So, you heard me right ! 18 days trip to Europe with all expenses, I did it all under INR 100,000 .
Whenever someone even talks about Europe Trip or even to think about it. I am sure, there is a little hesitation with many travellers who are mostly on budget. Mind does all sorts of calculation as to the mounting expenses related to the trip such as airfares, stay/ food and most importantly visa glitch. Out in this article, I would like to give a brief outline on how I went about carefully planning my entire trip which I undertook as a SOLO traveler.
Ever since I started travelling, one of my ardent wish was to see this pretty continent on a budget. But how?
So, this year I decided to finally tick off this place off my bucket list, right after I came back from my Thailand Backpacking trip in May.
Let me outline some of the points which I chalked down before I started planning my Europe Trip:
Pick and choose countries you want to visit, and mostly keeping in mind that if required you can travel internally by road easily, not having to waste many hours commuting within cities out of your limited time. Hence, I chose the countries in Central Europe and thereafter, went up to Eastern Europe.
My route was Delhi —> Vienna (Austria) —>Budapest (Hungary) —>Prague (Czech Republic) —>Krakow (Poland)—>Warsaw (Poland) —>Vilnius (Lithuania) —>Return via Istanbul(Turkey) —>Delhi
One of the major concerns or the major chunk of our budget, goes into booking the main sector flights to and fro from India . I use some of the flight app tracker like Skyscanner, Google flights, Kayak, Momondo and sometimes I go into the direct sites to compare the fares to keep a watch on the flight rates well ahead of three months to get the best lowest rates/ connection. Please note that sometimes it is easy to find a cheaper connection from major cities like Delhi or Mumbai than other cities as all the major international flights touch down there. So, incase if you are like me staying in any other cities other than these two .
I would suggest to put the source as Delhi, Mumbai or sometimes Chennai to get a much better and cheaper connection to your desired destination. And later on, you may buy the domestic connection separately. It works out much cheaper, trust me! For e.g. I chose a multi city airfare deal through Turkish Airlines ex Delhi and later bought my domestic travel from Kolkata which saved me at-least 8-9 thousand rupees. And lastly, never choose a direct flight but instead go for one stop flights connection (works out cheaper). So, here was my connection Del-Vienna and return Vilnius-Del with a stopover and a free day in Istanbul ,Turkey. Kol-Del-Kol costed me about INR 5k . So a total of INR 45k I spent on the flights.
Internal travel within Europe
Depending on the number of countries you choose, it is often economical to buy EuroRail Pass, again depending on the number of days you travel and places you want to go. You can check the passes rates here . This is however, often feasible when you are travelling mostly in Central and Western part of Europe. But for me, I was mostly travelling in Eastern part of Europe. Hence, much CHEAPER way was to check options through www.goeuro.com or www.rome2rio.com , which shows the best and cheapest options for buses, flights or trains. So, depending on the choice and feasibility of choosing the best connection, you can choose any mode of transport.
My internal travels were mostly by flights (through low cost European carrier Ryanair or Wizz Air) and sometimes through bus and trains as well. Let me tell you, if you can manage your carry on luggage strictly under 10 kgs , then you can fly as cheap as 20 USD to different countries to save time. Although, if not then, going for bus (Flixbus or Rejioget) is the next best but definitely the cheapest option while travelling within Europe. My total internal travel cost including commuting to five countries through 3 flights, 1 bus and 1 train travel came upto a total of INR 5780 .
For Europe, some of 26 countries are covered under Schengen Visa scheme. First, please be very clear about your plan and the number of countries you intend to visit , if they are covered under schengen scheme or not? It is now easily possible to apply through the VFS centres in your respective city. Still having doubts, don’t!
It is generally advisable to apply for a visa about two to three months earlier to avoid last minute tension. My Schengen Visa costed me INR 6659/- without any agent and Turkey E-Visa was for INR 3300/-.
