I have been saving and planning to go to France, Belgium and Germany for a couple years to follow my dads WWII footsteps. With the Euro vs the dollar difference I decided I could not go this year. Would like some input from anyone who has just returned from a Rick Steve's tour or travelled on their own. Did you spend much more than anticipated or are things still reasonable. At 64, I don't want to wait much longer to go but the big difference in our dollar stopped me this year.
This website posts very accurate information regarding the cost of various items like lodging, food, travel, etc. Unfortunately, no one will be able to tell you if the exchange rate will change or the cost of travel will come down. I would bet it will go up rather than drop. The exchange rate may improve, but I wouldn't bet on that.
Travel can be expensive, but save your dollars and make a plan for a year or so down the road if that works for you. I wish you good luck in reaching your goals.
Tony, I AM in Germany (live here, was born here, so not really my fault) and I can tell you that although there is this most unfortunate rate of exchange life in Germany still is pretty cheap - with the exception of gas which is §9 per gallon at the moment. A 1.5 liter bottle of water is €0.19, 750g of American-type sandwich bread are €0.74, 200g of mortadella or similar are €0.59 and so on and so on (this goes for Aldi/Lidl/Plus/Penny/Netto-type grocery stores). You can take a bullet-train from Hamburg all the way down to Munich and still only pay €29 one way (if booked a couple of weeks in advance, I'm sure Lee, our German rail specialist, will deliver some input here as well!). The grocery store price levels in France and Belgium are a bit higher than in Germany (which is why we refill our cars in their countries and they buy their groceries in Germany - this goes for people living in the border areas of course). There will be more people adding to this post so that some helpful overview picture for you will develop.
We just returned from a 2 1/2 week trip to Europe. Started in Barcelona and from there by train to Carcassone for one night. Rented car there and headed to the Dordogne area of France for four nights and then to St. Emilion for two nights. Turned car in in Libourne and took train to Paris for a week where we had an apt. All of our accommodations were well priced but we splurged on seven meals. Shopped very little but bought museum pass (4 day) in Paris and toured caves, gardens, etc. in the French countryside. One airfare was a frequent flier freebie. We kept a close record of expenses and this trip was a thousand dollars more due to the strong euro. We will travel to Europe again in the fall because we are not getting any younger.
Tony, I almost didn't buy our tickets for the same reason. Now that did, I am so excited. I can picnic through Europe if I have to, but at least we will be there.
Tony, I was there in October. The Euro was $1.43 then, vs. $1.56 now, but I "brought it in" for about $100 per day. I had all my reservations in advance, so I knew what my hotel costs would be (€37/nt), and I had schedules, so I knew what my transportation costs would be (€15/day). From experience, I knew that I could eat well, as long as where I stayed included breakfast, and as long as I drank in moderation and didn't tip lavishly, that my daily food expense would be under €20/day. So, I spent roughly €72 ($112 at todays rate) per day for essentials.
We just returned from a 7 week western European trip. If you book in advance - which does take some spontaneity away - it does save a bit. We traveled on our own via Eurail pass. The most expensive countries we visited were Denmark and Switzerland. We stayed in B&B's and saved on breakfast. Also, picnics - as others have pointed out - are great! Do go - you won't be disappointed and think in local currency not USD when you are there.
Your choice of hotels and dining hold much more sway over your budget than do currency fluctuations. I'm astonished at the range of places different people posting here consider "cheap". For some, it's a 40 Euro room (the price for a Formule 1 motel) . For others, it's E250.
I found the grocery stores in Germany to be very cheap (Penny Markt). If you stay in B and B's in smaller towns you will save alot of money. I also filled up on the free breakfast they provide so I wasn't too hungry later on. You can definetley cut costs here and there.
Souveniers also add up, so cutting most of these out will be a big money saver!
I figured we spent what we expected if not less for most of the trip (Western Europe-not the British Isles). We spent alot in Provence and Paris as we did splurge on alot of dinners and wine!
Listen to Holly and others and please go as soon as you can.
Don't think of the US dollar (as much as possible), and you'll have a great time.
We just got back (family of four) and I can tell you that we ate well and heartily and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We did not revisit the Louvre though we went by outside to take pics (was there 2 years ago) but instead went to Musee D'Orsay. There are lots of free museums in Paris: Victor Hugo's home, Carnavalet are some examples. We did not go into the Eiffel tower either, so we could spend more money elsewhere. We bought picnic lunches and visited every park we came upon. It can be done! I also kept in mind how much we spend here on food and eating out without thinking. You have to do the same there. Don't wait for the $ to weaken even more, or airline prices to go up, just do it.
