Travel Cost Breakdown From Our Time in Europe

“I really want to travel around Europe, but it’s so expensive!”

We have heard this comment many times since we have been traveling the world. Yes, Europe is expensive but we are here to help you learn what kind of hit your wallet should actually expect.

Dan and I wrote down every penny we spent (converted from Euros to pennies using this app), put together a kick-butt spreadsheet, and are here to break it all down for you.

Molly examining trip expenses in our travel notebook

Calculating trip expenses in our travel notebook

We spent a total of 72 days in continental Europe. Our average cost per day was $140.58. That’s $70.29 per person. A totally reasonable amount, if I do say so myself. Here is how it all breaks down:

Europe Expenses Graph

Europe Expenses Pie Chart

In Europe, our biggest expense was lodging. (Just like it was in the UK and Ireland!) Housing came out to an average of $49.68 per night. We almost exclusively used AirBnB in Europe and had a private room every night. For a couple, AirBnB is a very effective cost saving strategy since the price is usually per room and not per person like it is at hostels. Also since most AirBnB listings are in someone’s actual home, you get the added bonus of access to a kitchen.

Dinner time!

Dinner time!

We usually went out to eat for lunch, but cooked most of our own dinners. This is a fabulous way to save money as groceries are definitely cheaper than meals at restaurants. By eating out for lunch we still got a chance to try all of the fabulous vegan restaurants around Europe at lunchtime prices. This is how we got our food expenses down to $39.35 per day (total for both of us) while eating out about once a day.

The next biggest expense we had in Europe was transportation between locations. One thing we did to bring down the cost of travel around Europe was to buy a Eurail Pass here in the US before traveling to Europe. It’s important to think long and hard about what kind of pass you will need before making a purchase, though, as unused trips are just wasted money. We went with a Benelux-Germeny pass of 10 trips over a two month period. We did spend over a month in the rail pass area, but it turned out that we mostly used the pass in Germany. Germany is probably one of the most expensive countries to travel by train in Europe, so the pass worked out well for us. We loved seeing Germany by train, but you could probably get around Germany for even cheaper by taking buses or using car-sharing websites.

If you are interested in traveling Europe by rail and are headed to Italy, be aware that trains are pretty darn cheap in Italy. Don’t waste your money on a rail pass in Italy! Just buy the tickets as you go. In Italy, the prices for all non-highspeed trains remain the same even as the travel date approaches.

We did not fly once while we were in Europe. We avoided flying by taking a city-to-city approach to Europe. We started in Paris and we knew that we were flying out of Europe from Rome so we planned between those two dates. If you are planning to hop around Europe, though, there are many cheap airlines available. Our favorite site for comparing flights in Europe and around the world was SkyScanner, but we cross-checked all prices with Kayak to make sure we were getting the best price.

Our “entertainment” section covered mostly museums while we were in Europe. Again, we kept the cost of museums down by checking if a museum has a free or pay-what-you-wish day online before heading anywhere, and by using our student ID cards. We also took free walking tours all over Europe and enjoyed every single one of them. Be sure to tip your guide! They are all so fantastic and live off of the tips they earn.

The miscellaneous section is always our smallest, as we had no room for souvenirs in our bags, but every so often we would mail a postcard or gift, or buy some painkillers. (Ibuprofen is SO cheap in the UK compared to Europe or anywhere else we have been. Just a tip!) As a result, this makes up the last 4% of our Europe expenses pie chart.

I hope this has been informative and helps you plan your trip to Europe. Please let us know if we left out any information you would find useful in the comments section below!

Also, check out the post Dan wrote about our cost breakdown from our time in the UK and Ireland! If you are having trouble deciding what to pack for your trip, check out my post on packing light for long term travel!

Berlin’s Awesome Vegan Food Options

As we have mentioned before, Dan and I have mostly been using AirBnB during our European travels to find places to stay. This means that for the price of two hostel beds (usually) we can stay together in someone’s second bedroom and have access to a kitchen. This is a very good perk for budget travelers. So, following in our European footsteps we used AirBnB for our place in Berlin as well. We stayed in a great apartment with a small but adequate kitchen.

