I wouldn’t say I am a budget traveler, but then again I would. I hate overpriced tourist traps. Europe happens to have loads. However, I appreciate travel splurges here and there, a nice meal or a three star hotel. When I set out for Italy this summer, I knew it was obviously a more expensive option than going to live in a village in Africa or backpacking through Southeast Asia. Since I could walk, a challenge has never made me back down.
I left for Italy with very little money. For those of you who dream of spending a few months in Europe, specifically Italy, it is possible. Here are some of the ways I made it work. Europe doesn’t have to be eliminated on your travel list due to costs.
1. Rent An Apartment
If you are going to be traveling week to week, you will end up spending loads on accommodations, food and other miscellaneous services in Europe. Hostels in Europe are not that cheap anymore. I rented an apartment in Florence, as I wanted to explore much of Italy and the surrounding area. By renting an apartment, I could cook my meals easily, saving money on food. While I quickly found out the apartment I rented was not the cheapest, many apartments in Florence go for 600-900 euros a month. Some include Internet and laundry services as well. If are looking to stay in Europe for the summer, I recommend setting up a home base and making day trips or short weekend trips from there. Rather than saving up double to backpack for several months in Europe, you will have a sense of home and hopefully more money in your pocket while still being surrounded by European beauty.
2. Work From Europe
You can work from Europe. I know several others who spent their summer living in Europe, doing odd jobs here and there. Christine Amorose of C’est Christine and Annie Bettis of Wayward Traveller are good examples. I was not one of them. Luckily my job allows me to work from anywhere. Being able to work and live in Europe definitely helped with cash flow. If you don’t want to be limited to work hours, don’t be afraid to see what jobs are out there online. For me I could gauge when I wanted to travel and when I needed to work. I know I am lucky in this area, but I am often surprised when people don’t believe in getting a job online so they just don’t try. Even if the working world online looks insurmountable, getting an odd job like passing out flyers or waiting tables in Europe can be relatively simple. You don’t know until you ask.
3. Make Attempts To Cook Most Days
While I love the occasional pizza out, cooking can definitely make living in Europe more affordable. If you treat your traveling life in Europe as it were at home, rather than thinking you are on an endless vacation, dollars will stretch. The trusty caprese salad got me through many weeks. Little things like making coffee instead of going out for coffee can end up saving a hundred euros a month in Europe.
4. Don’t Shop
I tend to shop more at home than when I am away. Just because it is from Italy does not mean you need it. I love to pick up a few things here and there when I travel, but don’t go shopping every weekend. For me, it was pretty simple to resist despite being in one of Italy’s most fashionable cities. I just kept reasoning it would be more worth my money to travel on a day trip than buy that new shirt.
5. No Need For a Cell Phone
I rarely used my cell phone from the US while in Italy. I mainly kept it on for emergencies. You can rent a phone in whatever country you are going to, but I found I didn’t really need it. If you are going to be somewhere for three months or less, Skype works just fine. In this day and age, if you are meeting up with new friends and the like, you can always send out an email or call on Skype for cents rather than go through the hassle of renting a phone or having ridiculous charges on your bill back home.
Housing, food and working were key for me in order to stay in Italy for three months. I simply made these elements in keeping with those at home, while cutting back on some of those luxuries from home.
Have you lived in Europe for a few months or longer? How do you keep costs down?