How to Budget for Your European Tour – Travel Tips

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How to Budget for Your European Tour – Travel Tips

View From Fisole Toward Florence, Italy

So the second question we normally get about travel after How Can You Afford To Travel?  is how do you come up with a realistic budget for a European Trip?  You’re in luck, we are in the process of planning a trip next summer, and budgeting is on our to do list right now.  In this article,  I am going to give you some pointers on how to create a preliminary budget for your European Tour.  Developing a budget is one of the first steps in planning your trip.  Yo will need to know how much to save up for.  Hopefully this article can help with your trip planning.

Establish Transportation Cost

Boarding a Plane

 Plane Tickets

This is usually the biggest budget item for intercontinental travelers.  You will need this number right away, as it may be up to 1/2 of your total expenses?  Use any flight search engine you wish, or airline of choice’s website, to search for fares.  You are probably planning far in advance right?  So flight information may not be available for more than six months in the future.  We usually start planning a year in advance.  Here’s  what you can do.  If you plan on traveling next year in October.  Look at fares for this year in October, so you will get a pretty good estimate on cost.

You will see many ads for cheap flights to Europe from the US.  You probably wont meet those restrictions on your trip, unless you are a very well-informed traveler, or super lucky, or well, I don’t know what the trick is.  I never get these type of deals.  Don’t expect those $699 tickets to Paris deals, there will be some reason you wont meet the criteria.

Your flight from the US to Europe might be $1,500.00 to $2,00.00 each.  It depends on many factors such as, how far you are flying, what airport, and the season.  Don’t forget to plan your basic itinerary, you may want to fly using a multi city ticket (fly into Paris, fly home from Rome).  This will save time, and may save cost, if you don’t need a train ticket back to your original destination.  So once you have checked a couple of flight options, you will now have the first budget item.


Trains at Offenburg, Germanny

Ground Transportation

The plane tickets will not be your only transportation cost.  What about taxis, buses, trolleys, metros, and trains?  You will need to budget for these items as well.

For information on ground transport to and from airport, look at your airport’s website for options to the city center.  They will usually have prices listed for both taxis and other public transportation options.  Taxis are usually not the most economical option, unless you are filing up all the seats.

If you are traveling multi city, you are probably going by car or train.  For train fares, look at each countries national rail website for fares.  Use the same method above noted for planes, if the fares are too far in the future.  Use a search engine to get the national rail service of the country you are visiting .  Keep in mind, the prices you are seeing may be advance rate fares with reduced prices due to pre-purchase.  If you are planning on point to point tickets, without advance purchase, the cost may be more.  Do the same for car rental, pick your favorite company and check fares on their website.

Most cities have a public transportation website where you can check the price for fares.  Usually weekly or daily passes or cheaper than one time tickets, so check to see if they have any of these options.  So, after you have completed your ground transportation research, you will have budget item number 2.


Don’t forget to check conversion rates for the currency in the country you plan to visit.  For instance the cost noted on the national rail sites will be in the local currency.


Hotel in Basel, Switzerland


You will need a place to sleep.  Hotels can range widely based upon location and amenities provided.  We usually expect to spend around $100 to $150 per night just like at home.  Check on some travel sites for hotels in the city you are planning to visit to get an idea for what it will cost per night.  Keep in mind, most rates will be double occupancy, and you may need to look for other options if traveling with the whole family, or multiple rooms.  See our article How Can You Select a Hotel In Europe? – Travel Tips for more information on hotel selection.  Now add up the expected number of nights, and you have budget item 3.

Marche Couvert Colmar, France

Your Results May Vary

The following items can vary widely depending on what you expect and are used too.  You may be a big shopper, so you will need to budget for that.  Myself, not so much, so I usually don’t include much in the shopping category.  You may really enjoy eating out, so expect to spend more if you eat at a restaurant 3 meals a day, as opposed to Cafes, street food, and supermarkets.  Sightseeing is also an item that depends on your expectations.  Do you need a guided tour, or can you walk around and discovery for yourself.  Remember, walking and looking is almost free (you know you will want a gelato, caramel, or pastry while you walk around).

Underlinden Museum Cafe Colmar, France


Cost for eating can really differ depending on what you specifically expect.  Are you eating out every meal?  Do you plan to picnic?  Are you expecting fine dining or cafes?  The cost for food is not that much different from at home.  How much would you spend eating at home per day? $40?  $75?  Here an example:  I’m having breakfast at the hotel $0.00, for lunch I can picnic or get some inexpensive street food $20.00, and for dinner I’m eating at a cafe $40.00 for a total of $60.00 per day per person.  Your results may vary and don’t forget snacks if you are a snacker.  Then add up the number of days for a total.  Now you have budget item number 4 Super!

Notre Dame at Night
Paris, France


So you will need a detailed itinerary to get a detailed cost for this item.  In the preliminary stages you probably don’t have this yet.  Museums may be $20 to $40 and a boat or guided tour may be about the same.  Some days, if you’re using an already purchased museum pass, may be almost free in this category.   I usually consider about $50 per day, per person, to budget, some days may be more, some less.  I also expect just one large attraction per day.  So if you are doubling up on museums, your cost will be more.   Now add up the number of days and expected cost per day and now you have budget item number 5.

Waterlopein Market Amsterdam, the Netherlands


So as noted, this number can change wildly depending on the individual.  You will see something you want, even if you’re not a shopper like me.  I suggest you pick an amount based upon your taste per person for the whole trip.  Say $100.00-$200.00 per person.  Don’t forget, if you are traveling light, you wont have much room in your pack.  If there is something you must have, and it wont fit, you can always ship it home.  Additionally,  if you have a specific item you must purchase (I’ve always wanted a cuckoo clock from the black forest type of wish)  don’t forget to add that to your budget, and the shipping cost to send it home.  This is another preliminary budget item you need to consider.

Chocolate Shop Vitré, France


So we didn’t even cover items like travel insurance, cell phone international plans, and house/pet sitters.  It’s hard to come up with a comprehensive list,  you may need to alter the list to meet your needs.   So if any of these other items are applicable, add them to your budget as well.  Or just add something in this category for unforeseen events, like a rail strike!

Pound Sterling

Final Budget

Once you have your itinerary locked in, you can perform you final budget check, and compare your preliminary number with actual cost.  For a budget number to get you saving, and know what to expect, begin with the items noted in this article.  Be realistic, are you really going to skip breakfast and picnic at every meal?  Your not going to buy one souvenir?  If you have any special needs don’t forget to budget for those items.  For instance, if you have trouble with stairs, the metro might not be the best option to get around, you might need more ground transportation cost.  I hope we have provided some insights as to where to begin with your budget.

See, creating a preliminary budget for your European trip wasn’t that hard.  You can do this Traveler!  Now go make some plans!  Go Artway Today!

Eiffel Tower

List of Expenses to Consider

  • plane tickets
  • ground transportation
  • sleeping
  • eating
  • sight-seeing
  • shopping
  • Other if applicable (travel insurance, house sitter etc.)
Ponte Vecchio Florence, Italy

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