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$20k budget for 3-4 months in Europe

Is this enough? This is my second time backpacking to Europe. I did my first backpacking last year and I did like 6 weeks. But next year, I'm going to visit most of the expensive countries except the Scandinavian countries. I'm going to Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, UK and Scotland. I'm also planning to go back to Austria to visit small village like Admont and Gosau. I'm going to combine hostel and either Airbnb or hotel. I'm going to stay 3 days in hostel and 2 days in hotel and Airbnb. I'm planning to stay 2 weeks in each countries. If you guys have any suggestions or advise, please feel free to comment.

Thank you

Posted by
2399 posts

In lots of parts of Germany you may be able to get a room in a house ‘private gaestezimmer’ for the price of a hostel

Posted by
27094 posts

Do you have a rough schedule for this trip? Are there any destinations you'll definitely be going to?

What country is your passport from? If you're from the US, Canada, etc., you'll need to count your days very, very carefully to be sure you don't spend more than 90 days altogether in Austria, Italy, France, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands. Your time in the UK (of which Scotland is a part) will not be an issue. From the way you describe your plans, you will not have exceed the limit of 90 days within any 180-day period, but it's essential that you not fall so in love with one of the other countries that you decide to skip the UK entirely on this trip and spend that time elsewhere.

Your budget isn't generous, but you may be able to get by. The deciding factor may be which towns and cities you choose to sleep in. Hotel costs vary a great deal withincountries, and I imagine there's a similar percentage difference when you look at hostels. For example, Glasgow, Scotland, may be about half the cost of Edinburgh, and some of the Scottish islands are exorbitant. Padua is about half the cost of Venice. Although Poland is less expensive than many other places overall, Gdansk and Krakow are extremely popular, and Warsaw has the typical capital- and business-city price bumps.

I'd recommend that you spend some time on booking.com and you favorite hostel-booking website, looking at what things cost this year during the months you anticipate traveling. That will give you an idea of which potential destination may be financially risky for you. There's a tendency for meal prices to be more expensive in the same cities where hotels are costlier--something I imagine you discovered on your previous trip.

Trains in the UK can be very, very costly if you waltz up to the ticket counter and buy your ticket on the day of travel. Buying tickets way in advance can sometimes yield large savings just about anywhere in Europe, but you have to balance that against the risk that you might need to postpone the trip for some reason.

Posted by
6293 posts

First, Scotland is part of the UK - did you mean England?

Second, sure, $20k would definitely work for 3-4 months (does that include airfare?). You could probably get it down more than that if you really try. What I would do it budget it out by the week, taking into account lodging costs using averages, money you are willing to spend each day on food, transportation (this can get pricey), costs for sightseeing, etc. and other misc. costs. Then see what you come up with. If you stay in smaller town and cities, your costs will be less - for example, London is very expensive but you might pay less living in a smaller place outside the city (but also factoring in transportation costs to get into the city).

Posted by
6293 posts

In lots of parts of Germany you may be able to get a room in a house ‘private gaestezimmer’ for the price of a hostel

I agree with that. I spent around €100 to €125/night for my 2 stays in Berlin, but I only paid €55 for a 3 bedroom apartment in a small town outside Münster, which included a full kitchen, washer, living room, bathroom, and balcony. You can use the term Stephen mentioned above or also "ferienwohnung" which means holiday apartment.

Posted by
7026 posts

If that $20k includes airfare, it's not a particularly generous budget for 4 months so you may end up with more like 3 months+. If it doesn't include airfare it would give you 4 months at approx $165/day or 3 months at $220/day. I don't stay in hostels (I'm old and need my private room and ensuite bathroom) but I do use very basic budget hotels, b&b's, etc. I also don't spend a huge amount on food as I'm not a gourmet, or even a 'foodie'. Even then, with transportation costs and sightseeing I could manage on $130/day in some countries but more like $150/day in others.

What I do is divide my budget (not including airfare) and divide by number of days I plan to spend. Then I budget $$/day and force myself to stay within that budget. If I go over one day, I'll skimp the next and vice versa.

With careful budgeting you should be able to make at least 3 months and maybe a little longer depending on how long you stay in each country, especially the more expensive countires.

