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Traveling Abroad On The Cheap

For those who follow me on Twitter or notice minor blurbs towards the end of other posts, you may know that I have a vacation to Europe coming up. (As in leaving tonight!)

To celebrate one of my friend’s official ending of medical school and prior to starting his residency, 3 other friends and I are going to be doing a bit of traveling for the next 10 days.

Just how much traveling?

Well, we’re going to be hitting up 5 different cities (Dublin, Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin) in 9 days, and I have an 8 hour layover in Copenhagen on the 10th day on my way home so I will be spending most of the day exploring there!

Now, hitting up 6 different European cities is bound to get expensive. Not even including the entertainment and dining expenses, when you’re traveling that much it can get pricy.

We were all in the same frame of mind in that we wanted to travel as cheaply as possible. My reasons are obvious (to you all), but their reasons are so they can spend that much more on entertainment and food!

It’s going to be a struggle to abstain from spending a lot out there, but at the same time I rarely travel internationally (for now!) so I’m going to enjoy it regardless and not stress about it.

If I spend more than I’d like to I can always choose to spend less in future months to make up for it!

Anyways, here are a few things we are doing that should be replicated if you’re trying to get a good price while traveling abroad.

(Note: this is more for people who don’t use credit card hacking and use points to book all their travel. Still could be useful regardless though!)

Pack Light

Generally speaking, regardless of whether you are flying internationally or domestically, there’s going to be a fee for checking your bag (not Southwest though!).

Sometimes the fees can be exorbitant, and since you’re going round trip you have to pay it both ways.

What’s the best way around this?

Pack lighter and just bring a carry on. Most airlines, other than the extreme budget ones, do not charge for a carry on item.

I totally understand when people want to bring many options for clothes, as I am generally like that as well.

For this 10 day trip we’re all basically packing for a 5 day trip with minimal options clothing wise. Strategically buying an airbnb halfway through that has a washer will be a perfect way to get us through with clean clothes the entire time.

To us it doesn’t matter if we wear the same outfit twice on one trip! As long as they’re clean both times we’re all good 🙂

By taking full advantage of the free carry on and one personal item I have enough room for all my clothes, albeit with less options than I’d normally like.

Pick the Right Airlines/Cities

Finding the right flights to book is definitely going to take some research. It helps to research the airlines that have major operations between the US and Europe and figuring out where their hubs are.

For instance, Norwegian operates mainly out of the Scandinavian countries, Lufthansa out of Germany, Austira, etc.

When determining where we wanted to go in Europe, we were pretty flexible. Thus, we decided for our first destination to pick the flights that were cheapest for all of us to get to. Dublin it is!

One other reason flexibility is key? Non-stop flights out of some cities can be EXPENSIVE. Nobody likes layovers, but when you’re looking to fly cheaply, that can easily be the best way to go.

Thinking outside of the box can also be extremely helpful.

When’s the best time to buy a flight? When they’re on sales of course!

By combining buying a round trip flight from DC to NYC (on a flash sale) I was able to get much cheaper international flights in and out of NYC than I would have gotten had I gone straight from DC.

One thing to be careful with is to give yourself enough time between flights to avoid missing a leg. If you book with separate carriers, they aren’t liable if you miss your next flight due to their delay.

Worth the hassle of a layover?

We’ll find out. But even with booking my return flight only a month in advance (usually a bad deal) the flights came out to be much less expensive than typical international flights would be.

Find Good Lodging

10 days staying anywhere and the costs can add up. 10 nights in a $100 hotel room would be $1,000!

Traveling with 3 other people to split the costs really helps to bring this down. Even if you aren’t traveling with a lot of other people though, knowing where to look for good deals is beneficial.

Firstly, hotels are usually more expensive, but if you have points to use that’s a great way to save on costs.

Depending on the location, time of year, etc, airbnb is a great route as well, and usually cheaper than hotels. Staying with a local would just be an added bonus.

When traveling in Europe though? Don’t forget about the hostels.

Hostels get a bad rap (and I’m not really sure why!), but some of the hostels in Europe are really nice and dirt cheap.

Depending on what you purchase, you could get your own room. If not, you share with a few other people and they’ll give you a storage space to lock your things while you’re out exploring the city.

It’s easily the cheapest and best way to get lodging if you are literally treating it as a place to stay for the night (which we are).

While not for everyone, it should be considered for those looking to travel cheaply.

Intercity Travel (On the Cheap)

For those looking to travel to multiple cities, you should know that travel in Europe can be very cheap as long as you’re prepared.

If you follow the first tip and pack lightly, you can fly to many places in Europe for less than $100! There’s even many deals for $20-30 one way, you can’t beat that!

The airline I’m speaking of is RyanAir, though there are budget airlines all across Europe that have similar prices.

The key here is no checked baggage!

If you don’t have a need to fly, the rail and bus systems are also very viable and affordable as well.

The cities in Europe are generally closer together than you may realize, meaning the travel time across land can be quick.

One way train or bus rides can be anywhere from $5-30 depending on the route, with only 2-3 hours travel time between the major Eastern European cities we’re visiting.

I’ll be advocating for the bus, though depending on the timing of when they all leave, we may end up taking the train a couple times.

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By doing all these things I think you’ll be shocked at how much we’re actually paying just on the travel and housing portion of the trip!

And no I don’t mean it’s so cheap because I used points for all this – I have yet to start travel hacking so I only had points from regular credit card spending to work with – still extremely cheap regardless!

Unfortunately I’m going to leave you on a cliff hanger with the actual costs; I’d rather just break it all out for you all in one post after the trip 🙂

Also, with how busy this last month+ has been I wasn’t able to get ahead and write a post in advance for next week (and not bringing my computer) so I’ll resume posting upon my return!

I’m sure I’ll be posting some pictures of my travels on my Instagram account so feel free to follow along there!

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What methods have you used to get good prices while traveling? Don’t say credit card hacking I already know I’ve dropped the ball on that one! 🙂

13 thoughts to “Traveling Abroad On The Cheap”

  1. Ahem, have you ever heard of credit card hacking? 😉😂 Not that I’m one to talk since so far I’m only accumulating points, not actually using them!

    Hostels are the best! Maybe I won’t want to stay in them when I’m older, but for now they’re great. IMy parents are fans of hostels, too, so that’s usually our accommodation on family trips. Well done on the strategic AirBnB with a washing machine halfway through the trip haha. Although even with that I’d be a bit wary of only packing 5 days’ worth of clothing for a 10 day trip (I want to have options!). I’ll be interested to hear how you think you did packing-wise when you get back!

  2. Looking forward to the pictures and the post afterwards! Have fun!

    My mom went to all of the cities you’re going to last year, except for Berlin and Copenhagen. She enjoyed it. I’m not too keen on international travel (I’ve only been to Canada, haha), but it can be exciting when you know what you want to do while you’re there and have some background knowledge.

    1. Thank you! Wow that is really clutch, and getting the locals perspective and knowledge sounds so much better than the tourist experience. That will be an awesome trip I’m sure!

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