May 24, 2024

Backpacking & Student Travel Budget, Finance, and Credit

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I’ll get straight to the point- Over budget. Three times to Western Europe and my budget and finances has remained the same.
I usually budget about $75 (US Dollars/Euros) a day, assuming that I already bought a Eurail pass (This is important if you are on a budget, so have your mom buy you one and get it out of the way).

$75 for 30 days= $2,250 consevartive budget for 1 month. You can do it for half that and have a great time, if you want. But, how often do you travel to Europe?
Don’t blow your whole wad, but at the same token, don´t deprive yourself either. Alrighty now, don´t freak out. I budget this way because I prefer to have my own room in hostels.
If you were to share a room with one or more backpackers everywhere you traveled, your cost would come down, but you will have to alwasy be dealing with noisy backpackers comeing in and out of the room at all hours of the night and the possibility of peole rummagin through your belongings.
If you have to live on credit, so be it. How often do get to travel overseas on your own? You’ll come back home to debt, but better to go to work and pay that off and have memories that will last a lifetime, than to continually hold off on your travel dreams because of the lack of finances or because you just don’t want to rack up some debt.

Also, go easy on the souvenirs. (Read more on the bottom of the page).

You have to be conservative with your finances and budget when planning any kind of trip. Period. You must give allowance to the unforseen and unexpected elements that always seem to creep up on you while traveling especially to foreign countries.

Traveling through Western Europe three times, I have had days where I have spent $20 including food and hostels, and a rare day that I spent $105 alone on a hotel room. That was due to that fact that I couldn´t find a hotel with a vacant room next to the train station in Barcelona.

After walking 2 hours in drizzle, I decided to bite the bullet and sleep in style in a luxury hotel across the street from the train station. Save time and money by reserving your hostels online.

The sad part was that I checked in at 2am and my train was leaving at 8 am the next morning. The most expensive hotel room on all 3 trip´s and I couldn´t even enjoy it. What a shame.

On a side note, there were quite a few days that I spent $45 per night for a hotel room. If you happen to be in a European city during the summer or when that city is celebrating a holiday, it may be tough to find a decent price for accomodations and hostels book pretty fast. Now, I know that I could do it for $40 a day, or even $30 a day if I did some super planning, but I don´t always want to think about ¨what is my account balance like now?¨ If I plan a budget of almost twice as much as I needed, I know that I will have no problems maximizing my enjoyment in any given country. Plus, I can still come home with money in my account.

What if you met some cool people that were bee-lining to a different country that wasn´t on your itinerary but sounded like it would be a blast? If you over budgeted and needed to buy another train/bus/plane ticket, you´d have no worries. Go for it! That´s what backpacking is all about. Meeting people, get´n some culture in ya, seeing the world, living in the moment, and taking that unexpected trip with your new found friends to Greece or that exotic party haven island of Ibiza! Do your budget, then add more for the ¨unexpected element.¨ In Madrid, Disco-tecs and night clubs will cost you entrance fees and around $7-$9 (Euros) and upwards, per drink! Thats almost twice the prices in Los Angeles!

Assuming again that you already had a Eurail pass, your biggest daily cost will most likely be your accomodations. An example of my conservative daily budget in Europe for the bare essentials (not counting club entrance fees for attractions, tours, and souvenir shopping).

Here’s an example of the costs breakdown:

Daily cost (US Dollars) Train of thought What I want to spend What I budgeted.
Hostel or Hotel I shoot for under $30 for a single room. (Staying in a hostelroom with multi beds, your cost can come down to $10-$15 a day). $30 $45
Food, Cafe (coffee $5-$15 some days more. Example: In Spain, you don´t eat Paella everyday. Mostly you´ll find ham and cheese in french rolls. Do what you gotta do! $10 $20
Night clubs, bars, and pubs. Drinks can be expensive, so watch out! Not a nightly thing for me, but the money I don´t spent on this each day allows me to have a nice financial cushion $5 $10
Total daily amount: actual & conservative = $45 $75
Can you see? If I did’t spend that extra $30 a day, it would add up to over $200 a week!

Museums, attractions, souvenirs, tours, etc…These are not daily things but more like once or twice a week things.

Going to the beach, ruins of a castle, walking across a famous river, strolling through the street markets, sitting at beautiful parks and cafes, are all attractions that you will probably do more of and spend nothing.

Meeting people, locals, other travelers, and having them take you to a local party or a killer hole-in-the-wall restaurant off the beaten path, or a pub on the outskirts of town where the local hip people your age are hanging, as opposed to crowded touristy bars, are what´s going to make your trip memorable, unforgettable, and down right spectacular!

Traveling with a friend? Do yourself a favor and split up for a few hours a day and do your own thing. Discuss this with them before your trip so you go in with a plan. See Europe (or any country) through your own un-tainted eyes and then meet up later in the day to discuss the days events and the people that you´ve met. Being on your own FORCES you to talk to the locals and the local singles may be more interested in chatting with you as you´re not as preoccupied with conversations (that you can talk about at home) with your buddy. Get it? Good.

Remember, you took time off of work(or whatever). You worked your ass off to save money! You made a ton of sacrifices and stressed out about everything to get to this point where you can escape the uncomfortable realities of life in order to embark on your personal journey of self discovery, and maybe hook up with a local:). It´s also your travel buddies trip, so get them to understand the importance of daily separation. If they think it´s hogwash, send them to this site and hopefully they´ll be enlightened. Ask any solo traveler how they like traveling solo and the over-whelming response is that they wouldn´t have it any other way. Check out our message boards for some topics regarding this.

Be careful on souvenirs.

I´ve brought home many things from Europe and I can honestly say, that the only things that I use most are the leather shoes I bought in Amsterdam for $40, the $2 keychain from Paris, and mostly the countless pictures that ‘ve taken.

Do yourself a favor and bring a digital camera and or a nice camera with lots of film, and go easy on the souvenirs. Chances are- you won´t use them after a while. However, you´ll always be looking at them pictures you took!


Sell your unwanted and/or unused possessions on eBay! Sell that old laptop, camera, pc, Harley Davidson leather jacket, good used tires, those collectors baseball cards, comics, cell phones, whatever!

You will be surprised what some of your unused belongings are selling for these days. It’s kind of like having a garage sale, but only much better and with a world wide audience as opposed to just your homely neighbors down the street.

This is a very popular way to start building up your savings for that ultimate backpacking Europe, Australia, Asia, (or wherever) adventure.A whole new chapter of your life is about to be written, and if chucking your old items will help you to achieve your objective much sooner than you thought, then get busy!

“Success comes to those who make it happen, not let it happen.”


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