Top left hand corner is a photograph at the Alhumbra in Granada, Top right hand photograph is a photograph of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia. The bottom left hand photograph is in Scotland showing a piper at Spean Bridge. The bottom right hand photograph is of the Town Hall in Leeds. In the centre of the photographs is the words, 3 tips for planning a 3 week Australia - Europe trip in the peak season for $5.3K AU in total with the Economiss logo next to it

When people talk about going to Europe they budget in at least $10,000 for their trip. In 2017 I had the honour of being asked to be bridesmaid for my friend in Edinburgh, Scotland. I live in Brisbane, Australia, almost as far as you can get from Scotland (about 23 hours on a plane). This article details three ways I planned a 26 day trip to Europe for $5.3K Australian and how you can use these tips particularly focusing on the power to optimise your next overseas adventure.

Research your flights

The way The Economiss sees it, with big purchases, such as airfares, doing some research is worth a saving of $20, $30, or $100 and is a much better use of time than investigating to save money on smaller items. A couple of hours of research is worth saving $100-$500 on flights and an few extra minutes using the Bpay system through the airline is certainly worth the additional saving.

Make a spreadsheet

For the Europe trip I made a spreadsheet and started researching flights for my dates across different airlines. We were travelling during a peak time, May, or the start of the European summer so it was important to look carefully as the fares were more expensive. My friend and I had decided we wanted to go to Edinburgh first to plan for the wedding, after the wedding we wanted to explore Spain but did not have a preferred route, finally we wanted to head back to London and fly out of London back to our respective countries:

  • Brisbane, Australia – Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Edinburgh, Scotland – Somewhere in Spain
  • Somewhere in Spain – London, England

I was open to travelling from Australia to New Zealand first before flying to Europe if the price ended up being cheaper, I knew the days that I wanted to travel and I made an excel spreadsheet detailing the date, airline, cost, time of flight and flight number for each airline as well as lots of the third parties that advertise deals for cheaper airfares.

After a few months of research when an email came through to me offering a 20x points offer on Flybuys if I booked through Etihad and I looked at the airfare price I knew from my research that it was the best deal even before I got the free Flybuys points so I ended up booking through the third party booking website, Flybuys Travel.

Screen shot of the image from flybuys that was sent to Kim in 2017. It reads flybuys 10x points, collect 10x POINTS on Etihad Airways flights network wide. Book now. Offer valid Mon 15 May to Sun 28 May 2017

  • Although I had to book another separate flight from London to Edinburgh initially it was worth it because I was going to fly out of London to get back to Australia
  • The Flybuys points I received from booking ended up saving me another $100 up the track when I traded them in for a $100 Coles grocery voucher
  • Flying with Etihad meant I could make the most of my lounge access as I was a member with Virgin and Virgin and Etihad were airline partners. It also meant I got another 20,000 Virgin points for travelling with a Virgin partner that I traded for another $100 Coles grocery voucher – if you are keen to see how I got $950 for free in 2017 hacking points and rewards systems check out my post

Think logically when considering deals

The process of Design Thinking can get business owners or entrepreneurs to frame problems in different contexts to be open to different solutions. You as a consumer can also question why you accept certain types of behaviour within one industry but not within another. I still cannot believe airlines are allowed to charge such a high fee for customers to use their credit cards or debit cards to pay can you imagine if normal shops charged consumers a large surcharge to use our debit card or credit card to pay like the airlines? The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission changed the law in 2017 so businesses could only pass on the actual cost of processing payments.

photograph of an Air New Zealand plane with the words economiss travel hack: question convenience - airlines charge $11 per person for paying with credit or debit card - it's free using bpay or poli

The theory of Behavioural Economics has proven that human beings naturally think differently about saving money on big purchases as opposed to small purchases. Richard Thaler from the University of Chicago has named this process mental accounting and the process of hedonic framing. This is why people will spend a long time looking around the supermarket to save small amounts of money on smaller purchases and do not acknowledge the same cost savings on larger purchases. Here’s a quick example to get you thinking…

Sale – flights to Europe Was 1400 Now 1380*

*$20 fee each leg for using debit card or credit card to pay.

Sale – Pepperjack Shiraz Was $25 Now $20

For the airfares scenario if you used Bpay you would save yourself $60 on your booking but with the wine scenario you are only saving $5 but because you are saving 25% with the wine it seems like a better deal. When you think carefully about this situation logically it makes no sense that people do not spend a little extra time researching flights or use BPay to pay for flights (shame on you airlines for charging people a $20 fee per flight for using their credit cards to pay).

Consider different sorts of accommodation

How can you strategically plan for your accommodation costs?

Have you done your research across hotels, third party accommodation booking websites

In a similar process to investigating airfares you can find the best accommodation deals by putting in some extra time to research different options.

Would you consider AirB&B or backpackers?

In 2012-2013 I spent 6 months backpacking around Asia and Europe. The thing I liked most about backpacking was how easy it was to meet people and make friends.

In Spain we went to Barcelona, Malaga and Granada. In Barcelona and Granada we stayed in Air B&B sharing the apartments with locals and other guests.

In Malaga we stayed in a dorm at a backpackers.

Can you stay with friends?

My friend, the bride and her husband, kindly let the other Bridesmaid and I stay with them in Scotland, this helped so much to keep our costs down.

In London we stayed with Claire’s friends and I stayed with my Dad’s Cousin and her partner in Manchester.

Remember when staying with friends to purchase special gifts to say thank you and contributing to the household.

Don’t skimp on activities

Why would you travel to the other side of the world and not make the most out of every opportunity. I prefer personally to travel light, to purchase art while travelling and very little else.

In Scotland I stayed in Edinburgh to prepare for the wedding for two weeks. I was mainly getting ready for the wedding but also did a day trip to Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands.

In Spain I went to Barcelona, Malaga and Granada for seven days some activities included a Gaudi art tour in Barcelona, visiting the Alcazaba and the Picasso museum in Malaga, seeing an underground Flaminco show and visiting the Alhumbra. in Granada.

In England I went to London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds for three days. I caught trains to different places to catch up with friends and family in different places.


When looking to travel overseas put in some time and do your initial airfare research, consider different accommodation options and don’t skimp on the activities. The money that you save through using your logical brain to save on airfares and accommodation can be utilised through special experiences.

The Economiss is a single, female, millennial on a mission to buy her first home in Australia. A Kiwi by birth, she jumped over the ditch after she finished her tertiary qualifications in search of employment. The narratives quite often showing up online overshadowed her thoughts of buying a house alone changed in 2017 The Economiss started super charging her finances and saved over 30% of her after tax income towards her house deposit as well as cash flowing four overseas trips. In 2018 The Economiss decided to create a new narrative and share her journey saving 36% of her after tax income for a $60,000 house deposit by December 2018. Do you have some tips to share or want to be featured on the blog, please get in touch!

How to travel to Europe for under $5.3K
Tagged on:     

Leave a Reply