How to plan a shoestring budget trip to Europe

  • Find some friends to go with you – it will be more fun that way!
  • Determine the best time to visit – summer is the best time, but, it will be crowded and expensive – early spring or late autumn would be a good time to avoid crowds and also get good deals
  • Decide itinerary – you can do 5 days in Switzerland, Benelux, France or Italy to 3-4 months in Europe depending on your budget.
  • Arrange funds – Budget 100 Euros/person/day as the minimum + flights
  • Apply for visas – Schengen (apply to the consulate of the country that you will be entering first on your trip) and UK (if going there)
  • Book flight tickets in and out of Europe – fly to one location and return from another or do a circuit so that you start and end your trip from the same location. In any case, do not travel the same route twice!
  • Book accommodation at major destinations – smaller destinations should be okay and can be arranged on arrival – try to find backpacker hostels – Hostels in Europe | Book European Hostels with
  • Get information on transporation between destinations – bus, ferry, train, flights etc. 
    • Travel Europe with the Eurail train pass
    • Check out these great easyJet flights.
    • Cheap Flights | Cheap Flights to Europe | Ryanair
  • Prepare checklist of items to carry – One-Page Packing Checklist :: One Bag
  • Get travel insurance – very important! DO NOT SKIMP!
  • Pack your bags
  • Go!

All the best!
You might find this link useful – all attractions listed are FREE
Things to do for free in Europe |
Additional information
The major part of your budget is the return airfare from India. So, first find out which of the European destinations would be the cheapest to fly to. Delhi – Paris can be between 36K to 45K INR.
Then try to focus on destinations around that location. Minimize long distance travel within Europe (Spain – Germany, Southern France to Germany, Southern Italy to Germany etc.) as much as possible. So, combinations could be:

  • North Western Germany, Netherlands, Belgium
  • Paris, Southern Germany, Switzerland
  • Southern Germany, Switzerland, Austria
  • Southern Germany, Austria, Czech Republic

Dear Joyeeta,

I was in Europe for last six month and has explored it a lot. There are many tips which can help you to plan a budget trip to Europe. Here is the list:

1. Best time to visit Europe is always summer , although it will be little expensive than the trip planned in winter but believe me every penny you will spend will be worth of it.

2. Plan which all places you would like to visit according to your interest and what time you would like to spend in each places. For eg. if you are planning to go to Paris,  minimum 3 days will be required etc.

3.  Prepare your itinerary in such as way that all near by places you can cover and their is no long distance journey within Europe. For eg. :

– Switzerland – Germany – Paris

– Neither land  – Germany – Switzerland

– Paris – Barcelona – Switzerland – Germany

4. If you are on a very long trip and covering lot of places in Europe then I will suggest for the Euro rail pass. Else, I will suggest you to search the tickets on Search & Compare Cheap Buses, Trains & Flights which will provide you the cheapest mode of transpiration within Europe. I traveled for almost 6 months in Europe and all tickets were booked with Search & Compare Cheap Buses, Trains & Flights . I can tell you it was cheaper than the Euro Rail Pass.

5. Generally all city in Europe has a city pass which makes the transportation within city free and also all the major city attractions are included in the same. I will always suggest you to travel with the city card.

6. Regarding Hostel accommodation, you can search it on Hostels Worldwide – Online Hostel Bookings, Ratings and Reviews or Hostels, Hotels & Youth Hostels at hostelbookers  which will provide you good and budget accommodations.

7. Always research and plan your itinerary for every city you are travelling in Europe. Believe me if you have a pre plan on what and when to see, it will save lot of time and you can cover lot places.

8. Download, city maps to go app in your smart phone. Download the maps of all the cities you are travelling. This app can be used without internet all the maps are downloaded. The app is very helpful as it will not only provide you the GPS location of the place but also help you to find the nearest supermarket, restaurants etc

9. Regarding water, always purchase from the super market. Purchasing water at places other then super market will be very costly (sometime 5-6 times more).

10. Regarding food item, you can find some good restaurants using city maps to go app which provide you the good food within your budget. The other idea (which I always used) to save money on food is to purchase MTR ready to eat food items. Generally each city in Europe Indian Store (You can search and find it on city maps to go app). You can purchase the same and in your hostel just warm it and eat (Most of the hostel in Europe have Kitchen facility)  

11. There are many tips and hacks related to specific cities of Europe which you can find on Home Default – Small Budget Big Trips

Please let me know if you need any other information. I will be happy to help you 🙂