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!

Our Time in Paris

So we have been in Paris for almost a week, and I have spent a lot of this week thinking about what to write about Paris. I have conflicting feelings about it. I think the way I feel about our time in Paris can be summed up by making an analogy:

Dan and I heard about Boutique Maille and instantly wanted to go. We love mustard. (Don’t judge!) This is real French mustard, originally from Dijon, France. You know, like Dijon mustard… They have only two physical locations, one in Dijon and one in a super ritzy part of Paris. They have three signature mustards on tap. ON TAP people!

Boutique Maille mustards on tap!

Boutique Maille mustard taps!

So we went to taste some awesome mustards. A word of warning to vegans, brush up on your french words for cheese, because some of the mustards have cheese in them. The ingredients are all clearly listed (in French) though, so you should just check if you aren’t sure. So, while we were perusing our mustard options, I go to read some ingredients and what do I see on the back of the label. A big ‘ole Unilever stamp. Unilever, if you do not know, is the world’s third-largest consumer goods company that owns over 400 brands and tests on animals. What a disappointment it was to see that on the back of the Maille mustards. Even though it is still exceptionally tasty mustard, it isn’t everything I hoped it would be.

So in some weird way, my engineering brain thinks that that outing is an analogy to our time in Paris. We love it here. It is beautiful and romantic. It is a great walking city, with something fantastic to see on every corner.

Notre Dame Tower Tour -  Paris Gargoyle

Notre Dame Tower Tour – Paris Gargoyle

And yet.

For one thing, the vegan food is (generally) expensive and sub-par. We ate at about 5 places that were more expensive than any restaurant we went to in London and not a single place matched our worst food experience in London. And that was disappointing to me. I expected more. These are Parisian chefs, after all! All they do is talk about food, and cook food, and eat food here, no? You will not starve in Paris, vegans, so fear not. You just will probably not have the outstanding food experience you expected. I’d even go so far as to say that if you have access to a kitchen you should use it. At the health food chain here, Naturalia, we found bottled vegan ravioli in sauce. We are it for dinner 3 nights here. It is tasty and cheap!

Naturalia ravioli filled with vegetables

Naturalia ravioli filled with vegetables – great with a splash of French wine added during the cooking process.

We had one food exception. It was the French onion soup at Le Potager du Marais. The rest of the meal was expensive and disappointing, but this soup was delicious. Whatever vegan cheese they use on top is super tasty and the soup itself is delectable and filled with yummy croutons. Savory and fulfilling. We wanted to go back and have the soup again but the restaurant is closed on Monday and Tuesday. And sometimes other days when they feel like it. Seriously.

Vegan French onion soup from Le Potager du Marais

Vegan French onion soup from Le Potager du Marais

Another problem with Paris is that everything else is very expensive, too! No museums are free (except on the first Sunday of every month when they are all free. We lucked out – date-wise – and went to 3 museums on our free day. Exhausting, but it saved us a bundle). They are super sticklers for checking ID’s, too. Here to get discounted admission, you have to be between 18-25, no exceptions. In the UK, we just showed our old student IDs from undergrad and no one batted an eye.

I guess I expected more. It’s Paris, after all!

And yet this makes it sound like I didn’t have an amazing time in Paris. And that would be a lie. Dan and I probably walked 10 miles a day through the winding Parisian streets. And somehow, they are all beautiful. And historic. And interesting. Our experiences with locals, contrary to popular opinion, have always been lovely. They are kind and helpful. I can’t wait to come back here again someday. Somehow Paris adds up to more than the sum of its parts. And we love it here despite the negatives.

All smiles in front of Sacre Coeur in Montmarte

All smiles in front of Sacre Coeur in Montmarte

On a completely unrelated note, happy (day before) Rosh Hashanah, (Molly’s) mom. We did go to the Marais today and checked out the art nouveau synagogue designed by Agoudas Hakehilos. Proof:

A bad picture of the Agoudas Hakehilos Synagogue. Sorry! Happy Rosh Hashanah from Paris!

A bad picture of the Agoudas Hakehilos Synagogue. Sorry! Happy Rosh Hashanah from Paris!

We have arrived in Paris!

This morning Dan and I woke up at the crack of backpacker’s dawn (so around 6am) to catch a train to Paris. We took the Eurostar and I would highly recommend it! It only takes two hours and fifteen minutes and involves no planes or airports! My kind of travel. We booked the train tickets months in advance so we got a great rate. Here I am looking exhausted but excited to go to Paris.

Molly and the Eurostar

Molly and the Eurostar

And now we are in Paris! Everything is always awesome in Paris. But to make it extra exciting, look at our view:

The view from our apartment window

The view from our apartment window. Click on the picture to see the details.

That is the garden of the Palais-Royal. Yes, the size of our “apartment” rivals the infamous pod, but who cares! We are in the heart of Paris and everything is fantastic!

More to come soon now that we have reliable internet.