All the best, from someone who almost cancelled our European trip but the kind words from Rick's staff helped me to realise there are still ways for us to live well on the other side of the pond if we make a few changes in attitude and expectations :-).
Go! Go! Go! If you're leery of doing it on your own, I have found Rick's tours to be excellent value for money. (I've been on two and am going on a third tour this autumn.) I've also traveled on my own multiple times -- and have sandwiched my ETBD tours between some solo adventures -- and I'm sure I didn't have to spend any more money on an ETBD tour than when I went solo. Take a tip from Nike and just do it.
Very important point made in an above post: Tipping. In Germany tipping is just a rounding up of the sum, so maybe paying €20 when the asked amont is maybe €18.95. All service charges are included in the prices on the menue so it's even OK if you don't tip at all.
Tony, Don't wait - go ASAP! I'm 63, started travelling abroad 3 years ago, and am now officially a Travel Addict! So far, I've been to France four times and Greece once, with plans for Turkey and Tuscany (and Paris, again, of course) in the next couple of years. As others have said, prices will only rise and the dollar probably won't rebound anytime soon. Spend your money on what's important to you - maybe a private room w/bath, maybe great meals, maybe tours of battlefields. And make do on the things that are less important. I'm lucky enough to have a good friend who arranges trips for small (10-12) groups of friends. This is great since I didn't want to try to figure out how to travel on my own and certainly didn't want to go on one of those tours where you only get a day in each city and spend most of your time on a big bus with 60 strangers (if it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium). But do GO and have a wonderful time! Bon voyage.
I agree with the others and encourage you to go as soon as you have saved enough money. How much money is enough? Depends on how well you plan and what you want to do. There are many good cost saving tips posted here concerning lodging and transportation that can be of big help to you. To follow in your dads footsteps of WWII sounds like a great thing for you to do. Planning your own trip by doing a lot of research is fun, rewarding and educational. I can relate to your not wanting to wait much longer. At 65, I am a year older and sometimes the thought creeps into my head that maybe I have taken my last trip but then I read about folks who continue to travel into their eighties so I consider myself a mere youngster. I stay in shape by walking and play a lot of golf and try to walk sometimes while playing. Even that is no gurantee of good health but it helps because there is a lot of walking involved while traveling. In June 2004, I climbed the 500 plus steps of the Cologne Cathederal and left my wife and her two German colleagues who were much younger way behind so staying in shape is important for travel as we age. (I must mention that 4 months later in October 2004 I had open heart surgery which came about as a routine visit to my doctor). My wife still does not fogive me for going to Europe knowing that I had been having pains in the chest and down the arm. She was not aware of this and I was not about to tell her. How foolish was that of me?? Anyway, I worked myself back into good shape and in 2007 we returned and again my wife of 40 years who is 6 years younger could not keep up with me. Not trying to scare you about health issues but it is something to consider as we get older and to travel while we are able. If you cannot make it this year go for it next year.
Doug makes a great point about the choice of hotels and restaurants (or alternatives) has a greater impact on the costs of travel than does the exchange rate of the dollar. That plus the knowledge that the dollar will probably not recover to its previous exchange rate due to our deficit spending. For planning purposes, you can expect the dollar to continue to fluctuate but long term it will probably fall against other world currencies. Given the first fact and the second assumption, there is no reason to put off your trip for another year (not even addressing the age thing). My father, like yours, was engaged in WWII...after he retired he kept promising himself that he would travel...he never got around to it.
Tony, wow, dont' wait!! I've been traveling since I've been in my teens (and I'm now 38). Going to Europe makes you really see how small our world is, and how we as humans really have so much in common.
You can get lots of great tips on how to budget. You can go on a tour (Ricks or whatever tour you want) or do it alone. USE THIS SITE and pick the brains of the travelers for ideas.
Eli just came back and you can find her post on general europe or here's the link
My hubby was stationed in Germany in the early '60s and when he had time would visit various castles and things. He remembers how many widows he'd see in tour groups because they waited too long to be able to take a trip with their husband, and how many of those women would sit at the bottom of the hill because they were too old to comfortably make the trek to the top to actually enter the castle. In spite of this memory, we only started travelling in 2004 and in fact hadn't had a vacation that didn't involve a family commitment for 15 years. My husband is 70, I'm 52, and we worry that at some point some medical issue will keep us stateside.
