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Breaking Down the Cost of Backpacking Europe in a Few Easy Steps

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Most of us with a taste of travel daydream about traveling to Europe. However, many of us are afraid of the cost of backpacking Europe.

Over the last seven years, I’ve been living on the road and writing this travel blog. I’ve spent almost three of those years in Europe. (I’m writing this while road tripping through Europe) All these tips and information comes from those experiences.

Because I’ve spent so much time in this beautiful part of the world, I often asked how to plan a Europe budget.

This question about travel in Europe stresses me out a little because everyone has their own standards for food and hotels. The prices of flights are consistently changing and exchange rates are going up and down daily.  Of course not every country is equal, places to visit like Italy and France cost a lot more to backpack than countries Romania and Macedonia. And yes and the prices vary depending what time of year you are visiting.

(Are you starting to see why finding the answer to the “backpacking Europe cost” is tricky)

But wait, before you start pulling your hair out and screaming at the dimly lit laptop you should keep reading. I thrive on backpacking Europe cheap without sacrificing too much comfort.

This post isn’t isn’t going to give you an exact price of how much it cost to backpack Europe because it is impossible. Instead, I will talk you through all the expenses that come with traveling Europe with an idea of how much you can expect to spend.

THe Cost of Backpacking Europe

Pre Trip Expenses

The foundation for finding out the cost of backpacking Europe is having a rough idea of where you are going, how long you are going, and the things you need before ever leaving home.

Backpack

Your pack is much more than just a piece of luggage. It is a safeguard that holds everything from your most cherished souvenir to your most important documents like your passport and debit cards.

A lousy backpack will cut into your torso, pull on your back, and shift all the weight to one place. Soon you’ll be left with the unwanted souvenirs and achy hips and a sore back.

I live out of a backpack so choosing the right one is a subject I can a lot about. I actually, wrote a massive post that will guide to picking the best travel backpacks.

Good packs range from $150 -$300+

Plane Tickets

One of the costs of backpacking Europe is the plane ticket. In fact, it is possible that the plane ticket will be your biggest cost that you have before leaving home.

Prices change frequently, and I’ve paid as little as $250 for a one way to London and as much as $1200 round trip to Italy and back.

Nowadays, it is easy to find insanely cheap flights. A couple resources I use when finding a plane ticket are the Skyscanner app and Kayak Explore. (And they aren’t even paying me to say it).

Travel Insurance

For years I traveled without travel medical insurance, but once (after an unfortunate incident) I found myself in the hospital, and I was stuck with the bill.

The cost I spent at the hospital that day would have bought travel insurance for over two years. 

As you can imagine after that, I immediately broke the habit of traveling without insurance.

Travel insurance covers more than just people; it can also cover luggage, and theft and much more. It is your choice whether you choose to insure yourself or not. My recommendation is don’t end up like me. Always travel with insurance.

I use Roam Right or World Nomads! We have teamed up together so using this link gets you a free insurance quote.

 

Eastern Europe vs Western Europe

Europe Itinerary Planning

If you are questioning the amount of money and how much to travel Europe for a month you should know that not all places in Europe carry the same price tag. For example Western Europe is way more expensive than Eastern Europe.

In fact, you can save a lot of money by traveling Eastern Europe instead of Western Europe.

Let’s talk about the differences you could expect between the two areas and the different cities in Europe.

Western Europe Western Europe is home to Europe’s main sites and attractions. Getting around is easier, transportation is nicer, and hostels are better than Eastern Europe. There are more tour companies. On the other hand that means higher prices, more tourist, and long lines.

Eastern Europe It is a lot more rustic. I always picture it was what all of Europe was like before the boom of tourism. Prices are cheaper, fewer people speak English, and everything the cities feel more authentic.

Best Way to Get Around Europe

Backpacking Europe - Train Station

Another expense to factor into your backpacking Europe cost is the price of traveling around.  A lot of people think traveling around is expensive but as I talk about in my post – 8 of the Cheapest Ways to Travel Europe – there are plenty of good options that will help you save money.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Eurail

Eurail Passes are my favorite way to travel around Europe. You get to relax, spread out, and see see the landscape instead of just a highway.

