Eurotrips are a classic, often dangerously inebriating part of a college-age person's life. It's a common activity and you should absolutely, by all means take one. Except, you're sun-collapsingly broke. Well, duh, you're either just done with or still in college. According to the internet, that shit is expensive! I mean, wow, holy shit. If you wanted to be a doctor you should have just hung around hospital waiting rooms and watched re-runs of MASH, like me. No need to blow all of your money on silly willy impulse buys like higher education.
But you did.
And you still want to go to Europe? Haha, really? Oh man, this is going to be good. Well, put on your outside helmet and get ready to get cheap. As someone who did Europe on seven bucks and half a Subway sandwich, I'm here to tell you that you don't have to save up a fortune to do it. You can do it for very little.
Now, the actual sightseeing and activities are for you to figure out; I'm just here to tell you how to take care of the basic necessities, and also steal your laundry. So if you're looking for a country-by-country "how to" guide, I'm sure the rest of the internet has those somewhere. Just sift through the porn. You'll find them eventually.
With that out of the way, let's get started.
|How Will I Get Around?|
Unless you're Michael Phelps, you're going to have to fly there. But that will probably be the single most expensive part of your trip, unless you're really into Nordic hookers. A good tip for flying cheaper is to fly out of New York.
If you can cheaply take a bus (look up Megabus) there, flying from NYC can save you hundreds of dollars. Or maybe seven. Math was never my strong suit. Just look into it.
But once you're there, Europe is great because it has a very comprehensive and easy to follow transportation system. Trains, buses, and planes. And other than the planes, you rarely even get your passport checked as you move between borders because of that whole European Union whatchamacallit. (Note: according to spell check, "whatchamacallit" is an actual fucking word.) And all of these things are cheap, intuitive, and just plain easy to use.
And you're not taking any of them.
Why not? Because friggin' hitchhiking, man! Did you know that other than the cost of the occasional impromptu bout of fellatio, hitchhiking is free! You just stick your thumb out, and BAM! Instant confused conversation with someone who probably doesn't speak your language.
Fortunately, you don't have to speak the language. Just say the name of where you're going and quite often, BAM! Instant ride. Instant, quiet, awkward, and slightly uncomfortable ride.
"But Cole, isn't hitchhiking dangerous and illegal?" you ask, somehow.
NO! Now stop asking questions.
It's only illegal to hitchhike on highways. Just like in the United States, and yes, you can hitchhike in America. The best way to do it is stand near a highway, like at an on ramp or something, that leads to where you want to go. And as for being dangerous, just follow your gut on that one. If the 600-pound trucker with glowing eyes and a bag of strangled kittens seems a little shifty, just say no. Don't worry about seeming rude, you'll never see them again.
If you're a girl traveling by yourself however, in all seriousness I would exercise more caution. Maybe find a travel buddy. Like a knife.
It might take a little while to get a ride, especially one going where you want to go, but hey, it's free, and you meet a lot of interesting people. But just a warning, be prepared to tell and re-tell all of your travel stories every time you get a ride. Because they'll ask.
They always ask.
Maybe switch it up a bit, tell them you're actually a time traveling dragon fucker. See what kind of results you get.
|Where Will I Stay? (aka Couches and Hostels and Bears, Oh My!)|
Did you know that bears don't sleep on beds? It's true. They sleep on forests. And since you obviously want to be a bear, the best possible way to emulate that experience is by mauling passing campers. The second best way is to grow a lot of body hair and walk around naked.
I'll just skip to the part where you sleep on the ground.
Being a hobo isn't so bad. You go to bed when and where you want, and no one questions it when you smell like piss or keep your toe-nail clippings in a jar. It comes with the territory.
And that territory is everything! Now, I won't lie. It won't be comfortable, and you will often get woken up by the police. But the thing is, most of them only do it because they have to.
The other thing is, most of the police officers realize that homeless people exist, and telling them to not sleep outside is like telling them to just stop existing. They get it. You need to crash somewhere. So every time they ever woke me up, they just told me, "Oh god, you smell like shit. And not metaphorically. You literally smell like feces." And they also told me just to move along.
