You don’t have to be rich to travel to Europe. You just need discipline and tons of research to make the trip possible.
There was an article posted on ABS-CBN that claimed P55,000 was enough for a 5-day trip to Paris. But in my opinion, this budget can still be scaled down provided you don’t mind sleeping in hostels and getting food from the supermarket. This could mean sharing a bathroom with 10 other travelers and eating cold food with a plastic fork, but I really didn’t mind. I still had the best adventure of my life during my 24-day stay in Europe.
We found a really cheap roundtrip flight for Manila-Paris-Manila last July 2013 and booked it right away for fear of the fares getting higher by the day. We still haven’t applied for the Schengen visa then, but we figured it was worth the risk. This also gave us ample time to save up for the trip, which wouldn’t happen until March 2014.
We also started researching for places to stay via booking.com. These were mostly hostels where the cheapest option would be a single bed in a 10-bed dormitory type bunk room, but since there were four of us traveling together we opted to get our own room with just the four of us bunked together for security purposes. In booking.com you do not need to make any deposits to book a room for most properties, so not having a Schengen Visa yet was not a problem. You can cancel the reservations any time before the trip without any charges. These reservations are also necessary when applying for the Schengen visa.
The Schengen Visa application can be done three months in advance of the trip, so we made sure to book an appointment at the earliest date possible (December 2013) so we could start booking our inter-country flights to avail of the cheaper fares. After months of saving up and putting enough cash in our bank accounts for “show money” and securing all the other necessary documents, we went to French Embassy to apply for the Schengen Visa. Five days later, our passports with approved Visa stamps were ready for pick up.
This was when the real planning started. Yes, it was overwhelming and frustrating at times, but like I said, you need tons of research in order to make the most out the trip with a limited budget in mind. We booked inter-country flights with EasyJet, a budget airline in Europe, which had far more cheaper flights than any other airline for European flights. I used Skyscanner and Edreams to search for the cheapest flights possible.
It took another three months of meticulous planning, then finally we were off to Europe! Five years ago I didn’t think it was possible, but I made it happen. And I would definitely do all of it again, hopefully in the next year or so. Europe is a grand, exciting, and beautiful continent, and we barely even scratched the surface.
We spent less than P120k each for everything (food, accommodation, transportation, etc.). We stayed about three days in each city, including Paris, Versailles, Rome, Florence, Berlin, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. We also went to Zurich, Lucerne, and Locarno in Switzerland, but most of our expenses there were covered by a really generous friend so we managed to save even more. Three days clearly wasn’t enough for each city, but we wanted to see as many cities as possible with the limited time that we had.
P120k may seem like a huge amount of money, but when you think about it, we spent nearly 25 days traveling in eight different cities, so that’s less than P5k per day. That’s more than 50% cheaper than spending P55k for just 5 days in Paris alone.
Here’s a detailed list of the expenses we had during the trip:
Our complete itinerary here:
Click HERE for more tips on how to travel Europe on a budget.
For details on how to apply for a Schengen Visa, please check out Dream Euro Trip. It also has loads of information on how to make your European Dreams come true. 🙂
I will post separate entries soon about each city that we visited. Please follow my blog for future updates. 🙂