How to travel Europe on a student budget

Interrail intercity

Are you a student, and you don’t have a big budget? Or maybe your time is limited because your school starts again?

Don’t worry. Let me give you some tips on how you can make the most out of your travel adventure to Europe. Let’s see how you can make the most out of your small travel budget and save it for books! maybe?

Europe by train in amsterdam

Travel around Europe

Europe has one of the best railway connections in the world. Every country here has its own railway company. It is easy to go from one country to another because in Europe we have open borders. Because of this, the most obvious way to explore Europe as a student is by, (you guessed it) train. Here you can buy a so-called, Interrail passes for students. This ticket lets you travel by train through all the countries of Europe. There are different options available on the website. All of them have a different travel time and a number of days you are allowed to travel by train. For example, if you buy a pass of ten days within one month, that means you can travel by train ten times within a period of one month.

The passes are not expensive and they are worth your money. If you only have a short time to see Europe than this is definitely your best option. Traveling by train often is very amusing and relaxed. It will lead you to places you would normally not visit.

Interrail pass package
This is the interrail pass

Quick student travel tip:

If you want to use your Interrail pass to its full potential it is possible to travel two days on one “token”. If you take a train after 8 in the evening it does not count as a day. That means that you can sleep on the train and still have the whole next day to travel. This is helpful if you have a long way between two destinations. It also gives you a free night of sleep on the train, double savings.

Where to spend the night

There are a lot of sleeping options available for budget travelers in Europe. I made a list of options you can choose from when you are on Interrail. Remember to be creative and fearless, this will make the best experience!

Sleeping in Hostels

This is the most popular sleeping option when traveling on a student budget. You find them in all big cities, and they are most of the time cheap. Hostels often also have shared rooms which will make your stay even cheaper! They are ideal in cities as it allows you to leave your luggage when you’re out for a day trip. The cost of a hostel depends on the city, room, and location. On average you pay around 15 to 20 euro, per person, per night (most times with breakfast included).

Bringing a Tent

If you are a student on a super tight budget I would say: bring a tent. Especially in the south, west, and north of Europe. It is really easy to just pitch a tent anywhere except the big cities. It feels a bit weird at first but its actually pretty common amongst student travelers to sleep on the beach or in a cornfield. If you are really fearless, try to camp in cities or on stations. That’s definitely only an option for the more adventurous people.

Camping in the Italian Alps
Camping in the Italian Alps

Try to avoid Hotels

Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you have no other choice than to sleep in a hotel. If this happens to you the best budget advice I will give you is: check in as late as possible. If you check in late at night there is a big chance the price of the rooms went down. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount at night, you have nothing to lose. In general, it’s best to avoid hotels since they will cost around 60 euro per night.

Airbnb and Couchsurfing

These are, after camping, the cheapest options for a student on a budget. It is also a great way to meet new people and see how they live their lives in the country you are visiting. If you didn’t know yet, Airbnb is a website where you can find rooms in someone’s house for short term rent. Couchsurfing is a website where you do the same but then it will be for free. They are both very popular in Europe. The key to success with those options is: plan ahead. A lot of people are looking for places to sleep on those websites. If you want to find a nice room you have to be early (or you use my personal favorite, the 5 minutes before check-in technique, haha).

Sleep on Trains

like mentioned earlier trains are good for transportation. But did you know they also function perfectly as a bed for the night? Night-trains are comfortable and most of the time really good night of sleep. Just make sure you don’t forget to set your alarm for your end station. You don’t want to wake up in Budapest instead of Venice.. Or maybe you do?

Interrail intercity
A German intercity

What to eat on your trip

If you are traveling Europe on a budget a great way to eat for cheap is by cooking yourself. Supermarkets are cheap and you can find them everywhere. Because you are a student you probably got pretty creative with your meals already. If you have access to a kitchen, use it! If you don’t have access to a kitchen, eat a baguette with Nutella and soup.

Some cheap high energy meals I would advise for travel are:

  • Oats with water or milk
  • Fruits
  • Energy bars
  • Dark multigrain bread (Roggen bread)
  • A piece, or slices of salami
  • Cans of tuna
  • Beans out of a can
  • Soup with vegetables
  • Eggs cooked or baked
  • Any kind of nuts

If your budget allows it, going to a restaurant once or twice is pretty nice. In the end, you are still on holiday. In the city’s you can find a lot of kebab or sandwich stores which are sometimes a cheap option as well.

The Nightlife in Europe

So as a student I guess you are always down for a party. Great news, Europe is full of good parties everywhere! To find the best party spots in a city, try meeting some local people. They know where the places are where you need to go to have a good time. If parties are not your thing, don’t worry. It is really nice to have a chat at night with people from the hostel or in a bar with friends too. Whatever kind of person you are Europe got you covered.

Top 4 best places in Europe

Traffic light in east berlin
A traffic light in East Berlin

There are some places you really have to see when you are traveling in Europe. Here is a list of my favorite places and what to do there:

1. Paris – Nightlife.

If you are like me, a born “explorer” Paris is the place to be for you! Find some people who can take you to the catacombs underneath the city. It’s a huge tunnel system right underneath the streets of Paris. People go into them for the adventure and there are even parties in those things! It’s important that you don’t go there alone, people get lost in them every year.

2. Berlin – Culture.

During world war II there was a wall that separated East from West Berlin. If you now visit the city you can still see a big difference between the two areas. A fun fact I learned is: if you want to know in which part of the city you are, you should look at the traffic lights. The man displayed in the light is different in East Berlin than in the west part.

3. The Italian Alps – Hiking.

Do you like nature, and you like to go back to basics with a tent and sleeping bag? In that case, you have to visit the Italian Alps. An area where you can explore mountains and find maybe the purest nature of Europe.

4. Holland – Cities.

I was born in Holland. It’s a country where everyone is always busy and on the way (on a bike, it’s true..). If you visit Holland, the first thing you will think about is Amsterdam but there is actually so much more than that. You should have a look at cities like Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht as well!

How to explore a city in Europe

In every city, there is always a train or metro connection. Often you find cheap tickets for multiple days passes. If you want to get sportive, everywhere in Europe people are traveling by bike. Almost all cities offer some kind of bike renting system (they require a credit card). Exploring by bike is a great way to see most of the place where you are.

Final thoughts before you leave

Europe is a great continent if you are on a small student budget. There is always something new to see or explore. The people are, although really busy, friendly and open.

Don’t be afraid to wander into the unknown because this is where memories wait.

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Daan Liberta

Hello and thanks for reading my blog. I love writing about Online income, Travel and the latest Technology. If you like these things too, consider subscribing or leave me a comment below!
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My name is Daan a 23 year old Digital Nomad and creator of this blog! If you like the things I write about please read this first: