The Louvre in Paris
Traveling to Europe
is usually an expensive endeavor, but can be inexpensive if certain measures and sacrifices are made. If you are really creative, you may be able to travel Europe for free, or at least parts of your trip for free. If you are willing to be flexible and skip the upscale, and even mediocre accommodations and luxuries, you may just be able to swing a European vacation for free.
Things You'll Need:
- Mileage credit card
- Mileage credit card
Use a frequent flyer credit card and earn miles to accumulate enough points to travel to Europe. Choose one that offers a large bonus, like 20,000 start up miles, for signing on and making your first purchase. Then use your card for everything, including all purchases and paying bills. Be sure to pay it off at the end of each month so you do not incur any fees or interest.
Travel through Europe for free by biking, walking or hitchhiking. Biking through Europe is actually common. Before leaving, read a biking through Europe book such as "Cycle Europe: 20 Tours, 12 Countries" by Jerry Soverinsky. You can also take your European adventure on foot. "Walking Europe from Top to Bottom" by Susanna Margolis will give you the information you need to make this a success. Hitchhiking on the other hand, was once a common practice especially in the 60s and 70s, but now is considered a more dangerous option. If you consider hitchhiking, look on sites like autostop.lt for safety tips (see Resources).
Go couch surfing or house swapping. Couch surfing is the current rage for not only getting free accommodations, but immersing yourselves into the culture by living among and with the locals. Couchsurfing.org has thousands of persons willing to offer you their couch (or spare room) to sleep on. Sign up and then select a country and then peruse the different persons listing their couch. You will then contact them and arrange your stay. You can also house swap. This is when someone will stay in your house and you stay in his during the same time period (see Resources).
Eat for free. This may be a bit more difficult unless you plan on eating out of the garbage or mooch consistantly on the locals, but you can become a mystery shopper to get some free meals. You will need to have access to the Internet to fill out a report on your dining experience and food. Mystery Shopping Providers Association, which is the organization that represents accredited mystery shopping companies, has a European division (see Resources). Select "Search MSPA Companies" and sign up for a few to look for free meals.
Visit museums and other places of interest for free. Many churches, museums and other historic sites have free admission. For example, The Natural History Museum in London and the Barcelona Cathedral are both free. Other places of interest have a free day once a week or once a month. For instance, the Louvre in Paris is free the first Sunday of every month and the Museum of History of the City of Luxemburg is free on Thursdays from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Be sure to look on their websites before leaving on your European trip to take note of all the free admissions and times. Don't forget the parks, beaches and markets that are free all the time.
Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.