Travelling for 100 euros
Vacation on a shoestring
Volunteering in Scotland and Portugal
‘The most budget thing to do is to go volunteering,’ says Elise Labberte. After graduating secondary school, the student of international relations found herself with a lot of wanderlust but very little money. On websites such as Workaway and Workpackers, she found volunteering opportunities where she could earn food and accommodation for just a couple of hours of work per day. Her main expenses would be going out for lunch or drinking as well as day trips. ‘You can even make money sometimes!’
It’s still Elise’s favourite way of travelling, ‘because you get integrated into the culture so much. You end up in the weirdest places and meet the nicest people’. Like the wealthy Scottish family she stayed with, or the work she did with a group of volunteers in Portugal.
You can even make money sometimes!
For both Workaway and Worldpackers, the standard yearly subscriptions currently run at 49 dollars, a little less than 45 euros. The fee covers not only access to registered hosts, but also services like small-scale insurance and emergency hotlines.
Although she spent longer periods abroad, there are also short-term and, as Elise stresses, last-minute opportunities. She encourages anyone to take the leap. ‘If you get there and it is not your thing, you can still go somewhere else. Make sure not to worry too much.’
With a Deutschland ticket to the Harz
For Janina Fuchs, Germany was the most budget choice for a vacation last summer, using the popular 49 euro ticket that gets you all around the country for a month using trains and regional transportation. ‘It helps you save a bunch on travel costs.’
The student of infrastructure and planning went to the Harz, a mountainscape in Southern Lower Saxony, for a small camping adventure with friends. Once there, they found all facilities at Camping Braunlage, for a price starting at 10 euros per person per night.
We concluded that one day of hiking was enough
‘The second day we went out to explore the beautiful hiking trails’, Janina says. ‘We wanted to hike all the way to the mountaintop of the Harz, the Brocken. But after getting lost and reaching the peak only after a hefty detour, we concluded that one day of hiking was enough.’
They spent day three and four relaxing by the lake, but, says Janina: ‘the region has even more to offer!’ If you ever find yourself in the Harz, explore historical castles or caves, as well as the possibility to rent mountain bikes to see more of nature.
Most importantly though, she implores everyone to do their research about the public transport connections! Little things like downloading the regional public transport app VRB can be very helpful to get around. ‘It also does not hurt to call the camping site and inquire about their availability in time.’
All around Europe
Exchange student Ludovic Thorel has become an overall experienced budget traveller during his time in Groningen. He stayed in the city for only a year, but went to Bremen, Berlin, and Stockholm, and paid visits to his roommates’ parents’ houses in Brussels, Lille, and Paris. ‘This is the beginning of my tourist guide career’, he says.
He travelled to Bremen with the Flixbus, which provides tickets starting at 16 euros. He comfortably spent a weekend for under 100 euros per person in the historical German city. But you can also use it as a transit trip to Berlin, using Flixbus in combination with the 49 euro ticket. ‘If you want to go southwards, you might want to go to Leer first’, he says. ‘That way, you can go to some cities like Berlin, Hamburg or Köln for about 75 euros including the return trip.’
With a student budget, it is the most affordable
Ludovic is now planning to go to Gdansk, using plane tickets that cost only up to 20 euros from Amsterdam. ‘That is not very ecological, but with a student budget, it is unfortunately the most affordable.’ Having found an Airbnb for 30 euros per person per night, each of them can stay five days on the Baltic coast for a bit more than 100 euros each.
Ludovic made another interesting discovery. ‘I thought if it’s cheap to go to Poland, it should be cheap to leave. Which was true. I found flights from Gdansk to Oslo for less than 10 euros.’
Using the ‘Gdansk technique’, it can also be extremely cheap to visit third countries. ‘I went to Stockholm in a group of six this year and we found this Airbnb for 29 euros per night per person. A group trip to Scandinavia with a transit in Eastern Europe could therefore also be an affordable option this summer.’
Hitchhiking to Budapest
A more ecological option is the adventure Koen Moerman undertook last spring. The student of international relations hitchhiked all the way from Groningen to Budapest this year. ‘We managed to arrive in the capital of Hungary after only three days’, he says.
We could have done it more low budget than we did
In Budapest, hostel prices start at 20 euros per night. However, he admits that, after arriving and diving into the nightlife, he wasn’t watching his spending as much anymore. ‘We could have done it more low budget than we did.’
If you, however, would like to avoid spending too much, Koen suggests looking into events organized by the local Erasmus Student Network groups.They are usually free and you can find information on Facebook or Instagram. Apart from that, he recommends just exploring the city. ‘Wandering around is free and it’s really worth wile to get a glimpse of its vibe.’
Volunteering on the Faroe Islands
Marie Herrnhold combined hitchhiking and volunteering. She travelled for a year ‘with almost no expenses’, after graduating high school. She used not only Workaway, but also the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, for volunteering opportunities in the agricultural sector. Like with Workaway, a volunteer is usually compensated with free accommodation and sometimes food.
‘You can use it to really get to know a place, or to travel around, like I did’, the student of biomedical sciences says. ‘I would work four to six hours per day and stayed on average one and a half weeks. But others stayed for up to three months.’
This is how I met some really great people
While working, she not only took care of cattle and cats, but also got to raise a baby pheasant and befriended her favourite chicken Goldie, whose personal caregiver she became. Out of all her destinations, she fell in love particularly with the north: ‘Skuleskogen National Park Sweden and the Dolomites were unparalleled.’
It is important, though, to select the right hosts, because there are people out there who exploit the system and just get a lot of volunteers in order to not hire actual labour. ‘So check who writes a lot in their profile and seems excited and experienced in travelling. This is how I met some really great people.’