Before we dive into the backpacking Europe cost, I just want to assure you in my last 5 years of traveling the world that I’ve spent over two of them backpacking through Europe. (I’m writing this while road tripping through Europe) All these tips and information comes from those experiences.
Breaking Down the Backpacking Europe Cost
I get asked “How much does it cost to backpack Europe” a lot. Everyone has their own standards food, and hotels. Flights are consistently going up and down and prices in vary depending on what country and what time of year you are visiting. So finding the answer to the “backpacking Europe cost” is tricky.
I thrive on trying to travel Europe cheaply without sacrificing too much comfort.
This post isn’t isn’t going to give you an exact price of how much it cost to backpack Europe because it is impossible. Instead, I will talk you through all the expenses that come with traveling Europe with an idea of how much you can expect to spend.
Eastern Europe vs Western Europe
I spend at least a couple few hundred dollars more a month traveling in Western Europe compared to Eastern Europe.
Western Europe – Western Europe houses Europe’s main sites and attractions. Getting around is easier and there are more tour companies. On the other hand that means higher prices, more tourist, and long lines.
Eastern Europe- It is a lot more rustic. I always picture picture it was what Europe was like before the boom of tourism. Prices are cheaper, less people speak English, and everything the cities feel more authentic.
Cost of Backpacking Europe: Expenses Before Leaving Home
Picking the wrong backpack can mean the difference between enjoying your trip and simply surviving it. A backpack holds all your gear, and if it’s cutting into your torso in uncomfortable ways, you’ll be left with unwanted fleshy souvenirs and achy hips.
Nowadays, most backpacks are built with internal frames (versus external).
Backpacks with external frames have more pockets and places to put equipment that you may want to reach in a hurry, however, backpacks with internal frames provide an efficient way of getting from point A to B without pockets snagging on foreign objects, plus they fit snug, preventing friction rashes. (Which is worse than death)
Having all your gear on the inside of your backpack also means your valuables are less likely to be the target of thievery.
I live out of a backpack so picking the right one is a subject near and dear to my heart. I actually, wrote a gigantic post on picking the right backpack for Europe.
The first step to backpacking on a budget is finding the right plane ticket. One of the major expenses to consider when planning the cost of backpacking through Europe is the price of getting there and back.
In fact, it is possible that the plane ticket to get to your backpacking Europe adventure is the biggest cost that you have before leaving home.
If you’re new to traveling, you may know about travel insurance. For years I traveled without insurance, but once (after an unfortunate incident) I found myself in the hospital. I quickly realized because of my lack of insurance I had to pay the bills myself. As you can imagine after that, I immediately broke the habit of traveling without insurance. Travel insurance covers more than just people; it can also cover luggage, and theft and much more.
Traveling without insurance is an added expense, and it is your choice whether you choose to insure yourself or not. My recommendation is don’t end up like me. Always travel with insurance.
I use Roam Right, and we have teamed up together so using this link gets you a free insurance quote.
Quick Tips for Finding Cheap Flights to Europe
Compare Tickets – My favorite sites to check airfare to Europe are Kayak, Skyscanner, Secret Flying, and Wow Air. Kayak Explore is a great way to find crazy cheap airfare.
Clear Browser Cookies – Not just that, but did you know that your browser saves cookies from previous ticket searches? This means airlines with show you the same price you saw days ago even in the flight has dropped in price.
Search in Advance – A few months before you leave start comparing plane tickets. If you find a good deal, then jump on it.
Have open dates – If you can have open dates, then use Skyscanner to search entire months.
Getting Around Europe
Another expense to factor into your backpacking Europe cost is the price of traveling around. A lot of people think traveling around is expensive but as I talk about in my post – 8 of the Cheapest Ways to Travel Europe – there are plenty of good options that will help you save money.
Here are a few of my favorites.
Busabout – Another option is Busabout. This is a company that was created for free-spirit travelers. They have hop on hop off buses around Europe, and they stop in dozens of countries.
Buses come every few days and using the app you can book your place a couple of days before. Their prices run somewhere between $600-$900 for a bus pass.
