Breaking down my Europe trip (all about finances)

My first “real” trip as an adult(kind of, i’m still in grad school) was a success! None the less, I managed to travel to three countries all while on a pretty "tight” budget. I like to put that word in quotes since I budget my money well in my personal life, which allowed for some freedom while traveling.

As soon as I booked this trip, I knew I wanted to publish an article diving deep into how much I spent, where I could have saved and any questions you had in regards to finances.

The topics below will cover every expense I had, starting from before I left (the flight) all the way to the last transaction in the airport! I’ll also cover where I could have saved and how to get the best bang for your buck.

I have broken down the charges by time, country and lastly and Venmo charges that were made between me and my travel buddy. Keep in mind that we split everything in half, unless we purchased something on our own like a souvenir. The prices in bold will represent what I paid, after splitting the cost.

Before the trip: $1,027.13

  • Flights = $416.72

    • We booked our main flights to and from Europe on January 28, 2019 which was roughly two months before we left. We departed on March 27th, 2019.

      • We booked during an “off-season”, right when students came back from spring break. If you are planning to book during a prime time, start looking at tickets 6 months in advance through places like Google Flights or Hopper.

  • USD to Euros = 416 Euro for 500 USD

    • After the conversion rate and $10 fee that my bank charged, I was left with 416 Euro. This was more than enough; I had around 100 Euro left leaving the EU.

  • Nordstrom Rack = $55.06

  • Target = $7.52 + 35.51 = $43.03

  • Triple A European Drivers License = $24.65 = $12.32

During the Tip:

London: $278.70

  • L ride from Heathrow to the AirBNB = 7.96

  • Breakfast at Breakfast Club= 20.14

  • Bubble Tea = 9.53

  • Sketch London = 118.04

  • Ole Steen London = 15.60 + 3.97 = 19.57

  • Sourced Foods London - 1.98

  • Enoteca Rosso London: 41.03 = 20.52

  • Cafe Fluence London: 3.16

  • Happy Donuts London: 2.63

  • Uber: 7.04 = 3.52

  • Tube Ride back to Heathrow: 7.79

  • Terminal 3 Food: 15.14

  • Eat Ltd Hounslow: 8.58

  • Hilton London: 80.28 = 40.14

Milan: $211.01

  • Hilton Milan: 222.73 = 111.36

  • Uber: 16.10 = 8.05

  • Rental Car: 183.21 = 91.60

Porto: $118.62

  • AirBNB: 83.99 = 41.99

  • Hoss Clerigos Porto: 112. 51 = 56.22

  • Uber: 40.82 = 20.41

Venmo Transactions: $156.53

These are transactions / payments that Eira

  • $18.12 lyft to O’Hare

  • $20.77 pasta

  • $24.25 Gatwick Express

    • to get to our flight from London to Milan

  • $33.50 London AirBNB

  • $4.50 Italian Highway Toll

  • $27.34 Fish & Chips

  • $13.81 Lyft from ORD to Apartment

  • $3.16 flat white

  • $11.08 gas in Italy

Total = $1,791.99

Yes, I am aware that this is over $1500. Some of my dinners (like my $200 meal at Sketch) could easily reduce the overall cost below $1500! Happy travels!

What not to do:

  • I did not need to take out so many Euros for my trip. I wish that I opened a card with a bank that didn’t have any foreign transaction fees, which would have helped cover any costs that needed to be made on the card.

    • If you plan on buying a lot of gifts when traveling, having cash might be helpful! I didn’t spend too much on gifts.

How to cut costs:

  • Shop at local grocery stores for snacks, food and breakfast.

  • Take local transportation. Ubers & Lyfts were a large part of our budget

  • Pick a cheaper country. We spent the least amount of time in London yet spent the most money in that country. Porto was beautiful and a quarter of the cost.

Q & A from Instagram:

  • Q: “Do you regret any purchases you made / wish you would have spent more in an area?”

    • A: I traveled through Europe with a backpack that only allowed me to purchase small items. I purchased this one in black and really liked it! That being said, I do wish I purchased some more gifts / food items when I was in Milan / Porto. I love cooking and it would have made for a great gift. We didn’t have much time, so shopping wasn’t our biggest priority!

      • If you are short on time, I would suggest researching some traditional items of the area, or even shops, so you plan on picking up certain gifts or treasures! Don’t stress about it, though, because your pictures & experiences will last a life time.

  • Q: “Did you change your currency / cash in Chicago or when you got there?”

    • A: I did! I exchanged 500 USD to around 410 EURO. That being said, I definitely did not need this much cash. I would say 300-200 EURO would be plenty and that’s even pushing it!

  • Q: “What did you do for your phone?”

    • A: I am still on my parents phone plan (AMEN). Since we have a business plan, I think it may run a little differently than most personal plans. We have AT&T and it cost $10 a day to use LTE. It worked as quickly as it did in the states.

      • I have gone to Europe before without a plan, and I was just fine. I liked the comfort of knowing I could text my parents or Mitch at any time, especially since I was traveling a good majority of the trip “solo”. If you don’t plan on getting an international plan, you can easily use WIFI. Make sure to turn off your data, put your phone on airplane and connect to WIFI whenever you can. You can download Google Maps before hand and it works offline!

      • My friend who I was traveling with has TMobile; you can actually your plan for free, internationally! I will say, though, that her connection as pretty spotty at times.

      • PRO TIP: Bring 2 external batteries for peace of mind. I like this one (on sale) and this one (under $20) .

  • Q: How do you find someone to go with who has the money and time to travel?

    • A: This is a tough one! I am in grad school, so I had two weekends for spring break that I didn’t have school. My biggest piece of advice would be to try and plan far in advance, especially if you want to go with a friend. Everyone’s budgets are different and even if you and your friend want to spend the same you may want to spend money on other things than your friend. I knew Mitch or my family couldn’t join, since it was so last-minute, so I asked a former roommate of mine who I knew would be down to travel. I am going to make a post dedicated to travel buddies, traveling solo or exploring solo! Stay tuned for more!