21 Brilliant Hacks for Saving Money When Travelling Eastern Europe

How to Save Money When Travelling Eastern Europe

I honestly couldn’t believe how wonderfully cheap Eastern Europe was when I toured the region this summer.

It really is a backpacker beauty of a destination and I don’t know if there’s too many other places in the world where your money could go further on some seriously great adventuring.

That said, there’s always some ways that you can do things cheaper than others and having spent 2 months travelling in this part of the world  on a budget, I’d like to think I’ve picked up a few tricks!

So here they are, my top 21 hacks when it comes to saving money on your travels in Eastern Europe.


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#1 Check out FlixBus / BusTicket4.me / GoEuro

Bosnia, Mostar, Stari Most

Honestly, when it comes to travelling cheaply in Eastern Europe, it really is all about buses people.

Unless you book miles in advance and manage to score some crazy deals, train travel in Europe, even in the east, can be a complete rip-off and buses are almost always cheaper (the 1 exception is perhaps Romania).

So why not save your pennies and travel by bus instead – the best companies I recommend (where you can book online in advance) include:

#1 FlixBus – great app and great prices mostly in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania

#2 Bustickets4.me – my go-to in the Balkans area where Flixbus tends to be less prevalent.

#3 Go Euro – a great train / bus website and app so you can compare rates, time and services.

 

#2 Use Tour Radar

If you’re looking to book some tours when you’re backpacking in Eastern Europe then can I recommend you check out TourRadar – offering a huge range of tours across the area, they are the perfect price comparison site so you can ensure you’re getting the best deal!

The most memorable tours I took in Eastern Europe inclued to Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland and the Herzegovina Countryside around Mostar in Bosnia.

 

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#3 Drink Local Beer or Wine

Slovakia, Bratislava, Craft Beer Bar

Look, there’s no way around it, you’re probably going to drink a lot in Eastern Europe – not least because local alcohol sources here are so cheap  – like cheaper than water!

Beer reigns in countries like the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany and Hungary.

Once you start getting down towards Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania however, the local wine cannot be ignored!

 

#4 Utilise the Tap Water

Pretty much everywhere in Eastern Europe – at least within the major cities where you’re most likely to be staying – the tap water is drinkable.

So save yourself some money, and save the environment some plastic, by taking a metal water bottle travelling with you, allowing you to refill for free from the tap.

 

#5 Don’t Travel in July and August

Hungary, Budapest, Baths

There’s no getting away from the fact that it’s high season frenzy across Eastern Europe in July and August and prices understandably soar during this time.

While this part of the world still offers an incredibly reasonable high season, travelling during the shoulder season in either June or September will still offer you good weather, but thinner crowds and lower rates across accommodation in particular.

 

#6 Stay Away from Croatia

When I said prices were in cheap in Eastern Europe I was, of course, generalising across many countries but honestly, prices tend to be low across the board … apart from Croatia that is!

Honestly, I was shocked by the rates there – with even a dorm bed in the Old Town of Dubrovnik setting you back over 40 euros… nonsense!

If you want to keep the budget low in Eastern Europe, my advice would be to avoid Croatia and stick to the most affordable countries of Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia Herzegovina and Romania instead.

 

#7 Get the Lonely Planet Guide

Czech Republic, Prague, St Vitus Cathedral

The wonderful Lonely Planet does an excellent Eastern Europe guide – which covers almost all the countries and offers an excellent overview when it comes to the major cities and destinations.

Getting the overview guide is much cheaper than buying individual destination books and, with a handy eBook format on offer, is also going to reduce the weight of your backpack too!

 

#8 Travel with Euros Cash

Because there’s few countries in Eastern Europe that actually have the same currency, there’s going to be a lot of swapping money if you’re moving between a few.

To avoid hefty ATM fees, I advise travelling with some cash on you and always think Euros is the best in terms of ease of exchange and rates.

 

#9 Snap up Free Walking Tours

Bulgaria, Plovdiv, Doorway

Almost every city in Eastern Europe offers a free walking tour and they are generally excellent.

Although they tend to work on a tip basis and therefore aren’t entirely free, they do normally offer exceptional value for money and are a great introduction to a city – making available a quick and digestible background history along with the crucial points of orientation.

I loved the one by young start-up company, 365, in Sofia, Bulgaria the most.

 

#10 Hit up the Local Markets

Local markets are plentiful in Eastern Europe and a great way to pick up cheap groceries and have a superb local interaction while you’re at it!

In fact, one of the most delightful things about the whole Balkan area is that major supermarket chains hardly feature here, even within the capital cities!

