RTW budget: What it costs to travel in the UK/Western Europe

what it costs to travel around the world nzmuse rtw


Aside from cities like Berlin and Athens, Europe was pricey. I was constantly asking myself, is this a YOLO purchase? Is it a big thing that is going to enrich our memories for years to come? Is it a small comfort that will make the heat and exhaustion today that much more bearable? Is it something forgettable that I would enter into our spending log and struggle to recall an hour later?

We had a few days under budget … and a lot more over. Which is not unexpected by any means, but it’s a little embarrassing to fess up to. We may be backpackers, but we are not hardcore. I would rather hustle harder to make more money than subsist on crackers and bananas (particularly in Italy! Oh, the food!) or miss out on certain experiences.

And while trains aren’t always the cheapest way to get around if you’re willing to plan ahead, having the flexibility to hop on and off with our Eurail passes has been fantastic. We can extend stays in places we like and move on when ready. Our Munich host kept suggesting we hitchhike around (and indeed we’ve met a lot of people who have the most amazing hitching stories) during our email exchanges, but once he saw us in person, he changed his tune. I can’t imagine anyone who would ever stop to pick up someone of T’s size.

You know I’m not a hardcore budgeter, so although I was all gung-ho about sticking to a strict daily cash allotment (envelope method, anyone?) that just did not happen. Not my style – never was and never will be.

As always, spending is for both of us in NZ dollars. Our priority was food – you might even say we had almost a mid-range food budget, so much did we spend on filling our bellies – whereas we skimped on accommodation where possible. Flights, insurance etc aren’t included (you can see how much we spent pre-departure here). I’ll be doing a monster budget breakdown at the end of the whole trip and will answer any questions you have then…


While most of June was spent in Vietnam, we also made our move from Asia to Europe, starting with a few lovely but expensive days in the UK.


June 20 – $157.04 (including Heathrow Connect train from Heathrow)

June 21 – $230.28 (including London Eye)
June 22 – $134.16
June 23 – $385.58 (including buying train tickets to Edinburgh)
June 24 – $42.25 (the day we actually took the train, saving on accommodation)

June 25 – $150.38
June 26 – $160.19
June 27 – $130.16


June 28 – $193.28 (including ridiculously expensive bus tickets from Charleroi airport)


June 29 – $233.80 (accommodation was a killer – 80 euros for two in peak season)
June 30 – $217.81 (ditto)


July was a full month in Europe, and even with a free week (thanks to hosts and to volunteering) we still spent a whopping $4675.82. Splurges included a gondola ride in Venice, BMW hire in Munich, canyoning in Switzerland, and of course, a lot of delicious Italian food. Food made up the majority of our spending at 33 percent, followed by accommodation at 30 percent, transport at 17 percent and entertainment at 16 percent.


July 1 – $92.14
July 2 – 109.68
July 3 – $42.15 (free accommodation through Hospitality Club)
July 4 – $43.09 (ditto)


July 5 – $69.12
July 6 – $131.47 (expensive accommodation on the 2nd night)
July 7 – $226.06 (simply because I allocated the purchase of Berlin-Prague bus tickets to this day, but I actually bought them a few days earlier)


July 8 – $27.01 (again, free hosting)


July 9 – $82.88 (free accommodation through Hospitality Club)
July 10 – $23.83 (ditto)
July 11 – $0 (ditto)
July 12 – $344.15 (BMW rental)
July 13 – $238.38 (expensive accommodation in Munich)
July 14 – $5.82 (first day of Englischhausen volunteering in the Black Forest)
July 15 – $0
July 17 – $0
July 18 – $0
July 19 – $269.10 (expensive Munich accommodation, plus settling our drinks and wifi charges from Englischhausen)


July 20 – $241.90 (expensive Swiss hostel and expensive Swiss food)
July 21 – $202.98 (ditto)
July 22 – $512.83 (ditto, plus $300 for T’s canyoning trip)


July 23 – $116.14
July 24 – $168.41 (including laundry)
July 25 – $142.46
July 26 – $112.11


July 27 – $427.57 (including $70 on train tickets and $150 on a gondola ride)


July 28 – $203.51 (glorious, glorious food)
July 29 – $156.24


July 30 – $132.78 (including bus to Rome airport and train from Athens airport)
July 31 $554.11 (including Acropolis tickets and 239 euros for ferry tickets to Santorini)



August was another full month in Europe, most of it in Italy, but a relatively frugal one. We spent $2423.68 although half of the month was spent volunteering on a farm. We could have spent less on food for sure, but who goes to Italy to NOT experience all its culinary delights? Food clocked in at 41 percent of spending, accommodation at 37 percent, transport at 14 percent and entertainment at 5 percent.