There are dozens of different passes. I can almost guarantee  that there is perfect Eurail Pass to meet your needs.

Trust me, if you are moving around a lot a Eurail Pass is worth it.


Busabout

Another option is Busabout. This is a company that was created for free-spirit travelers.  They have hop on hop off buses around Europe, and they stop in dozens of countries.

Buses come every few days and using the app you can book your place a couple of days before. Their prices run somewhere between $600-$900 for a bus pass.

This is a great option for backpackers traveling across Europe solo because you get to meet like-minded backpackers.

I’ve made some friends on Busabout over 6 years ago on Busabout that I still talk to today.

Rent a Car

If you have an international driving permit then renting a car is another valid option for getting around Europe. 

Car rentals in Europe are cheap! Usual under $100 a week!

While car rentals are cheap the gas, insurance, and toll roads in Europe are not.  

A handy way to get around car insurance is to book the car with a travel credit card that covers the car. 

I use the chase sapphire reserve. It protects the car up to $75,000. Plus the card has a ton of other benefits.

Budget Airlines

Europe has some great deals on airfare via budget airlines.  However,  you need to follow their rules carefully or they will slap you with fees.  

Ryan Air and Easy jet are the biggest budget airlines. For more check out my guide to budget airlines in Europe.

Day By Day Cost of Backpacking Europe

So since we are answering the question ” How much does it cost to travel Europe on a budget per day”  it is very important that we look at the details of everyday expenses when traveling Europe.

When we are looking at how much it cost to travel Europe we first need to look at expenses. These are the major expenses you will have will backpacking Europe on a budget.

Where to Stay in Europe

Hostels

 What is a  hostels? Hostels are a popular way to save money when you’re traveling Europe on a budget, and they provide a way to meet other travelers at the same time.

In the simplest of terms, you rent a bed in a hostel rather a whole room. This means you can have 20+ people in a room.

Hostels in Europe range from $10 – $40 per night. When budgeting out my trip I usually assume the average I am going to pay for a hostel in Europe is $25-$30 per night. . Hostelworld  has the best options when booking hostels. You can get a private room in a hostel for a little bit cheaper than a hotel room. 

AIrbnb

Airbnb – Another great and cheap option. Get $40 off your first stay with Airbnb by signing up using this linkAirbnb’s range from $30-$100.

I spend between $50 -$60 a night when I book Airbnb’s early. Over the years, I’ve saved hundreds using airbnb coupon codes to refer friends and earn credit.

Eating and Drinking

Food

If you really want to do Europe on a budget, then you need cooking your own food is the easiest way to save money.  However, why venture all the way to Europe to eat your own cooking. I think the best way to save money and still indulge in all the fantastic food is by cooking 1/3 the time. Eating street food and eating out the rest of the time.  Street food is cheap and gives you a little bit of the local flavor. 

It’s best to for budget travelers to add a little extra money for food, this way if you’ve had a long day and you’re just too tired to cook or travel to somewhere inexpensive it won’t offset your backpacking Europe cost.

If you budget about $15 – $30 a day, it should cover 3 cheap meals. If that’s still too much money for you to spend, purchase your own food from the grocery store and you’ll save over half that amount. 

If I would cook every day, I could travel Europe and only spend 5-7 Euros on food a day. My good buddy at Landlopers has a great post about foods you need to eat in Europe

Drinking

There are so many cities to visit for a good party in Europe, but a few top the list of the best places to visit in Europe such as Barcelona, Spain’s second largest city, or Amsterdam, a place where the energizing party never ends.

However, we are trying to lower cost of backpacking Europe then limit the partying. Nights out add up quickly and can break the bank.

Go out, have fun, experience foreign night-life but not every night.

Sightseeing

There are thousands of locations to visit in Europe. You may be wondering which building or museum is in which city. Many of the attractions and churches in Europe cost to enter. These prices range from a 2 Euros to over 20 Euros.