 

#11 Check out RideShare Apps

Hungary, Budapest, Bicycle

In some countries of Eastern Europe, travel is easier than others and it’s generally in the more mountainous or rural areas where it gets harder.

One particular country that springs to mind is Romania where, in Transylvania especially, public transport can be a bit of a nightmare.

In this situation, therefore, I recommend using rideshare apps.

If you’re not sure what ridesharing is, check out this post.

Otherwise, the key bit of info you need is that BlaBlaCar is the most popular rideshare app.

 

#12 Book Hostels that Offer Free Breakfast or a Kitchen

It might not sound like a lot, but the reduced costs of a free breakfast and a hostel kitchen soon add up if you’re travelling for a while.

My top picks in some of Eastern Europe capitals include:

Dakura Vintage Hostel in Prague, Czech Republic

Dream Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia

Das Nest in Budapest, Hungary

Hostel Mostel in Sofia, Bulgaria

ArkaBarka Floating Hostel in Belgrade, Serbia

Doctors House in Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina

 

#13 Get an EU SIM

Romania, Timisoara, Statue

It’s one of the best things to happen to backpackers (and European locals) – there is now free mobile roaming within the EU zone.

This means for those countries that are situated within the EU Zone, you can get a SIM (even a pre-paid SIM) and still use your data allowance, text and call packages anywhere within the EU Zone at no additional cost.

As such, within Eastern European countries like Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Czech Republic and Slovakia, you can grab a SIM in one of them and use it throughout at the same rate – genius!

 

#14 Take a Travel Towel

Avoid paying hostel towel rental fees and take your own with you.

My favourite new product is the great and affordable range of travel towels offered by LATREK Microfibre Travel & Sports Towel.

Small, thin, compact, soft, quick-drying and anti-microbial (which prevents them smelling) – I loved mine and used it across this part of the world with pleasure.

 

#15 Download a Currency App

Romania, Transylvania, Cafe

Make sure you have a currency app downloaded on your phone – there’s tons of free ones around.

That way you can ensure you’re not getting ripped off or exchanging at a bad rate wherever you’re travelling in Eastern Europe.

 

#16 Buy Travel Insurance in Advance

One sure-fire way to blow your budget in Eastern Europe – or anywhere in the world for that matter – is to get sick abroad, get robbed, or get into an accident and not be covered.

So do yourself a favour and get the appropriate cover before you leave home.

I always recommend travel insurance from World Nomads and have used them throughout my time in this region.

 

#17 Plan Your Route

Poland, Krakow, Street Lamp

You don’t have to be OCD organised, but planning your route in advance in Eastern Europe, at least perhaps planning a rough list of countries you want to visit depending on the timeframe you have, is going to be a great way to save money (and time) in this part of the world, by avoiding the risk of backtracking.

You’ll save a lot of money on transport this way, so plan a vague route, plan your buses and schedule flights in and out accordingly.

 

#18 Don’t Neglect Airbnb

Sometimes hostels can be a rip-off, honestly, so don’t neglect to check out Airbnb if you’re looking to snap an accommodation deal in an Eastern Europe city, especially if you’re after a private room.

Get £30 off your Airbnb stay when you register HERE!

 

#19 Get Spotify Premium or Amazon Audible

Slovakia, Bratislava, Street Sculpture

You’re going to need some form of entertainment on those long bus rides, and Spotify Premium, which remove the ads and works offline, is a bargain source of unlimited music.

Ditto Amazon Audible, which is my go-to when to comes to audiobook services.

 

#20 Consider Night Buses or Trains

If you want to save a night on accommodation, then long train or bus journeys can be the way to go in Eastern Europe, with many overnight routes operating across the region, helping you save the price of a bed.

 

#21 Price Compare Hostels on Hostelworld

Slovakia, Bratislava, Dream Hostel 4

And finally, if you are looking to stay in a hostel, can I suggest you check out Hostelworld – the best and most comprehensive service around for booking a dorm bed across the world, not just Eastern Europe.

 

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So that’s it folks, my 21 brilliant hacks for saving money when travelling Eastern Europe.

Do you have any beauties to add to this list?

I’d love to hear them…

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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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There Are 2 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Nick Boyle says:

    Cool tips. I would like to add one more tip for travelling, always use a vpn app for online security. Whether you are using public wifi, online transaction or want to access restricted content – vpn app is very handy to get this all sorted.

    • Steph says:

      Hi Nick – I agree, VPN’s are great and I use one too during my travels. That said, they’re not necessarily money savers, which is the theme of this article.

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