me monetarily survive studying abroad in Europe and allowed me to travel as much as possible. For those who are planning to study abroad, I hope these tips will help you too.
- www.skyscanner.com: This site will honestly be your best friend. It is the equivalent to Kayak but is designed for those traveling around Europe. SkyScanner can help you find the best prices between airlines. If you have the travel bug, there is also the option of inputting your own dates and seeing which cities are the cheapest to fly to. I have purchased round trip tickets to London from Milan for €50 and one way tickets to Budapest from Milan for €20.
- Ryanair: Lucky for me, Bergamo was an airport close to Milan and many Ryanair flights flew out this airport. Shuttle buses were offered for €5 from Milan’s city center to Bergamo. Ryanair offers many flights for a low cost and for those blessed with a nearby airport with Ryanair flights, definitely take advantage of it. Although Ryanair does not have the perks that many other airlines have such as free food or reclining chairs, the cheap costs are definitely worth it. Be aware though, Ryanair charges customers with overweight or additional luggage. Pack lightly to avoid the fees.
- Grocery Stores: Always stay hydrated while traveling. However sometimes it is hard to cough up that $2 for a water bottle. While traveling, always try to find a grocery store to stock up on food and water.
- www.hostelworld.com: Hostels were one of my favorite parts about traveling. I met a lot of incredible people throughout my travels at hostels. Hostels can cost about €15 a night, and although they aren’t the cleanest or most comfortable, they are certainly worth the price and the stories from other travelers are priceless.
- Public transportation: Do not be afraid of the metro line or bus system. Print out the metro maps to the different cities you are visiting. Taxis can be costly and dangerous in certain cities (for example, we were advised to be careful when taking taxis in Budapest). However, always be aware of pick pocketing on public transportation. Always have your purse or backpack in front of you. To be extra cautious, put a lock on your belongings.
- Book ahead of time: For many trains, it is cheaper to book your ticket in advance. For example, a one-way train ticket booked ahead of time on http://www.trenitalia.com/ from Milan to Florence can be €19 while last minute tickets can be up to €60.
- Avoid oversea credit card charges: While living in Milan, I had a Bank of America debit card. It was free to withdraw money at their sister bank, which was BNL in Italy and Barclays in London. Withdrawing money at an ATM is cheaper than exchanging money at a kiosk. Unlike the kiosk, the bank will give you the real exchange rate.