How To Travel In Europe For Less Than €700 Euros Per Month

How To Travel In Europe For Less Than 700 Euros

Welcome to my June 2012 monthly travel spending report.

As I travel around the world with my bicycle I like to keep track of the money I spend and share my total travel costs here on the website – what I spent my money on, how much it cost, which items cost the most, which items cost the least, and so much more!

I like to share this financial information for two main reasons:

First of all, I share my travel expenses because it’s good to know how much it costs to go to a certain part of the world. As a seasoned traveler, I know that being able to look at how much money another person spent in a country I plan to visit in the future can help immensely when planning my own travels in that same part of the world. My hope is that you learn a little something about traveling in various parts of the world by reading these monthly expense reports.

Secondly, I share this information because I want to prove to you that bicycle touring and world travel doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, as you will see in this month’s expense report, travel in even some of the most expensive countries in the world can be downright cheap!

With that said, let’s get started and take a look at how I was able to travel for an entire month through England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and western Germany and spend less than €700 Euros along the way…

Food – €201.44

Food was by far my largest expense this month. Traveling on my own, I had to prepare almost all of my own meals. And because I’m not traveling with a camp stove at the moment, most of my meals were cold. I did, however, eat out at quite a few restaurants this month and I was served a hot meal every once in a while when staying the night with either a friend or stranger. Most of the time, however, my meals were purchased from a supermarket (thus reducing my food costs) and eaten picnic style.

Lodging – €99.00

Lodging, as you might guess, was my second largest travel expensive after food. But as you’ll notice, the amount of money I spent on lodging this month was actually very small.

“How was I able to get my lodging expenses down so low?,” you ask.

Well, I was able to reduce my lodging expenses to almost nothing by doing two main things.

First of all, I spent a lot of my time this month staying the night with friends, friends of my family, or new friends I met while on the road. Staying the night for free with a friend or stranger is an incredible way to drastically reduce your travel expenses while at the same time having memorable travel experiences with people from all around the world.

Secondly, I was able to keep my lodging expenses low by camping and/or stealth camping during the nights when I did not have prearranged places to stay with friends, family friends, or strangers. The average campground this month cost about €10.

Bicycle Tires & Tubes – €88.00

After only 34 days of cycling on my brand new Co-Motion Pangea touring bicycle, I was shocked to discover that I had completely worn through a new set of tires.

I was cycling along in southern Holland when all of a sudden a felt the bike begin to wobble up and down. Because I’ve been cycling for quite some time, I knew in an instant that I had a problem with my tires. And sure enough, the tires were indeed the culprit.

I’ll talk about exactly what happened and why the tires wore through so quickly in my future review of the Co-Motion Pangea, but for now, just know that I had to dish out an extra €88 Euros this month for two new tires (front and back) and three new tubes.

Personal Items – €78.37

I also bought quite a few random items this month. I bought three new pairs of socks, a new set of earphones, a small electrical adapter I needed to charge the batteries for my SLR camera, a hat (to replace the one I lost in London), and some random art supplies. All of these little things add up, however, and by month’s end I had spent €78.37 on miscellaneous personal items.

Train Rides – €63.50

I also traveled on a few trains this month. I took the train four different times in England and one other time while in western Germany. Three of these train rides were with my bicycle (and therefore cost a little bit more) and two of them were without the bike in tow.

While I did have to pay a small fee each time I traveled with my bicycle, I didn’t have any problem taking my bicycle directly on the train without removing my panniers or completely disassembling my bike. Instead, I simply pushed the bicycle on the train and stood with it in the main loading area while the train was in motion. Upon arrival at my destination, I simply pushed the bike out the train doors and continued on my way.

While standing on a moving train and balancing a fully-loaded touring bicycle isn’t necessarily easy, it can be done – even in crowded countries like England and Germany.

Travel Tip: Most (but not all) of the trains in England and Germany will allow you to take your bicycle on board. You may, however, be restricted to traveling during off-peak hours (during times when people are not commuting to and from work) and you will likely have to pay an extra fee to travel with your bike.

Entertainment – €48.55

Bicycle touring isn’t always about the time on the bike. Sometimes it’s about stopping to smell the roses along the way. And this month I spent a small amount of money to smell the roses at a few museums, art exhibits, and cinema houses. This month I walked through England’s Windsor Castle, learned how X-Rays were developed at a museum in Germany, and saw the film Prometheus with one of my hosts in England.

Ferry Rides – €31.44

Besides the five train rides I mentioned earlier, I took two ferry rides with my bicycle as well. The main ferry ride was from Dover, England to Dunkirk, France and it accounts for the majority of this month’s ferry boat travel expense. Only €1 was spent on my second ferry boat ride, which was a short river crossing by boat just outside the city of Utrecht, Netherlands.

Toiletries – €15.75

Keeping yourself clean while traveling can be difficult, but it is a necessary part of being on the road. While my toiletries are limited, I do have to frequently purchase new products for my travels. This month I spent €15.75 on soap, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, and a few other bathroom essentials.

Gifts – €8.38

Just like when I’m at home, I occasionally buy a gift for someone I know… and this month was no different. After speaking with my friend Fee during my visit with her in western Germany, I bought her a book on Amazon.de that I thought she might enjoy and had it shipped to her house after my departure. This one small gift set me back less than nine Euros.

Skype – €7.90

Because I’m traveling overseas and am not carrying a cell phone with me (another way I am saving a lot of money), I do end up spending a small amount of cash on Skype credits so that whenever I have a good working Internet connection I can call and speak with my friends, family, and businesses associates. Luckily, international Skype calls are incredibly cheap and the €7.90 I spent this month should last me for quite some time.

