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Daily Spending Money for BOE21 in 2023?

Hello Lovely Travelers,

I'm planning on going on the Best of Europe tour in the spring of 2023. I've been dreaming about taking this tour for a very long time and the pandemic made me realize I need to get on it. I am currently saving money and hoarding PTO so that I can take a month to travel.

How much money do you usually budget for daily spending on your tours? I'm not a shopper and I don't drink alcohol, but I love coffee and street food. I was thinking about $50 per day. Do you usually use cash or your credit card?

Thanks,

Posted by
8841 posts

Do you usually use cash or your credit card?

I use a no fee credit card ( Capital One) as much as possible; cash only when absolutely necessary.

Posted by
2742 posts

For things like coffee and street food, in some places they won’t take credit cards. I’ve noticed Germany being especially cash heavy, with many smaller places not taking credit cards at all. Other countries are more mixed. You will see modern places with Apple Pay and the credit card iPad readers, especially in big cities, and you will also see mom and pop places that are all cash.

So be prepared for both. My advice is to make sure you have a no-international fee visa or MasterCard, and a visa or MasterCard ATM card tied to a checking account so you can get cash from ATMs. If that atm and checking account has no fees, all the better. Mine has a small fee per withdrawal, so I get out larger amounts of cash to withdraw cash fewer times.

Posted by
28107 posts

I guess that your BEO 21 title was wishful thinking - I understand. BEO 23 seems so far away...

Posted by
2144 posts

Nigel,
BEO 21 refers to the RS Best of Europe in 21 Days tour.

Posted by
22 posts

Thank you everyone.

I'm planning on taking the 21 day Best of Europe in 2023. While it does seem like 2023 is very far away, in reality we are a little over two months away from 2022, which doesn't seem possible!

Posted by
5512 posts

I think a budget of $50 a day is extremely reasonable. Your only extra expenses will be 1 meal 1/2 the days and 2 meals the other 1/2 plus snacks, admissions to places during free time, and any souvenirs you purchase.

There aren’t a great deal of extra costs while actually on the tour unless you want there to be.

Posted by
28107 posts

complicated when the number of days equals the date.... (confused easily and often is my motto)

I shouldn't paddle in a stream if I don't have a map.

acronyms always confuse me anyway

Posted by
22 posts

It's all good Nigel. Your post made me realize that title was unclear, so I was able to fix it through the magic of modern technology.

Posted by
9914 posts

I think in your pre-tour paperwork Rick recommends about $50/day for extras and meals that aren’t covered. I’m not home to check my notes (yea!!!) but I think I came in around $25/day in 2014, maybe a little less.

I DO recommend doing anything extra the guide offers. Mine offered to take folks up the Schilthorn early on the free day then take us up the other side of the valley for the Mannlichen-Kleine Scheidegg hike. The cost for the gondola to the Schilthorn then the cog train up and down plus a gondola segment was a tad expensive but SO worth it. The expense that day was way over $50/50 Swiss francs but it evened out over the whole trip. Ditto the gondola ride in Venice, expensive but fun.

BTW, the guide will discuss with the group on the way to Switzerland how much Swiss money you should withdraw based on different scenarios.

So, I’d have a general daily budget knowing it will fluctuate day to day. Some days if you’ve had a big lunch you may go for gelato for dinner, lol!! That’ll even out a more expensive dinner or fun activity.

If you can add a night or 2 beforehand do that. It’s really good to give yourselves some flex time for travel hiccups and to get over jet lag before the tour starts.

If you have the time and budget, also add nights in Paris!!

One of my very favorite tours!

Editing to add: i just went back to read my trip report from this tour. While I didn’t seem to mention how much money I averaged per day, I decided the advice on the thread (others added in some thoughts as well) was still relevant. And yes, makes me want to do it again!!

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/21-day-best-of-europe-8-26-14

Posted by
941 posts

On the RS Scotland tour in 2019, I thought US$50/day was plenty, more than adequate. Most days I spent little or nothing (no souvenirs or adult beverages, lunch was not necessary every day) and then we'd visit a great restaurant or I'd find the perfect espresso shop and my budget would level out again. Activities during two pre- and two post-tour days will add to your pocket money budget. I securely carried 200 pounds and US$200 in a combination of pockets, hidden pockets, and a neck wallet.

At most establishments, I was surprised by the ubiquitous touchless card reader that was brought to me; my card never left my hand or my sight. This seemingly advanced technology is just now showing up in my hometown restaurants. Also surprised that many smaller restaurants did not accept cards at all. Be sure to look for a cash-only sign before entering!

If you don't have one, you still have plenty of time to shop around for a no-fee credit or debit card specifically for travel. There are many such products and many sites that objectively review their various cost/benefits. I happen to prefer the Schwab debit card but, if you want miles and access to airport lounges, you will want to shop carefully for a travel card.

Hope you enjoy your trip! I'm headed to Spain with RS early in 2023.

Posted by
14 posts

I went on BOE21 in 2018. My expenses averaged $50 per day. I think I mostly used cash, but of course things may be different now. I definitely got too much cash in Swiss francs that I didn't need. There wasn't much opportunity to spend money in Stechelberg or Lauterbrunnen, so I ended up trying to use up my francs at a rest stop just before entering France.

