How I planned a 1 Month Trip in Europe on a Budget
EuropeTravel PlanningTravel Tips

How I planned a 1 Month Trip in Europe – On a Budget

Are you planning a trip in Europe? This might help you get started. Some years ago, I’ve discovered my passion for travelling and more specifically for travelling alone. Yes, it was scary, but this is how I planned a 1(one) month trip in Europe, travelling alone, on a budget.

One month in Europe: Why travel alone?

Why planning a trip to Europe is probably one of the best things for personal development? It might not be for everyone, but it sure helps lots of people, just like travelling helped me.

It gives me this immense freedom of doing what I want when I feel like it, and more than that, I benefit from this never-ending source of experiencing myself through a new place and different people I meet along the way.

For those who have tried it or still do it, you will know what I’m talking about. If you are among the others, then here is a good read for you, a piece I wrote about travelling alone for the first time.

I cannot tell you enough about how much it will help you with your personal growth. Yes, there greater things yet to be discovered about yourself and here are some of my conclusions – Great Things Which Happened to Me After I Started Travelling Alone.

If your biggest question is ‘How much does it cost to travel one month in Europe?”.

Planning a trip in Europe: “How much does it cost to backpack Europe?”

When it comes to planning a trip in Europe, many people start asking about costs. Here’s a list of things to help you plan a budget trip to Europe.

But the answer is that it’s up to you!

If there is one thing you get out of this blog post, it’s that comfort comes at a price, and it isn’t cheap. In my case, I didn’t pay for accommodation, because I planned my trip around the places I have some friends (or used Couchsurfing), and it cost me well under 1000 Euros.

The total cost of my transport which I had to book was 170 Euros. The year of this trip was 2016. After I added the price of the food and other costs (museums, city transport) it added up to 800 Euros.

Keep on reading to see how I did it and what is my strategy for planning a one month Euro trip under 1000 Euros.

How I travelled cheap, on a budget in Europe for 1 month?

How I started planning a 1 month trip to Europe

In 2016 I was based in Klagenfurt, a small town in the south of Austria. That’s a great location to travel around Europe because it’s right in the centre.

It was about 1 month before the actual trip, and because I was tired of waiting for my friends to decide if we are going to do something together, I said to myself “I’m gonna plan my own holiday and I will make the most out of it“.

Yes, I have some tips for you to plan your own holiday, but it will always depend on a lot of other things too. The country, budget, personal lifestyle. I mean, cheap is a trade-off for comfort and time.

The entire process of planning took me one day. Yes, it was one day of work. Writing prices and locations down. And comparing. Trying different combos.

Planning a trip in Europe: Itinerary planning for budget backpacking in Europe

In one word: Money.

So there I was in front of my laptop, with only 400 Euros in my bank account. Ok, I knew by the time I will have to leave, I will have another 330 Euros. But that was for the actual trip (things like food and other unforeseen expenses).

When you travel on a budget, planning plays a huge role.

I had the entire Europe to choose my locations, so I was flexible about the places. Not about the money. Europe on a budget was my only plan.

And I had only one place which was for sure on the list – Paris. But other than that, no clue.

The core of my trip was planning my European route, which depends on transport connections, prices, friends who live there and weather.

Everything was so tied up, it was hard to decide.

I checked the weather for the month and decided the week I was going to be in Paris. Then I had to find a cheap way to get there. That was my starting point. I knew I wanted to reach Paris and I had an approximate date because I wanted sunshine, not rainy days. Although I had a couple of rainy days too. September can be a weird month, but at least it was warm.

planning 1 month of ravelling in Europe
As you can see, I was thinking o Stockholm, but it didn’t happened after all. Good thing I didn’t go, because I heard it’s expensive, and I had no friends there.

Other than Paris, I had no idea where to go next. So I just check all the possible destinations, sorting them by price, and checking each one how much would it cost to get to another one from there. I was checking all options, in and out of Paris. And then I was sorting everything based on the price to get there. Remember that you also need to add the cost of transportation from the airport to the city centre. Most budget airports are outside the cities and a one-way trip to the city can be as much as 20 Euros. So I had to check that too.

Also, I was trying to find the perfect balance between the number of places to visit and the time spent in each city. I don’t like to rush. And when you travel for more than a few days, it will get you exhausted, and it’s a good idea to plan some resting days too.

I am going to walk you through my method of building a cheap itinerary in Europe and will explain each destination as I build the final list of stops from my Euro backpacking trip.

My Strategy for planning the cheapest trip in Europe (I used all means of transport in Europe – plane, train and bus)

I wrote all about transport in Europe in this post: How to plan a budget trip to Europe.

After I had an idea of where I wanted to go first (Paris), I was on a mission to find the best and cheapest way to get there. Sure, there were 100 Euros train tickets and even more expensive plane tickets, but I was looking to find something less than 50 Euros to get there. When I say travel budget in Europe, I mean it.

I was based in Klagenfurt, Austria.

The plane was out of the question (in Austria). Too expensive. Then, I opened Google Maps and started to check trains and buses to get there, or somewhere close to France anyway.