We spent three weeks in Brussels/Amsterdam, Paris and Normandy in April. This was our third trip to Europe in four years, so we'd long ago gotten over sticker shock of the exchange rate even when it was much more favorable. What we did different this time was use the heck out of the ATMs and only used the credit card for the one week we needed the car in Normandy. Paying cash for everything helped us keep our spending on souvenirs and too many fancy meals in check. Also, going carry-on luggage only helped rein us in from buying too many books in museum stores. We almost always stay in apartments with cooking facilities so we'll eat out one night and in the next (in the USA the portions are so huge we always take doggy bags for the next night). If we are staying in a hotel rather than an apartment we do our best to get a room with at least a small fridge and load it with juice, fruit, yogurt, milk for breakfast. (If the fridge is a mini bar we get the hotel staff to come up and take the stuff away). We'll grab a croissant at a nearby bakery to enjoy the local flavor, but I can't remember the last time we spent money on a restaurant or cafe breakfast either here or abroad. And we'll eat either a restaurant lunch, or dinner, not both, and do a picnic with local goodies for the other meal.
Tony....We have traveled to Europe every year for the last eight years. In that time the prices have increased considerably - but- we still go because we are seniors and can not wait for a better dollar/euro exchange rate.
I would urge you to do the same. Plan aheaad. Reserve ahead. It is still possible to save some money on airfares if you search carefully. Also, you can save by traveling early next year using the pre-season rates. B&Bs save you money and we find that they are usually very comfortable plus you get to meet the locals.
Travel in Europe is much the same as here in the USA. You can stay at the Four Seasons or you can do just fine at the Budget Inn. Your experiences, your memories, and your photos will tell a wonderful story no matter what happens to the euro.
And I wanted to add, both hubby and I are quite concerned that the exchange rate is the least of our travel problems. We expect the cost of fuel to continue to drastically impact flying in the future -- look at all the airlines going bankrupt and the talk of discontinuing service to certain cities. We are going to Australia for three weeks next spring, partly because it's on "The List" and partly because we wonder what's to become of the industry if the cost of fuel remains unchecked. Every other time I turn the news on there's talk of airplane travel becoming prohibitively expensive for all but the wealthy, so we figure we'd better go while the going's good!
Faith: You're right about the increasing cost of fuel raising airfares. When I recently looked up the figures, it turns out a 747 flying to Europe from the west coast of N. America burns up roughly 25,000 to 30,000 gallons of jet fuel! When you do the math, with fuel cost including jet fuel having almost doubled in the last 2 years, the increase in fuel cost for the airline is about $200+ per seat increase, over the cost 2 years ago, to fly a 747 to Europe. And that's consistent with what we're seeing in increase in airfare. A 30,000 gallon fill-up puts a big dent in the Captain's credit card.
Kent, that's scary.
I was thinking of the people I know who put off travelling. Some are in their 40s and battling stage IV cancer. They tell me all the time to travel, travel, travel. When I asked my aunt what she regrets most in life (stage IV colon cancer), she says that she wishes she had travelled a lot more.
To quote an old truism:
Never put off to tomorrow what you could do today!
When my father died at the comparatively early age of 71, one consolation my Mother had was that they had traveled a lot and not left it to the "someday" list.
Personally, I think prices are going to get worse, travel-wise so I would not put off a trip to next year if I could possibly help it.
My wife and I are only 39 (only?!) and we've decided now is the time to go to Europe. We're only gone for 10 days this time, but it's our first trip. I think prices next year will be up to 30% higher than this year due to fuel costs and the falling dollar. We also realize that we may never be able to afford to go again after this, so we're making the best of it!!
I just got back from 2 weeks in Ireland on RS tour. I got a great deal on the tour itself because I signed up early and got their guaranteed rate for the trip (figured at $1.35 to the euro - it was $1.58 when I went on the trip). Yes, I spent a lot more on food/entertainment than I thought I would. But I place a very high personal value on travel. I value it much more than the "things" I give up to go on trips (lunches out, lattes, and the extra "stuff" we are all tempted to buy to make us happy). I don't think of the $7 I spent on a Guinness - I think of the fantastic conversation I had while drinking it with the guy from Killarney who provided me more insight about America than any American I've met in a long time. If you will get a lot of value out of tracing your dad's footsteps (I imagine you will if you've been planning for a couple of years), then by all means go. It's not going to get much cheaper any time soon, and there are a thousand and one ways to save money at home and abroad - just browse around this site and you'll find plenty of suggestions. Start planning now and set a goal to go. You won't regret it.