You won’t be spending money on sightseeing every single day, but it is wise when planning out backpacking Europe cost to plan to spend $15-$20 a day on sightseeing.

Tips to Lower The cost of Backpacking Europe

Take Overnight Trains

Overnight trains are extremely popular among backpackers and other travelers. For one, it saves a night of accommodation while traveling to your next destination.

If you’ve obtained a Eurail pass, you still may need to purchase reservations for an overnight train, so don’t forget that extra fee! Reservations can be purchased online for many railway companies.

 

Stay in Hostels

 Staying in hostels instead of a hotel is one of the best ways to lower the cost of backpacking through Europe.

It is also one of the best way to meet other people traveling Europe. I’ve made countless friends by basically living in hostels the last 7 years. 

Get the Right Bank Account

Are you still with me? Good because this piece of advice is important and can save you thousands of dollars over years of traveling. When using an ATM card overseas, you get charged BOTH an ATM Fee and a Foreign Transaction Fee. This means fees for just one withdrawal can cost over $5. Small expenses add up over time to big cash over time.

Look on any US travel blog, and chances are they will all talk about benefits of traveling with a Charles Schwab account. They reimburse you for all ATM transaction fees and foreign transaction fees at the end of the month. Making it free to draw out cash anywhere in the world!

I have saved thousands in ATM and foreign transaction fees over the years. In fact, many times when I am traveling who aren’t US citizens they wire me there money and I draw it out for them because it is cheaper in the long run.

You can open a CS account over the phone or use this link and get up to  $100 for opening an account.

What better way to reduce the cost of backpacking Europe than to make your money work for you!

Free Walking Tours

One way to lower your backpacking through Europe cost is by utilizing the hundreds of free walking tours. The tours are tip-based, so the idea is that your guide will be entertaining and knowledgeable. Tips are expected at the end.

City Passes

Many big cities offer city passes that include entrance to popular attractions and trips on the metro. If you take advantage and use the pass a lot, it can save you a ton of money.

Buy Metro Tickets in Bundles

 At many of the machines in the metros you can buy packs of metro tickets. If you are going to ride the subway a lot these bundles work out to save you the price of a few metro tickets.

Average Cost When Backpacking Europe

Europe Travel Budget

Let’s use the information above to figure out the cost of backpacking through Europe on a budget for a month. Of course, this all depends on your backpacking Europe itinerary.

Accommodation   Based on a $25 a night average. $600-$700.

Food I spend between $400-$500 on food depending on how much I eat out.

Party  $200- $300 a month.  (Europe has some serious party destinations

Getting Around  (Varys on the method of getting around and deals at the time of booking)

Flights – In my opinion, if you are paying over $600 for a round trip ticket you are overpaying.

Sightseeing. Around $300 – $400 a month (don’t go sightseeing every day.)  

How much does it cost to travel Europe for a month. 

“safe” estimate including accommodation, food, partying and sightseeing is $1,500 -$2500 a month. Cheaper if you are planning on traveling in Eastern Europe.

How much does it cost to travel Europe for 2 weeks.

If just travel between a few big cities you are looking at spending around $700-1,000 depending on the cost of your flight. 

Granted, If you are traveling with more than one person, things tend to get cheaper because you are sharing experiences.

Also, some websites have travel budget calculators. Although, I wouldn’t take it as gospel. Instead you can use it as a estimate for how much your trip to Europe will cost. 

However, it can be done for a lot cheaper if you manage your money cook your own food, and don’t go out drinking every single night.

Overall, the best way to travel Europe is to plan ahead and know your options. Traveling during the summer months will be more expensive; hostels and campsites can be a wallet saver.

Being flexible with your itinerary will allow you room to choose cheaper transportation.

I hope you answer the question of how much does it cost to backpack Europe on a budget.

Did you find these tips helpful, and do you think they will cut down the cost of backpacking Europe? Comment below and let me know. 

I hope this helped you get some insight on the cost of backpacking Europe. 

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