*Later Edit: Now they have a Lauda Motion, a low-cost airline flying to Vienna, and life is so much better. It’s like Ryanair, literally. You buy the tickets on the same website!

That’s how I got to book a train to Frankfurt via Vienna. It was the best option for me and it was a perfect opportunity to visit Frankfurt as well. And I was getting closer to Paris. It sounded like a good plan. I had no friends in Frankfurt, but it was one for one night so I decided to use Couchsurfing.

Frankfurt

When travelling in Europe, the train can be expensive. Next plan: flying. Yes, there are cheap airlines, low cost, but not in Austria. So I found a pretty decent train ticket to Frankfurt.

Ok, so I decided to spend 2 days (1 night) there.

And on the second day, I found a night bus, from Frankfurt to Zurich. I was getting closer to Paris, without spending all my money on the train ticket.

Zurich

The great advantage of that cheap night bus was that I was leaving Frankfurt at midnight and arriving in Zurich, Switzerland, in the morning. That gave me the entire day to explore Frankfurt and also a full day in Zurich.

Taking two buses was cheaper than taking the train directly to Paris, so that’s why I added Zurich to my European tour map. Only for one day, and then took another night bus to Paris.

For that one day in Zurich, I locked my backpack in a locker at the train station, for which I paid quite a lot. I don’t remember exactly because the prices are in Francs, but I would say it was around 8 Euros. I wasn’t expecting it, but I got to see Zurich.

Also, I’m glad I didn’t get any other ideas because that place is so expensive. No wonder they don’t care about the European Union stuff. A sandwich at the metro was 10 Euros. A stamp = 3 Euros and a postcard = 3 Euros. A beer = 7 Euros (2016). Enough said.

After one sunny day in Zurich, I hopped on another night bus to Paris. By this time I was so tired, my body was hurting. I recommend doing this if your under 25 or desperate.

Paris

The next morning I arrived to Paris.

Paris is huge. Therefore I had many transport options. Low-cost airlines, buses, trains, Bla Bla car. Everything. My thoughts on Paris here (sarcasm included). I spent one week in Paris. A few days with a friend and the rest of the week with someone I found on Couchsurfing.

paris

Having friends in Dublin, I decided to go there next. The plane ticket was cheap, buying it 5 weeks before. I spent 6 days in Dublin. Take notice that the duration of each stay was also determined by the day in which the cheapest flights were. So if the next cheap flight was in 6 days, then I would stay 6 days. If there was a cheap flight in 7 days, then I would stay 7 days, That what my reasoning.

Dublin

From Dublin, the options were not so many. And going too far from home was not an option because it meant an expensive returning ticket. (Yes, I’ve tested all the options). Also, there are lots of things to in Dublin that not includes visiting a bar. And if you make it to Ireland, I can’t recommend enough going to Northern Ireland and visiting the Giant Causeway. It’s just magical.

If you are visiting Dublin, in Ireland, this place can be a one day trip from Dublin. So what is the story of the Giant's Causeway?

Copenhagen

From Dublin, I’ve found that Copenhagen was really cheap at that time. It’s ironic, considering how crazy expensive Denmark is. So I bought that cheap plane ticket to Copenhagen. I spent another 6 days there. Same reasoning with the plane prices.

Copenhagen

From there, the options were already limited. It was either a long time on a bus or a plane. I had to get closer to Austria, So I was looking for destinations closer to my home base. (which had a cheap on land connection to home)

Milan

While I couldn’t find anything in Austria, I check prices for plane tickets to Italy. As most of the times, Milan had a great price, of less than 25 Eur. That’s why I decided to go to Milan for 1 night. And the perk of this destination was that there was a direct cheap night train heading home. Total bliss.

Accommodation

During my constant coordination between prices, tickets and times, I had to keep in mind accommodation. Always checking my Facebook friends to see the cities in which I have friends.

This step is a highly important step. Accommodation in Europe is not cheap. A hostel is around 20 Euros per night, and then when you multiply that with 30 nights… it’s not gonna go well if you’re on a budget. Not an option for a 1 month trip in Europe.

So when you are looking to find cheap accommodation in Europe, try taking a night bus/train and save that money. Two in one. Transport and accommodation. Although the level of comfort declines.

*After spending 2 nights in a row on a bus, I felt so tired, the first thing I’ve done when I arrive in Paris was to sleep for 5 hours.*

As a last resort, check Booking for some cheap hostels, and always make sure you have some little extra money. For emergencies, you know?

If you happen to meet friends on the way (or make new ones), a nice flat on Airbnb could just save you for the night.

I was also confused if I should even consider expensive cities like Copenhagen. I had no idea if I should visit that place. But the weather was great. (I was constantly checking the weather, monthly prediction, etc.).

I knew nobody there, or so I thought. I literally searched on Facebook “Friends who live in Copenhagen”. I have a friend from high school living there. (And after arriving there I realised I have another friend and two colleagues from the university there. Why don’t you people update your profiles?!)

The only 2 places in which I had no friends prior to my trip were Frankfurt and Milan. I spend only 1 night in each, so I used Couchsurfing to find a host.