Posted by
961 posts

Trixie, we went on the BOE 21 days at the end of 2015. We planned for $50/day/pp and didn't quite use that much. Like others, there were days we spent little and then days we splurged. We did all extras - Gondola ride in Venice was 24 euro pp for a group rate, Schilthorn, which was expensive but was a huge part of enjoying Switzerland, etc. Seems to me we took out around 60 CHF knowing we wouldn't need much cash - not enough for the trip up Schilthorn but I believe I remember paying our guide in Euros for our trip up and then he also exchanged leftover CHF for Euros with him when leaving Switzerland. We used ATM cash for everything except to pay for hotel pre-tour. That was the only time we used our credit card.

Have a fabulous tour. It will be a time filled with beauty and wonder for you.

Posted by
943 posts

Your going to have an experience of a lifetime! We've been on seven Rick Steves tours and they have all been exceptional.

Posted by
5149 posts

Trixie, we always budget $100 per day for the two of us, and usually spend about half that. We're not shoppers, either, but we do drink alcohol, and occasionally splurge on a nice meal.

Posted by
1858 posts

hey hey trixie
how exciting to plan a trip, giving you time to save and accumulate time off needed. go few days before trip starts and ends like someone mentioned for jet lag and hiccups, it's so worth it to not be exhausted and hurried to start.
even though not on a tour, we got money ($200) in country's currency. make sure small bills, even in ATM's. ask for 100 got one bill ugh. ask for 75, notes split up. some places have minimum to spend when using card, some places cash only.
always a question here about getting currency in states beforehand. i do even if small fee, once off plane many head to ATM for cash. line was really long, another was broken/out of service, closest was in another terminal, many are now travelex machines that charge fees.
i was a happy camper, cash in hand, not stressed (spelt backwards is desserts). sat at a cafe with my dessert and glass of wine with a smile.
aloha

Posted by
22 posts

Thanks for the great tips!! I've been planning this trip for a really long time. OPB produces Rick's show so he has done a lot of events here and I've been lucky enough to attend some of them. I also took a Saturday morning class at the community college in the early 90's that was about budget travel in Europe and I'm pretty sure that Rick taught the class, this was before he was world famous. I've used his teaching to travel all over the US, Europe and a little bit of Asia, I've just not taken a tour.

I'm especially excited for the time in Switzerland and I do plan to take the gondola up to the top of the Schilthorn. I just checked the price and it's about $US 124. Yikes!

Thanks again everyone!

Posted by
9914 posts

I'm especially excited for the time in Switzerland and I do plan to take the gondola up to the top of the Schilthorn. I just checked the price and it's about $US 124. Yikes!

Yeah…this is one of the things that you have to just do it and not really look at what the cost is!! ANYthing you do on the Switzerland day is worth the price. It’s fabulous and that’s from someone who lives in the edge of the mountains. Do the Schilthorn early AM if the weather is good and do the other side of the valley in the afternoon. You can also check on the cost of the round trip from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen to Mannlichen and Kleine Scheidegg back to Lauterbrunnen but this walk is totally worth it and forget the expense!!

You’ll spend very little on your Amsterdam, Germany and Austria days so you’ll be ahead of the money game when you get to Switzerland!

Posted by
941 posts

Slightly off topic anecdote: Buddy of mine is headed Switzerland in a few months. He will be staying with friends for two to three weeks. He has been advised by locals that every purchase everywhere, large and small, is accomplished using a card. They no longer carry cash.

Posted by
1337 posts

I always travel with a worse case scenario set of mind. I would take your 50€ a day for spending, making sure you have coins for the bathrooms (most public bathrooms charge) and then keep 100€ to whatever amount your comfortable with for an emergency tucked away. There has not been one trip where I don't pop in a pharmacy for some lip balm or antacids. Plus you never know what you will see that you did not expect that you just have to have. For me it was leather bookmarks in Florence, IT which I purchased as gifts for all the ladies in my book club. I use whatever is easier for the shopkeeper.

Posted by
447 posts

Trixie Belle:
How exciting for you that you are thinking so far in advance...saving $ before your trip.
Schilthorn: One benefit of traveling on a R.S. Tour is that often the group leader will purchase tickets for optional activities at the group rate, so price will be considerably less (individuals reimburse her later).
Cash or charge: We pay a fee of 1% whenever we take cash out of ATM, so we charge as often as we can because there is no fee.
...And remember, when you are traveling, you are not spending $ on gas, groceries, entertainment, etc at home, so that helps to offset your daily travel budget.

Posted by
5512 posts

Trixie Belle, (fun name!)
I have been to Murren twice. The first time I decided that the trip up the Schilthorn was just too expensive and went hiking instead. Did I have a fabulous time and have no regrets? Absolutely! The second time I was on a RS Tour and the guide was putting together an optional trip and I decided to go for it. Did I have a fabulous time and have no regrets? Absolutely!
I think going as an optional group activity is a great opportunity, but if you find the weather is bad or that the budget is stretched you don't have to feel like you have missed a once in a lifetime thrill. There is so much to see and enjoy there that you will have a great vacation either way.

Carol

Posted by
22 posts

Thanks again everyone.

When I'm doing my budget I do plan for splurges (like the gondola ride) and that goes in a different category than daily spending. I love thermal spas, so I plan to stop over in Iceland to melt my jetlag in the Blue Lagoon and then hopefully post-tour head to Germany for some thermal spas. I also hope to go to the Alpentherme Ehrenberg in Reutte during the free time, if our hotel is close enough. According to some past tour scrapbooks, the tour stayed at the Alpenhotel Emberg that is an ten minute walk from the spa.