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!

Seeing September 11th From a Distance

Most of you, my dear readers, know that I am a lifelong New Yorker. I was born in lower Manhattan, lived my whole childhood in upper Manhattan, and went to high school in the Bronx. I only left my beloved New York City for 4 years to go to college in upstate New York. I left because I knew I would live the rest of my life in NYC and I thought it would be healthy to get a different perspective for a few years. So naturally, I have lived in New York since graduating college. New York City is part of who I am and I carry my city with me everywhere I go. When people ask Dan and I where we are from, I am proud to be able to answer “New York City”.

12 years ago today my city was broken. I did not know how to deal with it then, and I’m not sure I know how even now, as I have never been good with tragedy. And that’s what it was. A tragedy. We lost an icon of our skyline that I can still see in my mind’s eye. We lost so many people who were simply off to work on a brilliantly beautiful September Tuesday morning. And we lost trust in each other and the world. We Americans, at least. Maybe it only seemed that way to me, since I was only 14 at the time.

But our actions since that day 12 years ago have really changed more than the day itself, I believe. We have started wars. Many, many wars. So many people – Americans and non-Americans – have died. Many, many more people than were killed on that horrible day. And I don’t feel safer because of it. I felt safer before. Before September 11th, 2001, obviously, and before America started this current string of wars.

It couldn’t be any more evident to me than since I have been traveling. I haven’t personally feel unsafe anywhere, but walking by the US Consulate in the Hague or the US Embassy here in Amsterdam it is clear that the people working inside of those buildings don’t feel safe. They are both surrounded by high fences and many guard towers. Even here, in the Netherlands. And then you walk down the block and pass the German Embassy, for example, it just looks like a building. If it weren’t for the plaque and flag, you would never know it was special.

US Embassy, Amsterdam

US Embassy, Amsterdam

So far on our trip, our experiences talking with foreigners have all been wonderful. The cultural exchange has made us feel part of a global community. We may speak different native languages, we may live very different lifestyles, we may eat differently. We are all different, but we are all the same.

This is the first time I have ever been out of the country on September 11th. I thought it would be hard for me. But I honestly think it has been an easier day than I ever had in New York City on September 11th over the last 12 years. Not because I got to avoid the day and the subject (I have wifi and my lovely facebook family to remind me of it), but because I got to experience how different, but exactly the same we all are. And I am looking forward to getting to do it for the next 4 months or so as well. Travel can take you to beautiful places, but it can also renew your faith in humanity. And I am so grateful for having the opportunity. Today more than ever.

Our day off in Derry, Northern Ireland

If you, dear reader, ever decide to go on a trip like Dan and I are on, after a few weeks you might notice something. It’s just a general fatigue. Your legs are tired all the time from walking an average of about 8 miles a day. People keep you up at night at your hostel by coming in at 3:30 in the morning and chatting for an hour (rude…). The day tours keep adding up. You simply cannot see another church as they all begin to look the same and are all very old. What should be the greatest thing ever at all times is starting to feel a little, well, tired. How do you get the spark back in the trip?

You take a day off. Think about it. Working a full time job is exhausting even though most people generally aren’t really doing anything physical at all. You need the weekend, both for practical reasons like running errands, and also to recuperate from an exhausting work week. Well, when you are traveling long term, there are no weekends. Every day you are somewhere new and exciting so “taking a day off” would feel like wasting your precious time at whatever location you are in. Dan and I have gone over 3 weeks without a day off. I’m certainly not asking for pity (that would be crazy), I’m just explaining how travel can become exhausting when it is supposed to be awesome.

So we decided to take today and not overexert ourselves. We are lucky, Derry is a small town and we walked a lot of it yesterday. We felt like we wouldn’t be missing too much by taking it easy today.

So, what does one do on a day off? I decided that I needed a hair cut. I don’t know if you can tell from the pictures in the other posts, but my hair is long. Way too long to be anything but annoying to me. Plus traveling has damaged the crap out of it. The problem is that hair cuts are expensive! And I personally don’t think my hair is worth $50 or more… So with the help of a guy who works at the hostel we are staying at we found a hair and beauty school here. This morning, after breakfast, Dan and I walked over there. Unfortunately, they are out of class for summer so the long hair will remain until further notice. Much to my chagrin…

Then we continued our day off by checking out the Guildhall here in Derry, going to the Centre for Contemporary Arts inside the walled city, and finally we went to hear an organ concert at St. Columb’s Cathedral. (yes, I recognize that the last one is yet another church, but the recital was part of Fleadh Cheoil, an event to promote Irish culture, not just we went to the church to see the church.) I know it sounds like a lot, but really these events took place over 4 hours and none of them took up even an hour of time. It was a leisurely mid-day.

We had lunch back at the hostel, with groceries we picked up at Mark and Spencers (vegan options in Derry are slim, fyi. Best bet is to cook for yourself!), then we went out for our real Day Off activity! We went to the movies!