We were in Berlin for one week. We use the kitchen only once. What can I say? Berlin has too many vegan options and is just too darn affordable for these New York City vegans. In fact, we ate so much food in Berlin, I’m just going to share the highlights. (But I will not be covering the delicious Mio Matto or Voner, as Dan did such an excellent job of that the other day)

Kopps:

Kopps Vegan Restaurant

Kopps Vegan Restaurant

This is a very elegant vegan place. We had a few dishes that were good but not fantastic, but this Lentil Burger was too good to not mention.

Lentil Burger with amazing fries

Lentil Burger with amazing fries

And the fries! I have never in my life had fries that good. No idea what they do to them, but yum. Plus having fries at a vegan place is the best because they give you vegan mayo to dip them into, which is a very European (and tasty) thing to do.

Chay Viet:

They may not actually have their own website, but damn do they make amazing vegetarian Vietnamese food. We actually went back to Chay Viet later in our stay because it was so good the first time! Due to the lack of website, and thus menu, you will have to deal with vague food descriptions. Sorry! But trust that everything shown below was delicious, and they have menus in English so no need to worry about the language barrier.

Tofu and banana (?) skewers with peanut sauce

Tofu and banana (?) skewers with peanut sauce

A delicious pancake appetizer

A delicious pancake appetizer

A super tasty basil leaf appetizer

A super tasty basil leaf appetizer

Dan's rice noodle and veggies dish

Dan’s rice noodle and veggies dish

Dan's soup with fried wontons

Dan’s soup with fried wontons

My coconut curry with veggies over rice noodles

My coconut curry with veggies over rice noodles

Not pictured above (because the picture came out blurry) is the super tasty fried banana dessert over coconut sauce I shared with a lovely Berliner friend. Also not pictured (because we forgot to take one), the fantastic iced lime, soda water, and cane juice drink I got both times we went to Viet Chay!

Cookies Cream:

Hidden entrance to Cookies Cream

Hidden entrance to Cookies Cream

Yes, this place is hidden in an alley behind a hotel and impossible to find if you don’t read the fine print on your reservation. It is rare to find a vegetarian restaurant on the cutting edge, but that is what Cookies Cream is. Innovative food in a swanky atmosphere. The prices match though, so keep that in mind. Also, I wish they had more vegan options, so we could have tried more things. Something to work on, Cookies Cream. Also, these are not actual menu descriptions because to see their menu online you have to sign up for their mailing list. No thank you…

Salad with cabbage, mandarin orange slices, and chocolate shavings

Salad with cabbage, mandarin orange slices, and chocolate shavings

Amazing eggplant dish with corn sauce and green beans

Amazing eggplant dish with corn sauce and green beans

Mushroom dish, with mushroom foam, squash sauce, and some balled veggies

Mushroom dish, with mushroom foam, squash sauce, and some balled veggies

Sweet and sour cherries dessert. Amazing.

Sweet and sour cherries dessert. Amazing.

Sun Day Burgers:

Sun Day Vegan at the Mauer Park Flea Market

Sun Day Burgers at the Mauer Park Flea Market

They only sell one entree out of their little truck at the Mauer Park Flea Market (an amazing thing to visit in Berlin itself), but it is a good one: A burger which consists of a whole wheat bun, tofu steak marinated in soy sauce & ginger, lettuce, tomato, beet root, cucumber, caramelized onions, fresh coriander, sprouts and topped with a smoked chipotle chilli, mango chutney, or Thai peanut sauce. All for 4 Euro.

Dan's Sun Day Burger with peanut sauce and a healthy bite taken out of it (by Dan, of course)

Dan’s Sun Day Burger with peanut sauce and a healthy bite taken out of it (by Dan, of course)

Dan got the peanut sauce and I got the mango chutney and we both recommend what we got. The burgers weren’t really burgers, but they were epically delicious.

