I’m broke. I’m actually broke. I’m serious. All that money I saved up ($13,000) in one year whilst Teaching English Abroad in China has bit the dust. I’ve motorbiked across and survived torrential storms in Taiwan, got inked by a monk in Thailand, travelled solo in Bangladesh, studied Jiu Jitsu in China, explored the depths of Scotland and Ireland and just completed a 10,000 mile car journey from the UK to Russia in an old banger with four other women on the Mongol Rally! Now that’s where all that money went!
Problem is, I want to drive back to the UK and have jolly good times throughout Europe. How the hell am I going to do that with zero cash? The answer is ‘easily’ and I’m going to show you exactly how to travel Europe for free.
The Truth Is You Don’t Need A Lot Of Money To Travel Europe For Free. I know, I know, some people agree with me and others definitely don’t. This has come up again and again in many a travel article but I’m telling you…there are a ton of ways I could have made my money last way longer. TONS!
I’ll save my mistakes for another post on how I pissed my money away but in all seriousness, I know how to travel Europe for free and I’ve seen many a friend do it. We have absolutely nothing to lose, everything to give and an open and willing mind to see the world by the seat of our pants! I’ve got a ton of awesome tips for you that I’ll be putting to good use over the next 2 months! Here they are!
This is me and my friend Brianna. We’re gonna drive our old banger from Russia throughout Europe, all the way back to the UK! Teacake Travels advocates solo female travel through and through but I am also a big believer in sisterhood! Apart from the deep appreciation you’ll gain for yourself and other women, you’ll also be saving a ton of money!
Me and Brianna are going to be splitting our petrol, mechanical and accommodation costs right down the middle. Win! Don’t have a travel buddy but want one? Tourlina will help you find a female companion. Couchsurfing is also a great way to hook up with like-minded people!
There are admittedly some places I’ve been to and paid for that blew my mind for all the right reasons. The Tower Of London is unmissable if you’re heading to the UK and The Guinness Store in Dublin was on the same level as Disneyland for me. HOWEVER, there are so many experiences in my 7 years of travel that I’ll remember forever and guess what? They were FREE.
There are so many museums in Europe that are free! Visit them. Go on a walking tour. They’re free! Sandemans offer free tours throughout the whole of Europe. Their walking tour in Munich was top notch! Locals and the magical moments of interaction you have with them are free. Hiking! That’s free and it’s my way to get all the fresh air and exercise my body needs. Free. Free. Free.
Sign up for a few travel credit cards, collect the miles and then fly for free! If you can’t get a credit card, watch out for flight deals by signing up to airline mailing lists!
If you don’t want to spend a penny, hitchhike. Me and Brianna will happily pick you up and we’ve organised our car so that there’s room for lovely people just like you. Disclaimer: the car is currently cleaner than the above photo. If you have a little bit of cash instead, Bla Bla Car is an excellent option for cheap ride sharing (me and Brianna will be on there too).
If you love cycling and have time, why not see Europe by bike? Warmshowers is a great community to get involved with that will match cyclists with locals who are offering up some shelter for the night for free. You do have to get your mitts on a bike first though eh?
Do you have a little bit of money? You could get a Rail Pass. Booking in advance will help and I recommend finding the best prices with Omio.
Ride the night trains to save even more!
To travel Europe for free, don’t be shy about asking for help from others. Friends and family love you and care about you. Put your mission out there and explain how broke you actually are…that you need this for your soul to survive. In the future when you are making some bucks, give back to others for good karma.
If there’s ever a time where prices are at their peak in Europe, it’s summer. Everyone wants to come here at this time: accommodation prices are hiked up, places are crowded and the locals are not even in town as they’re on their own holidays. A Backpackers Tale will tell you the same and a whole lot more.
Don’t call people straight from your phone if you’re data roaming. It will cost you an arm and a leg! My friend recently came home from the Mongol Rally with a $500 bill because he kept using his phone. No no no! Use free WiFi and make phone calls with Facetime if you both own an iPhone or use Viberr, Skype and WhatsApp for free messaging.
Locals know what’s up when it comes to how to travel Europe for free. They know where the free events are, where the cheapest supermarket is and where you can go for freebies. Talk to them and gain some essential travel tips for your time in their hometown.
Me and Bri are not eating out. Way too expensive. Cook your own food in hostels and host’s houses. Get your ingredients from the local markets or go behind the back of them and dumpster dive to get the food for absolutely free. Me and Bri go dumpster diving and have eaten very well! No stove? Pack your own container with a knife and utensils to make sandwiches and salads on the go. If you do eat out, ask if you can get a free meal in return for washing the dishes.
You can sleep for completely free by signing up to Couchsurfing. Locals open up their couch to you for the night and in return, it’s thoughtful to bring them a little present from your culture or offer them one of your skills, or part some knowledge. Couchsurfing is a great community and me and Bri use it often! You can also have a whole place to yourself by housesitting. You can check out a full guide to housesitting here.
Have a little bit of money? You can get your first night *almost* free if you sign up to AirBNB with me! If you want to stay in a hostel (I recommend Hostelworld), opt for the biggest rooms to get the cheapest rate.
Me and Bri are also camping a lot to travel Europe for free! Cities are expensive and finding a quiet camping spot is much easier in the countryside! Plus, camping is totally rad!
WWOOF is all about getting stuck in on the farm. You can stay from one week to a couple of years, depending on what the host requests. There are opportunities for everyone out there. Go take a look and get connected to nature at the same time!
Workaway and Help Exchange are also about helping someone out who needs an extra bit of elbow grease. Locations are varied from working in schools, building houses in communities, looking after kids in a family home to being on a farm.
HF Holidays are specifically in Europe and they are one of Europe’s most popular walking holiday operators, searching for volunteers like you to guide their walks. You’ll get fed, watered and a place to sleep in return for accompanying the groups you guide. Not bad for those of you who love hiking!
Website design, busking, hairdressing, social media mastery, massage, bar tending. You must have something up your sleeve; some talent or skill that you can get money directly from or barter with. Use it with all your might to travel Europe for free! I funded my first 5 years of travel purely from teaching English abroad and I’m not pitching to companies to explore Europe for free in return for publicity on this blog.
I’m currently writing this from the cheapest place in Europe: Kiev in Ukraine! Other places which are currently for you and me are Krakow in Poland and Budapest in Hungary. Check out the complete list of cheap countries for 2016 right here!
Essentially, planning ahead will save you the most money and allow you to travel Europe for free. Finding couchsurfing hosts, volunteer opportunities and setting up a Go Fund Me account beforehand will save you some stress and dough. I equally understand if you just go with the flow like me and Brianna though!
Use a card that does not charge you fees for taking money out abroad. I’ve been using Curve for the last 6 months and I love it!