I just returned from Europe last night and my opinion is don't let the dollar/euro difference stop your travels. There is no telling if it's going to get any better and Europe is way too much fun with so much to see to let that stop you. Using the RS books and other methods it's easy to find good inexpensive accommodations and food prices aren't too bad as long as you're smart about it. It's actually easier to spend less on a good meal in Europe that in the US sometimes.
Do not plan your trip around something as unpredictable as exchange rates. I can say as an Australian who travelled to America in 1999 when the Australian dollar was worth 64 US cents that I do not regret having travelled at that time. I read a newspaper article by an Australian banker predicting that the AU$ would be over 70 US cents by the end of that year. He was hopelessly wrong. The Australian dollar has been strong relative to the US dollar recently, but that would have meant waiting another 8 or 9 years.
My advice is go as soon as you are able to ! Last fall I took 2 RS tours. France for 11 days and Germany,Switzerland & Austria for 17 days. I also spent a week in Paris in between tours. Not including the hotel in Paris and the train ticket from Paris to St Goar, I spent less than $1000.00
in europe. If you go on your own, one way to save is to go in the off season.Most of the WWII sites will still be wonderful if you go in late October or November.
Good luck and happy travels
Thanks to everyone who responed to my message. I appreciate all the up to date information I recieved. Most everyone says to go now and not wait but looks like I will have to wait till 09 to go. May be the wrong thing to do but I don't want to go and have to worry about every thing I spend. Was planning on going for 17 days to be able to see everything on my list. Will just keep working the extra job, saving and hope the health holds up for another year. Thanks again!
Hi Tony, instead of waiting another entire year, would your schedule permit an off-season trip, either this fall or next spring? Crowds are down and hotels and airfare are significantly cheaper then, and because of that it's when my husband and I prefer to travel. If you go "shoulder season" (mid-Oct. to early Nov., or mid-March to early April) the weather is definitely manageable; however you may want to check with the major sites you plan to visit to see what their hours are. (BTW if you are going to do a tour of the Normandy beaches, I highly recommend Overlord Tours: http://overlordtour.com). At any rate -- please don't wait any longer to start traveling; you never know what life is going to throw at you. (My grandparents always planned to return to Germany after they retired, but both developed health problems in their 60s and they were never able to go--so I am glad to hear you are hale & healthy at 64!) Admittedly, Europe is not as cheap as it used to be but there are still ways to economize: base your hotels in outlying areas & day-trip into big (expensive) cities; use economy hotel chains such as Ibis & Etap (owned by the same chain, Accor, that owns Motel 6 here); buy groceries and eat picnic-style as often as possible. But no matter what it costs, the memories you'll have from your trip will be worth every penny you spend. Hope to be wishing you 'bon voyage' soon!
Tony, go for 10 days instead of 17 and shorten your list. We're going for 10 days, if we could afford 17 we'd do it - we can't!
One word, GO!
We just came back from a couple weeks in Prague, Germany and Switzerland. We started in Prague, made out way to the Bernese Oberland (when things were just opening) and up to Germany. It was before the crowds and some of the hotel rates (all booked in advance) were cheaper. We were glad we pre-booked. Also, we saved significantly on lunches given all breakfasts were available at our lodging and we always ate there. We bought some food at the local markets and had picnics every day or a bratwurst from a cart, etc. We only had table service for our dinners. I found when I got home we didn't spend nearly as much money as I thought we would. Also, we hardly purchased any souvenirs which I know helped a bit.
