HOW TO SPEND 35 DAYS IN EUROPE ON A PHP 200K BUDGET

euroBUDGET-02

First off, I won’t delve into the philosophical conundrum of why spending a large sum of money in a relatively short span of time would be worth it; but ask any ardent traveler and the answer would be a resounding yes.

I spent 35 days in Europe, landing in Paris and making my way down to Rome. The amount of money this sort of trip demands is no easy feat, so the best way to spend it is to make smart decisions. If that had always been the case, then all’s well and good, but God knows I’ve made a few rookie  mistakes. So here’s hoping I could help you make better choices and hopefully, save you a few bucks along the way.

VISA + INSURANCE + TRAVEL TAX

Not all countries are created equal. For us Filipinos, we have to jump through serious hoops before we get access to Europe. I applied for a Schengen Visa in the French Embassy. Granted or not, everyone pays €60 for the application process.  They also require you to have travel insurance. Find one that gives the option of a refund in case the visa wasn’t granted.

Before flying off, make sure you pay your international travel tax. Thankfully though, terminal fees are already included in the airfare since February 2015.

FLIGHT

A big part of your budget would be your flight going in and out of Europe. I found mine using Skyscanner. It’s a great resource to find cheap flights but I opted to book using the airline’s own system.

A direct flight from Manila to Paris will set you back pretty far. The best travel hack I did was to find nearby countries where flying into Paris would be cheaper. Simply add the cost of flying into that city and compare it with the direct flight.

My original route of Manila to Paris and Rome to Manila would cost me around Php 40,000. However, if I fly to Paris via Singapore, the combined cost of the two airlines is a little over Php 32,000 giving me quite a few savings. I have to consider the time in between flights though, as budget carriers have a reputation for being late.

INTER-CITY TRANSPORTATION

The first leg of my trip was quite simple. Trains would be the most logical choice as the distance is relatively close. You can book your tickets 30 to 60 days in advance to get the best deal possible.

The second half is a bit tricky. I originally intended to go to Venice after Berlin. However, night trains are quite expensive. They might save you a night’s stay but the cost of the train itself is pretty steep. The best alternative is to look at flights from budget carriers such as Ryanair, easyJet, or Vueling. Sometimes, flights are cheaper than trains plus they’re a bit faster. Compare trains, flights, and even buses and find the best option for you. GoEuro can be helpful but do more research before booking.

HOSTELS

The backpacker life isn’t complete until you stayed (and partied) in a hostel. They’re basically dorm style lodging so paying for a shared room can be a lot cheaper. It’s also the easiest way to meet fellow travelers and drinking buddies during pub crawls. I booked my hostels using Hostelworld.

The other cheap options for accommodations would be to use Airbnb or Couchsurfing. This option is best suited to meet locals and if you’re lucky, you might get a free meal in the process.

FOOD + ACTIVITIES

If you’re not picky with what you eat, you can live off a budget of  €5 to €7 per meal. The backpacker’s key to survival is a good Doner Kebab. Remember the name. It’s similar to a shawarma but in a hefty serving.

Hostels are usually equipped with a kitchen so you can also try pooling money with your roomies and cook your own dinner. You don’t always have to eat in a restaurant. A good hotdog, sandwich, or kebab can be pretty satisfying after a full day of walking.

Speaking of which, try joining free walking tours as much as you can. The term “free” is loosely used as the payment is in the form of tipping. The good thing is that you pay for what you think the tour is worth. The guys in red from Sandeman’s New Europe Tours give a pretty amazing and informative tour. It’s probably the best way to get a good introduction to the city and seek recommendations on which places to see, eat, drink and party.

Every city has its musts. Paris has the Louvre, Amsterdam has the Anne Frank House and Berlin has its clubs. Find out what you absolutely must do and allot a budget for that. You don’t have to map out every single activity throughout your entire trip but it’s nice to have a gauge on what you can do.  Then again, if you’re like me, you can go to a city and have absolutely no idea what to expect and just roll with the punches.

That’s the beauty of travel though. Planning is all about being smart and decisive. But sometimes, the best days are spent being lost and clueless. Money is just one part of the trip. Don’t let it limit you. I never got the chance to climb the Eiffel Tower, but what I do remember is getting drunk on the grass below it. Experiences aren’t measured by how much you spend, but rather the profound impact it hits you. You just have to know where the cost ends and the value begins.

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23 thoughts on “HOW TO SPEND 35 DAYS IN EUROPE ON A PHP 200K BUDGET

    1. Spring is a good season to travel but be prepared for cool weather, and even a couple of rainy days. I think May/June is ideal, though this depends on which part of Europe you’re planning to visit. Paris in May can be quite cold while Italy in June can be extremely hot.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I spend 20 days in Europe on a PHP 120K budget.

    Paris
    Berlin
    Hamburg
    Barcelona
    Prague
    Poland
    Amsterdam

    But my flight is from Singapore also.

    I will share my ite here.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi! Thank you for this info. Im planning to go to europe in april next year and would like to visit france, italy and switzerland. I just want to know which month you visited europe and which month you booked your flights (SG – paris & rome – manila). Also, when’s the best time to book hostel rooms to get the best rates? I know its way too early but Ive been checking flights and hostels to get an idea on the budget but the prices are really steep. Hope you could help. Thanks! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! I was in Europe from May to the first two weeks of June. I booked my flights and hostels on March once I finalized my visa (just to be sure). I do have existing reservations for my visa application. Hostels aren’t too sensitive on price, not unlike the flights, but i think the biggest factor on hostel price is the date your booking. Weekends tend to be a little more expensive. If there’s an event (ex. Oktoberfest in Munich or Primavera Concert in Barcelona), prices can skyrocket.

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  3. While a person is young, he/ she must explore the world. There are a lot of beautiful, historical and majestic places waiting to be discovered. In today’s technology everything is within your reach. Take advantage of it. If you opt for cheaper traveling like back packing, there are plenty of reputable hostels everywhere in Europe and other countries. I recommend you do your homework first, research and make inquiries. A good holiday takes a lot of planning and saving. I am an avid traveler myself but because I am in the older generation, I like to be waited, I like luxury traveling. There are still a lot of places that need to be explored that are in my Bucket List. I like to encourage everyone to widen your horizon, spread your wings and be brave to explore the world. Ancient cities a must to see.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. as a European myself.. the best advices I can give you guys
    1. buy a eurorail trainpass. many European students travel Europe for holiday with that
    2. Paris after July 14 is very quiet. so great time to visit.
    3. summer time (July august) best time to visit cities but difficult outside since it’s European holiday season
    good luck and have a great trip!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. hi! just want to ask. if i lodged my visa application in the italian embassy and wrote there entry point italy and exit point italy, will it matter if on the time of travel my entry will be france and exit in another country?

    from your budget, i didnt see any train or transportation cost within the city you are in, or is it already incorporated in the food+activities portion? your answers will be of great help and will be highly appreciated. thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Gea, the transportation cost within the city is already incorporated in the food+activities portion. You just have to group the places you wanna visit within close proximity with each other to lessen the transportation cost. I usually just spend for two rides a day and walk in between my destinations.

      Regarding the visa application, ideally, you’re supposed to submit your application to the country with the most number of days to be spent. I am not a visa expert and please don’t quote me on this, but if you already have your visa, I don’t see any problems with the change just as long as you have complete supporting evidence at your entry point (your flight back to Manila, accommodations, & financial docs).

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