When travelling to Europe , it is mandatory to get a well covered travel insurance firstly as a visa mandate and secondly for our own medical assurance. It is recommended to always buy an insurance which covers extra days than the actual number of days . I purchased my insurance carefully through Reliance for about INR 1100 which covered 21 days in Europe including Turkey.
Ok, now thats one part which can either shoot up your expenses or cut down by half . I would assume here, that we are talking about how to do a budget travel may be super budget.
So, if travelling alone or on a budget, the best way is to stay in hostels which can be booked through sites booking.com , hostelworld.com or Agoda. Mostly, the hostel dorm bed in this part of Europe costs anywhere from 800 INR upto 1800 INR . You can also check out Air Bnb’s if you are in a group or even two people.
Another way to avail free stay is through a travel community called Couchsurfing. It allows you to request the host to let you stay for free. And depending on your request, you can stay for free at the host’s place. Of course, it is recommended to return the favour by lending your helping hand in any way possible or a nice way of gifting is also appreciated.It is actually an excellent platform for a immersive cultural exchange and to get to see any place through an eyes of a local.
Since, I have been an active host on Couchsurfing for some time now. Hence, based on my good references, I got to stay for free at most of the places while in Europe which also saved quite a few bucks. So honestly, except for one city where I stayed in a hostel , rest all was through either through Couchsurfing or with friends. Overall , I might have spent INR 2000 on my stay .
Again like I said , its possible for you guys too. Just, built up a network of friends globally!!
I will definitely write a detailed post on my experience of Couchsurfing later.
No! No need to stuff your bags with maggi packets, or ready made soups or may be Indian snacks just because you want to keep your budget low in Europe. Here’s what it is, I guess all European big cities have supermarkets , grocery shops to buy your staples from. So, as soon you to hit a city, easiest is to hop in to that next big supermarket and stock up your supplies with local munchies, snacks and groceries. Most of the hostels and bnbs have also got the facility to cook by yourself. Oh, and if you have a lucky deal ,you can always stuff yourself with that free breakfast, so that you are full for a long time (tips for bhukkads like me :D) . When you are on your own in any new city of Europe, it also gives you an opportunity to taste the local cuisine. I would definitely suggest , to do the research and find out whats best to eat and try out in that particular city. In my 18 days , not a single time I went for fast food chains like Mc Donald or KFC for that matter .
Food in western Europe may foot you a bill upto 20-25 Euro’s when eating from street food joint or supermarket but excluding drinks of course. I parked a budget of 15-20 euros a day for my food. So, I spent roughly about INR 1000-1100 on an average for three meals excluding alcohol which was a mix of cooking at times at my host place or eating from a restaurant or of course at times I splurge my self by eating in a fancy restaurant once out of recommendation. They say to eat like a LOCAL!! Hence, always ask the locals for the must try food, as Europe is so much more than just Cheesy fries, Potato Bakes or Steaks. Infact, I got to know so much history and cultural revolution while I tasted some of the famous dishes like Schnitzel in Austria , Goulash in Hungary or Pierogis in Poland.
I went to one of the highest consumption of beer places in the world. Oh, did you know Prague happens to be the highest beer gulping nation in the world? So, if you are in places like Budapest or Prague or Poland . You ought to try their famous crafted beer. Hungary is also famous for its home grown wine (Tokaj wine) and many other local drinks such as Palinka or Unicum.
When in Poland, they say do as Polish does. Drink VODKA !! So, I did all that too.. Thanks to some amazing local host I stayed with , who invited me to experience some of the finest and unique alcohol experience (super lethal to super amazing stuff) . Beer is super cheap when bought from super market which can cost you as less as 1 Euro (INR 85) and can go upto 3-5 Euros ( INR 400 APPROX) . Oh, yes good news for wine lovers . A bottle of cheapest wine can cost you as low as 8-9 Euros (we don’t expect that in India , right!) .