And, perhaps the best for last:

Sfizy Veg:

Sfizy Veg

Sfizy Veg

What is there bad to say about this place? Maybe it is inconveniently located to most everything in Berlin, but I don’t care. Get your butt over there because the food is outta this world good. No, they don’t have an English menu. Yes, the menu has about 200 items on it (really). No, you will not be able to choose and will just end up pointing at something. But don’t worry. It will be fantastic!

Giant German menu

Giant German menu

Dan's organic beer is simply called Beir. My blood orange drink.

Dan’s organic beer is simply called Bier. My blood orange drink.

Traditional bruschetta and a mushroom variety

Traditional bruschetta and a mushroom variety

My pizza with artichoke hearts, olives, and four (4!) kinds of vegan cheese

My pizza with artichoke hearts, olives, and four (4!) kinds of vegan cheese

Our awesome Berlin guide's pizza with veggie ham and four (4!) kinds of vegan cheese

Our awesome Berlin guide’s pizza with veggie ham and four (4!) kinds of vegan cheese

Dan's pizza was a green pizza: pesto, cheese, olives, tomatoes, arugula, and grated vegan parm

Dan’s pizza was a green pizza: pesto, cheese, olives, tomatoes, arugula, and grated vegan parm

Half-eaten vegan tiramisu. Too tasty to remember to take a picture of until it was half eaten.

Half-eaten vegan tiramisu. Too tasty to remember to take a picture of until it was half eaten.

In case you can’t tell, Berlin is a vegan haven where most people would least expect it: Germany. But don’t let the Germans’ love of all things wurst (braut and curry come to mind) discourage you. Germany is filled with vegans and vegetarians and Berlin is definitely a hub for amazing vegan food. So go forth and enjoy. We certainly did!

Board Games and Vegan Treats: Berlin’s Friedrichshain Neighborhood

I have a little travel secret. When I go to new places, I often google around to see if there are any cool game stores in town. When Molly and I are home in New York, we often play board games with some friends. It has been fun traveling around the world and seeing what kind of games people like in different countries. But Berlin really took the cake because Berlin has a “play cafe” called Spielwiese.

Spielwiese storefront, Berlin

Spielwiese storefront in Berlin

We were quickly hooked and actually stopped in twice more. Let me illustrate what I mean by a “play cafe”.

Spielwiese, Berlin

Molly with Powergrid! Surrounded by other board games

They have hundreds of board games and card games of all types imaginable. You pay a small fee to use the games and can stay as long as you like to play. Spielwiese also rents our their board games. There is a small cafe (sadly, no vegan options) and a refrigerator full of people-pleasing beverages of both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties.

Spielwiese Berlin

Molly and I playing Powergrid

If board games are your scene, and you happen to be in Berlin, I highly recommend checking out Spielwiese. It’s a unique cafe with offerings that you do not see very often. I do have some good news for you gamers located in New York City. The man working at Spielwiese informed us that a similar style cafe will be opening soon in New York near NYU.  The Uncommons currently has a Kickstarter campaign if you are interested in supporting or following the project!

The only problem with Spielwiese is that they have NO vegan food. What are two hungry vegans to do? Lucky for us, there are some excellent options in Berlin’s Friedrichshain neighborhood.

You know you have arrived in a veg-friendly town when you see not one, but two Veganz locations – a supermarket where every product is vegan! The store location pictured below at store location at Warschauerstraße 33 is about a 5-10 minute walk from Spielwiese.

Veganz, Berlin, Vegan

The inside of Veganz in Friedrichshain, Berlin!

The model for Veganz is clearly working. According to their site they plan to have 21 stores open throughout Europe by the end of 2015. (Maybe New York next?? Please?!?) Veganz is great for picking up a wide variety of grocery and household items to cook up your own vegan feast! If you are in the mood for baked goods in Berlin, the Veganz locations also house the vegan bakery Goodies. Their chocolate croissants and cinnamon buns come highly recommended by us!