I have been traveling in Europe for the last two months and have three months to go. I could go now and thought who knows what the next moment brings so, I went in spite of the dollar. It doesn't take too long to get over sticker shock. There are lots and lots of American's here. I am surprised actually. I am a woman of a age similar to yours and am traveling alone. I make a serious effort to stay in places that are budget type places. The only bad experiance I've had is using the place in Paris that books hotels for you....the places were dreadful. If I do things on my own using tips from other travelers and guide books I find that I'm doing very well. I have been able to find all kinds of very decent places from convent stays to one star hotels that are so adequate I wonder however they got such a low rating. I feel fairly certain that most Americans probably aren't eating in the most expensive places. I usually have a breakfast where I am staying, a snack later and then a late lunch followed by something from a local market like bread, cheese, fruit and chocolate for dinner. It is absolutely do-able. My advice would be to go when you can go. I am currently in a lovely old hotel in Amsterdam for 60euro a night. That can be kind of spendy but, it is ok for a centrally located place on a canal. The place is safe, clean, gives a hardy breakfast and has a friendly and capable staff. Good luck...you can do it!
We are a family of four, two adults, 15 year old girl, 11 yo boy travelling in 9 days to Brussels and Paris for 11 days total. I am planning on roughly 200 USD per day for food. Is that reasonable? Too much or too little? We will be in an apt in Paris for 10 nights with a full kitchen. We don't eat American breakfasts, usually fruit, bagel/croissant coffee first thing. Snacky type of people all day. We plan to eat out at least three meals in two days (say two lunches and a dinner, or two dinners and a lunch, rotated), with picnics thrown in and a pound of pasta a couple of times for dinner.
Can anyone give me a better target for food costs? I normally eat child sized portions, my husband full man size, the two kids between child and regular adult sizes depending on growth spurts!
My husband and I just returned from three weeks in England and Italy. England was outrageously expensive, but Italy was about we would expect to pay for goods here. Overall, we spent about $1000 more over the course of three weeks then we spent when we went for three weeks in 2006.
Bottom line: you only get one chance at this game called life. If this is something that you want to do (whihc it sounds like it is), then do it. I promise you won't regret it!
my husband and I just returned from 10 days in Germany..doing the places his father grew up in in So. Germany/Alps and Salzburg. It is so beautiful in the Alps!! We went to Rothensburg also and loved it. We had to go to hotels that had a "lift" (he has a bad knee)..so no B&B's, but we stayed in rooms that were from $100 to $220 US dollars and had at the most 50 rooms...some only had 14...but a lift from renovations(one in 750 yr old home). We purposely stayed in hotels that were reviewed by others for the breakfasts (and the price)... some places give you a small one -we ate more than I do here for breakfast AND lunch! And we would make a croissant with coldcuts and some cheeses and bring it with us in the car for a snack or lunch. And bottled drinks, ate either a(cheaper)hot mid day meal ..or a later dinner at smaller local places-they had the best food too!Ask hotel keepers for cheaper places they really help when you are polite. What killed us was the cost of a rental car and gas...but no tours, or the rail went to his fathers home town easily (again the walking with his knee was a problem). So if you go on a tour, or check the price and do the EurRail and see places near them, you will be all set! Check the Tripadvisor site and Rick's reviews too...I take everything with a "grain of salt" because everyones tastes are different, and some reviews may be from friends of the owners! Balance reviews with common sense.advice from Travel agent was right in one thing in particular. I booked mostly on line myself actually. He recommend any hotel affiliated with Best Western..he never has heard a bad thing about any of them - from any country in Europe. We stayed in 2 of them and they were personal..all privately owned.(chain just makes sure they are up to their standards)no feeling of chain hotel-and they were sooo helpful. Don't put it off too long. I started planning Nov and went this June. Don't necessarily expect it to be the same as Amer hotels, enjoy differenc
Just go, don't wait any longer! You will enjoy Europe, regardless the EUR/USD high rate.
I think the prices in Europe kind of stayed the same, it's the weak $ that kills us.
Germany has really low prices for food if you buy it from the super market. Look for stores like Lidl or Aldi. France is not expensive if you buy from the super markets, but if you eat in restaurants expect smaller portions.Wine is very cheap in France, 2-3 EUR for a good Bordeaux.
I've never been in a RS's tour, I always travel on my own. Hotels are more expensive in Europe than here, but you still can find some good rates if you do some reasearch. I like hotelreservations.com, they have a large number od budget hotels listes.
If you buy your airfare 3-4 months ahead of time, you will save some money assuming that the gas prices will go up. Travel before June or after Sept-Oct.The airfares are cheaper during these month. Also is much cheaper before Dec, the 12th or around that date, and after mid January.
Just got back and we just tried not to think about the exchange rate. Who knows if or when it will go back down so we just decided to go and save where we could.
