Your average Europe travel budget breakdown

I'm thinking on asking a general question to get a feeling of how fellow Helpliners organize the financials of their European travelling. So how much (%), roughly, of your budget for trips to Europe normally goes to a) Intercontinental flights (USA-Europe-USA) b) Transportation within Europe (trains, car rental + fuel, internal flights etc) c) Lodging d) Food, dining out, drinking e) Ticketed (paid) attractions, guided tours, museums, parties, concerts ---------- I shall start with mine. Since I'm currently living in Europe, I don't have intercontinental flights. The rest goes like this Transportation within Europe - 30% Lodging - 25% Food - 20% Ticketed attraction - 15%

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
2744 posts

I'm sorry, but I've never found any easy way to budget when traveling Europe. I just travel frugally and pay the Visa bill when returning home. It's just too easy to over plan a trip itinerary. I used to drive as far as possible and see as many places as possible. But that was before gasoline was $9.50 per U.S. gallon. Now I work out of a centrally located inexpensive B&B for 4-5 days, and move on down the road to another region. If I miss something, I don't sweat it.
Because I know I'll be back.

Posted by Lo
1352 posts

Although I keep pretty close tabs on what we spend, I had never done the percentage thing, so this was an interesting challenge. In the past 4 trips, we have only had to pay for airfare once, so I took it out of the mix. I averaged all the costs over all the trips and came up with the following: 15% Transportation within Europe (includes public, taxis, car rentals)38% Lodging (includes apartments, B&Bs, hotels)28% Food (includes eating out, groceries, supplies for apartments)8% Entertainment (includes ticketed attractions per your definition)11% Miscellaneous (includes everything I couldn't put elsewhere) The one year we had to pay for airfare it included transcontinental and within Europe and was 24% of the trip cost. These averages are over 5 months in 4 separate trips. The big three for each trip remained the same in descending order: Lodging, Food, (Ground) Transportation. The Miscellaneous and Entertainment categories flip flop from trip to trip. I don't set budget limits in advance. I do prepare a spreadsheet with best estimates so I can anticipate what the costs are likely to be. This year's trip was the cheapest we've taken although the lodging was the most expensive. I expect next summer's trip for one month to Scandinavia to be the most expensive, but doing this exercise will help me do a better job of preparing financially for it. Thanks for the idea, Andre. By the way, I recently saw a House Hunters International for Tilburg. That was fun.

Posted by James E.
3251 posts

Let's see I do 2.75 trips a year as an average, each two weeks (which is 13.5 days on the ground and 2.5 days of traveling US to Europe) and it works like this generally: Currently I am counting on airfare to run $1300 a ticket to any "new exploration" destination. We (two of us) will spend 6 nights in the new destination and if it is like Moscow in January we take advantage of the winter rates and get a $600 room with a view of Red Square for $250 a night. If it is spring in Bulgaria the room will run under $100 a night and will be a charming inn. Both winners. Transportation and all tourist costs in that region or destination will run another $600 (max). In Vienna that doesn't go terribly far but in Romania it will take us from the Black Sea to the borders of Hungary. Transportation from that location to Budapest will cost either less than $100 in train tickets or a couple of $300 plane tickets. Accommodations for 7 nights in Budapest are free (we own a couple of places in Budapest) All tourist costs in Budapest will cost $500 max Food and booze is probably $125 a day on average across the entire two weeks.
I obviously am not frugal. Not that there is anything wrong with being frugal. I could squeeze in another trip or two if I were, but I travel to LIVE and I LIVE as well as I can when I travel. Then I return to reality. The real trick is in finding ways to maximize your enjoyment by balancing time, interests and money. . There really isnt a formula and no correct or incorrect answer.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8338 posts

I have never done the math to determine percentages. It would be hard to gain any insights from it anyway, since my travel style is never the same. For example, on my last trip to Spain (last year) a friend covered my airfare. I had two nights' hotel in Madrid comped by my sister, then I spent a week, cost-free, in a language program in Segovia. I only paid for a couple of meals and some incidentals in the first 9 days. I paid for rooms in hostals and meals for nine nights after that, but the whole trip - almost three weeks - cost me less than $1000. I have spent that much on a week in Florida. This year, my main flight is on reward miles, but I am taking two intra-Europe flights, as well. One was 39 euros total, the other was 177 euros. I'm also taking three trains. I'm paying for lodging for nine nights, getting three comped, and spending another week at the language program for free. I just try to keep costs as low as I can without depriving myself of anything I really want to do. I don't have a spending limit in mind before I go, only a general idea of what is comfortable for me.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
2028 posts

I agree with those who say it is a hard task to break it down in percentages because every trip is different and there really isn't anything to be gained by trying. That being said I did it for my trip last summer which was 2 months in France (1 month on the road moving around and 1 month in Paris apt) and it broke down this way: Int'l airfare = 13% Transportation w/in Europe = 20% - included 2 rental cars, gas & tolls, some trains, trans in Paris. Lodging = 40% Food = 20%
Misc sightseeing/ticketed attractions = 7% Because the budget was pretty high due to length of time it made the int'l airfare a lower percentage and lodging a higher percentage than would probably be the case for a normal 2-4 week vacation. I must confess that it was kind of interesting to see what the percentages were as I hadn't done that before.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
12965 posts

