Backpacking Europe: How Much Does it Really Cost?

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I recently returned home from a whirlwind of a backpacking trip through Europe spanning 135 days. As mentioned in my first post, I kept a running tally of all expenses the entire way. Now that the trip is complete, I am here to share the results with you!

First up in Berlin, a stroll along the Spree river

Backpacking Europe: How much should I budget for?

This is usually the first question everyone asks themselves before planning any trip. Most likely even before the real planning begins. You probably have a friend, family member, or co-worker that you’ve seen take off on backpacking trips and wondered what it cost them. To prepare for my trip I read as many blogs and forums as I could to get a general idea for myself. I quickly learned that backpacking Europe would be much more expensive than my previous trip to Central America. I also learned that the majority of people only give a general idea of what they spent (or what they remember spending).

There is also the problem that everyone travels differently. For example, a more vacation type experience (poolside lounging in a 5 star hotel) will most likely blow through this budget in weeks. On the other hand, a backpacking trip will have you spending considerably less on lodging and amenities. For me, there is no right or wrong way to travel, so long as you’re out there experiencing the world in some way.

Feel free to use my expenses as a guideline for planing your own trip through Europe. Just be sure to  budget a little more or less depending on your type travel.

Pre-trip travel expenses

Don’t forget to budget for the money you will spend before you even leave your front door! This will vary depending on what you already have and what you plan to purchase. Things like passports, backpacks, international drivers permits, travel insurance, and vaccinations can add up quickly! I wrote an article on my personal expenses before departing on this trip, you can find it below:

TL;DR? My pre-trip travel expenses: $467.60

Actual Cost: 135 days in Europe

From day one, I kept a running tally of every single expense incurred on this trip. And I mean everything. Need a bathroom in Europe? That will cost you 0.50 euros. Forget to pack your belt? That will cost you. Break your lens hood and need some super glue? Miss the bus to your train and have to pay for a taxi? Need to use a laundromat?

Just wanted to be clear that this isn’t a ballpark or best guess at what I spent. This is the actual cost of traveling in Europe for 135 days:

  • Pre-trip: $467.60
  • Lodging: $2361.18
  • Food: $1118.23
  • Transportation: $2108.23
  • Activities: $845.25
  • Misc: $112.37
  • Alcohol: $165.16

Backpacking Europe Total:

$7178.02 ($53.17/day)

So, there you have it! The entire cost, to the cent, of traveling 135 days in Europe.

Locals lounging along the Spree river in Monbijou Park

Budget Traveling

Before I go, I’d like to share a bit about how we traveled so that you can make a better judgement on the cost of your own trip. During this trip we used a combination of hotels, hostels, Airbnb and Couchsurfing. We used online reviews to choose the lowest price lodging that we felt safe booking. It was only necessary to find a place to sleep, shower and charge up our electronics. We spent the majority of our time out exploring what each location had to offer. Therefore, we mostly relied on hostels and Airbnb’s, which provided all we really needed.

For food and drink we visited a grocery store or market nearly every other day. That’s one advantage to hostels and airbnbs. Access to a refrigerator and full kitchen. The majority of our meals consisted of food we prepared ourselves or local street food. Of course we tried the local cuisine in each country, just not for every meal.

To get around we mostly used public transportation, which is generally excellent in Europe. In some places it’s a bit more work, but you’ll get there in the end. We rented a car only once and paid for only two “tour bus” day trips. For everything else we either used public transport or walked.

If you’re not keen on this type of travel, be sure to adjust your budget accordingly. If you prefer the privacy and comfort of a nice hotel, plan to spend a bit more. Same if you’d like to eat at restaurants all the time. On the other hand, if you travel to less locations and stay at each location longer, you’ll save a considerable amount of money. If you can secure couchsurfing stays before you depart or have friends/family abroad you can save even more. We were fortunate to have quite a few free stays ourselves along the way, which really helped extend the trip.

So, what does everyone think? Is this more or less the cost you expected? Were you expecting way more or (knowing I’m a budget traveler) expecting much less? If you have any further questions or comments, let me know!

Previous article: Euro Trip – Budget Update #3

Related article: Schengen Area – Borderless travel in Europe


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10 Responses

  1. Jason Fahey

    Great job on the write up man, really like seeing your updates. That’s honestly less than I thought, at first you see ether total and think it’s a large number but compared to the bills that you left behind with mortgage, utilities, etc I’d say you’ve had quite the experience on the cheap! What’s in store next?

    • admin

      Thanks, Jason! At the moment I’m back home for the holidays. Going through all my photos and notes and preparing them for the website. Thanks for reading and commenting, always nice to know at least someone is out there reading! Haha

  2. Karen Tan

    Wow, this is the least expensive travel. The same thing when I travel, using public transport, buy food in the groceries, or some in street food. Thank you for the idea. I have not travel in Europe. I plan to visit Iceland next in my lists.👍😘

  3. Haz

    Interesting write up..I am a budget traveler as well.I travelled a lot in Japan and it’s not expensive if you plan carefully like you did.I wish I have the courage to get out from my comfort zone and travel the world like you do.I have been following you in IG and you will notice my feeds at wanderer.travelimited are full with scenic Japan! Please continue sharing your adventure and do keep in touch when you are in South East Asia..

    • admin

      Thanks for following along! We do hope to visit Japan someday, just can’t be sure when. So much of the world to see, wish we had more time!

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