Posts Tagged With: europe

Trying to stop Europe from sucking me dry

After my reality check with the prices of traveling in Italy, I’ve decided to go back and make a more realistic estimate of what I’m hoping my budget will be for the first leg of my journey: England, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Morocco + any pre-departure costs like vaccines, passport, backpack, etc, travel insurance.  I’m calling it SPIFEM for short. Not the best acronym in the world, but it’ll work. My initial estimate, which also included the flight from Europe to Australia and my Australian visa, was around $5000. Here’s a breakdown of what I currently think it’s going to cost me, given my new knowledge about Italy, free accommodation for about 10 days in Spain, and the Moroccan tour I want to take.

  • Pre-departure costs = $500 flight to london + $200 travel vaccines + $130 passport renewal and photos + $250 travel insurance for first 3 months + $125 for backpack + $150 for other travel necessities = $1355
  • England for 4 days =  free accommodation + $250 for food, travel, and activities (i’ll be doing a lot of free things) ($62.50/day)
  • France for 10 days = $750 ($75/day)
  • Italy for 14 days =  $1000 ($71/day)
  • Spain for 21 days = free accommodation for 10 days + $130 accommodation for 11 days + $1120 for food, activities, travel = $1250 ($60/day)
  • Portugal for 14 days = $750 ($53/day)
  • Morocco for 15 days = tour is 800 pounds + 200 pounds for food not included + transportation to/from Marrakech from Spain = at least $1500 USD ($100/day)

My grand total for 68 days of travel + pre-departure stuff is estimated at $6855 and I left out the flight to Australia and the Australian Visa, easily another $1300. This is why it’s important to have a contingency fund.

If I wasn’t a travel ninja, I would be distraught. However, previous long-term travel experience coupled with a can-do attitude assures me that I can make this work.   I have a plan to get this down closer to $5000 while still getting all I want out of my vacay.

  • In Spain and Portugal, I’ll take the cheaper $20 overnight buses, thus saving $12-13 for a bed/night and another $10-30 off a train. (I took many overnight buses in Central America, so I know it’s something I can easily handle)
  • In France, I’ll make an effort to use hostels with communal kitchens so I can make a lot of my meals and will limit my travels to Paris and the south of France (using Nice as a base).
  • I’m also looking into trading some volunteer work for free room/board for a few days, could be any of the countries I’m going to (except Morocco)
  • I’ve found a couple of hostels in Spain that offer an exchange of sorts…if you have a travel blog, write something on your blog about their hostel and they’ll give you a free night of accommodation
  • I’ll be taking advantage of my corkscrew…why not buy a bottle of wine and make a couple new friends at the hostel? Much cheaper than drinking at a bar and just as fun!
  • I found an overnight bus from London to Paris on the date I want for 18 pounds…saves me money 2 ways: don’t have to pay for a hostel and the bus is cheaper than any train I’ve found.
  • I might be able to “pay” for my flights from RDU-LON and Spain or Morocco to Australia with the miles I’m getting from travel hacking…then I’d just have to pay for taxes/fees…this has the potential to save me about $1400 USD (I only counted the RDU-LON flight in the above budget breakdown, so this would knock off about $500 in terms of that budget)
  • I’m hoping to couchsurf in Paris and Venice, 2 of the more expensive cities I’m visiting, saving me between $120-200 USD, depending on how many days I decide to spend in each city

Using these tips, I have confidence that I can easily get my budget down to $6000, if not lower. I’ll keep looking for ways to save and pass them on to you as I find them. Until then, stay strong and travel on!

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I’m ready for a Busabout now…

No, that wasn’t a typo. Today I learned about a bus company that services a good portion of Western Europe on the cheap.  This is great news because the closer I get to my departure date (well, haven’t officially set one, but 98% sure it’s going to be during the last week of August), the more I freak out about the money issue…in fact, about 5 minutes before I was informed of Busabout, I started whining (in my head) about how much a damn  Eurail pass is going to cost me.  Turns out Busabout goes to most of the places I want to go, is cheaper, and is super flexible.  They also have sweet package deals for festivals like Pamplona, La Tomatina, and Oktoberfest and awesome adventures like Greek Island Hopper, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, etc.!  Definitely something to look into.  

