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Spain Trip - Expenses compared to past trips

(I'll post a Spain Activity Trip Report later this week)

I realize that are numerous factors that will change what others spend on a vacation compared to our trip. But, just for a comparison of our trips over the past 4 years, here's the results. I'm an engineer, so every expense was tracked (even our daily gelato!). Even though I track expenses, it's just for my trending & planning; we spend what we want during each trip and don't turn down activities, selection of hotels or restaurant choices because of it.

I removed the airline flight costs and divided expenses by number of days for a true comparison. Our transportation is trains and the occasional bus. We stay in the center of towns & love to walk and take local transportation. We are a couple, so hotel costs are divided by two people:

2017: Spain trip: $112/pp/day. One factor for the lower cost was that we ate late breakfasts, so skipped several lunches. Also, hotels were cheaper for rooms comparable to other trips.
2016: Italy/France trip: $146/pp/day. Splurged on Italian meals & expenses at Paris.
2015: Germany/Austria: $145/pp/day. Splurged on some extra special hotels, i.e. Cortisen am See Hotel at St. Wolfgang, Hotel Am Stephansplatz at Vienna.
2014: Switzerland/Italy trip: $163/pp/day. The Swiss transportation & hotel costs affected this price, along with lots of Italian food!

Posted by tgreen
USA
328 posts

This is interesting, but I am surprised you did not add in the Euro to Dollar exchange rate, as it is much better for our dollar now than in 2014 or 2015.

Posted by Agnes
Washington DC Region, USA
3815 posts

I have to ask...why exclude airfare from your average daily calculations? It has to get amortized across the trip somehow because it's a major cost driver of the overall trip total.

Could you post the costs with airfare included just for comparison's sake? That would be interesting to see. I realize that there's a huge difference in pricing for seat type, use of airline points, etc. so that's a caveat.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
4365 posts

Well, I think your assessment proves what most posters here have been saying forever. Spain is one of the least expensive countries in Europe and Switzerland is one of the most expensive and Italy, France, Germany, Austria, will fall somewhere between those two.

When I'm figuring my $$/day cost for a trip I also don't include the airfare. Airfare is such an unreliable expense to compare from one year to the next and from one country to the next so it's not helpful when estimating costs for a future trip. You might get a great airfare one year (time of year, airfare sales, etc) and then have to shell out a lot more the next.

Posted by Jean OP
Mill Creek, Washington
1738 posts

"why exclude airfare from your average daily calculations? It has to get amortized across the trip somehow because it's a major cost driver of the overall trip total.
Could you post the costs with airfare included just for comparison's sake? That would be interesting to see. I realize that there's a huge difference in pricing for seat type, use of airline points, etc. so that's a caveat."

Hi Agnes, I definitely include it in my overall totals; some years it's a large piece in the piechart! The reasons I didn't include it in this posting is due to our trips being different numbers of total days, i.e. staying in Spain for 21 days vs. Switzerland/Italy trip for 14 days would make it appear that a flight to Spain is cheaper per day. Also, for some of the trips I've paid with airline miles and the Economy Plus upgrades were covered with my mileage status one year. But, I'll share the details:

2017: used my miles to pay both my husband & my flight - $109/ea. + $80
2016: used my miles to pay my husband's flight - $1508 + $100; I didn't need to pay to be in Economy Plus that year
2015: $1583 plus upgrades into Economy Plus of $109/ea.

2014: $1385 plus upgrades into Economy Plus - $34 + $44

In 2014, our flight net cost was actually $1000/ ea. less than we paid! Our flight was cancelled on the way home from Amsterdam-Seattle, so they rerouted our beginning flight from Rome to head to JFK. At JFK, they were desperate for people to take a flight the next day and finally offered $1000 AmEx cards plus free hotel to be willing to bump. We jumped at it, especially since our JFK-Seattle seats were in the last row. They only allowed it for people with carry-on luggage, so it truly does pay to pack light! ; )

Posted by Larry
Carmel, CA, USA
1605 posts

Hey Jean, how about posting the average price of gelato over the years, maybe per scoop.

Posted by Roberto da Firenze
San Francisco Bay Area (USA)
9778 posts

I agree to remove the air cost. That varies a lot depending on airports used, airlines, special offers, season. It's best to be left off to have a better average.

