I guess this is the week for finance! Lately, I’ve made more financial goals for myself, my career, and my travels. As a result, I’ve looked more into how I spend, and how I could have more healthy spending habits. Besides, I wanted to write my first expense report months ago…
Remember when I said no one likes talking about how to manage money? I guess that applies to me, too. So, I’m biting the bullet and sharing how much I spent on a two-week trip to Europe in June 2019.
Before I get into the budgetary aspects of this trip, I’ll preface it by saying these 3 very important things:
- Summer is peak season for travel. Period.
- Europe is an expensive destination for summer, making the prices even higher than going elsewhere.
- I was on a girls’ trip with my mom, grandma, and best friend. They are not necessarily as frugal as I am, which subsequently affected how much I spent.
For this report and all of those to come, I’ll start by sharing my budget. Every time I’m planning a trip, I like to sit down and map out how much everything will cost in an Excel spreadsheet. Then, I set a budget for on-the-ground expenses like eating out, activities, and entertainment, leaving wiggle room for inevitable changes. Afterwards, I go back and look at how much I actually spent.
Let’s do this expense report, y’all!
the budget + prepaid expenses
|Route||Mode of Transport||Miles Traveled||Cost per person|
|Nashville to |
|Atlanta to |
|Glasgow to |
|Edinburgh to |
|Pisa to Rome||Train||216||$22.29|
|Rome to |
|Barcelona to |
|Newark to |
|Total cost of |
|Location||Type of |
|Number of |
|Cost per |
|Cost per |
|Total cost of |
Our major costs were transport and accommodations. When searching for our flights, I put in my mom’s dates off work and did not pick any routes that were more than $350 per way. We ended up paying $604.87 roundtrip, which I consider a success in high tourism season!
Since we knew up front how much the transport and accommodations would be, we chose a few activities that were most important to us. We knew we’d eat out more than usual, because we were moving around quickly and only carrying-on. We didn’t have the space to bring lots of leftover food and liquids with us, so we ate out at least once, maybe twice, per day.
Now that we’ve got the prepaid expenses out of the way, my personal budget for spending on souvenirs, activities, and food was $400. Let’s see if I stuck to it or not…
|Location||Activity||Cost per person|
|Holy See (Rome)||Vatican||$31.96|
|Activities, Food, + |
Because I already had souvenirs from Barcelona and Rome, the only places I was interested in finding a coffee mug were Scotland and maybe Pisa. I ended up with a Loch Ness Monster mug for just 5 GBP after days of searching. I also ended up getting a book from a discounted book shop, and a stuffed highland cow.
My activities were mostly sightseeing I never got to do during my semester abroad, and I did well this time on Vatican tickets. We spent less than half this time compared to our first visit to the Vatican!
All in all, I made it under my personal spending budget. Yay!
I don’t like buying many material items on the road, but I am willing to fork over some money for experiences. I got to see everything I wanted to, and even decided to forgo buying 20 euro tickets to go to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was just as grandiose on the outside–and free! As with anything, spending money for travel is a trade-off between what you’re willing to splurge on, and where you’d rather save.
And now, without further ado, here is the grand total I spent on this trip:
Moral of the story? Don’t go to Europe in the summertime. I know, I know. It’s a major bucket list item for many people to backpack through Europe from June to August, but that’s the exact reason this trip was so expensive. I could have gotten by on much less had I been alone and stuck to a backpacker budget, and/or gone to Europe in fall or spring.
As you can see, the bulk of my calculated per-person expenses were on transport and accommodations. These do not include the taxis and ride shares we took, because my grandma mostly paid for those. We wouldn’t have taken them had she been able to get around easier, so she wanted to foot the bill for them.
However, the reason flights within Europe and accommodations were this high (even though we paid a cost of $31 per person, per night in some places) is the season we took this trip. They would have been even lower any other time of year, especially the Barcelona Airbnb!
If you can, I recommend either booking a June trip very far in advance, or avoiding it altogether. Compared to my semester abroad from January to May, this trip had many more crowds, much higher prices, and I witnessed more pickpocketing in two summer weeks than in my five months abroad.
Whatever you decide is best for your travel plans, I hope this expense report helped you see just how much a trip like this will cost per person. As I become more knowledgeable about travel hacking and booking award travel, these expense reports will develop. My intention with these is to be as transparent as possible about how I afford travel, how I spend, and how you can make it work for your own budget.
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