When Andy and I set off on our Beyond Vacation kick-off trip, I decided to keep track of every penny we spent. There were two reasons for this. We’ve never really tracked our travel spending, and I wanted to know how much it costs for us to travel for more than a week or two. And I wanted to be able to share with you how much it costs to travel to the places we visited in Europe. I will have posts later that break down our spending by location, but for now here’s an overview of how much we spent traveling in Europe for two months.
A quick look at how much we spent
The following amounts are for two people. All numbers are listed first in euros, second in US dollars.
2,959.40€ / $3,924.47 – accommodation
1,335.60€ / $1,771.31 – trains
295.60€ / $391.81 – other transportation
2,056.78€ / $2,726.21 – food and alcohol
205.80€ / $272.80 – activities
130.04€ / $172.40 – miscellaneous
6,983.22€ / $9,259 – total
As you can see, Western Europe is not cheap. We traveled through Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Italy, plus side trips to the tiny countries of San Marino and the Vatican. Andy and I are not bare-bones budget travelers, but we aren’t luxury travelers either, so this should give you a decent middle of the road view on costs. You can spend less backpacking in Europe by traveling a little differently and choosing less expensive destinations.
Accommodation spending – 2,959.40€
We spent 52 nights away from our home. Most of this was in apartment rentals, but there were a few nights in hostels and hotels, plus one night spent on an overnight train. 2,959.40€ divided by 52 nights comes out to an average of 56.91€ per night.
We didn’t pay for 15 nights of lodging. The night on the train was technically free accommodation since the ticket price is entirely included in the train category. We also got complimentary accommodations in the following places: 2 nights in Rotterdam for the post-conference press trip; 2 nights in a hostel in Nice and 3 nights in a hostel in Naples, both sponsored by Hostelworld; 7 nights in Bologna as part of BlogVille, sponsored by Emilia-Romagna Tourism. If we had paid for those ourselves, I estimate we would’ve spent another 1,100€ for 14 nights.
So 2,959.40€ divided by the 37 nights we did pay for averages out to 79.98€ per night, roughly 40€ per person per night. I think this is pretty good considering how expensive hotels can be in Europe. Renting apartments as often as possible definitely helped keep our costs down, not only in this category but also in the food category.
Train spending – 1,335.60€
This was a plane-free trip, so our major form of transportation was by train. The train system in Europe is generally really good, and I’m starting to like train travel more and more.
We looked at getting InterRail passes (like Eurail passes, but InterRail is for European residents) but after some research decided it wasn’t worth it in our situation. Since we had all of our dates set ahead of time, it was cheaper to book the train tickets ahead of time in most places. Passes would’ve worked if we were booking at the last minute. There were a few trains we bought tickets for at the last minute (in the Netherlands and Belgium, and short distances in Italy) because the prices were almost the same and we wanted to leave ourselves some flexibility.
Other transportation spending – 295.60€
This is almost entirely public transportation, such as buses, metros, and trams. We used public transportation a lot since we were mostly in big cities and the distances were too far to walk. Almost each city we were in offers some kind of day or multi-day pass for their transportation system, but not all of them were as economical. There is one ride in a taxi and a round trip boat ticket in here as well.
Rotterdam Tourism covered the cost of our local transportation for the 2 day press trip including this crazy tuk tuk and a water taxi. Emilia-Romagna Tourism covered the cost of the van that took our whole group on a weekend excursion, but we paid for our transportation for things like getting to Gelato University and to Modena for the vinegar tasting.
Food and alcohol spending – 2,056.78€
We did our fair share of eating (and drinking) out, but we purposely rented apartments so we could eat breakfast in and make our own meals occasionally. We almost never bought breakfast out, we went grocery shopping when we stayed in apartments, and didn’t eat at fancy restaurants. We certainly could’ve eaten in even more often, but we also wanted to make sure we were trying the local food.
We had a few lunches covered at the travel blogging conference, all meals on the post-conference trip were covered, and a few meals were covered during BlogVille. Overall we paid for almost everything we ate or drank, and I’m estimating about 3 days worth of meals we didn’t have to pay for.
2,056.78€ divided by 50 days averages out to 41.14€ per day, so just over 20€ per person per day. Not bad considering how often we ate out, drank out, and indulged in gelato. (Check out Andy’s post about the best sandwich ever.)
Activities spending – 205.80€
This number includes visits to Vianden Castle and Castle Gravensteen, the Anne Frank Museum, the tulip farm, the Cantillon brewery, Mini Europe, renting beach umbrellas, and a few other things like that. It is a bit low though because we had quite a few activities covered by the tourism boards we were working with. The things we did in Bologna while we were participating in BlogVille were covered, like our San Marino guide, my pasta cooking class and Gelato University. We also had complimentary tours of Pompeii, the Vatican, the Colosseum and Roman Forum, and a food tour from Walks of Italy. These are all activities we would have paid for on our own if we weren’t able to get them sponsored, and I estimate the cost to be around 700€.
Miscellaneous spending – 130.04€
The majority of this category won’t apply to most people, but there will always be some other expenses along the way when you travel, especially if you buy souvenirs. I only had one pair of jeans with me, and they were an older pair, so just a week into the trip they had holes in them and had to be replaced for 39.90€ in Amsterdam. I also bought some earrings the same day.
Because we were traveling for 2 months, I had to buy contact solution about halfway through the trip. We put our luggage in a locker at the train station in Paris during our train layover so we could find dinner. I bought some postcards, as well as 3 souvenir thimbles for my mom. We also had to spend a whopping 20 cents each to use a bathroom, which I only bothered to include here because I thought it was funny.
We each used our cell phones a little bit while we were traveling, and the extra charges we incurred for using our phones outside of Germany came out to a total of 16.04€. We also had to pay to do laundry 3 times when we didn’t have free access to a washer, and that cost came to 20.60€ total.
So that’s how much we spent traveling in Europe for two months! Everyone’s travel budgets will be different, but this will give you a good starting point for a long trip in Europe. If you prefer more luxurious hotels or budget hostel dorms, you’ll need to make adjustments when planning out your budget and saving for your own trip. In the coming weeks I will break these down by city and country so you can get a better idea of what it would cost to spend a week or two in some of these areas for vacation.
You might also enjoy:
- How Much We Spent Traveling in the Netherlands
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Belgium
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Rome
- Unconventional Guidebook series with insider tips from locals, by Gigi Griffis
- Or check out more real travel budgets
I use the Trail Wallet – Travel Budget & Expense Tracker app on my iPhone to track our expenses, and I really love how helpful it is. I even use it to track my spending at home. I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for an easy way to track your travel expenses.