Goodies, Vegan, Berlin

Vegan baked goods from Goodies! (Housed in Veganz, Berlin)

After a marathon shopping session at Veganz you would be wise to check out Mio Matto. Mio Matto is a vegan restaurant conveniently located above this same Veganz store at Warschauerstraße 33. The restaurant opened just two weeks before our visit to Berlin and upon our arrival they were already on top of their game. Each dish really blew us away. Check out the pictures below of our feast.

Berlin, Vegan, Mio Matto

Antipasti for two at Mio Matto in Berlin

Vegan, Berlin, Mio Matto

Vegan Calzone at Mio Matto

Vegan, Berlin, Mio Matto

One of many pizza options at Mio Matto

Vegan, Berlin, Mio Matto

Vegan Hot Chocolate!

Vegan, Berlin, Mio Matto

Cannoli at Mio Matto

Yes, the dishes were as good as they looked. What surprised us about the food was its affordability. Most of the pizza and pasta dishes were in the $8 – $10 (USD) range. You will find a huge menu here of mostly pizza and pasts dishes. There are other less carb-filled options too. It was a great value for a nice evening of vegan dining.

If you are looking for something a little bit more quick and casual, but just as delicious, you should head to Voner. It is just down the same street as Spielwiese. Look at these spuds!

Vegan, Berlin, Voner

Vegan “special” fries at Voner

Do yourself a favor and get an order of these”special” fries. Molly and I agree that they are the best vegan cheese fries we have ever had. They are seasoned fries that come topped with cooked onions and vegan cheese sauce. Yum yum. We ordered two additional items from the menu including the signature vegan doner! Doner is the same as shwarma, as far as we could tell. Voner makes their own vegan doner “meat”, and it is really very good!

Vegan, Berlin, Voner

Vegan Doner at Voner!

Vegan, Berlin, Voner

Vegan Cheeseburger at Voner

Voner takes the crown for quick and affordable food. Our entire meal – with a local beer – was around 15 euro and it was far too much food! The fries and doner are worth the trip – or perhaps multiple trips!

There was too much great vegan food in Berlin to cover in one post. Please check back soon for more Berlin coverage!

Everything is not okay all the time

Reichstag building, Berlin

You should always give bad news with a pretty picture: Reichstag building, Berlin

So, obviously on this blog we try to highlight awesome things we have seen, done, and eaten however this is a misrepresentation of long term travel. I’m here to tell you the truth.

Sometimes everything freaking sucks. A lot. Your 5-hour train ride is so full that you have to sit on the floor by the bathroom. You have a week transit pass and on your last day on your way to the train outta there a transit cop stops you and says your transit ticket expired yesterday. Here is your 40 Euro fine! That sight you wanted to see? Yeah, today is the one day of the week it is closed. In fact, today is the one day of the week EVERY sight is closed. (All of these things happened to us in the last week.) Everything that can go wrong does. And it stinks. And you want to call it quits and go home to your comfortable bed where everyone speaks your language, you know all of the rules, and no one is yelling at you in German.

How do I convince myself to keep going in a situation like this? Well there are a few things that do it. One: Onward travel. We have lots of onward travel already booked. Money spent months into the future that we would be wasting if we went home now. And I hate waste. Two: Places to see. Berlin may have ended with the crappiest morning that I have had in a long time, but the next places we are going all excite me. I cannot wait to discover their secrets. And if I quit, I may never get to these places. Ever. Three: Pride. This may be the dumbest reason, but possibly the most powerful. I said I was going to travel for 6 months, so I will be traveling for 6 months. I may never get to do this again. A bad day/week isn’t a good reason to give up on this amazing experience. Plus people will talk! Just kidding. Who cares what other people think? This is about not letting myself down. I can do this and I wanted to do this so badly. I just have to think back to those reasons and move forward.

And just ignore that Berlin S-Bahn fine. Right?