This is a great option for backpackers traveling across Europe solo because you get to meet like-minded backpackers.
I’ve made some friends on Busabout over 5 years ago on Busabout that I still talk to today.
Buses – Buses are a reliable way to travel. Many times they are cheaper than trains. However, they usually take a lot longer and are not as comfortable.
Trains – Trains are one of my favorite ways to travel. It lets you get to see the landscape and riding on a train is always fun to me.
One of the best options for backpackers is purchasing a Eurail Pass. These passes are tailored to fit your travel needs and are perfect for backpacking Europe. It is one of my favorite ways to travel around Europe.
Budget Airlines – Europe has a couple of options when it comes to budget airlines. These airlines are cheap but read the rules carefully or they will tax you with fee’s. Ryan Air and Easy jet are the biggest budget airlines I have a full list of buget airlines in Europe here.
Renting a Car – If you have an international driving permit then renting a car is another valid option for getting around Europe. Car rentals are cheaper than you might think. I rented a car in two weeks for Italy for under $100.
Of course with car’s there are a couple of other expenses to consider like gas and insurance. Insurance can almost be as much as the car rental itself. A handy way to get around car insurance is to book the car with a travel credit card that covers the car. I use the chase sapphire reserve. It protects the car up to $75,000. Plus the card has a ton of other benefits.
Bike – Some travelers cycle across Europe! I’ve never done it but it seems like a fantastic way to lower the backpacking of Europe cost.
Tours Companies in Europe
Making your own way through Europe isn’t for everyone, some people prefer tours. What I love about tours is that you are with the same people for an extended amount of time. This lets you form a real and lasting friend and because you are with them for a long period you form a real bond of friendship. The downside of tours is that they are a little bit pricey when compared to traveling on your own.
If tours are the route for you, then these are some companies I suggest.
G Adventures – Every guide on a G Adventures Tour is a CEO (Chief Experience Officer). G Adventures is one of the biggest and best tour companies on the planet. These tours dive deep into cultures and cater to your experience. Check out my G Adventures Review here. Also right no you can save up to 25% on Last Minute Adventure Travel Packages
Intrepid Travel – For those that have a passion for diversity, want to eat local food, and truly experience the way the locals live, Intrepid is a travel company that was started by two bearded backpackers in 1989. I have an Intrepid Travel Review as well. Intrepid also offers some great deals, and you can find up to up to 25% Off Intrepid Tours
How Much Does it Cost to Backpack Europe – Every Day Expenses
So since we are answering the question ” How much does it cost to travel Europe” it is important that we look at the details of everyday expenses when traveling Europe.
When we are looking at how much it cost to travel Europe we first need to look at expenses. These are the major expenses you will have will backpacking Europe on a budget.
Hostels – What is a hostels? Hostels are a popular way to save money when you’re traveling Europe on a budget, and they provide a way to meet other travelers at the same time.
In the simplest of terms hostels are bed rentals rather then room rentals. This means you can have 20+ people in a room.
Hostels in Europe range from $10 – $40 per night. When budgeting out my trip I usually assume the average I am going to pay for a hostel in Europe is $25-$30 per night. . Hostelworld has the best options when booking hostels.
Airbnb – Another great and cheap option. Get $40 off your first stay with Airbnb by signing up using this link. Airbnb’s range from $30-$100.
I spend between $50 -$60 a night when I book Airbnb’s early. Over the years, I’ve saved hundreds using airbnb promo codes. to refer friends and earn credit.
Partying – There are so many cities to visit for a good party in Europe, but a few top the list such as Barcelona, Spain’s second largest city, or Amsterdam, a place where the energizing party never ends.
However, we are trying to lower cost of backpacking Europe then limit the partying. Nights out add up quickly and can break the bank.
Go out, have fun, experience foreign night-life but not ever night.
Sightseeing – There are thousands of locations to visit in Europe. You may be wondering which building or museum is in which city. Many of the attractions and churches in Europe cost to enter. These prices range from a 2 Euros to over 20 Euros.