Camping also works if you're in a smaller town or between towns.
Some European countries have a law that allows you to camp on someone else's land for one night, permitting that you are within a certain distance from their home or any of their other buildings. This is a real thing that you can really do. Listen to the random guy on the internet and go sleep in someone's backyard! Try it today!
Or, and I probably should have mentioned this one first, there exists a great website called Couchsurfing.org, where you can sign up among a network of millions, and just friggin' sleep on their couches. For free.
Again, I'm for totes serious. It's completely legit, and I used it a bunch. But there's a catch: A lot of people won't be that interested in hosting you if you don't have any recommendations. And you can't get recommendations unless you get hosted.
The best way around this is to look for Couch Surfing events in whatever city you're staying in, and try and meet some people in person. If they get a chance to meet you and get over your hunched back, and that weird eye that you have, then they may be more likely to give you a place to stay… and a recommendation, which again, is like currency. Maybe try and rack up a couple before heading overseas. Stay with someone in your town or not too far away. Just an idea.
And as for safety, other than one or two stories of girls getting hosted by guys who kept hitting on them, I've yet to hear of a truly bad experience. But again, the use of basic common sense should prevent most bad run-ins.
Plus, if your host has time, they will often show you around town, advise you on the best brothels, cook you a meal, or take you to a pub. Again, not always, but it does happen quite often. So, you know, more free stuff.
I won't bore you with all of the rules and guidelines, as those are on the website, but seriously, go check it out.
The last option is hostels, which, despite what that one movie and most random people will tell you, are not dangerous. Seriously, this was one of the things people tried to warn me about most before I left. That hostels were unregulated murder palaces. Of course that was an awful lot of bullshit. Hostels are fine, cheap, and often have free breakfasts. Saving you more money. I didn't frequent hostels, as my budget wouldn't allow it, but every couple of weeks I would make sure to stop by one, just to have an actual bed and a shower.
Now, if you're doing this the cheap way, you'll be in a dorm, and it'll probably be co-ed. So if that bothers you, change in the bathroom (which is almost always NOT co-ed). Again, it's safe, and most people were always quite respectful of my privacy. But be careful with your shit. Keep your bags locked (you can padlock the zippers—do this) or keep them checked up front. Not all hostels do that, but many do. Sometimes your room will be full, and sometimes it will be empty, just like your heart.
Just like hitchhiking, this is another great way to meet people to hang out with or even travel with. In Venice I met up with a pair of the nicest Canadian girls you'll ever meet, and wound up traversing the majority of Italy with them. Sometimes people are just awesome.
Oh! Wait! One more option to keep in mind. There are a couple of websites (like wwoof.org) where you can sign up to stay and work for people in exchange for a place to crash, and sometimes a couple of bucks. The work is usually on farms or in hostels, but I've heard of people working a wide range of jobs. I've never done this one personally, but plenty of the people I forced my company on told me it was a great way to go. And then they said to leave them alone… please dear God leave them alone.
|Is Your Self-Esteem Worth Half a Sandwich? (aka Begging)|
There's no way around it. You probably need a couple bucks. You smell like the devil's taint, and have already eaten several of your toes out of desperation. Or maybe that was a sex thing. I won't pretend to know your fetishes.
Regardless, you want to get some cash with the least amount of blowing international businessmen possible (and don't worry, you'll only have to do that, like, twice. Max). But you have some time to kill. Well, beg, or busk?
Begging is just that. You sit there, usually with a sign and some sort of container to hold money. You may scoff at me (and rightly so, as I am a terrible person), but the thirty euros I got from sitting on my ass for a couple of hours one day bought me plenty of food to help me get over the amount of shits I give about your opinion.
The amount of shits I give is zero, by the way.
The key to begging success is mostly in the presentation. You have two main options…
1. Rock the classic disheveled look.
Appear to be a pathetic low life that no one could love. The very scum of the world. People will look at you and try not to vomit, and your own mother would probably deny your existence, or at the very least admit that she kept you locked in a shed while you were growing up. And since that's all true you just have to dirty yourself up a bit and sit somewhere busy.
