Are you planning a backpacking holiday and wondering how you might be able to save money on your trip? Jordan Smith is from the Gold Coast in Queensland, but has been travelling the world on extended-stay trips on and off for the last few years.
How long have you been travelling in Europe?
I left Australia in August 2017 and have been travelling Europe and the UK since then, only recently returning to Australia after a short side trip to Israel and Palestine .
What countries have you visited?
During my time in Europe I visited Greece, The Netherlands, Germany, Morocco, Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria. That means that I have used the Euro (in Greece, The Netherlands and Germany), the Moroccan Dirham, the Romanian Leu, the Serbian Dinar and the Bulgarian Lev.
How have you made your budget last during such a long trip?
While travelling I still do a bit of work for my employer back in Australia remotely and I try get a few odd jobs here and there. Despite this, there are a few things I try to do wherever I go to stretch my budget out as much as I can.
Firstly, I always look at the different ways of getting from A to B. Quite often I don't use the most direct, obvious route as this often works out to be more expensive. For example, Athens in Greece was my first stop because it was cheaper to fly there from Australia than it was to fly to a more 'popular' destination. Later in my travels I wanted to explore Serbia and found it was cheaper to go from London to Romania and then Romania on to Serbia, rather than going to Serbia directly from London. It meant I got to spend some time in a place I hadn't really planned on seeing as well!
In most places I stay I try to find cheap accommodation like hostels and share rooms. I spent a month in Belgrade, Serbia, so I negotiated a weekly rate with a hostel to save some money. Then when I moved on to Borovets for the ski season I worked at a ski resort restaurant/bar in exchange for food, drinks, accommodation and a season pass.
I also used public transport a lot to get around, and in Amsterdam it was super cheap to hire a bike and cycle around the city.
I did add in a splurge here or there, but when I could I worked these into my budget. One of the things I had to do in Europe was go to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, however because it's a peak travel season it was very difficult to do this on the cheap. I booked my accommodation well in advance to get a half-decent price and I didn't go on an organised tour - entry was free to the beer tents, so there was no need to spend the money on a tour.
So what are your top 10 money saving tips for travelling through Europe?
1. Don’t be afraid to stay in hostels - they have come a long way from being dingy, old, retrofitted buildings full of young backpackers
2. Hitchhiking is quite common and safe in a lot European countries. Alternatively you can try BlaBlaCar which is a ridesharing service
3. If you are on an extended trip look out for volunteering opportunities. They are a great way to get to know the area and the locals as well as save a lot of money! Workaway.info and helpx.net are good places to start, or you can just ask the hostel staff.
4. Balance your time between big cities (more expensive) and smaller towns (cheaper)!
5. Balance your time between cheap and expensive countries. Eastern Europe is ridiculously cheap and is also outside of the Schengen zone for those on extended trip.
6. Make the most of budget airlines and international buses - sign up for their email alerts to get the sales ASAP (I flew from London to Belgrade for £2!)
7. Take overnight transport if possible - this way you save on a night’s accommodation and don’t waste your day sitting on a bus or in an airport! (I do recommend earplugs, neck pillow and eye mask though…)
8. If you are staying in a hostel ask the staff for good, cheap places to eat as they are most likely on a budget too! Alternatively, most hostels have a kitchen so you can cook for yourself.
9. Haggling in a lot of European countries is common-place, so do your research and ask around to save getting ripped off.
10. Public transport is cheap, hassle-free and sometimes even more convenient than paying for taxis!
What is the most extreme thing you did to save money while in Europe?
I definitely took the long way around to get to Serbia (via Romania) to save money. Who wouldn’t when your flight costs only £2!? When I was in Belgrade I stayed in a hostel on the outskirts of town because it’s cheaper than staying in the city centre. I lived off the free pasta in the hostel for a while (I had lost my bank cards and had to wait for new ones to be delivered so I really had no money)!