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!

Museums of Florence – A guided tour

Florence is a small and very scenic Italian city in the heart of Tuscany. I will direct you to the picture below rather than trying to put it into words.

Florence Italy Bridge

View of the Arno and the bridges in Florence.

What I can say is that Florence has a little something for everyone. When it comes to tourism, they are going for the high score. You could easily spend days just taking in the sights, sounds and food. If you can tear yourself way from the views, I would highly recommend taking a day or two to experience the incredible museum collections. There are some unique museum offerings that you would have trouble finding anywhere else.

The most popular museum choice is the Uffizi Gallery. Travelers come and wait in long queues to glimpse the treasures inside. Admission is €11 (€6.50 if there is no special exhibit, but there usually is a special exhibit.) and you can reserve a time for €4 extra and skip the line entirely if you wish. As budget travelers, we did not pay extra and spent an hour waiting in line despite being there before 9AM. There really are some outstanding pieces of art. Di Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael are all present. They are incredible to see if you successfully fight your way past the tour groups and get an unobstructed view. The museum is, in a word, busy.

If you are in Florence and are interested in a more relaxed alternative to the Uffizi Gallery; I have a secret for you. Museo Galileo is located directly next to the Uffizi Gallery. Find the hour long line at the Uffizi and go around the corner; you can’t miss it.

Galileo Museum and Uffizi Museum Florence Italy

Uffizi (left) and Galileo Museum (right). I told you that you can’t miss it.

If you love science and technology as much a Molly and I do, you wont be disappointed. You may feel like enrolling in a physics class, however. It is incredible to speed through over 500 years of scientific history in just a few museum floors. The collection houses historically significant globes, sextants, original Galileo telescopes, orreries, and Armillary Spheres!

Galileo's Telescopes, Galileo Museum, Florence, Italy

Original Galileo telescopes!

Armillary Sphere Galileo Museum, Florence, Italy

Giant Amillary Sphere! Just like in your living room, right?

Some pieces are historically significant, others intriguing and some true head-scratchers. If you don’t like scientific equipment – how about Galileo’s middle finger? It’s there too.

Galileo Museum Interior, Florence, Italy

Interior of Galileo Museum. Don’t touch those metal objects, by the way.

We spent over four hours walking the Galileo Museum but you may be able to see it all in about two. There were no lines and no groups fighting to see the educational videos. Admission to Museo Galileo: €9. Pro tip: Save your ticket stub from the Uffizi gallery and get a €2 discount at the Galileo museum!

As wonderful as Museo Galileo was, it still wasn’t the best value in Florence. For only €10 per person you can get a ‘combo-ticket’ that will get you to the top to the Duomo (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore), the crypt of the Duomo, the top of Giotto’s bell tower, the Baptistery and to the Gallery Opera di Santa Santa Maria del Fiore. The views are tremendous from the Duomo and the Giotto’s bell tower. You can practice taking ‘selfies’ in all 360° of the Duomo’s roof if you like.

View from middle of Giotto's bell tower Florence Italy

View from the middle of Giotto’s bell tower.

Roof of Duomo, Florence, Italy

On top of the Duomo.

Best part? The combo-ticket is valid for 24 hours from when you first use it. We used part of the combo ticket in the morning and completed the rest of the activities after a break for lunch at Dolce Vegan (So good! Go there and get the lasagna. You’re welcome).

If you get the combo ticket, be sure the visit The Galleria dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore. It has some incredible pieces which compliment those highlighted at the Uffizi in addition to ‘The Gates of Paradise.’ I’m not sure which was more interesting to me; the gates or the immense environmentally-controlled preservation chamber.

The Gates of Paradise Florence Italy Galleria dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore

The gates of Paradise in Galleria dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore. They look the part.

Get your combo ticket and take your time visiting any or all of the five attractions situated in or around the Duomo. Oh, and be prepared for some stairs.

Florence, in my estimation, is the perfect storm of Italy. Pizza, pasta, (vegan) gelato, amazing views and incredible museums. Go and make Galileo proud. If you want to make us proud, please like us on Facebook!

For more Italy information, check out Molly’s post about Venice.