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Budget for a Month in Europe

Hello, my boyfriend and I are travelling to Europe in September 2014. We plan on spending time in the following cities:

Vienna (3 days)
Innsbruck (1 day)
Salzburg (1 day)
Bratislava (1 day)
Budapest (4 days)
Zagreb (2 days)
Croatian coast (3 days)
Rome (3 days)
Pompeii (1 day)
Amalfi Coast (1 day)
Florence (3 days)
Venice (2 days)
Munich (2 days, during Oktoberfest)

As far as budget is concerned, I want to make sure we're on the right track. We plan on renting a car in Italy but the rest of the trip will be via the train. We will also most likely take a budget airline flight from the Croatian coast to Rome. We plan on staying in hostels (private rooms) or low budget hotels. We plan on seeing as much as we can and we also plan on partaking in some night life as well. We are not fussy eaters and plan on eating picnic lunches occasionally. For dinners, we prefer to eat in local, less expensive restaurants than the high end or tourist type establishments. Here's the breakdown that I'm thinking of (per person):
$100/day for food/alcohol
$60/day for lodging (so $120/night for a room)
$50/day for museums, entrance fees, shopping.

Plus about $1200 for each of our return flights and I'm thinking it'll be about $1,500 each for various other travel expenses (train tickets, car rental and the flight from the Croatian coast to Rome).

So including transportation and daily expenses, I'm estimating about $9,000. Is this too much? Too little? Should I be adjusting my expectations based on that budget? Thanks in advance for your help :)


Posted by
8179 posts

My wife and I are somewhat frugal travelers, and we usually spend about 70 Euros for a room per night.

We eat in our B&B's pretty heavily for breakfast (usually free) and will often picnic for lunch. We eat a regular meal for dinner--maybe $15-20 equivalent. And if we have kitchens available, we often cook for ourselves. Your food budget is pretty high.
We do visit the great museums, but don't visit them every day. We do virtually no shopping unless we need something.
Your big expenses on the road will be travel because you're planning to go to so many places. And that $9 per U.S. gallon unleaded gasoline gets tough on the budget.
Your budget should certainly do you well. I never have been able to budget for any trip. We just travel as inexpensively as we can without missing any tourist sight, and we deal with the credit cards upon our return.

I hate to tell you this, but your whirlwind trip might be a big blur unless you slow down somewhat. You're going to visit absolutely great cities in Vienna, Rome, Florence, Venice, Budapest and Munich that are each worthy of a 4-5 day minimum. You're also going to some fine smaller cities worthy of more time than you've allotted. I would suggest you scratch Zagreb and the Croatian coast and spread those days elsewhere.
You will do best if you're in Munich on a weekday night if you're catching Oktoberfest, and you better get room reservations now. It's simply a riot on weekends.

Posted by
7049 posts

Breanne, since your only question was regarding budget I will only address that. Assuming that the $9000 is per/person that is a very generous budget in my opinion. I spent a month traveling around France in 2012 using a combination of rental cars and trains for transportation and spent a total of about $4000 (in addition to airfare).

Some major differences: I was traveling solo so could not split car rental or gas/tolls or accommodations so you should be able to get by cheaper on those things by splitting costs. On the other hand, I didn't travel as much distance as you are planning and I didn't have to budget for nightlife or alcohol (other than wine with dinner) and didn't spend anywhere near $50/day for entrance fees.

I was able to find several nice hotels/inns/b&b's for between $40-80 (singles) by researching and booking ahead, reserved my rental cars ahead of time from US and bought my train tickets in advance online for much less than walk-up prices. This locks you into certain days/times but it was worth it to me. If you plan on being more flexible in your travel days and what dates you'll be in what city you will pay more.

Overall I think you're in good shape with that budget - it's much better to overestimate and have $$ left over than to underestimate and come home in the red.

Your itinerary is very ambitious but I think you are young and you can do it. I wish I had made such a wonderful trip when I was younger. Now I can't go at that pace anymore.

Posted by
25 posts

Hi David and Nancy,
Thanks for your feedback, it's much appreciated. We know it's going to be extremely fast paced, but we've both travelled in a similar manner before so we know what we're getting ourselves into! That being said, we are discussing a few places to eliminate, but we'll see closer to our departure date. Based on your feedback I think I will take another look at my budget. Thanks again!

Posted by
833 posts

Since you mention that you are considering eliminating a city or two (and seem possibly open to suggestions outside your budget), I'll leave a few comments. Your budget looks pretty good overall. The following are my thoughts - feel free to ignore!

  • I think reserving $100 for food/alcohol and $50 for museums etc is more than enough. (but always good to plan extra and be pleasantly surprised!) You may have to spend more on lodging sometimes (like during Oktoberfest).
  • Have you planned out your route and checked on train prices? That could bump you up a little, but maybe not.
  • I don't know if you necessarily need a car for Italy - especially if you're centered mainly in Rome, Florence and Venice. You would not use one in inside those cities - and your trips to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast could be done without a car. Considering how expensive gas is, you may be better off taking public transportation throughout Italy.
  • As you recognized, it is definitely fast paced. Just consider the travel between cities - that will eat up some time and it may be good to cut a city or two and travel a little less. I've traveled fast and slow - I can appreciate the merits of both. It seems you have experience so I don't want to tell you what to do but I would consider spending at least two nights in cities so that you have a full day there.
  • Are the cities listed in the order you plan on visiting them in? If so, I would start in Innsbruck or Salzburg, not Vienna, so you aren't backtracking back to Bratislava. Bratislava and Vienna are only an hour apart by train or hydrofoil. You may be flying into Vienna - so that might have been your reasoning to start there - but I would still consider heading to Innsbruck/Salzburg first (or cutting them if you do want a more relaxed pace).
Posted by
25 posts

