All About Budgets Week 3: Is It Possible to Stick to a budget while traveling?

If you’ve been following our series on budgets over the past couple week’s you are now well versed in our budgeting process and how we managed to save in order to afford to travel in the first place. This week we’re going to share our budget and actual expenses for our four month trip that took place in fall of 2012 through some of Europe’s most expensive cities.
Don’t let the spreadsheet send you running – it simply shows where we went and when, as well as how much we spent on accommodation, transportation, activities, and food. The total costs listed are for two people, and the number in parenthesis is our average per day cost. For example, for six nights in London we spend $540 for accommodation, or $90 per day.
Click on photo to enlarge
- Cities within the same country are grouped using colour.
- This total cost does not include our round trip flight from Vancouver to London of $1200 each.
- An asterisks (*) signifies a night spent traveling (via train or bus) and therefore accommodations and activity costs are spread across fewer days than transportation and food costs. 
- Transportation in Montenegro is misleadingly high as it includes the cost of a flight from – Santorini to Kotor, there are much cheaper ways to access the country.  
- Activity costs in London include tickets to the Reading Music Festival, a total value of $782. 
As you can see at the bottom of the spreadsheet, we spent a total of $18,345 over the four month trip ($20,745 including our flights to and from London/Vancouver). This breaks down to an average of $63/day for accommodations, $32/day for transportation, $17/day visiting attractions, and $38/day for food, which fits almost perfectly with our pre-trip budget shown as the last line of the spreadsheet above.
To get an idea of which areas were most and least expensive, we tallied our costs by country in the spreadsheet below. We’ve also added a little bar graph for visual help if all these numbers hurt your head as much as they do mine.
- As with the first spreadsheet above, transportation in Montenegro is misleadingly high as it includes the cost of a flight from Santorini to Kotor and activity costs in London include tickets to the Reading Music Festival, a total value of $782. 
- The only city we visited in Portugal was Lisbon, Vienna in Austria, Berlin in Germany, and Paris in France, therefore these costs are also a good picture of how expensive those particular cities are
Looking at all this information, a lot of our suspicions about the priciest/cheapest destinations are confirmed such as:
  • Overall, large cities are more expensive to visit than small (Madrid compared to the small cities in Andalusia for example)
  • Visiting the best known, most visited cities will cost you – Paris, London, and Rome are not cheap
  • There are deals to be found in areas like Croatia and Montenegro (countries that are still trying to overcome the stigma of civil war), as well as Greece with its struggling economy.
  • Belgium was surprisingly affordable, further proof that some of Europe’s most expensive cities are within reach if you are willing to visit in the off-season.
It turns out, we did a pretty good job of setting a realistic budget and then sticking to it, making our first prolonged trip a financial success! Although it wasn’t easy at times (Paris can be crazy expensive) it was worth it. Each penny pinched meant more money to return home to, and in turn, more money to put towards our next trip.
Next week we are going to wrap up all this budget talk with our new 2013/2014 travel budget for our return trip to Europe this fall!

If you’ve missed the first two installments of our 4 part series on budgeting, you can catch up with these posts on estimating how much a trip will cost and how we manage to save for travel

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