As a student, when talk of a Europe trip comes up, more often than not, the first question thrown around would be about its seemingly extravagant costs. Cries of “Isn’t it expensive” coupled with incredulous stares are an unfortunate cliche in this situation. At face value, it may seem there is no way around Europe other than burning a hole in your pocket but fret not! Armed with an open mind, all you fervent young travellers can comfortably embark on an epic European adventure. Here are five tips as to how to travel around Europe effectively, while on a student budget.
1. Wego’s Cheap Flights
Buckle up for the first step of your budget trip – cheap flights! The Wego app is a handy tool that should be in every student traveller’s back pocket. With its state of the art filtering technology, the app instantaneously compares over 700+ booking sites to find you the best flight deals for your journey. Begin your search by combing through the Popular Destinations tab that displays the lowest fares to destinations.
Furthermore, the Wego app has the perfect solution that will speed up your planning process, ideal for students always on the go. Say you begin your trip in the heart of Europe, Paris; the Weekend Getaway feature curates a list of destinations based on price, that allows you the options to stretch your vacation without breaking your bank.
2. YouTrip Card
Now, a valid concern of many when embarking on a Europe trip is the possibility of an unsavoury encounter with the region’s infamous pickpockets. As a result, many have chosen to travel cashless, with most of their expenses split between a few cards, stored in different places. Here comes Youtrip; a god-send card that enables users to pay in over 150 currencies without currency conversion or transaction fees! It’s so simple, all you have to do is sign up online before you depart from Singapore and the card will be delivered to you with instructions to link it to your bank account.
Youtrip serves as a currency wallet and a prepaid card in one; allowing you to store multiple currencies at competitive exchange rates more often better than your local money changer. The card has a minimum $20 top-up and a $3000 storage limit. The card would definitely go a long way, as it enables you to save pennies on transaction fees, and hidden costs that often get the better of us on our travels abroad.
3. Flix Bus
Forget the costly Eurostar! The new way to go is by FLIX BUS; a German based company that has changed the game of bus travel in Europe. Spanning over 20 countries across Europe, Flixbus commands a multitude of routes between cities and countries, for as low as 5 euros! Each bus is equipped with Wi-Fi; for the tech-savvy student, electrical outlets, ample storage space and comfortable recliner seats. Doesn’t it sound too good to be true? I’ve even scored a deal for a roundtrip from Paris to London for a mere 10 euros! No surprise then that Flixbus has quickly evolved as the champion for price-minded around Europe.
Although being cheap; the bus rides are understandably significantly longer than a train ride with routes ranging from 2 hours to an upwards of 12 hours; with breaks in between. If you’re someone who enjoys long languid drives through the dredges of European countrysides or have a serious case of carcolepsy, this might just be your cup of tea. The trick to scoring the best deals is to plan in advance and book your seats early through the Flixbus application. Word of caution: When you board, make sure you have your passport on hand or risk being denied entry; it is the only form of identification they accept for foreign students!
Before you bemoan the prices of airbnbs around Europe, I have the perfect solution — enter the world of hostels! Europe is packed to the brim with hostels catering to students and solo travellers. From between $10-$30 a night, more often than not with free Wi-Fi, and breakfast, they are a great steal. If you’re imagining being holed up in shabby room in the middle of nowhere, you’re in for a great surprise. With its booming popularity, hostels are increasingly locating themselves close to the city center and have flexible rooming options, offering cosy single, up to 4 or 8 beds per room.
Moreover, hostels offer the unique opportunity to connect with fellow students and global travellers. You’ll find yourself exchanging words with someone who’d just completed the Trans-Siberian Railway or had just summited Mount Kilimanjaro. Many renowned hostels go above and beyond and offer special outings at discounted prices reserved for guests only. My personal favourites was when Black Swan Hostel in Seville organised a private flamenco show for my friends and I, while Yes! Porto Hostel invited us for a cooking class to try our hand at traditional Portuguese dishes.
5. Student Discounts
Lastly, the most important document to carry with you besides your passport is your International Student Identity Card (ISIC). The nifty ISIC card can be delivered to you after applying through STA Singapore. With the card in hand, you will be privy to a host of discounts at more than 125,000 places in 133 countries around the world. The card can be used for flash sales on transatlantic flights, even a 33% discount on Eurail; should you decide not to travel by Flixbus.
A small but powerful tool, this card will score you dining, shopping and discounts on accommodations throughout Europe. I even managed to get a discounted entry ticket to the Louvre; go figure! Remember, don’t leave for your trip without your passport, wallet and ISIC.