This spring our family of four spent a grand total of 96 days in Europe. With my background in bookkeeping and my incessant need to always know how much we are spending, we kept a detailed log of ALL of our costs along the way. We used a handy, dandy app called Trail Wallet to track our spending. With this app you can record spending by trip (super handy) and input all of your transactions in the local currency. Trail Wallet takes the day’s exchange rates and converts to your home currency (super dandy).
Our trip started out in Vancouver. We were able to drive there from our home base in BC and leave our car at my Uncle’s house (thanks again Uncle Jim!!) We spent the night at a hotel close to Vancouver International that had a free shuttle to the airport for our morning flight. From there we grabbed our direct flights to London. We got a great deal on those flights, $2506.44 CAD return for four people.
Once we arrived in London we were picked up by Mike’s Aunt and Uncle and spent the next five days with them in their flat in Portsmouth, England. How lucky are we to have such good relatives? (Big Love to Aunt Laura and Uncle Jimmy!) From there we flew to Barcelona where we spent an entire month in an Airbnb apartment. Next up came Rome for one week, then Budapest for one month. While spending our month in Budapest, a house sitting gig fell out of the sky and into our laps and we housesat for an amazing family in the Hungarian countryside for the next two weeks. After that, we flew back to London, spent four nights trying not to break the budget in that expensive city, then took a train back down to Portsmouth for another five nights at Mike’s Aunt and Uncles before we flew back to Canada.
As you can see, we did not travel fast. Slow travel is what enabled us to keep our costs down. Renting an apartment for one month instead of nightly saved us thousands of dollars! Our average cost of accommodation for 96 days of travel was $45.81 CAD per night!
We have learned through trial and error that slow travel is the way to go for our family. Even though we did not get to see a huge amount of Europe, we were able to see the destinations we chose in a deep and connecting way. Instead of blazing through and only skimming the surface with the tourist hot spots, we got a small glimpse into the daily rhythms of local life. It also helps hugely for our sanity to stay in one place for longer amounts of time. Traveling fast with kids can be incredibly stressful, especially when you are a family of homebodies like us!
Having a home base in each city also allowed us to save a bundle on food. Most of the time we cooked for ourselves in our apartments or packed picnics. We spent a total of $2144.19 CAD on groceries, an average of $22.34 per day. Our total eating out cost was $1679.00 CAD. This includes everything we did not cook ourselves in our apartments….quick cafe bites in Spain, many, many cappuccinos and croissants, gelato (Oh gelato!!!), and the occasional time where we actually went to a proper restaurant (and then groaned when we got the bill, eating out is EXPENSIVE in Europe!)
We rented cars for a total of 20 days of our trip (15 days in Hungary when we did our housesit and five days in Spain where we did day trips from Barcelona) for a total of $357.47 CAD. That is $17.87 per day!
So, how much did we spend in 96 days? Here are our totals:
Grand Totals in CAD (check xe.com for exchange rates)
Eating Out: $1679.00
Fuel and Vehicle Expenses: $394.19 (Fuel, Tolls, Parking)
Entertainment: $541.49 (This is anything that had an entrance fee such as Museums, Art Galleries, The Vatican, etc)
Toiletries: $13.56 (pretty much just shampoo, aloe vera (we got burnt at the beach in Barcelona!), and lip chap)
Transport: $4738.21 (Transport includes flights from Vancouver to London, London to Barcelona, Barcelona to Rome, Rome to Budapest, Budapest to London, London to Vancouver. It also includes all bus passes, taxi rides (3), and trains for four people)
Misc: $445.51 (Mike bought a Go Pro, the kids bought Lego, etc)
Grand Total: $14,416.23 CAD
Average per day: $150.17 CAD per day.
This price included everything. Our flights from Canada, our intra-Europe flights, all our accommodation, food, car rental…EVERYTHING.
I’m pretty impressed that we were able to travel for so long in Europe on this amount of money. The best part of it all is that I was working the whole time we were gone so we continued to receive an income source while we traveled. This is the first trip we have ever done where the entire cost did not come out of our savings account that we work our butts off to replenish when we get home! Yay for being a digital nomad!