To date, I have made 4 trips to Europe, of which 2 are for business (and I extended for my personal travels).
For the other 2 trips, the first was back in 2012 when I first visited Europe (and fell in love with it). Back then, I was young and adventurous. I’d like to think I’m still adventurous now, but for that trip, I was very ambitious to cover 5 countries, 8 cities in 15 days! The Jerm today, probably don’t prefer this style of travelling anymore.
The second was my last trip in 2016, which was also my first solo travel. Now, as the more mature and bigger travel budget Jerm, I spent 14 days only in France. I took my time, slept well, ate well, and of course, drank well!
Some of you asked, how much do I spend on my Europe trips?
In this post, I’ll share with my cost breakdown, and some tips, hopefully to help you budget and plan your next European vacation!
Basis & Assumptions
Now when talking about money, as an Economist, we always start with assumptions! Considering both trips were of different timeline, I have used an average inflation of 3% per annum (loosely from Bank Negara), to adjust for time value of money.
Currency exchange rates are also adjusted. In 2012, the Ringgit was stronger (4.2 RM/EUR). In 2016, it was 4.5 RM/EUR. I have adjusted them both to 4.5 RM/EUR.
All cost numbers shown are in Malaysian Ringgit (RM), and for 1 (one) person.
For better benchmarking, I have also excluded all shopping (I do spend quite a bit on shopping), and other luxuries (e.g. the 185 EUR Moulin Rouge ticket, and my Michelin 3 stars dinner).
Total Cost & Breakdown
- 2012, 15D Europe (5 Countries), total cost RM 13,200
- 2016, 14D France, total cost RM 13,700
Note: For 2012, 15D Europe, I was traveling with a friend, and hence we could share accommodation cost.
Minus airfare and train passes, my average cost per day was,
- 2012, 15D Europe (5 Countries), average cost RM 500 /day
- 2016, 14D France, average cost RM 700 /day
- 2012, 15D Europe (5 Countries), I paid RM 2,780 MOD (Money of the Day) for my return KUL – CDG, on Malaysia Airlines
- 2016, 14D France, I paid RM 2,150 MOD for the same route, on Qatar Airways
- 2018, for my upcoming trip, I bought my return ticket for RM 2,560
Talk about inflation? No one believed me when I said I bought my Europe return air tickets for under RM 3,000. The key (which you all should know it already), is to buy your air tickets early! I bought them at least 9 months in advance.
For traveling Europe, it is worth considering to get a railway pass. I have used Eurail for at least 3 times, and it has always worked perfectly for me.
However, depending on the number of countries you want to cover Vs the type of pass you are getting, it may be cheaper to buy single train tickets online. It will only be cheaper if you buy it in advance, which means you don’t get to be flexible with your travel plans (as opposed to using Eurail pass).
Tip: I use this website to check prices for single train tickets.
- 2012, 15D Europe (5 Countries), I paid 483 EUR MOD for the 15 days Global pass (which allowed me unlimited travels between EU nations).
- 2016, 14D France, I paid 236 EUR MOD for 4 days France pass, First class
- 2012, 15D Europe (5 Countries), I spent RM 2,000 (RM 150 /night)
- 2016, 14D France, I spent RM 3,700 (RM 280/night)
As observed, I ended up paying almost double for my 2016 trip, mainly because I was traveling alone, and couldn’t share my accommodation cost.
In average, I spent about 60 EUR a night for accommodation. I’ll admit I’m no backpacker. I will not choose to stay in a hostel, sharing bunk beds in a dormitory etc. My minimum requirement is a room to myself. I can accept having to share a common bathroom down the corridor.
In 2012 (when there was no Airbnb yet), I booked all of my hotels on Booking.com. Some of them are Bed & Breakfast (B&B), which were already quite popular in Europe. The only one that was more expensive than the rest, was my B&B in Venice, which was more than 90 EUR a night.
In 2016, thanks to Airbnb, I booked all of my accommodation from Airbnb. I’m a big fan! Most of my stays were exceptional. You just need to spend more time vetting through the reviews, and ask the host for specific questions to your needs.
Tip: Remember Airbnb is not a hotel. You shouldn’t assume even the basic amenities you would expect from a hotel. Hence, it is always best to ask your host if you have any specific needs, e.g. wifi, air conditioning, bed size (never assume they’ll provide a standard Queen size bed) etc.
CAUTION: Also, staying in Airbnb would usually means you need to walk a bit more.
- 2012, 15D Europe (5 Countries), I spent RM 2,700 on food
- 2016, 14D France, I spent RM 5,000 on food
Of course, the younger me, could settle with a (cold) sandwich-to-go for brunch.
The older me will go for a nice bowl of chevre chaud salade, and a glass of red wine on a terrace overlooking the Vieux Port in Marseille. Or when I’m feeling generous, some huitres (oysters) and a bottle of Bandol.
You can adjust your food budget accordingly. Eating in Europe can be inexpensive, if you don’t dine in. For example, cafes in Italy have 3 prices, i.e. to-go being the cheapest, at the counter, and of course table service being the highest.
Tip: Also, avoid tourist traps. One easy tell sign is, if they have ONLY English menu. They are lousy and expensive. I always try to find restaurants that don’t have English menu. You’ll be surprised how much cheaper it can be, and how much more delicious it is!
For museum tickets, and wine tours etc,
- 2012, 15D Europe (5 Countries), I spent RM 700
- 2016, 14D France, I spent RM 1000
I excluded other items like concert tickets, Moulin rouge etc. You should adjust your entertainment budget accordingly too.
If you want to save on entertainment, consider tourist passes which include metro tickets, and museum entry passes. Otherwise, there are a lot of free of charge activities to do, e.g. free walking tours, nature trails, beach etc.
I hope my humble guide has motivated you to plan your next European vacation! I’m sharing with you my simple budget calculator for your Europe trip planning. Excel file in link. The default is set for an example 15D budget of RM 750 /day (inclusive of airfare).
I look forward to hearing you share your experience! Drop a comment below!