Posted by
63 posts

Do you have a rough schedule for this trip? Are there any destinations you'll definitely be going to?

no I don't have schedule for this trip right now. but I have destinations already that I want to go.

Italy: 1 week in Rome and 8-9 days combine in Florence and Tuscany. I'm planning to rent a car when I go to Tuscany.

France: 5 days in Paris including daytrip in Marseille. 3 days in Saint-Malo. 3 days in Chamonix. 3 days in Normandy.

Germany: I'm thinking about renting a car to visit couple of small towns or village. 10 days in Munich including daytrip to Neuschwanstein Castle then couple of small towns or villages (Rothenburg, Cochem, Wurzburg and Bamberg). 4 days in Berlin.

Poland: 4 days in Krakow. 3 days in Warsaw and 3 days in Gdansk

Netherlands: I'm thinking about staying in Utrecht instead of Amsterdam. Because Utrecht to Amsterdam is like 30 minutes train ride.

UK: 1 week days in London. Then I would also do a daytrip in Windsor, Bath and Oxford. then after that I'm going to Edinburgh for 3-4 days. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to Costwolds.

Austria: maybe 5 days. I'm just going to visit the Admont and Gosau.

Posted by
63 posts

If it doesn't include airfare it would give you 4 months at approx $165/day or 3 months at $220/day.

Does It included the museums, food and transportation? Because I only eat two meals a day. late breakfast and dinner.
Usually I don't a lot of transportation. I love to explore the cities by walking instead of using bus, trams or train. but it depends I guess.

Posted by
10215 posts

You will still need transportation to change locations, even if you don’t use transportation locally. There are issues with your plan. One thing that jumped out at me was your mention of doing a day trip to Marseille from Paris. Do you know how far away that is? Definitely not a day trip.

Posted by
3689 posts

I assume that you are using US dollars. I think that you need to not just know where you want to go but i what order because if your $20K budget needs to cover transportation costs between the various locations that you plan to visit, you will want to plan it out and see what all of these trips will cost. My nephew backpacked through Europe for about 2 months and says he spent about 125€ per day for food, lodging, and entertainment on average. He went to all of your countries except Poland and the UK. He did the trip at the end of a year abroad program so he had no airfare costs for the travel between the US and Europe. He says he spent about another 500€ on transportation between countries. He traveled between countries mostly by bus and he also used a ride share service that connects people with cars who are traveling to a place with people looking for a ride. Based on his experience, I think you could do it if you watch your spending, stay in hostels, and do not spend too much on transportation costs. If travel on buses and ride shares, you will have lots of "funny though not funny at the time they were happening" stories to share with others when you return.

Posted by
4573 posts

AirBnB just launched (relaunched) their Rooms section. When I think Airbnb, I think private apartment...as that is my preference, but they started off doing the traditional 'Bed and Breakfast' in a home and are promoting a return to this style. That gives you a private room but some shared facilities and some locals to get to know. You may want to check out the value of a few less moves to take advantage of any weekly discounts for staying somewhere 6 or 7 nights....but itnwouls be false economy if you arepaying more for added transport returns on more daytrips.

Posted by
2311 posts

Pay close attention to the Schengen time limits.

When do you plan to travel? The price of lodging can vary greatly by the time of year. Don’t plan on being in Munich during Octoberfest, for example, if cheap lodging is a priority. Plan your itinerary logistically, so you don’t waste $ on transportation back and forth.

Traveling solo, you’ll have lots of lodging options. AirBnB’s are not always a cheaper option when you factor in the added fees, cleaning charges, etc. Small guest houses may be a more affordable option.

Posted by
7276 posts

I just looked up my expenses for my solo Italy trip in June 2022.

I’m not including my airline flight cost.
My final cost for everything including gelato was $3704 for 22 days. That’s $168/day. So your budget would give you 107 days for the same type of spending if you kept back $2000 for flights, insurance, etc. (….but the UK & Scotland are more expensive!)

  • I prefer the less-touristy, smaller cities that are big on ambiance. Prices are less expensive there, also. As an example, I stayed in a very nice hotel in Ferrara for $64/night. Larger cities were 2-4 times that much.
  • I stay in a variety of hotels and B&B’s. Some of them were very nice; all were rated an “8” or above on Booking.com.
  • I purchase all of my train tickets a month ahead for great savings.
  • I don’t mind walking 5-15 minutes from the train station to the hotel in the historic center of the city. I took four taxis during the 22 days there.
  • The activities are much less expensive- some days were no cost at all for nice activities.
  • For meals, I eat breakfast at the hotel (usually included in Italy), a very light lunch and a pasta & salad with sparkling water for dinner. Sometimes I just had an aperitif and the accompanying snacks and didn’t need dinner, too, because I had a late afternoon gelato.
  • I just bring a lightweight carry on suitcase. There’s no extra expenses for that method.
Posted by
1416 posts

With some research and advance planning. your budget will work fine. Staying in hostels along with pensiones or guest houses will help a lot. You haven’t asked about train passes which gives the impression you’re thinking of winging it. The key to saving money in Europe is pre-planning, reserving flights and trains as far in advance as possible— usually 90-120 days in advance. For example, a friend told me he had previously bought a Barcelona to Madrid ticket on a fast train for $150. I just bought one a couple days ago for travel in September for $20. A ticket on one of the fast trains from Munich to Berlin for tomorrow can be as high as $200. But a ticket for August can be bought online today for about $50 and if you buy one for September it can cost just $21. So, you can see just how planning a detailed itinerary will pay off and has the potential to literally save thousands of dollars for a three-month itinerary that includes a lot of major cities such as what you have in mind.
Capital cities and major cities such as Paris, London Edinburgh and Amsterdam are killer expensive. I would reserve at a youth hostel far in advance for these cities. An alternative for Amsterdam is, as you’ve written, Utrecht. Leiden ( also a great University town) is just 25 train-minutes south of Amsterdam, and Haarlem, is just 20 minutes west. All 3 are great alternatives.
Usually you can go to the Tourist Information Office (“TI”) located in major city train stations and ask what available accommodations they have listed for that night or the next 3 nights. These are rooms that small hotels or guesthouses discount because they have excess inventory that night. They’re happy to get someone like you who might stay two more nights. Just keep in mind they might only have an extra room for two nights because the weekend is coming up and it’s fully booked up on weekends. That is usually the case for inexpensive accommodations in major cities. Note that the availability of rooms is generally higher on weekdays than weekends ( except during conventions and conferences ) and generally there’s going to be more rooms available in March and April than in July and August. Usually guesthouses and pensiones are small family-run operations that simply don’t list their properties online so you will never see them on Trivago.com or Booking.com. In Germany, these places are called Gasthouses and often you’ll see a sign on the building that says “ Zimmer Frei” meaning “Room Available.”

In the world we live in today, if you calendar your itinerary, and start pre-buying train tickets and making reservations for the major popular attractions ( because many require timed-tickets now) you may as well reserve accommodations— particularly in capital cities.

I remember having a two-month Eurail Pass on a trip through Europe after I graduated from college. Back then, you could get on any train you wanted to and could pick a city just looking at the big board above the station floor listing all the cities the trains were going to in the next hour or so. In Paris, I spontaneously decided to get on an overnight train going to Nice, just because I knew Nice was on the way to Rome and the eternal city was on my itinerary.

When I returned more than a decade later with a Eurail pass, I was stunned when friends I met on the train from Prague told me that a trip from Munich to Interlaaken would require a reservation— even with my Eurail pass. It was the first I had heard of that and I was already half way through the trip. To me, that was the first time I experienced restrictions in Eurail travel and it was a big change in the sense of freedom it once allowed.
And now, as Covid wanes, there are so many people traveling to and through Europe, the new world we are in has made it necessary to plan and reserve so many of the elements of a trip. If you want things to go smoothly, it pays to plan.

Posted by
27094 posts

I don't think it's safe to assume a tourist information office will be found in every train station, or that the ones you find will book hotel rooms. Some do, some don't. It's not like it was when I was traveling back between 1972 and 1995, that's for sure. In some cities, even relatively large ones, the tourist office has very little physical presence. You're expected to do your research on its website.

Posted by
39 posts

That budget could work, but I'd suggest you limit car rental to a day here and there, reduce the number of places you're traveling, and try to go off season. Remember that gasoline in Europe can reach $10/gallon, plus there can be toll roads and parking to pay, in addition to car rental fees. In many countries, public transportation is subsidized. Buses are usually cheaper than trains, but not always. You have to research each country separately.

