Budgeting

Once you have a rough idea of where you’re going to be going, you can start the first depressing part of planning a trip, budgeting. So how much does a trip across Europe cost? A lot.

No really! Europe is a pricey place, especially Western Europe. Eastern Europe is generally cheaper, but it’s by no means as it’s depicted in Euro-Trip.

When first figuring out your budget, split it into two parts. The first part are the pre-trip expenses, the things you’ll need before you go, like a backpack, guidebook and airfare.

Pre-Trip Expenses:
Item Cost
AirfareThis can vary greatly depending on everything from when you book to which airports you’re flying to and from. See our section on flying to Europe for more info on getting cheaper flights. $600-$1200+
Rail PassIf you decide a rail pass is right for you, it will run you anywhere from $300 to over a thousand dollars depending on how long it lasts and in which countries it’s valid. $200-$1500+
BackpackA good backpack is key to a good trip. It has to hold all your possessions and be comfortable and light enough that you can wear it for hours. $50-$250
Travel DocumentsIf you lack any travel documents, like a passport, you’ll have to pay the fees to get them. Depending on what you already have, you may not have to spend too much here. $0-$200
Guide BookThe backpacker’s bible. The thing you’ll probably spend the most time on your trip looking at, so make sure you get the right one. $15-$40
Travel AccessoriesEverything from a sleepsheet to sturdy shoes to flashlight to digital camera. This part varies greatly depending on what you want to bring. Varies
Total: $1,000 – $2,500+

The second half of your budget should cover your on the road costs. This will be the daily rate that includes your hostels, food, and fun. This is the number that’s going to tell you how long of a trip you can afford.

On-The-Road Costs:
Item Cost
SleepingHostel costs vary greatly depending on what city you are in. Large cities like Paris and London tend to be closer to the higher end of the spectrum, and if you want to stay in private rooms or hotels, prepare to spend even more. $20-$50+ x Day
EatingYour food costs depend a lot on where you eat. If you’re frugal and stay away from restaurants you can get by pretty cheaply, but if you’re having sit down meals at restaurants twice a day, be prepared to spend a significant amount of money. $15-$50 x Day
Getting AroundUnless you really want to walk everywhere expect to spend $10 or $15 a day for subway/bus tickets or renting a bicycle. Add a little bit more if you’re going to areas outside of city center. $10-$20+ x Day
Attractions and FunDepending on what you want to see, and how much beer you want to drink, you fun budget can vary. Large museums and major attractions can be in upwards of €10 a pop, and in places like Paris a beer can run you $10. So budget accordingly. $10-$?? x Day
Western Europe Total: $50 – $100 x Day
Eastern Europe Total: $40 – $60 x Day

I would also advise adding ~10% on top of that as an emergency fund; it’s much preferable to come home with some extra money than to run low on money two weeks before your return ticket.

If you’re frugal, you can expect to spend about $50-60/$40-$50 a day for Western and Eastern Europe respectively.

More realistically, depending on how disciplined you are, your on the road costs will probably come to be somewhere around $60-$100/day for Western Europe, and $50-$60 for Eastern Europe.

Again, all of these estimates are average. It’s totally possible to spend less than $30 or even $20 a day in some of the cheaper parts of Europe.

Total Cost:

So with those estimates, you can put together your travel budget. Here’s an example for how I would determine a budget for a two month trip.

Item Cost Number Total
Misc. Pre-trip Expenses $200
Airfare to Europe — JFK -> DUB — Round trip $795
Rail Pass — 8 Days, 5 countries Select-Pass $496
Budget Flights (within Europe) — 5 one-way segments $70 5 $350
Additional trains & buses (not covered by RailPass) $500
Western Europe Daily (Lodging, Food, Transport, Fun) $65 X 30 days $1950
Eastern Europe Daily (Lodging, Food, Transport, Fun) $50 X 30 days $1500
Emergency Fund $500
Total $6291