We stayed in Rick's lowest price hotels that had A/C. If you go when it is cooler you can stay in even cheaper hotels. We did lots of picnicing and actually enjoyed that. Buy your own wine or beer instead of sitting in a cafe to drink it. Walking around and enjoying the beauty of the cities is free. Eat in cafes instead of eating 4 course meals. Buy passes when they are cost effective.
There are so many things you can do to save money and still really enjoy your trip. My dad was in WWII also and I guarantee even with traveling inexpensively, it was like a luxury trip compared to how our dads had it.
My wife and I just returned from a three week trip to France, Switzerland and Belgium.
The dollar is weak but with common sense, you do not have to spend your retirement plan on having a good time.
Food.....Buy cheese, tomatoes and bread at the local stores and make your own sandwhiches. Big savings.
Transportation... Use the subway and walk, walk, and walk.
Lodging... There are lots of inexpensive places that will cost you no more thatn 100 USD. We did
I am 72 and my wife is 67. We may not be around another 20 yearws. Enjoy Europe now!!!!!
Tony, we just returned from a trip similar to the one you want to take. For us, too, it was the trip we always wanted to take. My father was a medic in Rouen with the 179th General Hospital in WWII. He came to Normandy in the months following D-Day and was first bivouaced in Carentan. My husband's father was in the 11th Armored and was in the Battle of the Bulge. We started our trip with the 7 day RS London tour, which was great. Trip included the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum and oh, so much more. Then we rode the Eurostar to Paris, then train to Rouen for a day trip to trace my dad's steps, then to Bayeux, where we stayed for 4 nights at the Hotel Churchill because of it's central location. While there we took 3 days of Battlebus tours so that we could see all the places of significance there. I highly recommend these tours. Then back to Paris and Thalys train to Brussels where we were met by our wonderful guide who took us through the Ardennes, showing us all the places the 11th Armored would have been. We spent the night in Bastogne at Hotel du Sud, a simple and very inexpensive hotel that was perfect for our needs. We purchased our 2nd class train tickets in advance, except for the trip to Rouen, so that was a savings. We ate the included breakfasts at our hotels, and visited large markets and made our own sandwiches or stopped into bakeries to pick up something. Only once after leaving London did we eat an evening meal at a restaurant. There are many ways to save on food. We didn't continue into Germany on this trip, but I think you can find bargain hotels and cheap eats everywhere. Our biggest expense was paying for the tours and guides, but they were worth every penny. We would have never found all those remarkable places and heard all the memorable stories on our own. Yes, the exchange rate is lousy right now. But like the song says, time's a wastin', and who knows when it will improve. I wouldn't wait. Go for it.
I just returned today. Spent 4 days in northern Belgium and 4 days in southern Germany. It's expensive right now. I want to say the dollar is worth about $.65. I ended up spending $1300 for a car plus another $300 for gas. If my calculations are right gas is between $7.00 - $8.00 per gallon.
Regardless of when you go you should consider touring the concentration camp in Dachau. I spent half my day there yesterday and it was a very powerful experience. Nothing is off limits. They take you through every area of the camp. There is a guided tour in English at 1:30. It lasts 2.5 hours, which sounds long, but it goes by very fast. Dachau is a half hour north of Munich.
Gosh Tony, do not delay. Go off season, fly in to a cheaper airport like Frankfurt, and go with a travel partner to split lodging. With careful planning and sticking to a budget it can be done.Last Aug I spent $95/day for a 3 wk trip rd trip airfare not includedbut everyhting else was with 2 splitting lodging, and not hostels either. Europe may seem expensive when compared to a few yrs back but it is loaded with historic value etc. you won't have a boring day unlike some other destinations for a similiar cost. France and Germany are better values for lodging in general. GO!
this year's trip to Italy was indeed the most expensive trip to Europe we've ever taken. Still we managed to stay under a 100 Euro/person/day budget for everything other than airfare. Including a few splurges on the occasional nice dinner. And you have chosen countries that aren't as expensive as Italy. Living expenses in Germany are actually lower than here in Canada as Andreas already explained. You don't have to live on bread an butter but there are ways to economize, accommodation being a big one for us.
We just returned from Europe a few days ago. As said before, Germany is relatively inexpensive. We stayed a guesthouses (you can look and book them online or use a guidebook). They offered us a wonderful breakfast and did not break out budget. There are also hostels you may want to check into. We also shop at local grocery stores to buy cheese, water, bread, snacks for picnic lunches or dinners depended how the day went. Also, local bakeries have great sandwiches that are inexpensive. On all places to eat they list their prices outside so you can determine if it is in your budget or not. I say go, it is beautiful and fulfilling.