If you are a teetotaller, boom! you can save up on this part . But, if you are not , you can STILL save up, by simply buying your stock from any supermarket. Easy! This part I really leave it up to you to decide how much you wanna park your budget for it. I was mostly treated by my host and friends on this .
Internal Transport Options within Cities
For all the cities I visited , I bought a City Transport Pass depending on my duration of stay and frequency of commute. The transport passes are available in most of the cities of Europe in variation of 24/48/72 hrs or sometimes even for month. It is priced anywhere from 10 Euros to 21 Euros . I paid about 14 Euros for two days in each city which allowed me to travel in any city local buses/ trams / trains and sometimes it is even valid for water-rides. For most travellers like me who have a trouble understanding the local language, which is very eminent in Eastern European countries, it becomes quite difficult to understand the routes/ station names or direction and you end up making mistakes going into wrong direction instead. For such situation and to avoid unnecessary spending on Ubers or Taxi’s, it is better to commute through public mass transit system by using city transport card.
I visited 6 cities in 5 countries and spent roughly about INR 700-1200 for a 24-48 hours pass in each city. Also, hiring a bike is also a next best and cheap option to see the beautiful city and its architectural wonder. But, do you know , what’s even better? WALKING! yeah, all cities are pretty small as compared to our Indian cities. Hence, as per me walking is definitely the best way to soak into the life of that particular place. Oh, that way you can burn those extra calories too . 😛
Each European cities, all the famous ones do have a free city walking tours . Where they give you an idea about the culture and history about the place. Who are they? Many students from the local university volunteers to provide free walking tours to the International travellers who wants to immerse in the culture and history of that particular country. After all Europe is rich in history. While we can avail this 2.5 hours city tours for free. But, as a goodwill gesture, it is recommended to pay a nominal tip to your tour guide in the end.
Apart from these free tours, if you have more time then you may sign up for other tours they offer on charge basis . Generally varies from 20-50 Euros per tours. But, each are definitely worth it!! I had parked about 10 Euros per day on an average for sightseeing.
Tips on using card or cash
I went at a time when the Euro prices went soaring upto INR 85 per euros and became quite expensive per say. And, I realised that the countries I was to visit, except for two cities (Vienna and Vilnius) all other countries had different currencies. Therefore, every time I shunted from one country to another , I had to change currency. In order to save on the conversion charges every time, I stuck to cash only. Although one can always carry Forex travel card if you are carrying big amount of currency. In Eastern Europe, it is generally recommended to carry cash as they mostly accept that. However, Euros can always be exchanged at airports (please don’t do that unless you are penniless) or better to do it from any banks.
SIM card to stay connected
I would highly recommend to keep a SIM card or a mobile connectivity handy because we often need to refer to the Google Maps for directions at odd places while being on our own or for simple tickets booking etc. One of the best ways is to buy a SIM card which offers an unlimited packages at affordable prices for data/calls on region basis. Here is a link below for one’s ready reference.
It is definitely recommended to buy a SIM card which can be used all over Europe to stay connected. Wifi is seldom available in cafe’s or outside, hence, in order to stay connected and most importantly to keep your information on the directions handy, you need to keep your internet running always. I bought a sim card with 4 gb usage with a 30 day validity for 10 Euros (850 INR) from Vienna.
Total cost wise break up
-Airfare- INR 40700 + 4848 = INR 45548/-
-Visa Cost – 6659 + 3300 = INR 9959/-
-Travel Insurance = INR 1100/-
-Internal tickets within cities = INR 5780 /- (three flights , bus tickets and train tickets).
-Misc expenses which included food/ drinks/transport/ sightseeing /shopping = Euro 390~INR 33000 all for 18 days in six countries .
So, My total cost for this trip came upto Rs. 95, 387 /- inclusive of everything.
Hence, if I can do it , then so can you . If you have any questions regarding planning or chalking out details. I will be super happy to help. Just drop in your queries in the comments section or email me and I shall jump back to respond in no time.
I will be coming up with the details about top things to do in all the cities I have visited in Europe in my next blog.
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