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Backpacking Europe: How much does it cost?

Backpacking Europe: How much does it cost?

In the lead up to every trip, I create a comprehensive budget to estimate how much it’s going to cost and save accordingly.

I may be a little on the crazy scale when it comes to making sure I have every last dollar accounted for, but even if you’re not a super-organised freak like me, I think creating a budget is a really important step to ensure we don’t skyrocket into credit card debt and impulse buy a bunch of expensive souvenirs.

It’s not easy to guess how much a trip is going to cost – how the flip are you supposed to know how much a meal will cost in Budapest, or how expensive public transport is in Amsterdam?

Well peeps, Robert and I backpacked from Moscow to Paris so we got acquainted with the costs of both Eastern Europe, Central Europe, and Western Europe – and I’m going to share our travel costs in detail to assist you in budgeting for your trip.

Important note: These costs are the average of what we spent on our entire three-month trip. As a rough estimate you should expect to pay about a third less in Eastern Europe and a third more in Western Europe. The following prices are per person and in AUD (for other currencies use the XE currency converter).

If you have any questions about our budget or costs, please feel free to ask in the comments!


Europe Trip Map

Our trip itinerary from Moscow to Paris. Here’s how to map out your next trip!

Flights:

Obviously this won’t be the same for everyone depending on where you’re flying from. We got a fairly good deal with Etihad at $1750 return for our flights from Sydney to Moscow, and returning Paris to Sydney.

Do a web search to find out how much your flights will cost from your city. Remember that being flexible with your travel dates may save you money.

Accommodation:

We stayed in a combination of 4-6 bed dorm rooms and private rooms in hostels, which averaged $29 per night. These hostels were usually rated in the top 10 on HostelBookers.

If you’re looking to reduce your accommodation costs, look into staying in 8-12 bed dorm rooms or hostels with lower ratings. Couchsurfing is also a great option if you’d like to stay with someone familiar with the city!

intercity Transport:

Bus and train travel cost a total of $1400 for our three month trip. We moved between cities about every 4 days, so each trip averaged $60-$65 (note: This does not include the domestic flights we took from St Petesburg to Kiev, and Kiev to Warsaw).

Booking buses instead of trains saved us loads of money in many areas of Central Europe, especially when we were booking last minute.

Europe trainsBackpacker life, Robert chilling in the train corridor when every compartment was full.

Local transport:

We budgeted $5 per day for local transport. Often we’d stay close to the city centre and walk between sights, but if walking isn’t your cup of tea then budget a little more for transport, and if you’re spending a lot of time in Western Europe you should probably double this! Damn that expensive London metro system.

Sightseeing:

This is a hard one as it really depends on how much sightseeing you want to do. We stuck to one museum per city and mostly free or cheap attractions and spent $10-$15 per day, but it could easily have been more if we wanted to visit more museums and tourist sites.

Some days we spent no money on sightseeing, but other days we spent a little extra on day trips like Prypyat and Chernobyl from Kiev, Kutna Hora’s Bone Chapel from Prague, and skiing in the Austrian Alps from Innsbruck.

ParisEnjoying coffee and beer in a Parisian café.

Food and Drink:

This can vary greatly depending on how much you’re willing to spend on going out. We budgeted $35 per day and this included buying yoghurt/granola for breakfasts, eating either lunch or dinner out and cooking the other meal in our hostel. It also included a beer or two most days.

In certain countries, mostly Switzerland and the UK, it was a struggle to stay within this budget, but in others it was super easy – food and drink prices were significantly cheaper in Eastern Europe.

Our costs could have been reduced by cooking all meals in our hostel, but we felt as though sampling the local cuisines was an important part our trip.

Insurance:

Yes, you do need travel insurance. I used to work as a travel agent and boy, did I hear some horror stories of people travelling without it. Ours cost about $630 each for just over 90 days of travel, but you can get it cheaper. Cancellation cover and excesses can be adjusted to reduce the price.

Visas:

You might need a tourist visa depending on what country you’re from, where you’ll be visiting, how long you’ll be staying, and whether you plan to work while you’re there. Check out this Do you need a visa website to find out if you’ll need one.

We had to get a visa for Russia, which cost $120, and also for our visit to Ukraine, which cost $110.

St Basils MoscowThe start of our trip at Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia

Total for 13 weeks:

  • International flights: $1750
  • Accommodation at $29 per night: $2639
  • Intercity transport at $60-$65 per trip: $1400
  • Local transport at $5 per day: $455
  • Sightseeing at $10-$15 per day: $1100
  • Food and drink at $35 per day: $3185
  • Insurance: $630
  • Visas: $230

This brings the total trip cost to $11,389. If we don’t include the international flights, visas, or insurance, the ongoing costs were $8779 which equals about $675 per week of travel.

Again, it’s important to remember that this budget can easily be blown out with penthouse apartments or lavish dinners of caviar and champagne, or significantly reduced by eating only bread and rice or getting cosy in a room with 11 other people. We also saved money by asking our family members to purchase tickets to some sightseeing activities as our birthday and Christmas presents before we left.

Nevertheless, I hope this gives you somewhat of an idea of how much you might need to budget for your trip to Europe!


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Ashlea Wheeler

This post was written by Ashlea, a colourfully clothed and excitable vegetarian who loves photography and exploring the world. Find out more about me.

13 Responses to “Backpacking Europe: How much does it cost?”

  1. Milosz Zak

    That’s incredible! We could never spend that little per week, especially considering our limited time and pace of travel – great going! Love that last photo from Moscow!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Entirely true Raphael. I know people who did Europe on a river cruise – they spent about a third more than we did for only a 5 week trip! It really just depends on how fancy/basic you want to go.

      Reply
  2. Laura

    Really amazing balanced post! You’ve made Europe accessible to people of all budgets 🙂 I am sorry London is so expensive – the rest of the UK is cheaper I promise 😀

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Laura! I definitely plan to do some more of the UK and Ireland next time I’m in Europe, so it’s wonderful to hear that the rest of it is more affordable than London 😉

      Reply
  3. Chalsie

    This is really helpful!! I’m considering a trip later next year, depending on how much I save in the meantime. So I’ve tallied up how much 2 months would cost approximately, which has given me a good structure to save towards! 🙂

    Chalsie | The Workshop Co. x

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s great! Having an idea of what your costs will be makes the world of difference when setting a savings goal to make the trip actually happen!

      Reply

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