This is a 12 part series on Backpacking Europe for all you aspiring & seasoned backpackers and student travelers.
8. Backpacking Europe Trip Budget and Finances
Budgeting for your trip is dependent on many things. It all depends on what kind of trip you want.
I saw website that said that you can travel for $25 a day, but who want’s to sleep on park benches, beaches, and camp grounds for a month?!
Not me. I need to know that I can take a nice hot steaming shower whenever I damn well wanted and there’s nothing like sleeping in a nice comfortable warm bed after a long day of wandering through the city.
Having said that, after further research, it appeared that $50-$75 US dollars a day would do the trick.
This $75 bucks a day will cover your accommodations, food for the day, any attractions/museums/drinks/clubs/souvenirs, etc…
But, knowing me, I always like to “pad” that number. I always suggest to backpackers and student travelers that you should “over budget.”
I waaay over budgeted my first trip. I took a loan from my 401k plan at the time and combined it with what I had already saved.
I budgeted a whopping $160 per day on my first trip to Europe, and made sure I didn’t spend more than that each day. Highly unlikely.
The reason for this amount was because I went guerilla style and decided to find hostels/hotels “on the fly” and prepared myself for worst case scenarios. Now I book ahead because I found too many places full and the ones that had vacancies would charge higher rates for the few beds they had left.
I rationalized and said, “If I absolutely cannot find hostels available, then I can always stay at a nice hotel like the Hilton or what not…”
In fact, my average expenditures came out to almost $60 a day and I didn’t deprive myself of anything (remember, I chose to stay in private rooms and or hotels instead of dorm beds which will be cheaper).
Spending only $60 a day left me an extra $100 a day for the remaining 2 weeks left of my month long trip, which meant I now had about $260 per day for the last two weeks. Confused yet?
Still averaging about $60 a day on my 3rd week (I swear, I tried to spend more!), I was now carrying over about $200 a day (left over each day) going into the 4th and final week of my trip.
So, on the last week of my trip, I had about $360 a day left over to spend freely on my last week and whatever isn’t spent each day is obviously carried over to the next day.
It was truly a great feeling to have money at the END of your trip so you don’t go home so broke that you can’t even “pay attention.”
Having a surplus at the end of your trip will give you a wad of cash that you can use as a jumpstart for your next trip!
This is all the result of “over budgeting.”
As you’re traveling, carry some cash, but pay mostly with a credit card whenever you can. This way you will get the true exchange rate and you can conserve your cash for when you really need it most.
Travelers Checks- are a thing of the past, but if you wish to carry them, so be it.
Debit cards- be careful about losing this. If someone steals it and charges up your debit card, good luck getting your bank to believe that it wasn’t you who did it. It may take a long time getting your money back and meanwhile you’re out of cash.
Credit cards- should you get this stolen and charges racked up, you can call your credit card company and dispute the charges. They usually move faster at exonerating you from those fraudulent charges and you will still have your money in your checking/saving account.
Over budgeting will give you incredible peace of mind. Make it so!