Hi Devon,
Thanks for your insight. The itinerary I mentioned in my original post was in order except for Innsbruck and Salzburg. We're flying in and out of Vienna, so our route is as follows: Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Zagreb, Croatian Coast, Rome, Pompeii, Amalfi, Florence, Venice, Innsbruck, Munich, Salzburg and back to Vienna to catch our flight. We've hemmed and hawed over the decision to rent a car in Italy, but we think it's right for us. Everyone who we've talked to about our trip suggests cutting a few cities out - I think we'll have to seriously think about this.

Posted by
833 posts

What are you thinking you'll need the car for? (Feel free not to answer this question - just trying to get a feel for your plans since you mention going back and forth over the decision). Unless you are planning day trips from Rome/Florence, you'll most likely park the car outside the city because you'll want to avoid driving through ZTLs - limited traffic zones. In my mind, that would mean paying a lot to rent the car for 10 days while only using it for a few days - Pompeii and Amalfi if you drove there, and travel between cities.

Posted by
25 posts

Devon, we think it'll be easier and faster to get around Italy. We are planning a day trip to the Tuscan countryside while we're in Florence, and we want to stop in Bologna on the way to Venice. I'm starting to think that maybe we should take the train to Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast and Florence. Then, rent the car to tour around Tuscany and use it to drive to Venice. Thoughts?

Posted by
8179 posts

The Amalfi Coast is about 200 miles south of Rome, and the roads are somewhat difficult to navigate. It's best seen by train and later bus.
You can always travel some segments by train and pickup a rental car when you're ready to tour the countryside. That's the way we traveled in Tuscany. Many of the best rural travel sites, like San Gimignano and Volterra, don't have rail access.
I checked yesterday, and unleaded gasoline around Munich is $8.06 per U.S. gallon. In Italy, unleaded gasoline is $9.18. That's an eye opener.

Posted by
25 posts

Hi David, we're now reconsidering the car rental. Renting a car for day trips is a great idea and it's what we're leaning towards. It's also incredibly expensive to pick the car up in Rome and drop it off in Munich, which is another factor to consider.

Posted by
833 posts

Sorry - I didn't see your question before! Thoughts on your possible car usage... a car would be helpful in Tuscany depending on where you're going (although you can also plan around cities that you would not need a car for). For stopping in Bologna - you could do that with your car, or you can do it by train. Bologna is on the way to Venice from Florence.
So, all in all, I don't want to discourage you from a car if you really think you want one for Italy - but I would rent it for a few days in Tuscany. Either drop it off in Tuscany or drive it to Venice and drop it off there. But overall trains will be more convenient in my opinion (don't have to worry about parking, ZTLs, etc). And, as you note, picking it up in Italy and dropping it off in Munich would be very expensive. Easier and probably cheaper to just take the trains.

Posted by
2393 posts

My husband & I did 30 days last May at a pace similar to yours - we like the "travel warrior" pace but not having a set schedule we were able to slow down when we wanted. We averaged $150 - 175 (tax inclusive) a night for lodging - this was for 3 star hotels - after a full day of touring I really require a nice, comfy, non-budgety place to land. We tried one in Budapest - highly recommended on TA - made it one night then moved to a Marriott Courtyard! The bed was awful, the sheets were itchy & the bath towel was the size of a postage stamp! Anyhooo - we spent about $125 - 150 a day on food & alcohol - breakfast was usually included in our hotel rate, we would usually stop around beer o'clock for a couple of local drafts & maybe a snack & dinner always had wine, usually a bottle. We used global rail passes (they work for our travel style & we don't mind paying for what we like) so our transportation methods can not be compared. I absolutely agree - a car in Tuscany - such a beautiful place for a drive. You can rent just for the day in Florence & not have to worry about parking. It seems your combined food/lodging budget will cover it. One tip - search the booking engines for hotel availability but book directly - many places offer a discount or other perk for booking directly as this saves them the fee to the booking company. Have a ball!

Posted by
31 posts

When we travel we usually budget $350 a day--that's for the both of us, so we come in about $10,000 + or- for a month. We usually have a car for some of the trip and trains for some. We like to picnic lunch, but don't always, wine and people-watching in late afternoon and dinner out. Take in all the museums and sights that appeal. Hotels and B&Bs in the 3-star range. Some days we spend more, some days less. We list all expenses as we go along so we monitor and always know where we are in the budget. We've never had a problem staying in it, but I don't do a whole lot of shopping. Sadly, it seems so much I see over there is the same as what I see at home these days.

Posted by
11613 posts

Trains in Italy are relatively cheap, I would just rent the car for a few days (or even one day) for Tuscany.

Posted by
48 posts

Just to be clear is everyone speaking in terms of US $ or Euro? This makes a huge difference. Im going to me in Italy and Paris this July for 20 days and I'm trying to get tips on my budget too. I'm trying to pay up front for most expenses ( flights are paid for ) and working on the lodging accomidations to be before I arrive. Just to have to worry about "living" expenses. And worried about my savings in dollars dwindle away to euro in the exchange.