Tony, We just got back from 12 days in Germany and Austria. As we planned the trip the dollar weakened. We decided to cut 3 days from the trip to save money. With the internet you can plan just about every expense to keep within your budget. Go now while your health is good. There were far fewer tourists than we expected. Frankly after 12 days we were ready to come home. Our expenses were about what we expected. The best cost savings trick was knowing the different train ticket prices and their restrictions on DBahn. Try not to ever pay the regular fare, use the lander tickets, happy weekend ticket, etc.
Tony, we just got back a few days ago and all I can say is GO!
See it all stay as long as you need to, at 64 you don’t need any regrets.
Go and live life.
Please, please PLEASE don't let the dollar stand in the way especially if you have been saving for this. You are not alone; we are just turning a blind eye and going anyway. Who knows what it will be like next year - or after that. NOW is the time to take advantage and go. This is a life memory you don't want to miss out on. I'm sure you've read all of Rick's tips on doing what you can to keep the costs down - eating from food stalls and grocery stores, walking as much as you can, staying in hostels (don't let the word youth in front of hostel scare you - it's for every age) or pensions with the bath down the hall. How European!! Cut where it makes sense - don't rent a car unless gas is free (it never is). Don't go in July or August if you can avoid it (unfortunately, I can't avoid it. We leave Saturday). If you want to eat in a nice restaurant, go for lunch, not dinner. Watch Rick's "Travel Skills" episodes - and follow the positive advice of everyone here.
Hey, TOny - you know the drill. You only go around once. Have a great time!!!
my advice is go now!!!we travelled to Europe from South africa in dec, 2006 and paid R7-50 for a euro.We are going to germany, czech republic, Netherlands next month, and paid R12-50 for the euro,
(less than 2 years later!!!!)
Tony , after aaalll these replies please, tell us what you think, ok?
Yes, it's expensive. But what are you waiting for? Who can tell you when the exchange rate will be better? Maybe it will only get worse. Maybe you'll wait and wait, and then get hit by a bus right before you plan to go. Don't wait for the right time -- the right time is now. It could be a decade before the exchange rate favors us or even improves much. Just plan ahead, use Rick's books and sleeping/eating suggestions, picnic for breakfast and lunch. My father was also a WWII vet and made me promise on his death bed that I would travel all over Europe NOW and not wait until it was right or convenient -- he was absolutely right. You can't take it with you!
We just returned from a 28 day trip which included 5 countries. 11 Days were on a guided tour and 17 days we were on our own. We found that in Germany the cost of living is a little more expensive (other than the beer). The price of gasoline and diesel were typically around 1.50 euro's ($2.40 gal us). If planning to rent a vehicle plan on getting a diesel as we were in a 9 passenger diesel van and with driving the Autobahn we still got 35 mpg. We were told to plan on roughly $300 per day including air, gas, food and accommodations. We found we spent 10% more after figuring out our total costs. After the tour we typically stayed in Rick Steeves recommended areas and if there were not recommendations I went to the town we were to stay in and for example typed in www.st.goar.de and was sent to a Tourist Information website for that town or area. The website showed typically many accommodations from hotels to pensions. This worked for us. Good Luck
Note: I should have explained that there were 2 of us travelling at the time ($300 perday for both).
Spent 3 weeks in Europe in May. Went to Croatia, Greece, Portugal and Malta.
Was it expensive? Pretty much. Did I struggle to pay bills for the month or so upon return? YEP! But so worth it! I would say I spent slightly more than anticipated. Before leaving, you can budget certain expenses such as transportation (airlines and/or trains if prepaid) and hotel. Other than that, it's "in trip adjustments" that can help compensate for the poor dollar! What I mean is making decisions to maybe only eat one meal at a restaurant and for others hit a market or street vendor.
Examples of expense: in Greece a gyro lunch with a Coke near the Acropolis equalled about $16. An ice cream cone was about $4. In Croatia, they use kuna. My spaghetti dinner equalled about $10. A Jack and Coke at a local bar was about $6.
I don't think cost is going down any time soon as the dollar doesn't seem any stronger. I say GO FOR IT! As Mark Twain said, Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.