All in all, I’m grateful for all the wonderful people I’ve met and for all their help. This backpacking trip made me realize that people are genuinely kind. Most of them, anyway.

I met amazing people, more than welcoming and I totally recommend it. I also used the Couchsurfing app a lot to find a buddy for a day, to visit a museum or to eat an ice-cream.

I said it before and I will say it again – Couchsurfing is More Than Just a Free Bed For The Night.

Managing travel dates and times during my one month travel around Europe

Considering the lowest costs for that given time frame, planning a trip in Europe required lots of price checking and notes about different options. It was almost like a game of chess, but the outcome was all up to me.

I picked the days based on the price ticket. For example, taking a plane from Copenhagen to Milan was half price on a Monday than it is on Saturday or Sunday.

The cheapest plane tickets are during the week. Monday – Wednesday. The night buses/trains were also cheaper. Or the ones leaving very early in the morning.

A lot of my mornings were spent chasing a train somewhere in those cities. Or arriving. Which is great if you want to make the most out of your day there.

What apps did I use planning and during my 1 month trip in Europe?

Google Maps – whenever the obvious departure and arriving point had too expensive tickets, I was staring at the map and searching for “What is close enough and can be cheaper?” (That was a question for me, not Google.)

OBB – The Austrian railway company. It’s cheap if you buy it a week before. It’s comfortable. The connections are great. Love it. I was always trying to use the train, whenever getting in or out of the country.

Flixbus is a bus company, which operates in many countries in Europe. Probably the cheapest one. It’s a bus, it’s ok. But it can be late, so don’t plan to catch a plane after a bus ride. Take some hours in between as a safety measure. And regarding safety, well… it’s like a car. A lot of things can happen on the highway.

Ryanair is a low-cost European airline, with great connections and really cheap tickets. Each plane tickets (Paris – Dublin, Dublin – Copenhagen, Copenhagen – Milan was less than 26 Euros). Sure, nowadays they changed their policies, and they basically charge extra for everything (cabin luggage, seat selection, etc), but still is one cheap airline. Just make sure to follow all their rules and you won’t be charged extra. Install their mobile phone, to always have the boarding pass with you!

Kiwi is one of my favourites to check for all kinds of flights connections. Low cost or not, this is worth checking and I love it.

Couchsurfing is an online platform for travellers, open-minded people who have a great passion for travelling and love meeting fellow travellers and/or locals. I used it for finding people to hang out with or to find a place to stay. Great, amazing community. Too bad some speak poorly of it. I have many amazing memories because of it and I have many more friends because of it. Read more about my experiences with Couchsurfing.

Airbnb can also be a good app to try to stay with some locals, and the prices are good. Use this link to get €34 in travel credit when you sign up.

What else to keep in mind? Booking.com in case you need a last-minute place to stay.

Check out the ultimate list for how to travel cheap in Europe for one month in Europe!

Destinations for my 1 month trip in Europe

Oh boy, I felt exhausted after a day of sitting on a chair and killing the internet. And extremely proud of my achievement. And not a single night had to be spent in a hostel. Mastery.

The total cost of my transport which I had to book was 170 Euros. The year of this trip was 2016. After I added the price of the food and other costs (museums, city transport) it added up to 800 Euros.

This is how my final itinerary looked like.

Klagenfurt (Austria) – Frankfurt (Germany) – Zurich (Switzerland) – Paris (France) – Dublin (Ireland) – Copenhagen (Denmark) – Milan (Italy) – Klagenfurt (Austria)

1 month travelling

 

The outcome of planning my own backpacking trip

I was always waiting for someone else to bring me along on their trips or plan everything for me. Oh, I had no idea what I was missing.

This simple, basic thing, gives a feeling of self-control, confidence, and it illustrates how in the end we can manage everything.

What’s in it for you when planning a trip in Europe for yourself? You get to decide each step of the way, how long you stand and what to see. You truly feel like you have complete control over your life.

I manage to travel cheaper, decide my own pace of travelling, destinations, and means of transport.

And it put a smile on my face on those mornings where at 3 am I was waking up, heading to the airport. Because it was all me. Every second of it, it was my idea and I happily embraced it.

But I had to put in the work. Nothing worth having comes easy or cheap. And cheap isn’t always about the money.


Thanks for reading (assuming you made it this far :D).

This is my strategy for planning a backpacking trip to Europe and I hope it helped.

Years later, I still read this blog post and find it hard to understand how I did it, but this is proof that most things happen when you HAVE to make them happen, not when you have extra cash to pump into your 1-month trip to Europe.

Travelling on a budget to Europe happens only when you are truly committed to living on a budget and the reality is that not all of us are. Unfortunately.

There is still a lot to be said, but I hope you got the idea. Anyway, feel free to tell me about your plans and travel ideas and I will try my best to help you. When I don’t travel, it makes me really happy to help someone else travel!

Please share, pin, tell your friends! Travel cheap to Europe and be happy!


About author

Articles

Iulia is a blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter and travel enthusiast. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth and that's the main topic of her blog, Juliasomething.com.
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