How Much Money Do I Need to Backpack Europe?

Updated: Jan 25, 2019


Simple answer? €3600 for 3 months (or €40 a day).

Realistic answer? Well, how long is a piece of string.



I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Budgeting is all about sacrifice. You can’t have an amazing private room and eat out at great restaurants for every meal and expect to travel for months. Something has to be sacrificed.

If you want to backpack Europe for 3 months and want to spend the absolute bare minimum, you can probably get by comfortably (but with sacrifices) on around €3600 (excluding flights).

Here's how:


Accommodation

Average: €20 per night

Hostels will be your number 1 form of accommodation while travelling. Air BnBs can be a nice break from hostel life but are more expensive, however if you’re travelling in a group it may sometimes work out cheaper!Hostels should not cost you more than €25 unless there is a festival or special event (or you’re in Switzerland!) and always look for one with a kitchen and ideally free breakfast.Just choosing the cheapest is not always the best option. Hostels can really ruin your time in a location so sometimes it’s not best to skimp on the accommodation.





Transport

Average: €5 per day (€15 every 3 days)

Generally speaking, a bus to a neighbouring country in Europe should cost you between €10 and €30, depending on distance and how far in advance you're booking the ticket. Go Euro is a big help when comparing the cost of bus vs train.


Generally the bus is cheaper but takes longer - check out FlixBus to help you find routes.


Consider rail passes such as Eurail if you are planning on travelling through central Europe, particularly Germany, Switzerland, and Austria as train tickets in these countries are higher than average and do not have as many bus connections.

Plan ahead and book bus, train and plane tickets in advance; they will be cheaper.

Airlines such as Ryan Air, Wizz and Easyjet offer flights all over Europe starting as low as €10 (additional fees for checked baggage) – compare this to a 8 hour bus ride for the same price and you’ll be glad you planned ahead. Google Flights will be your best friend for comparing flight prices and dates.


Check out Bla Bla Car, a ridesharing website, for cheaper alternate transport throughout Europe.






Food                          

Average: €5 per day (€25 groceries for 5 days)

Food will be your biggest unnecessary expense on the road.

But, you can comfortably live off a budget of €5 a day for food… IF you are prepared to cook and sacrifice eating out and spontaneous purchases.These prices are based on average cost of groceries in central Europe (Italy, Spain, Germany, France). Costs will differ dramatically in countries such as Switzerland or Poland.


The below ingredients will be enough for lunch, snacks and dinner for 5 days (with an assumption that breakfast is provided free at the hostel). If not, buy yourself a box of cereal and milk and you’re sorted for an extra €3.50




Below is your meal itinerary:



Check out some hostel-friendly recipes, including recipes to the above itinerary below






Miscellaneous

Average: €10 per day

Souvenirs, postcards, pub crawls, drinks, missed trains, daily transport costs, activities… The unplanned parts of travelling. These costs can differ from a €1.50 bus ticket into the city or a €150 spontaneous sky dive and are almost impossible to plan for.






Total

Staying in a basic hostel, eating home cooked food, pre-planning your transport and limiting your activities will allow you to travel for an average of €40 per day. This is probably the most realistic bare minimum budget you’ll need. If you know you like to party or will shop up a storm, adjust as required.


Obviously this differs substantially depending on what country you are in and any unplanned issues or activities but I’ve found that that things generally even out in the long run. If you hike all day and spend nothing on Monday, you might treat yourself to a restaurant dinner on Tuesday. On Wednesday you manage to find a couch surfing host and save €20 on accommodation which is lucky because on Thursday you miss your train and need to buy a new ticket. If you’re disciplined, it should all work out in the end.




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