A major advantage in choosing Europe for your first foreign adventure is that many student-style travelers have already covered this area, so there are well-developed student and youth travel services.
For example, many countries and cities publish English-language brochures on student-style lodgings, youth discounts and other budget tips, such as how to use public transportation and where to find inexpensive meals.
In cities such as Copenhagen and Innsbruck, special lounges are provided in rail stations for young travelers.
Housing in Castles
In countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, some youth hostel accommodations can be found in castles; in Stockholm, you can find hostel accommodations on a ship in the harbor.
Young travelers are eligible for many transportation discounts, including reduced rates on point-to-point rail travel between European countries. These tickets, known as Transalpino or Eurotrain, are available through student and youth travel services and at some European rail stations.
Some cities have special welcome services to help young visitors on arrival. For example, Belgium's student travel service, ACOTRA, operates a welcome desk at the Brussels airport and provides a free reservation service.
Service in France
In Paris the AJF ( Accueil des Jeunes en France ) has more than 5,000 beds available year-round for young visitors. Many are in dormitory-style rooms in budget hotels or student residences. Some twin and single rooms also are available. The AJF will make a reservation for you while you wait. There is no service charge, but you must pay for your first night's lodging when you make the reservation. An AJF office is open seven days a week at the Gare du Nord (North Railway Station) arrival hall.
Tourist information offices are often in or near railway stations. Use the free maps and information they offer. Often you'll find details on self-guided walking tours.
Try to arrive in a city new to you early in the day. You'll have the greatest selection of budget accommodations. Youth hostels may close for several hours during the day, but often they have a room where you may leave your gear.
Try to see a room before you part with your money. This isn't always possible if you are going to use services such as the AJF, but take a look when you have the opportunity. Make sure you understand the room rate: Sometimes extra charges are added for taxes, use of a hot shower or meals that must be paid for whether you want them or not.
Watch for restaurants used by local residents. Remember that areas around universities are usually good spots for inexpensive restaurants and lodgings.
Check for student or youth discounts at tourist sights even if a special rate is not indicated. Some major tourist sights are free to the public on certain days of the week (for example, the Louvre Museum on Sunday in Paris).
In Case You Get Lost
Get someone at your hotel to give you a card or write down the address of where you are staying. If you get lost you can show it to someone who may be able to point you in the right direction.
Ask at tourist offices about local festivals. Whether it's a small village gathering or the gigantic Oktoberfest, it's fun to join the party and a good way to meet residents. On holidays, transportation services may be packed. Seat reservations can be well worth the small fee.
Plan to spend some time outside city areas. Cycling in the Netherlands or Denmark, hiking in Switzerland or relaxing on a beach in Portugal can all be done on a student-style budget.