August 1 – $81.57


August 2 – $202.33 (including quad rental, petrol)
August 3 $194.30 (ditto)
August 4 – $136.55 (including laundry)
August 5 – $124.08


August 6 – $102.48


August 7 – $146.07 (including bus transfer from airport)
August 8 – $160.84
August 9 – $132.94


August 10 – $125.05 (including train tickets to Salerno)
August 11 – $172.54 (including ferry and bus tickets to/from Amalfi)
August 12 – $131.63 (including bus tickets to Naples)


August 13 – $92.50
August 14 – $115.54
August 15 – $135.59 (including Naples museum entry)
August 16 – $147.22

Cerveteri (where we stayed for free while working on the farm)

August 17 – $87.48 (including new plug adaptor, train tickets from Rome to Palidoro)
August 18 – $0
August 19- $0
August 20- $0
August 21- $0
August 22- $0
August 23 – $0
August 24 – $9.85 (beer)
August 25 – $0
August 26 – $0
August 27 – $0
August 28 – $50.88 (groceries)
August 29 – $0
August 30 – $0
August 31 – $73.86 (a night out on the town)


September took us from the farm to Paris and to Iceland.


September 1 – $0
September 2 – $0
September 3 – $0
September 4 – $0
September 5 – $0
September 6 – $99.51 (a day trip to nearby Viterbo)
September 7 – $24.62 (T’s night out on the town)


September 10 – $151.97 – (including bus from the airport)
September 11 – $173.04 (including laundry)
September 12 – $106.03
September 13 – $102.61
September 14 – $113.20
September 15 – $112.45
September 16 – $66.05
September 17 – $117.38


September 18 – $211.02 (free accommodation with friends, but Eurostar tickets for two – total 77 pounds – pushed us over)


September 19 – $226.17 (free accommodation through Couchsurfing, but car rental, petrol and food pushed us over)
September 20 – $162.89 (ditto)
September 21 – $159.29 (ditto)

All in all, that averages out to a daily total of $117 – which is actually a heck of a lot closer to $100 than I expected to get.

11 thoughts on “RTW budget: What it costs to travel in the UK/Western Europe

  • Reply Morgaine October 18, 2013 at 05:30

    Wow! You’ve done an amazing job of tracking your spending! On our honeymoon (2 weeks in Ireland and Scotland) I didn’t keep good track at all and wound up in a wee bit of debt when we returned home (luckily I was able to clear it fairly quickly) but tracking may have helped me not to get into debt in the first place. Sounds like you guys are having fun! 🙂

  • Reply save. spend. splurge. October 18, 2013 at 06:09

    Er.. so what’s that in total? 🙂 Or will you post the total at the end?

    • Reply eemusings October 24, 2013 at 22:52

      Ack, you reminded me I totally forgot to calculate the average daily spend! Gah.

      Yeah, will do totals and other fun breakdowns at the end.

  • Reply Deia @NomadWallet October 18, 2013 at 20:20

    Whoa, I’ve heard Europe’s expensive, but $4,600 a month is brutal!

    I hear you on the budgeting. I hate having to separate all my expenses into categories and then keeping track of every. single. spending. I’d break down in less than a week.

    • Reply eemusings October 24, 2013 at 22:48

      Cut out our big ticket experience spending and you easily bring that down to $4k, but yeah, western Europe for the most part is heinously expensive. The exchange rate with the NZ dollar is a lot healthier than it was but it’s still almost double.

  • Reply cj October 19, 2013 at 03:38

    Your writing is freakin’ crisp, man. Well done. And there is Mochimac/SS. One of my faves!!! You two seem to have BIG fun together. What’s your craft beer budget, if you have one. We hold vacation food in very high regards, but craft beer always takes top priority on trips. Have a wicked one!!!

    • Reply eemusings October 24, 2013 at 22:47

      Aw, bless your heart!

      Naw, we’re not really drinkers. T had a few beers around Europe and occasionally enjoys the odd Corona (and I can’t abide beer or wine!)

  • Reply Jennifer October 20, 2013 at 20:44

    Europe is expensive, but it is to be expected, it costs just as much to travel around New Zealand. I’m sticking to the cheaper countries at the moment – then I’ll head to the more expensive ones when I’m older!

  • Reply Untemplater October 21, 2013 at 19:05

    Wow you really made your way around and saw a lot of great cities! I loved Amsterdam, Greece, Belgium, Venice, and Rome. Europe can definitely get pricey, especially over several weeks. But it’s awesome you got to see so many places. I definitely want to go back to Italy and Greece down the road again and spend more time there in the springtime.

  • Reply Budget and the Beach October 22, 2013 at 09:23

    Whew! I can’t believe you kept such good track of all of that. Looking at that makes me a little gun shy of traveling, especially Europe. Guess I better save up for the food in Iceland!

  • Reply RTW budget: A six-month trip recap | NZ Muse January 14, 2014 at 15:37

    […] For three months in Europe (with a week in the UK) we spent about $10,959 for a daily average of $11…. We splurged more on food in Italy and Greece than in other places, and volunteered for food and board for a few weeks. Generally, we found hostels not good value as a couple and only ended up staying in dorms a handful of times – cheap hotels were our usual MO and we couchsurfed a few times. […]

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