Europe is one of the most expensive regions in the world which means you have to pay extra close attention to your budget. But, luckily for travelers, Europe is also the easiest region to get around since the countries are so close together. Plus, the Schengen agreement allows travelers to move freely between 26 European countries without going through border control. All of this makes it cheaper to travel from country to country. Below I’ve provided a list of some of the cheapest transportation options for travelers on a budget in Europe.
Table of Contents
- BlaBla Car
- Budget Airlines
Flixbus travels to 28 countries around Europe and over 2,000 different cities! All the buses are comfortable, have charging outlets for your electronics, and come equipped with Wi-Fi. You can go between cities in one country for as little as €6 and between countries for as little as €10! For example, I got a round-trip ticket from Bologna, Italy to Zurich, Switzerland for €25! Check out my one-way ticket back – only €10:
Better yet, they have an easy-to-use app you can download to book your trip. Simply log in to the app type in your departure location, destination, date of departure, and choose between the various time options. The app is great because it provides you with a downloadable ticket to show the bus driver when you get onboard, so no need to worry about printing tickets because all your information is stored in one place. Here is an example of what your itinerary looks like in the app:
TIP: Make sure you give yourself ample time to get to the pick-up point before departure. Buses always arrive on-time and more importantly they always leave on-time. I missed a few buses because I didn’t allocate enough time to get to the pick-up point. Pick-up locations for Flixbus are usually located at the city’s central bus station. However, pick-up locations can be random if they are not in major cities, so plan your route there at least a few hours ahead of time.
If you decide to choose the bus as your mode of transportation, it is important to understand that it is most likely the slowest option. This isn’t a problem for those who travel at a slower pace or have a more flexible itinerary. You can usually book your ticket a day before or sometimes even hours before you want to leave. As a solo traveler who had little to no plans booked in advanced, I found Flixbus to be a great option and one that I used the most during my travels throughout Europe.
All the European countries have a great interconnected rail system that is well-kept and efficient. Taking the train between countries is one of the best ways to see the beauty of each country. Some of the best scenery I’ve seen was through the window of a rail car.
The Eurail pass is a unique offering that represents multiple train tickets for passengers to use over an extended period of time. The best part is that it allows greater flexibility than ordering separate train tickets. However, you can also book reservations if you want a more structured itinerary. Eurail pass is good for those who may have a little bit more money to spend and have a shorter time frame for their trip. The Eurail website has various passes to choose from. The website can help you choose which is most suitable for your trip based on what countries you’d like it to visit and how many days/weeks/months you will be traveling.
The Eurail rail pass can only be used by non-European citizens (European citizens can only use the interrail pass). This pass normally goes by “travel day.” One travel day constitutes a 24 hour period. Travelers can hop on and off trains using their rail pass as much as they’d like within their pass parameters. Long or short trips – it doesn’t matter.
If you are under the age of 27 you can get a youth Eurail pass. I recommend buying the youth pass if you qualify because you get a 20% discount on all available passes. The most common youth pass costs €740 for 15 travel days within a 2-month span.
If you are over 27, you can look into the saver pass which gives you a 15% discount on all passes. But, this is not an option for solo travelers. It is only available to groups of two or more people.
While the rail pass acts as a paid ticket for the train, keep in mind that high-speed trains and overnight trains require reservations which will cost you an extra fee. You can avoid these fees by taking local trains, but these trains are usually slower and require switching between cities, especially if you are traveling across countries. While reservation fees vary, the average price for the most expensive trains is €20.
TIP: Take into consideration what time of year you will be traveling. In the off-season (Fall and Winter) you won’t need to worry much about booking a reservation. However, during the high season (Summer) trains will be much busier since most of Europe is on vacation.
BlaBla Car is for the more adventurous travelers. BlaBla Car is similar to Uber but for long distances. It is essentially organized hitchhiking. Similar to Flixbus, you can download an app, and input your departure location and destination, then find people in the area who are also driving to your destination. Once you find a driver that has a reasonable price and that you’d like to tag along with, you can message them and decide on a meeting point. This is the cheapest option on this list since you are only paying to split gas and tolls.
Personally, BlaBla Car is one of my favorite ways to get around Europe as a solo traveler because you meet so many new people, mostly locals. It’s called BlaBla Car for a reason. Most of the time you’re chatting away learning new things about the country you are traveling in and making new friends.
I used BlaBla Car in Italy and the ending up stopping at a dairy farm, one of the country’s most famous places for making fresh mozzarella cheese. Of course, it was delicious. I ended up buying a kilo’s worth of cheese and eating for the rest of the week. This is the beauty of BlaBla car. I would have never gone to a dairy farm in a small town in southern Italy taking the road most traveled.
I would have never gone to a dairy farm in small town in southern Italy taking the road most traveled.
Flying on budget airlines is the quickest way to get to your destination without breaking the bank, and they are surprisingly cheap when flying within Europe. In fact, they can sometimes be cheaper than a train ticket. This is the best option for those who have a set itinerary and are crunched for time. It is always wise to book your flights within Europe a few weeks in advance. While you can book a week, or even days out, the number of seats available will be limited and much more expensive.
Unlike the United States, Europe has a larger selection of airlines to choose from which creates more competition and drives ticket costs down. RyanAir, Wizz Air, WOW Air, and EasyJet are just a few low budget airlines that get you where you need to go at a great price. Check out these options for EasyJet. There are 109 flight options departing from London–all under $50!
If you want to check out all the low budget airline options simultaneously, go to Skyscanner. They provide the most comprehensive selection of airlines in that region. You can also set a price limit to narrow down your options and find the cheapest flight available.
TIP: Pack light. They tend to nickel and dime you on budget airlines. Taxes and fees usually cost as much as the ticket itself. If you check a bag, you are looking at an additional $50.
Find out some other ways to save money while traveling in Europe here!