Minions in arcade game at Derry movie theater

Minions in the arcade game at the Derry movie theater

Things you should know about the movies in Derry: 1) It costs 4.50 pounds. For an adult ticket. That’s only $6.75!! Our movie tickets added together cost less than one ticket to a movie in NYC right now. 2) there are 20 minutes of commercials – not previews, but commercials – before the movie and then only 2 previews. A bit of a disappointment. 3) the movie times were weird. We went to a 4pm movie on a Wednesday. Who goes to a 4pm movie on a Wednesday?! The answer: No one. We had the entire theater to ourselves. Which meant we chatted and laughed very very loudly during the film. Fun!

We saw The Heat. Dan loved it, I liked it. Action movies really aren’t my thing, but at least it was funny! Regardless, it served its purpose. Our day off was a success. Plus the beauty of movies is that they are the same everywhere. We could have been at the Regal in Union Square, NYC for all we could tell once that movie was rolling. My scientific opinion is that this helps stave off home sickness as well, but who knows?

Now we will play board games and surf the web for the rest of the night and then tomorrow, back to the grind. Another long travel day as we head out of Derry by bus, bus, ferry, and a bus to Glasgow, Scotland. Thanks, Derry, for being small enough to give us a day off. We needed it!

Affordable Activities in Dublin

So, I’m not claiming that Dan and I are Dublin experts, but we did spend 6 days in Dublin searching the nooks and crannies for affordable things to do.

The very first thing we did in Dublin was FREE. We actually came to Dublin to support my friend Sarah and her sister C.J. while they ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin half marathon.

That's Sarah in the middle. Go Sarah, go!

That’s Sarah in the middle of the picture, at the start of the race. Go Sarah, go!

Sarah is actually planning on running another half marathon right around Halloween this year to benefit the ASPCA! What a do-gooder! Help her out by supporting her and and the ASPCA HERE.

While they exerted themselves, we walked around a very quiet Dublin as this was relatively early on a bank holiday.

We went to St. Stevens Green which was right next to the race start, and like all of the parks in Dublin, free. We had breakfast while watching the birds.

This cutie sat next to us at St. Stevens Green. Looking for a snack, perhaps?

This cutie sat next to us at St. Stevens Green. Looking for a snack, perhaps?

According to our AirBnB hosts, Claudia and Kevin, Phoenix Park in Dublin has lots of cool animals to see including rabbits and deer! We didn’t have time to go check, but it is free and the biggest city park in Europe, so maybe you can go check for us. Also, while you are there you can go to the free Irish Museum of Modern Art, right nearby. We obviously didn’t get their either, but if we had had one more day, we would have gone to Phoenix Park and the art museum.

Now on to cheap and free things in Dublin that we actually did do. My number one recommendation would be Dublin Castle.

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle

Don’t get over-excited, it isn’t really a castle. Well, it was at one point in history, but most of the castle part is now gone. It is, however, an extremely historic and important site in Irish history (and present). Every Irish president since the state became independent has been sworn in here.

Where every Irish President gets sworn in.

Where every Irish President gets sworn in.

Our guide was great. He answered all of my inane historical questions and entertained the group. The cost of the hour or so long tour of Dublin Castle is 4.50 Euros. Honestly, I was really under-informed about Ireland when I got to Dublin. This tour on my second day there helped me feel a little more knowledgeable and informed.

Two free things to do in the main tourist area in Dublin (at or right near Trinity College) are the Science Gallery, and the National Gallery of Ireland. There is currently an exhibit about illusion at the Science Gallery which was fun, and it’s free so you really have nothing to lose be spending some time there. The National Gallery had some lovely paintings by Irish painters, but it wasn’t my favorite national gallery ever. I did appreciate that it was well organized, though, and small enough that you didn’t feel guilty for only spending an hour there.

Also, all of the National Museums of Ireland (3 of the 4 are in Dublin) are free!

Finally, Dublin is home to many churches. Let me help you navigate which are worth the cost and which aren’t (in my opinion, obviously). Dublin’s two most famous churches are St. Patrick’s Catherdral and Christ Church Cathedral. St. Patrick’s is 5.50 Euros and Christ Church is 6 Euros. We reviewed the reviews on Trip Advisor (since I can see those without internet access. Again, I highly recommend the Trip Advisor app!) and took a peak into each church and decided that the church we were going to pay for was Christ Church. They both have fabulous history (and you can get into both for free for services), but Christ Church has a crypt full of cool things (and a cafe in the crypt. What??).

Christ Church interior

Christ Church interior

But then, as we were walking down the street from Christ Church, we spotted another church which looked mighty old. We walked down the steps of St. Audoen’s Church just to see what the deal was and it turns out it is run by the state and free to get into and view.