Maybe screw a Waffle House bathroom or something. That'll get you just silly with dirt (and pink eye).
Then, just go outside and look pathetic. Try and find a high traffic area, but with as few cops as possible, as they will often shoo you away. Maybe hold up a sign saying how all twelve of your children are fighting a losing battle against scurvy and you need money for limes. Regardless of your tactic, the general rules remain the same.
2. Be goddamn presentable.
This is what I did, and it usually yielded good results.
The truth is, people don't like going near homeless people. They're icky. So, take a damn shower and put on some clean clothes. If you have a backpack, make it obvious. Let them know that you're a traveler. Because maybe they traveled once, and remember how much it sucked to be broke. Or maybe they just like the idea of traveling, and want to give you a hand. Either way, I like the clean option. You're not lying to anyone, claiming to be a leper. You just need a buck.
I would always hold up a sign when I did it, with something either inspirational or funny written on it. (Google Translate is your best friend.)
My favorite was a sign that said (in French): "I bet you can't hit me with a coin."
It worked. And yes, one or two people did actually throw the coins at me.
|Don't I Need to Eat Food? (aka Dumpster Diving)|
Oh, shit! Food! Oh man, I friggin' forgot about food! You will have to eat. Food is actually really important.
Don't go to McDonald's or some shit. They're actually kind of expensive over there, especially in bigger, touristy cities. (On a side note, some of them sell beer. What you do with that information is entirely up to you, and neither I nor PIC will take responsibility should you get trashed at a Parisian McDonald's and shit in their oven.)
Supermarkets (or dollar stores) are the best places to go for your day to day travels, as you can buy cheap crap. And do yourself a favor and eat some healthy stuff. No, I'm not asking you to make a garden herb salad, but like, a fucking apple every now and then. Or sardines. Lots of protein and they take forever to go bad. Don't drown yourself in cookies (although that has to be on the top hundred ways to die, right after kitten smothering, and getting punched to death by boobs).
And in all honesty that will cover you for most of the time.
But what if you want to go even cheaper?
Well the obvious answer is to strip away any dignity you have left and cover yourself in other people's waste. I'm of course talking about the time-honored(?) tradition of dumpster diving.
Is it disgusting? Meh. But contrary to popular belief, dumpster diving usually gets you a lot of good food, and not just half-eaten Big Macs. Again, supermarkets are a good call. Or anywhere that has a bakery section of some kind, as these places will often throw out stock after close. And it will usually be in a bag by itself, and clean.
Exercise a bit of common sense. Does it look moldy, spoiled, or any other adjective you don't want to use to describe something you're about to ingest? Then don't fucking eat it.
Really though, you can get good food for free this way, and you're keeping it from going to waste by being a cheap bastard. Congrats!
Is it legal?
While again, it varies by country, the act of dumpster diving is usually legal, as, just like the USA, ownership of an item is rescinded upon discarding an item in a refuse bin. You may run into trouble with trespassing, but a general rule of thumb is, if there's a wall around the dumpster, someone will probably have a problem with you being inside of it. Case by case basis.
If you want to avoid that drama, you could just ask for the food.
Find a place that sells food (lots of those around the world), maybe a sandwich shop, and ask them what they do with their food after close. A lot of these places are just going to throw it away. So often times you'll either just be handed the food at close, or you will at least know if there's going to be food in the dumpster. It's a win/win.
I actually met one couple who lived entirely on dumpster diving. They didn't buy food. Or, well, anything for that matter. They didn't believe in money, and despite showing them some from my wallet to prove that it does in fact exist, they never wanted any.
And they were happy. And healthy.
So, you know, if they can live their life off of it, you can probably suck it up for a day or two if necessary.
* * *
And those are the main bases you need to cover. Sure, there are other things you'll have to spend money on, but I don't know you. Maybe you're a dick. Why would I spill all of my secrets?
So, if you've been holding back on the trip of your dreams because you couldn't muster up the money, then you don't have any more goddamn excuses then, do you? DO YOU?!
Europe's just on the other side of the pond.
Why aren't you?