I don't believe air fare should be included because it can vary so much. First, some one living in Boston and going to Ireland is going to spend a lot less than someone living in California and going to Italy. Second, someone going to Europe for one week would spend a lot higher percentage on air fare vs someone going to Europe for a month. Third, although my daily on-the-ground expenses in Europe have not changed a lot in the last 10 years, air fare has increase 200%-300%. Similarly, express the expense in Euro, because the exchange rate is so variable (I've been there when the exchange rate was $.89/€ and when it was $1.45/€, but I spent about the same in Euro.) Not counting airfare, then, I spend, on average, 70€ per person-day. The breakdown is Local travel, 15€ or 21%, Lodging, 30€ or 43%, Meals, 20€ or 29%,
Entry, 3€ or 4%, Misc, 2€ or 3%. I don't spend a lot on museums and entertainment. Much of what I go to see is "natural" (mountains, forests, etc). A lot of what I do spend is for lifts or castle entrances. Travel is by train (mostly) or bus. I stay mostly in Privatzimmer and small guesthouses. I eat at least one meal per day at a sit-down restaurant and usually eat local dishes, which cost less. Misc includes WC and newspapers.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
4937 posts

I am lucky to be able to afford to travel without strict budgeting. It's my nature not to want to pay for things I (personally) don't think are "worth the money." And the less I spend on trips, the more trips I can take. Because I travel solo or in a separate room when with others, lodging is always my biggest expense, so I spend a lot of time finding places that meet my basic requirements and not much more. Because I'm close to Europe a single round-trip fare is between $350 and $650, depending mostly on distance, so there's not much to save there. If I'm moving around a lot, ground transportation becomes a big item, but it's minimal if I'm in London/Paris for a couple of weeks. Sightseeing is always my focus, and I'm not fussy about food, so I save a lot with picnic-style food from the supermarket for lunches and a lot of my dinners. I never go to expensive restaurants, but I also never consider the price of admission for a sight/event/tour. It varies: in Italy I enjoy eating in good restaurants, in London I spend most of my money on theatre tickets, in Andalusia transportation was high - lots of train travel and car rental.

Posted by Charles
Austin, Texas, USA
325 posts

A. 0% - always use Frequent Flier miles B. 25% - Transportation C. 25% - Lodging D. 25% - Meals including snacks
E. 25% - Sights and admission fees NOTE: I have averaged all of my trips. Each one is so different, for example, with transportation... some trips we rent a car, some trips we have a rail pass, some trips we do point to point. Bigger cities will throw that off too. I agree with what an earlier poster said. We try to be as frugal as possible without sacrificing the experience and pay the bill when we get home.

Posted by Irv
Beverly Hills, MI
470 posts

Pardon my bluntness but it makes absolutely no sense to budget a trip to Europe on percentages. Percentages of what??? You have to estimate the real cash cost of the trip. Intercontinental air fare as a percentage of the trip cost is a function of how long the trip is, two weeks versus a month pretty much changes the cost by a factor of two as a percentage but makes no change on the Visa bill. What kind of hotel are you staying in, five-star, hostel or something in between? How much traveling are you doing, seeing lots off the beaten path places or just hitting a few large cities? It all makes a difference. In the fall of 2011, we did a month in Europe on $11,500 and we have friends who could not do it on less than $25,000 and other people could have done it for less. That included $2,255 airfare, a Peugeot 308 diesel automatic for 23days/5700 km. including fuel, tolls and parking for $2,830, hotels & meals etc. for $6,400. The best thing to do is to get a current copy of one of Rick's travel guides and look at what it says about costs. Likewise if you cut every penny don't be surprised if you get screwed somewhere along the way. If the flight is overbooked having a cheap ticket through a consolidator is a great way to get to the head of the line to be bumped. If you rent a car through a super cheap agency don't be surprised if you end up with no car.

Posted by Sarah
St. Louis, MO USA
1645 posts

My "budgeting" consists of first making sure I have more than enough money in savings to cover the trip. I watch plane ticket prices and buy when I find a price I can live with. In big cities, my hotel budget is around 100 euros / pounds / whatever a night. Flights and hotels are the two biggest expenses of a trip. The rest of my spending money goes toward (cheap) meals, museum and historic site entrance fees, and souvenirs. My 2012 trip to Paris and London: the budget breakdown is $1,300 airfare; 600 euros (approx. $850 in fall 2012) for Paris hotels and 600 pounds (approx. $950 in fall 2012) for London hotel. I bought my Eurostar ticket from Paris to London for $65 well in advance of the trip. I put $2,000 into my checking account for that 2-week trip but only withdrew about $1,000 worth of euros and pounds combined. I do make sure to overbudget for my checking account amount but don't plan for every little miscellaneous souvenir or meal.