How much does it cost to travel Europe? As much as you have. It is possible to go on a week long holiday, stay in a nice hotel, take taxis, and visit attractions, spending hundreds a day. But if you don’t have hundreds a day to spend, it is very possible to do it on the cheap. In fact, I once met a guy who travelled around Europe with no money at all.
After hitchhiking around Europe for half a year, I settled in Istanbul for six months. There were ups and downs, but sadly the experience didn’t go all that well and I finally left with less than a hundred pounds in my pocket, and my whole world on my back, excited for what I would find. Along with Leah, my American girl, we decided that we would travel to England on land, with stopovers to visit a friend in Bulgaria and the beaches of Italy. Although we hoped to do it for a small sum of money – our own little cheap holiday – the most important thing was enjoying ourselves. And this would be a journey of at least 3,500km. To reduce our costs, we would do as we had done often – hitchhike and free camp, the two best tools for low budget adventures.
You might think that it takes lots of planning to have such an ultra low budget exploration – this couldn’t be further from the truth. My backpack was overloaded with all my worldly belongings from the previous six months (including my suit for teaching), we had only one sleeping bag, and we had no tent. Nor did we have a way to cook food or a map.
Heading out of Istanbul, we found ourselves hitching from busy roads with cars passing us on either side. It wasn’t ideal, but I have found Turkish truckers to be kind. That same day we arrived in Sofia to meet our friend who kindly let us stay with her. We stocked up on budget supplies from the supermarket and headed to Venice where we ate ice cream and walked the streets, enjoying the city as the free museum that it is. A year before I had been been picked up by an Italian truck driver and I sent him a message to see if he was around. He came straight down to meet us and took us to his beautiful home in the lovely Dolomites. From his house we hitched to the beach, giving Leah her first swim in the Mediterranean Sea, sleeping on the side of the road or the beach – wherever we found ourselves each night.
From Italy, it was a straight shot back towards England – with a brief stop in the outrageously overpriced Monte Carlo! We made it back having spent a grand total of €42.54 over the course of nine days – an average of €2.36 per person, per day. And we had a great time. How did we do it?
How We Did It
- We hitchhiked meaning that we didn’t pay for transport
- We free camped and stayed with friends, meaning we didn’t pay for accommodation
- Friends and drivers were kind enough to offer us food and drink along our way
- We bought cheap food from shops and refilled water bottles from taps
- We enjoyed free entertainment – swimming, mountains, and walking around cities – rather than paying for attractions
Despite all of this, we could have done it for cheaper if we wanted. We undertook this journey on a small budget because it was all the money we had – if we had more, we would have spent more. If we had nothing, we would have found a way to do it with nothing. It got us where we wanted to go and we had fun. What more could we ask for?
If you are interested in travelling without money or for a very low budget, it is entirely possible. Read travel without money to learn a little bit more, or The Avant-Garde Life for a kick up the bum. You can also check out our full breakdown of costs showing exactly what we spent our 2.36 on each day, or read the full(er) story of our journey. Or see the pictures of our journey. It looked something like this…
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