The biggest drawbacks I can see are that the buses only go in one direction so no backtracking and they only run from May-October though some of the packages run longer .  Anyway, something to think about if you’re headed to Europe this summer!

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Eurail…euright or eurong…

After making the decision to stick to Western Europe for the first portion of my trip, I realized I needed to make another big decision…how I’m going to get around.  I’ve heard so many mixed reviews about the value of a eurail pass that I have no idea if it will be worth it.  A 2 month pass with 10 days of travel is $908, a 2 month pass with 15 days is almost $1200. It might just be better to look for a combination of point to point rail passes and cheap airfares via ryanair or some other budget airline.  

This trip is about being spontaneous and free to go whichever way the wind blows me so I hate the idea of being tied down to a specific route. What if I meet some awesome people on the road and they’re headed to Nice and I have a ticket to Venice? That pretty much defeats my goal for this trip. One of my favorite parts of traveling through Central America was that I never booked anything in advance, except for the 10 days my parents visited my in Costa Rica.  I had a loose plan, but there was so much room for negotiation. For that reason, I think a Eurail pass is not for me.  

If you have a very definite path mapped out with a lot of long travel days, a pass might be worth it. Just keep in mind, even with a eurail pass, you might be faced with additional fees for some of the trains (especially overnights). You also may need to book legs pretty far in advance.  

Ok, another decision made! Man I’m on a roll ;-).  Even though I’ve decided not to use a eurail pass for this trip to Europe, I may use one on a future trip, so I would still love to hear from anyone that has used a pass in the, er, past.

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Will East meet West?

Downyonda Creek signAs you may or may not know…probably not, unless you stalk my blog (I’m ok with that! haha)…anyway, as you may or may not know, I’m planning on going to Europe for the first 2-3 months of my epic RTW adventure.  I’ve been going back and forth on which countries to visit…ideally, I’d love to travel through a mixture of eastern and western European countries. At the same time, I need to take into consideration mundane things like time, money and safety of the country.  I have a yearning to learn more about my ancestory (I’m a mutt), especially the Czech and Croatian side, of which I know basically nothing about.  If I’m going that far east, I also want to visit Greece, Turkey, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Bulgaria.

On the flip side, I have to visit London (I’ve been telling a mate of mine I’d visit for years) and would love to go back to Spain and Germany, as well as seeing Portugal, Italy, and Morocco (I know Morocco is technically Africa, but it’s right next to Spain so it makes sense that I visit it when I’m already that close) for the first time.

I’ve just about decided to stick to the west…I think…It makes sense…it’s generally going to be more expensive and I think I’d do better getting those areas out of the way in the beginning of my trip when my willpower is strongest.  Also, since I’m flying from an airport on the east coast of the U.S., London is already a logical stop over, or in my case, destination.  On top of that, obviously Eastern Europe is closer to Southeast Asia/Australasia than Western Europe is, so if I decided I wanted to go back and hit the countries I missed after my year in Australia and before my time in SE Asia, it would theoretically be cheaper. Yea. I think this makes sense.  I don’t want to squeeze so many countries into such a small timeframe/budget that I can’t enjoy my trip. Ok, just about talked myself into this. Of course, tomorrow the opposite may be true…

If anyone has suggestions for locations, hostels, activities in any of the countries listed, I’d love to hear your feedback! Clearly I’m a bit lost right now…

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Couchsurfing…it’s like surfing, except not…

Silly title, I know. I’ve been thinking about the first leg of my RTW trip and have been racking my brain on how to cut costs on my sojourn across Europe.  In England, Germany, Holland and France I have friends who have graciously offered up their couches or guest rooms to me, but I have a whole host of other places I’m going where I’ll probably be paying $20-40 a night for a bed in a hostel. Couchsurfing would really help my budget out, giving me an extra $140-280 a week to play with…it means I could eat out every night or take in as many museums as I want. It also means accepting a certain amount of vulnerability…hoping you get a non-creepy host that smells good and is eager to show you the best parts of their cities. I’ve never done it, so I’m a bit apprehensive. My current roommate had great experiences couchsurfing in Austria and Hungary, but I’d like to hear some other people’s opinions as well. Leave me comments, thanks!

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