$200 per day spending money...is it enough?

We will be traveling the end of May to Europe for 3 weeks. Will have 3 days in Paris, 4 days in Rome, a week in a villa in Tuscany, a few days at a B&B in Como, and wander back to Zurich through Switzerland. All accomodations, rental cars, trains, and most sightseeing tickets will be purchased before we go. We are talking basically eating, and any souvenirs we might pick up. Since we will be staying in apartments and the villa for most of the trip, we are planning a few meals "at home".

We do like to eat well, and want to enjoy the local wines, as well. But aside from our big 25th Anniversary meal in Rome, nothing extremely fancy. There will be 4 of us (we are traveling with our 2 "kids", ages 23 & 20.)

We are thinking about $200 per day. Is this realistic?

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8647 posts

I could do 50 dollars a day eating,, but I don't think it would include any fine wines, defiantely house jugs.. LOL MInd you, if you have breakfasts included at B@Bs, and eat breakfasts in the apartments ,, that does make it alot more plausilbe.
50 dollars a day for two with wine with meals,, I could do that. I would also cheap out on a few lunches ( just get take out sandwiches or street side crepes) so I could have more money for a nicer dinner. I also would NOT count in any souvenir shopping at all( I consider it a waste of my time and money,, LOL). I assume your "kids" will supply thier own spending money for souvenirs anyways,.

Posted by mary
san francisco
41 posts

Maybe I should have been more exact :)

We are expecting all breakfasts to be eaten in the apartment/villa, or at the very most, a coffee and pastry at a corner shop. We expect MOST lunches to be sandwiches brought with us for the day, or some snack we might find locally...not restaurant lunches. The bulk of the money would be for dinners. I am not expecting fine wines, just want to try some regional wines as we travel :)

I am not much of a souvenir shopper, but if I find a handbag or a pair of shoes along the way, I want to be able to make the purchase. Perhaps $250 a day?

Posted by Doug
3312 posts

$200 a day for four adults? Doable, of course, but tight.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10361 posts

Let me make sure I got that right. $200 for four people each day? From what I read, it sounds like you intend for that to mostly cover lunch and dinner. Sounds a little on the low side for 8 meals, particularly if most of your dinners are at sit down restaurants. And in Switzerland, prepare for some severe sticker shock when you go out to eat!

Posted by mary
san francisco
41 posts

Okay...perhaps I should reword my question:

How much SHOULD I plan each day? I am not stuck on $200...just trying to figure what we should plan.

We have been busy raising the aforementioned kids for the past 23+ years, and have not been to Europe since 1983...so...how much should we bring?

Posted by Doug
3312 posts

After all of this, there is no really good answer. It completely depends on your choices for restaurants and menus. For $50 a day, I could easily have coffee or a cappucino, a sandwich or slice of pizza for lunch, and then a main dish and house wine almost anywhere and have money left over. Wine, by the way, will be among the least expensive things on the menu in France and Italy.

Try Googling restaurants in towns you'll be in. Likely some will post their menus and you can get an idea of current prices.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
12819 posts

I do most of my traveling in small town Germany, not Paris and Rome. In fact only a few days have been in Munich or Mainz. Every place I stay in has breakfast included in the night's lodging. I usually eat in sit down restaurants. I don't get the most or least expensive item on the menu. Occasionally I grab a sandwich and drink at the Bahnhof as I am on the run.

That said, my per day cost of food, drinks (German Bier ;o) ), and tip is consistently just less than €20 ($27). Paris and Rome will be more expensive, but that will be partially offset by meals "at home". I find that about 1/3 of my expenses is beverages, and beer is often less expensive then sodas or bottled water.

I think you can do it, but you might have to adjust your standards. If you find yourselves spending more, buy fewer souvenirs and pick cheaper restaurants, less expensive items, eat at home more.

Posted by JS
Bay Area
2134 posts

I think you will be ok with your $200 for bascially dinners. Rome anniversary dinner not included. eat at RS recommended restaurnts to stay with in your budget.
and do not forget your desserts can be gelato, a real treat in Italy.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10361 posts

Ah, so now I understand exactly what you're asking. As a previous poster indicated, just bring your ATM card and withdraw cash as needed. I occasionally find that my card doesn't work at certain ATM machines (for what reason exactly, I don't claim to know), but this does not occur commonly and is never a show-stopper.

Posted by Joann
Dartmouth, MA, USA
136 posts

Hi Mary, I traveled to Italy with my husband & kids this past summer (kids only 10 though) and we spent about $300 p/day average including lunch & dinner & souvenir shopping. You might be better to think in Euros though. At the time the exchange was about $1.50ish p/euro, now it's down to $1.35, so if it holds, you'll get more for your Dollars. Although we ate a couple of nights at our apartment in Tuscany, most of our meals were sit down meals. Rome was actually our cheapest for eating! It's been a couple of years since I've been to paris, but again their are a lot of inexpensive options. That trip was with a girlfriend rather than my husband & kids and although most of our dinners were reasonable, it was the bar bill that got us every time!

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

We eat pretty darn well on about 25 euros each for supper which includes one beer/wine each. Maybe a bit more in large cities, probably a bit less in smaller places.

Unless breakfast is a nonnegotiable part of the room, we skip it, buying a coffee and eating bread and cheese from a sack in the car. Figure three euros each.

Lunch is from the same bag with a hunk of fruit or sausage thrown in and a bought beer. Maybe five euros each. Roughly every third day it seems that we buy lunch for about ten euros. That averages out to seven euros per day. Toss in an extra coffe or beer each day and call it ten euros per day.

That's thirty-eight euros per day, round it up and toss in a tip or two and call if fourty -- less than sixty bucks per day.

These numbers do us for about sixty days a year. I spend another month traveling solo and the price is way less since supper is essentially one more lunch.
Sodas cost too much unless they come from the grocery store; beer and wine are cheap. We do not buy souvenirs. Anything major we buy is just a purchase, not something we think of as part of the travel expense, so no thoughts there.

Two caveats: I haven't been to Como since I was a kid and I cannot afford to breathe in Switzerland.

Posted by mary
san francisco
41 posts

Thanks so much your help, everyone!

This is giving me a pretty good idea of how much to transfer to our checking account before we leave. After so many years, I had really no idea.

I figure about 5 nights we will be eating "at home", so we should do fine on $300 a day, not counting our anniversary dinner in Rome (reservations at Il Convivio). Thankfully, we will only have 2 nights in Switzerland, so even if it is a Movenpick (or a picnic from the corner store) that is fine with me.

We are SO excited-