Traveling to Europe is expensive – the airfare, hotels, rental car, meals out – but it doesn’t have to cost as much if you know how to sleep around Europe on a budget. Skipping the traditional hotel route also gives travelers options to shop at local markets, cook, and experience life as a local – which makes the experience richer. And really, isn’t that what travel is all about?
How to Sleep Around Europe on a Budget
- Home Swap :: This is my favorite route. A home, a kitchen, an actual neighborhood in a non-touristy location. What more could you want? Many times, the car comes with the home exchange and there’s no need to pay a house sitter at your home. Trading homes is free, too. Once you register for a home exchange website, you can make as many home swap arrangements as you’d like in a year. I do always take my own sponge. You never know what a kitchen sponge has been used on…(Find everything written about home swapping here.)
- Hostels :: An option that always includes getting to know the hostel (or hostal, depending on what country you’re traveling in) keepers or other guests. Many hostels have separate rooms for families and we’ve always had a hostel that can accommodate us – and we’ve not always had arrangements made ahead of time. Four people one room in older hostels can be tricky. In these cases, we’ve opted for two rooms. Bathrooms are generally down the hall so don’t forget a pair of flip-flops. You can shower in them or use them on the beach. (Find my packing list for Europe here.)
- Apartment Rental :: An option for longer stays; and while we’ve never actually done this, many friends have and highly recommend this route if the home exchange doesn’t materialize. It’s an inexpensive option to staying in a hotel and with a kitchen, you can cook with food from the local markets.
- Camping – Tent :: Camping in Europe is my preferred camping experience – it’s the only time I put on lipstick and wear a skirt while camping! This is not rustic camping, it’s refined camping. Most camping spots don’t allow campfires so you won’t have to worry about the lingering smell of campfire odor or the fine dirt that comes with tent camping in the U.S. With a shared community kitchen, large bathrooms/showers, and espresso bar/beer garden at the entrance, you’ll hardly feel like you’re camping. I love that the kids – regardless of language – all run around outside playing together. After site-seeing, hard cheese, bread, and wine make easy impromptu campground picnics. (We do lots of camping – and meal plan for it – read about it here.)
- Camping – Bungalows :: Spain is famous for their bungalow camping and many of these spots have swimming pools, too. One of the newer bungalow campgrounds we stayed in had a full kitchen with dishes, air conditioning, and laundry facilities. Yes, be ready to hang your laundry to dry outside but do so and then head to the pool. The laundry will dry in no time, I promise! We discovered the bungalow camping route after forgetting our tent poles at home when we were traveling in Spain. (You can read about that adventure.) It worked out so well, I’ll never tent camp in Spain again because why would I? Bungalows are just right.
Yes, traveling to Europe is expensive especially if you’re taking the whole family. These options make it more affordable and you can live like a local – which always makes traveling a richer experience.
Have your ever camped in Europe? Do wear lipstick and skirts while camping?