Internet – €5.00

While I usually go to great lengths to find free Internet connections, I will occasionally spend a little money to access the web and do some necessary website updates, emailing answering, etc. While I strongly believe that we should no longer be forced to pay for WiFi at restaurants, cafes and libraries, I did dish out five whole Euros on Internet access this month.

Bus Rides – €3.50

I also spent a little money traveling by bus. The route I took from Belgium to the Netherlands required me to get on a bus and travel with my bicycle under a long tunnel. Crossing the water by bike was simply not an option. This short bus ride cost €3.50.

Showers – €3.00

Finally, I paid an extra €3.oo this month for showers at campgrounds. While many campgrounds include the showers with your campground fee, some campgrounds charge extra for hot water showers. This month I paid for three hot showers – each one costing me a single Euro.

TOTAL COST: €653.83 Euros (or $827.91 USD)

After one week in England, a ferry ride from Dover to Dunkirk, a week in Belgium, a week in the Netherlands, and another week in Germany, my total travel costs for the entire month were less than €700 Euros!

Besides saving money in the ways mentioned above (staying the night with friends/strangers, not carrying a cell phone, eating at supermarkets instead of eating out every night), I was also able to save a lot of money this month by not flying on an airplane.

If you look at last month’s spending report from Iceland, you will see that the majority of my travel costs were for airfare. But because I was already in Europe this month and didn’t need to buy an airline ticket, I was able to save a substantial amount of money.

This is one of the reasons I love long-term travel. When you only have a short amount of time to spend in a particular location, your time is limited and you end up paying more for things like air travel and transportation.

That’s why, instead of going to Iceland for a month, for example, and then flying home, and later flying back to Europe for another bicycle touring adventure, I instead plan my travels so that they run back to back. By staying in Europe for months, rather than days or weeks, I can cut out unnecessary airfare costs and save massive amounts of money in the process.

My big lesson this month: Long-term travel is one of the best ways to save money when in Europe or just about anywhere else in the world. The longer you travel, the less money you are forced to spend.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment in the box below. And be sure to tune in again next month when I report on my travel expenses for the month of July. How much do you think cycling through Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria and Italy is going to cost me?

11 thoughts on “How To Travel In Europe For Less Than 700 Euros

  1. chriszanf says:

    Was the fee you had to pay to take your bike on the train in the UK?

    Every time I have travelled anywhere with my bike (either road bike when going to sportives, or touring one when heading off to other parts of the country), I have NEVER paid extra to use the train.

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      Yes, I took the train several times in England, but I did have to pay a small extra fee (about 2.70 pounds if I remember correctly) for my bicycle when traveling from the center of London to Dover, England.

      And you’re right: You don’t always have to pay an extra fee when traveling with a bicycle on a train – just sometimes! In 2009 I traveled through Europe with my bicycle and took the train 35 different times. I only had to pay for the bike on 2 of those 35 trains.

  2. chriszanf says:

    Thats unusual & Ive never heard of it before.

    There are some operators that require you to make a reservation (by phone) which you can never seem to do through the website, or at the same time you book your ticket (they need to get with the 21st century!).

    Thanks for the post. A lot of touring blogs are seemingly reticent talking about finances and running costs yet its one of the major things that people think about when considering a tour.

  3. Scott says:

    Thanks for the article, I really find them usefull. I’m currently planing my own 12 month trip through Europe and your whole website is a treasure trove of helpful information. I have a someone minor question about your experiences lodging with people off warmshowers and couch surfing. If your trying to keep your costs to a bare minimum, do you sometimes find it difficult to offer your host a meal out, or drinks, in return for their hospitality? Can this situation become awkward, or is there generally a common understanding from both parties?

    Cheers

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      Scott, I don’t think most hosts expect anything from you. I know that when I host people, the only thing I really expect is for my guest to say “thank you.”

      If you go out to eat with a host, however, I would never expect the host to pay for the meal. I would always offer to pay for my own food. If the host wants to pay for you, let them. And if you want to (and can afford to) pay for their meal, then go right ahead – that’s very nice of you! But I don’t think most hosts will be expecting anything from you. Don’t feel like you must give them something in return for their hospitality. If you can and want to do something for them, great! Otherwise, just make sure you say “thank you” for whatever they do give you.

  4. John says:

    Great info as always Darren,

    I’m gearing up for a short tour of europe over 3 months and looking to spend less than £600 (750 euro) per month so really good to know where I can expect the cash to go.

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      Yes, I have used WarmShowers.org in the past and will still use them on occasion. I look there when I am planning to stay in larger cities, as it is much more difficult (and expensive) to find places to stay in the cities.

  5. anna says:

    in cs some hosts do expect a ful course meal cooked by the guest, but this is usually stated on the profile of the host, so no big worries

    my question, cause I just started out as host in CS hoping to use cs as guest when i bike, is wehther you would trust a touring biker more than any other normal traveller, to overnight at you house

  6. sam prestianni says:

    sounds like a great adventure riding through Europe and very useful information. I am planning on riding from London to Sicily from Apr 13. I have a few rellies througout Europe and plan to stay with a few.

    I am planning on getting a hardtail mountain bike 29er and fit it out for touring (what are your thoughts, your review of the freeloader bike racks was great). I would like to do some offroad trails on my journies.

    I do have a question about security and how you secure your bike when wondering on foot or going to the supermarket. I would feel a bit paranoid when leaving your bike(home) even locked (as I have had my bike stolen from an open public place in the city with a lock).

    once again thanks for sharing your experiences and valuable information. Enjoy the rest of the tour.

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