I like to calculate on a per night basis rather than per day. The hotel costs are a major factor, so calculating per night gives a better perspective.

I'm surprised that Italy/France is similar in price to Germany. I would think Italy is a bit cheaper. But maybe it's because it has France increasing that average. And yes, exchange rates affect prices. 2014 to 2016 had a major drop in the Euro value.

Posted by Jean OP
Mill Creek, Washington
1738 posts

Larry,

2017: Gelato is a bargain!
2016: Gelato is a bargain!
2015: Gelato is a bargain!
2014: Gelato is a bargain!

You would laugh if you could see my traditional "First photo" I post on Facebook of our trips. I actually keep all of the gelato spoons from a trip and then arrange them for a funny photo. Our recent Spain trip photo is 39 gelato spoons (yes, we're serious about gelato!) shaped into 3 fans.

Posted by Jean OP
Mill Creek, Washington
1738 posts

Roberto da Firenze, the costs shown are per night. I count the number of days as per hotel nights.

Posted by Jean OP
Mill Creek, Washington
1738 posts

The Euro to dollar exchange rates didn't show a significant difference for 2015-2017 for the month of September when we traveled. Of course, 2014 was different, but the overall expenses in Switzerland francs were driving the total more than what we spent in Italy.

Sept rates:
2017: 1.19
2016: 1.12
2015: 1.13
2014: 1.31

Posted by Alan
Folsom
877 posts

Given the differences you point out-skippping lunch in Spain, splurging in Paris, extra special hotels in Germany/Austria-this does not seem to be an apples to apples comparison. Having said that, it's pretty well known that traveling the Iberian peninsula is less expensive than many other areas of Europe. What we found is that you can dine well in Spain and Portugal for the same money that would buy a second rate meal in much of France and even less in Great Britain. And Switzerland is just plain expensive.

Posted by ttmom12
226 posts

Jean,
Thank you for the report. I look forward to your trip report. Hubby and I made a trip to Italy, and one to Bath Uk, this year and are planning for next year in Spain(Andalusia). So I would love to read your report. We want to keep the cost low, no shopping this time, and accommodations in B and B's. Anything you can share will be appreciated.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
16838 posts

I think it a good analysis. How many questions do we see here for posters asking for a per day cost. Our costs are similar but we regularly have only two meals a day. But we do tend to have nice evening meals since we had no lunch.

Posted by jayhamps
Liverpool UK
356 posts

Did your meals include drinks wine etc. Spain has maintained its low prices, I arrived back from Sevilla last week and the prices were the same as when i last went 3 years ago which i was happy about.

Posted by Jean OP
Mill Creek, Washington
1738 posts

Hello Jayhamps, yes our expenses each year included the various moderate beverages during each trip with meals and evenings.

Posted by Priscilla
California
3246 posts

Hi Jean!

I actually keep all of the gelato spoons from a trip and then arrange them for a funny photo. Our recent Spain trip photo is 39 gelato spoons (yes, we're serious about gelato!) shaped into 3 fans.

What a fun and creative idea!

I didn't keep my gelato spoons but did take some photos of many of the gelatos
prior to eating them!

Posted by jayhamps
Liverpool UK
356 posts

Thanks Jean, do you use your sums to plan a budget for future trips?

Posted by sl.wolf
Salt Lake City, UT (Previous Seattle, WA)
215 posts

I include air, transportation to and from airport, and dollars to have my lawn mowed. Previous trips of independent travel were around 300-350 dollars per day for two. Switzerland was the high, this was on bikes with spontaneous hotel stays. Portugal spring 2017 was $350 per day. Southern Italy for 12 days and 10 nights with $590 air per person to Rome came in at $470. Hotel costs in Rome and Amalfi added to the cost. Site entries and two tours added to the cost. Also, exchange was 1.1 in spring and near 1.2 in the fall. Yes, I consider current cost to plan for the future. Score for Jean when you received a $1000 credit!

Posted by Jean OP
Mill Creek, Washington
1738 posts

Hi jayhamps, I mainly started keeping track of trip expenses to know how much we would need to set aside for a "Vacation Holiday Budget" when we retire - also because I was interested in how much we were spending. While I'm still working, it's less of an issue.