St. Audoen's Church

St. Audoen’s Church

We just walked around and read some of the info ourselves (we had had a long day at that point. I believe I told Dan that I was all read-out at some point), but apparently the staff will tour you for free if you ask. It really is a beautiful and interesting place.

St. Audoen's from the inside - kind of...

St. Audoen’s from the inside – kind of…

So, those are my recommendations. I’m sure I only touched on a few of the affordable things to do in Dublin (for instance, there is a ton of free outdoor stuff happening in the summertime in Dublin, plus it stays light out until after 9pm!), but I just wanted to give you a glimpse into the activities we chose to do on our limited budget. Did we miss anything big that you, dear reader, would recommend to future budget visitors?

The Big London Vegan Food Post, #3

Dan and I have been in Dublin now for 4 days, but we still haven’t finished our write ups about London! Traveling is so time consuming! This will officially be our last London food post.

If you missed parts #1 and #2, feel free to review before reading part #3 below!

We had heard good things about 222 Veggie Vegan from a few people so we trudged all the way out to West Kensington to try the vegan buffet for ourselves. They proclaim themselves as London’s favorite vegan restaurant. Well, Dan and I can definitely confirm that they are London’s best vegan food deal. Lunch is an all-you-can-eat buffet for 7.50 GBP.

222 Veggie Vegan

222 Veggie Vegan

222 Veggie Vegan buffet

Molly sampling the 222 Veggie Vegan buffet

222 Veggie Vegan - my first plate

222 Veggie Vegan – Molly’s first plate

Dan and I each had two big plates! So good and such a nice diversity of dishes. Our favorites included this bread/vegan quiche dish that tasted so good, the lentil loaf with baked tomato on top, the greens with cashews, and many others! So much food! Worth the trek, for sure.

The next day we headed to London’s oldest vegetarian restaurant for a late lunch. Food for Thought has been in the exact same spot in Covent Garden for over 40 years. The neighborhood is now super fancy. It was actually really amusing to see this old school, hippy-type veggie place on the same block as some fancy clothing stores! We headed downstairs to the eat in area and got to sample two delicious vegan mains, which come with a plethora of salads on the side. See the pictures below!

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

Food for Thought - Malaysian curry

Food for Thought – Malaysian curry

Food for Thought - chana masala

Food for Thought – chana masala

That Malaysian Curry, you guys… So good. And the price isn’t too bad. For the main dish and all those sides it is 8.40 GBP for each one.

On Saturday we headed to Portobello Market to experience that madness. And madness it was. Packed with people. Tourists, mostly. But there were some nice surprises awaiting us.

Vegan churros!

Vegan churros!

That’s right! Once you fight your way past the antiques (and who really cares about those anyway), you get to the food portion of the market. We were walking the stalls and I saw a sign for vegan churros! The chocolate sauce they offered was not vegan, but sans chocolate sauce, they were delectably vegan. They were not, however, cheap. That cup of about 12 small churros was 3.50 GBP, or about $5.25. A terrible deal, but VEGAN CHURROS! Besides, we already knew where we were going to lunch and we knew it would be cheap and plentiful so we indulged.

The Grain Shop - super cheap for tons of food

The Grain Shop – super cheap for tons of food

It may be hard to tell from the picture above, but The Grain Shop really fills that container! This is a large container which Dan and I shared for lunch. The Grain Shop only does take-away, so we had to search for a park to eat in, but I believe that overflowing container (if you get it without the lid they will just stuff as much in there as possible) costs 5.50 GBP. Not all of the options are vegan, but they will happily tell you which ones are and then stuff your box with whichever you fancy. I will admit the food wasn’t the most flavorful, but it was filling and pretty healthy. Oh yeah, and affordable!

Dan and I made it to inSpiral Lounge twice for food and once for drinks while we were in London. It’s in a nice location, right across Regents Canal from the Camden Lock Market (which is where Cookies and Scream is located.)

inSpiral Lounge

inSpiral Lounge

InSpiral Lounge has all the trappings of the perfect place to hang out. Free wifi, vegan meals, snacks, homemade kale chips (with plentiful free samples), drinks, and a view. Below is the food we ate in our trips to inSpiral, not including the raw cheesecake I had, and the beverages we had with a friend there that went unphotographed (bad blogger!)

inSpiral Lounge - delicious vegan pastries

inSpiral Lounge – delicious vegan pastries

inSpiral Lounge - vegan spanakopita

inSpiral Lounge – vegan spanakopita

 

inSpiral Lounge full vegan English breakfast!

inSpiral Lounge – full vegan English breakfast!

So, that is my final roundup of all of our vegan eats in London. It is possible to eat tasty vegan food in London and not break the bank. You simply just have to limit your meals out. We have really saved the budget by cooking dinners and eating breakfast and dinner in every day instead of at restaurants. Lunch is generally cheaper at restaurants than dinner as well. But I have been happy to be able to support vegan places as well and enjoy the tasty food! It’s all about balance, no? Until next time!