International Travel on a Budget

International travel on a budget is easier than you might think!

Prior to this year, I’d reluctantly dismissed all thoughts of solo travel abroad – convinced it was too dang expensive.  And yet, I now stand (err, write) before you having taken two solo trips to Europe since January!

For Paris, I spent just under $1,000 on ALL trip expenses, and Barcelona cost me slightly over $1,000. So, basically, two major European cities for two grand. How’d I do it? Follow these tips, and you can, too!

  • Sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights. I’ve mentioned Scott’s before, but I can’t mention it enough! These deal alerts were the #1 reason I booked my first international solo trip – and my second, and all the ones hereafter. My Paris flight was $467. Barcelona was $440. And, Italy just $390. These are round trip prices, people! Sign up today and you may just book something tomorrow!
  • Ditch hotels for Airbnb. Not only will you save money, but you’ll feel more like a local – AND have a kitchen, which comes in handy for my next tip. (Check out my Paris and Barcelona Airbnb picks in this post. Both were less than $100 per night.)
Airbnb in Paris
  • Don’t eat out for every meal. Of course, enjoying the native cuisine is important, but limiting yourself to one or two restaurant meals per day won’t lessen the experience, just the expense. I promise. Plus, grocery stores and markets sell fresh, local ingredients and products unique to that country – so you can create your own authentic meals on the cheap. I also pack a thin, foldable lunch bag (like this) for snacks and portable meals when you’re on the go.

    “Home” cooked meal at the Airbnb in Barcelona
  • Walk as much as possible and buy the proper metro pass. Before you go, familiarize yourself with your destination’s public transportation to determine which type of pass you’ll need to cover the distances (and days!) you don’t plan to walk. Many cities also offer bike rentals and hop-on-hop-off bus tours, so check all your options to weigh the costs and practicalities of each.

    Arc de Triomf, Barcelona
  • Consider a shorter trip. If you plan to stay in one city, shortening your trip by a few days will significantly reduce your food, transportation, lodging, and sightseeing expenses. And, if you prioritize your itinerary by what’s truly important to you, then organize it by the location of each attraction, you’ll maximize your time and still feel like you had the full experience. Also, think about the travelers who city-hop. They generally only spend a few days in each city anyway, so going to Paris for the weekend (like I did) is really not so crazy after all.
  • Choose your splurge. By this I mean, determine what it is you don’t want to skimp on. Are you a foodie? Do you want at least one night in a luxury suite? Is souvenir shopping a travel must for you? Allowing yourself to indulge a little where it counts will keep you from feeling too restricted by your budget. So go ahead. Treat yo’self where it counts!

    Splurge dinner on Barceloneta Beach
  • And lastly, take lots of photos. They’re free, and you’ll have them always to remember the international trip you once thought you couldn’t afford to take.

Where is your dream international destination? Start planning today to make that dream a reality!

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