The fact that many people start working around this life stage (if they hadn’t already) often means they find themselves with extra income and spending money. This paired with ridiculously long university breaks often leads to the opportunity and the means to travel.
In particular, many Australians (myself included) are drawn to Europe in June and July to escape the winter and make some memories – after all, you’ve got to live while you’re young.
However, Europe in itself is an expensive continent and the flights alone are very costly, so it’s important to be smart with the planning process to ensure your hard-earned dollars go as far as possible.
I have just booked my Euro adventure for the 3rd year in a row and have a finely tuned process for planning on a university budget.
Firstly, when choosing your destinations, it is important to note that some destinations including Greece and Turkey, for example, are far cheaper than others, so plan to spend more time in more affordable locations.
For this, it is important to do your research. However, the tips below can be applied to all destinations and can be particularly handy to save you some cash in the more expensive destinations such as England, France or the Netherlands.
Once you have picked the rough dates and destinations for your trip it is time to start looking into the cost of return flights from Sydney to Europe. It is important to know from the offset that the earlier you book your tickets the cheaper they will be unless there is some fluke sale.
Purchasing tickets as far ahead as possible will ensure that the tickets are less in demand and will rise over time as everyone else starts planning their own trips.
Also check the dates of the school holidays, as fights at those times are super high, and just a few days difference can be significantly different in price.
The first thing I like to do is use the website Skyscanner to get a rough idea of prices and the flight options available. If you are flexible with your dates (which I recommend), the website has the option for you to search by month and it will tell you which days are cheaper or the most expensive to fly.
Then when you choose specific dates it provides all the different flight options available. What is different about Skyscanner is that it gives you flight options that many other websites don’t show you because they may have odd layover times or several stopovers which they assume nobody would want to use. This means you have more variety and a better understanding of the best and cheapest offers.
Once you have chosen a flight through Skyscanner you can click on the flight and it gives you the different websites or travel agencies that offer that flight, and compares the prices.
Depending on the specific flight the cheapest website may be a little dodgy looking. In that case, I often like to find the same flight on STA Travel. This website is specifically targeting students and provides a student discount for flights.
For this reason, and because I know the business is reputable, I often like to purchase my flights through them.
Depending on whether or not they are willing to match the airfare from one of the other Skyscanner websites, their prices can sometimes be marginally more expensive, however I am willing to compromise if I know that I am not purchasing a scam.
What’s more, STA also offers and facilitates travel insurance which I always purchase through them for convenience.
When choosing accommodation, a person generally has three options; hotels, Airbnbs and hostels. Hotels are obviously more luxurious and as such are generally far more expensive. For this reason, I recommend staying in either an Airbnb apartment or room, or a hostel.
Airbnbs are a nice way to obtain a bit more privacy and independence in your accommodation as you can choose to have a whole apartment to yourself if you wish. Furthermore, depending on where you are in Europe they can sometimes be equal in price if not cheaper than staying at a hostel. For example, I always stay in an Airbnb in Paris, as they are typically cheaper than a hostel anyway and there is more variety to choose from. What’s more, if you are travelling with friends you can split the cost of accommodation between you and therefore reduce costs even further.
However, as a general rule, hostels are the cheapest form of accommodation while travelling/ backpacking through Europe. In order to choose my hostel I use two things; Hostelworld and the book ‘Europe On A Shoestring’ (RRP $22.25). The latter gives you great recommendations and descriptions of hostels and accommodation in the city or location you choose to go to, while the former gives you ALL of the hostel options.
Hostelworld also breaks each hostel down and tell you all of the amenities and rates each hostel based on categories such as safety, cleanliness and atmosphere to help you choose the best hostel for you.
Shopback is a cashback system that gives you a percentage of your purchase back, and allows you to deposit it right back into your bank account or PayPal.
Shopback partners with hundreds of brands and receive a percentage commission when you purchase through them.
They then share with you, the purchaser. With some brands, you can earn up to 15% cashback. So far, after just under one year of using the platform, I have saved $181.46, on items that I would have been buying anyway.
Most importantly Shopback has partnerships and cashback with travel sites which you would probably use anyway such as Booking.com (6.00% cashback), Expedia (10.00%) and even Hostelworld.
Shopback has an App which you can download and look up participating stores. It then redirects you to the store’s website and you shop and check out as normal. My favourite way to use Shopback is through the Google Chrome and Firefox extensions.
This means that whenever I go onto a site that is partnered with Shopback including the ones I mentioned above, I receive a notification that allows me to activate Shopback and then continue on as normal.
Unlike most of my other tips, this one is not a discount code or reduced price platform, although I do use it in conjunction with the below, this is actual cash that you get back into your account to fund another purchase later on to help you make back the money that you are spending. You can then use that cash as spending money on your trip!
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