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!

Venice from a Vegan’s Perspective

Venice panorama taken from the back balcony of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Venice panorama taken from the back balcony of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection

I had been looking forward to getting Venice. The canals, the islands, the art. I’d heard so many wonderful things about it, how could I not look forward to going there?

The Grand Canal at a quiet moment

The Grand Canal at a quiet moment

Then, a day before we were to arrive in Venice I looked it up on Happy Cow (as I do for all places we are headed for. You need to know where your best options for food are located!). One vegetarian restaurant? That’s it? And it isn’t even a vegetarian restaurant, it is a health food store kind of place. (And Dan and I even stopped in there. It really isn’t particularly vegan-friendly. No vegan cheese to buy. But they did have wheat meat.)

Needless to say, my “love affair” with Venice ended before it had even started. Here are my biggest gripes with Venice:

Something is amiss here...

Something is amiss here…

#1: It is full of tourists, not Venetians. The smart Italians left Venice when the water started to rise. Due to this fact, the islands of Venice have more tourists on them than locals. And every local who does still live there is involved in the tourist industry, which leads me to…

#2: Everyone is trying to sell you something. From stupid 1 euro pig shaped sticky balls that vendors keep splatting on a piece of cardboard on the ground to stores selling the gazillion dollar brand name purses, everyone on the islands is employed to shill. As budget travelers who have no money or room for that crap, we were not amused.

#3: The water “buses” take foooooooooorrrrrrrrreeeeeeevvvvvvveeeerrrrrrrrrrr. And they are packed to the gills! All the time! Even in October. Dan and I kept remarking on how insane it must be on the boats in Venice in the summer during high tourist time if it is this crazy in October.

#4: It smells bad. Who thinks Venice is romantic? It smells like garbage! Even in October! Again, I can’t imagine how much worse it is in the summer. Those canals… They stink!

#5: Lastly, there isn’t really any vegan food. Yes, you can easily get a vegetarian pizza “senza formaggio”, but as it is Venice it will cost you twice as much as it would anywhere else in Italy.

Seeing as how I am unlikely to talk anyone out of going to Venice (since it is Venice, after all…), I will now try to be constructive and make your stay as pleasant as possible. Here are my tips to achieve that:

#1: Stay on the islands of Venice, not Venice Mestre (mainland, or “terra firma” as Dan likes to say). Yes, it will be ridiculously expensive, but it will save you a 15 minute bus ride before getting on those god-forsaken boats every day. Plus, when the Italian transit workers strike, you won’t have to worry about being able to get home at the end of the day. You’ll just walk. You would get to avoid being crushed by an oncoming mass of people all trying to stuff themselves onto the only bus for perhaps ever, due to the strike, as some people I know had to do. (Who could I be speaking of?)

#2: See the art. My absolute favorite parts of Venice were the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Venice Biennale. Amazing, amazing art is located on those islands. Go search it out. The art really saved our time in Venice for me.

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

#3: See the neighboring islands. If you are going to sit on a bus on the water forever, shouldn’t it at least be taking you somewhere awesome? Murano and Burano are the places to go. Still full of tourists, but unique and interesting in their own ways. Murano is famous for glass making. My advice before you go is to google the real Murano glass artists and visit their shops. Just to look, since everything costs more than my weekly budget, but that is where the art is. Everywhere else on the island is just peddling tchotchke, probably made in China. Also, the free glass blowing demos are actually really cool. Go to one or two. Then just wander the island and you may see some guys making glass in a workshop with their doors open because it gets hot in there. Watch that for a longer while since they are making the real thing. Not just for show. Burano is totally different with even fewer tourists. Burano is famous for lace. I am not a lace person or anything, but the craft-woman-ship is amazing. And Burano is also famous for its painted houses. Just walk around the small island marveling at the houses. And people actually live here! We saw some locals. It felt more like a real place than Venice did.

#4: Food-wise, we mostly bought veggie focaccia from the grocery store and ate that a lunch time while we were in Venice. It saved us a bundle and tasted good. But our one food recommendation while you are in Venice is Fritto & Frutta. They don’t use eggs in their batter that’s on the veggies, and they know what vegano is. Just ask for all the veggie options and you will be all set. And wash it down with a fruit smoothie. It will make the deep fried deliciousness, and the difficulties of Venice, go down much smoother.