I've been traveling alone over the winter and early spring (off season) in Italy, Scotland, and France on about $100/day. Food has been a consistent $17-20/day. Lodging varies from $45 - $75 on average. In some popular cities, a hostel bed in a 10 bed dorm room can go for $70 a night, but just $20 in a rural area. I mostly use buses and go to museums on their free days. Search online for "free things to do in X city" and you'll find lots of options. Local expat bloggers can also offer great tips.

In France, I'd suggest just going to Paris + St Malo and Normandy (by train). Marseilles as a day trip is too far, plus way too expensive. If you just want to see the Alps (rather than Chamonix per se) you could take the train from Paris to Grenoble and then get a bus on to Florence via Turin.

Dynamic pricing for lodging and transport mean that you'll have to pay close attention to how those evolve. Prices can spike overnight. Generally, cities are cheaper mid-week. Air fares and train prices are cheaper at least two weeks out. If too high and you have time, take the bus. Know the dates for big holiday weekends and school holidays. Look on google maps for lodging options that don't appear on platforms like Booking and Hostelworld. Reserve directly when possible. In Italy, you can also stay in monasteries, but I didn't find them very affordable. In summer, consider university student dorms which usually are cheap.

Posted by
17898 posts

For budgeting you might look at this site: https://www.budgetyourtrip.com/europe
Then since your destinations are a bit scattered, you might spend sometime researching discount airlines. If you travel moderately light connections might cost $100.

If the budget seems too tight you could look at shifting a bit further south and spending a bit more time in Central and Eastern Europe where the cost could be close to half of some of your destinations.
If your budget looks more than enough, then again, look a bit further south to extend the trip. The other advantage is there are more options for getting out of Schengen so you can extend the trip.

Posted by
4071 posts

Poland for me as a solo traveler last September (for much longer than you plan to stay): 5 nights Gdansk, 4 nights Warsaw, 7 nights Krakow = $1,500. I had apartments in Gdansk and Warsaw and a hotel in Krakow. No airfare included, but all food, trains,lodging, and entrances.

Posted by
2731 posts

Have you looked at https://www.monasterystays.com/ Many in old town locations. Inexpensive rooms, compared to hotels. Most with private bathrooms. Some with A/C. Some with breakfast. Spartan accommodations, but consistent good reviews for cleanliness.

Posted by
1188 posts

Enryu, what is your gender and age? I backpacked for 60 days at $20 per day, but that was in 1983. And during that trip, I met students bumming around Europe, sleeping under bridges, living on $2 a day and begging for money to buy a cup a coffee. It just depends on the individual's tolerance. By myself, I think I could have a really fun trip with $200 a day budget. With my wife, I would have to bump up the budget unless I want to jeopardize our marriage.

You can splurge every once in a while, but then do something cheap to average down. When my wife and I were in Maui, we had a $500 meal at Mama's Kitchen. The next day, we stopped off at Costco and had a $1.50 hot dog for lunch.

On our last trip to Spain, we met a Ukraine girl working as a waitress in Ireland who was traveling in Barcelona on the cheap for a week. She flew Ryanair for about €40 return. She stayed in a hostel and shared a 4 bed dorm with other female travellers. We met on the train to Montserrat. My wife and I ate at the buffet; she packed a lunch. We had tickets for the the museum; she hiked the trails for free.

You should check out blablacar. It is a ride-sharing/carpooling program. It is not like uber where people are trying to earn an income as drivers. The drivers post their trips and look for passengers to share the cost of the drive, ie basically gas money. For example, if you are in Paris and want to go to Lyon, you just search for a driver who is making that same drive and is looking for people to share the drive. If your schedule is flexible, you can save a lot of money over the cost of a train. I have never used it, but the reviews are positive. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blablacar

Posted by
158 posts

I don't like the phrase Freud would have used to describe me, let's just say that I like spreadsheets! I stayed one month in September last year. 18 days in London came in at under $2000 and 10 days in Paris was a little over $1000. That does work out to $100 a day! I only stayed at hostels, used public transportation and bought museum passes. I will say that I didn't manage to do everything that I had hoped to do. Just a warning, expect to do 15,000 steps a day!