You won’t be spending money on sightseeing every single day, but it is wise when planning out backpacking Europe cost to plan to spend $15-$20 a day on sightseeing.
Food – Purchasing food at a sit-down restaurant is going to be more expensive than purchasing food from a grocery store.
However, if you don’t want to cook, then eat at places that provide to-go food such as outside vendors. And similar to accommodations, food in the middle of a big city is going to cost a lot more than food from smaller outside cities.
It’s best to budget yourself a little extra money for food, this way if you’ve had a long day and you’re just too tired to cook or travel to somewhere inexpensive it won’t offset your backpacking Europe cost.
If you budget about $15 – $30 a day, it should cover 3 cheap meals. If that’s still too much money for you to spend, purchase your own food from the grocery store and you’ll save over half that amount. If I would cook everyday I could travel Europe and only spend 5-7 Euros on food a day.
Quick Tips to Reduce Your Backpacking Through Europe Cost
Take Overnight Trains – Overnight trains are extremely popular among backpackers and other travelers. For one, it saves a night of accommodation while traveling to your next destination.
If you’ve obtained a Eurail pass, you still may need to purchase reservations for an overnight train, so don’t forget that extra fee! Reservations can be purchased online for many railway companies
Stay in Hostels – Staying in hostels instead of a hotel is one of the best ways to lower the cost of backpacking through Europe.
Get the Right Bank Account – Are you still with me? Good because this piece of advice is important and can save you thousands of dollars over years of traveling.When using an ATM card overseas you get charged BOTH an ATM Fee and a Foreign Transaction Fee. This means fees for just one withdrawal can cost over $5. Small fees add up over time to big cash over time.
Look on any US travel blog and chances are they will all talk about benefits of traveling with a Charles Schwab account. They reimburse you for all ATM transaction fees and forgien transaction fee’s at the end of the month. Making it free to draw out cash anywhere in the world!
I have saved thousands in ATM and foreign transaction fees over the years. In fact, many times when I am traveling who aren’t US citizens they wire me there money and I draw it out for them because it is cheaper in the long run.
You can open a CS account over the phone or use this link and get up to $100 for opening an account.
What better way to reduce the cost of backpacking Europe than to make your money work for you!
Free Walking Tours- One way to lower your backpacking through Europe cost is by utilizing the hundreds of free walking tours. The tours are tip-based, so the idea is that your guide will be entertaining and knowledgeable. Tips are expected at the end.
City Passes – Many cities offer city passes that include entrance to popular attractions and trips on the metro. If you take advantage and use the pass a lot, it can save you a ton of money.
Metro Ticket Bundles – At many of the machines in the metros you can buy packs of metro tickets. If you are going to ride the metro a lot these bundles work out to save you the price of a few metro tickets.
My Average Backpacking Europe Cost
Let’s use the information above to figure out the cost of backpacking through Europe on a budget for a month. Of course this all depends on your backpacking Europe itinerary.
Accommodation – Based on a $25 a night average. $600-$700.
Food – I spend between $400-$500 on food depending how much I eat out.
Party- $200- $300 a month.
Getting Around – (Varys on method of getting around and deals at time of booking)
Flights – In my opinion if you are paying over $600 for a round trip ticket you are overpaying.
Sightseeing –. Around $200 a month ( I don’t go sightseeing everyday.)
A “safe” estimate including accommodation, food, partying and sightseeing is $1,500 -$2500 a month. Cheaper if you are planning on traveling in Eastern Europe.
If you are traveling with more than one person things tend to get cheaper because you are sharing experiences.
However, it can be done for a lot cheaper if you manage your money cook your own food, and don’t go out drinking every single night.
Overall, the best way to travel Europe is to plan ahead and know your options. Travelling during the summer months will be more expensive; hostels and campsites can be a wallet saver.
Being flexible with your itinerary will allow you room to choose cheaper transportation.
I hope you answer the question of how much does it cost to backpack Europe on a budget.
Did you find these tips helpful, and do you think they will cut down the cost of backpacking Europe?
Let me know how I did answer your question on backpacking Europe cost.