One of the best traveling advice that I can give you is to subscribe to airline companies newsletters, especially the low-cost ones. Example giving: Ryanair, Vueling, Easyjet.
Same applies to hostels engines. This is my favorite.
Around twice a week and sometimes, even more, low-cost companies send deals directly to your email address and some of them are extremely good deals. Of course, the negative aspect is that the lower the price, the more uncomfortable the departure time will be, but this is just a small aspect. Also, it will happen when you can’t plan your days off from work or when you still have lessons at university. But sometimes you can be lucky enough to find the perfect deal. That’s what happened to me.
I was still in Stockholm during my 7-month-long experience there, when I got a deal for the winter sales. I couldn’t travel for too many days because I was working as a babysitter almost every day and I was living on a budget. Except on weekends, that I usually spent exploring Stockholm. But the deal was so incredible and I wanted to go elsewhere for 2 days. I wanted to challenge myself and travel as much as possible and as cheap as possible.
But thanks to that newsletter, I booked two plane tickets for 9,99€ each. Yes, you heard me, basically 10€ per ticket. The destinations to choose from weren’t many, but I picked a a less popular city. So I picked Düsseldorf. I still had 105€ to cover 2 nights in a hostel, food, major attractions and transportations and less than 5 days to get all those things done.
Budget: 125€ – 20€ = 105€
The first thing I had to do after booking the flight, was to plan my itinerary quite carefully so that I could watch the most things with the fewer time. The nearest city to Düsseldorf was Eindhoven, in the Netherlands. Some people had told me that it is a small cute city that you can visit in less than 12 hours. After that, I thought about going to Germany again by bus, Köln this time. That’s where I spent two more days before going back to Düsseldorf by train and then back to Stockholm again.
From Airport Weeze to Eindhoven I should have taken the bus, which cost 18€ per person per run. Well, it was so late that night that there were no buses, but since we had booked the ticket and there were just 2 more people with me, the company sent a private driver. Just for the three of us, a stroke of luck! Anyway, the bus is the cheapest and 18€ are just fair if you think about the fact that you’re basically crossing international borders. Well, Germany-The Netherlands, but still.
Budget: 105€ – 18€ = 87€
So again, subscribing to websites or search engines can be a life-saver or, better, a wallet-saver. Hostel world is a great search engine for hostels and in Germany and the Netherlands, you can get a bed in a dormitory for 20-30€. Also, Airbnb could be a great opportunity, you can get a room for 15€ if you’re alone, otherwise if you are with other people you can share a room and pay like 8€ per night per person. That’s what I did. I was with three crazy friends that I met in Stockholm, an Italian and a Chinese (two of the best travel partners ever found) who were off school and shared an Airbnb room for 9€ per person (27€ in total). I think that Airbnb can give you more of an insight into how to live like a local could be.
Budget: 87€ – 9€ = 78€
I visited the city center (in particular the beautiful St. Catherina’s Church) and the famous flying pins.
I spent around 7€ for breakfast and lunch (the first consisted of a coffee and a bagel, the latter in a sandwich with unidentified ingredients). Anyway, Eindhoven is a nice town and I wish I had more time to visit it!
Budget: 78€ – 7€ = 71€
After visiting Eindhoven in a couple of hours, I took the train from the central station to Düsseldorf. I wanted to go straight to Köln but it was more expensive than going to Düsseldorf first and then get another train to Köln. The ticket had a cost of 16€. The cheapest way though is car sharing, it’s a great way to move around Europe driving a couple of hours. I don’t drive though, I have no driving license (yet). With car-sharing, you can pay 8€ instead of 16€.
Budget: 71€ – 16€ = 55€
The bus from Düsseldorf to Köln cost 4€ with DB Bus (https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml)
Budget: 55€ – 4€ = 51€
Staying at a hostel was a life-saver, I paid 15€ for a night in Köln. I visited the city in two days and let me say it: it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. The Cathedral is probably the major attraction in Köln, it’s the tallest Gothic cathedral in Germany with a height of 157 mt.
Visiting Köln in late November was a great idea, because of the Christmas markets all over the town. The largest was probably right next to the Cathedral and walking through the market you could smell a real Christmas atmosphere that I had never felt for years. Let me say it, the food is magical there and the Glühwein was the best way to keep your body warm in spite of the cold. I spent around 25-30€ on those markets for 1 lunch, 1 dinner, 1 breakfast and 1 lunch for the next day. It may sound a lot, but I love food and that’s the best way to explore a culture, right? And anyway you need to eat, so…
The Christmas market offers live music and great friends too! I managed to meet a friend from Bonn who was also in Köln. Christmas is magic, apparently!
I’d really recommend Sauerkraut, Bratkartoffeln, Backfisch, Bratwurst… I’m hungry again, you can literally find any kind of typical German food. Try as much food as you can. I wanted to take pictures of the food I tried, but it disappeared before I could take the camera. This is the only one that I took.
Budget: 51€ – 30€ = 21€
Around 16:00 I took the bus from the Hauptbahnhof to the Airport in Dusseldorf. It took a couple of hours and the price for the ticket was 20€, probably the cheapest way.
Final Budget: 21€ – 20€ = 1€
You can save much more money and therefore travel as cheaper as possible by following these tricks:
- Hostels and Airbnb are cheap, but not free. If you want to sleep for free, then try couch-surfing. https://www.couchsurfing.com/ is the best way to save money but also to get to know many people around the world! It’s easy to use and you can easily make friends with locals. Trust me, you won’t regret it and it’s safe! So go ahead!
- Public transportation can be cheap, but not if you book a few days before. Try car sharing, you can share the cost with other people that are going towards the same place as you.
- Even though a sandwich is way cheaper than a restaurant, it might be a bad idea to buy things at the supermarket and eat as cheaply as possible. Remember that a great part of a trip is to try the local food at least once. After that, you can live with just some bread and coffee. Tons of coffee. I’m not telling you to try the fanciest restaurant ever, but almost every country has its street food tradition, which is usually cheap.
I came back to Sweden with just 1€ in my pocket, but with much more energy in my body after visiting Eindhoven (The Netherlands) and Cologne (Germany).