The bottom line is that this wasn’t a low cost endeavor, even though we camped and from time to time stayed with folks we know. I maintained a daily log of our expenses broken down into seven categories; Lodging, Food, Culture (museums, entrance fees, concerts, etc.), Miscellaneous, Public Transportation and Parking, Tolls, and Gas. Cash and credit expenditures were separated, as the credit side enjoys a slightly better exchange rate, particularly if you get a card that doesn’t charge the 3% transaction fee (we used a Bank of America Travel Visa), saving us nearly $500).
Our average exchange rate for the trip on credit purchases was 1.31 dollars to the Euro, with a high of 1.38 at the beginning of the trip decreasing to 1.28 by the time we left. The average on cash purchases was 1.38, reflecting ATM (generally $5 per transaction) and transaction fees (3%).
Combined, our overall average exchange rate was 1.35. In total we spent 17,819 Euros; when multiplied by the average exchange rate our final total in dollars was $24,000. A breakdown of each of the categories is:
|Category||Euros €||Dollars $||Percent
|Public Transportation and Parking||933||1,257||5.2||7.31|
We’d budgeted $100 per day before taking the trip but ended up living on $139.54 per day, quite a bit more than budget but in all fairness, that number was a very rough estimate based on a fuzzy memory of costs we’d encountered many years ago. This doesn’t include our pre-trip costs of 14,957.81: if you add those in, you’d get $226.50 per day, or $113 per person per day. If you compare this to some other forms of vacation travel, those averages come in at:
|Type of Trip||Cost per Person per Day|
|Two J’s Adventure Travel – Europe 2014||$113 (Includes all meals and transportation)|
|Guided Tour – Low End (Not Including Airfare)||$150 – $300 (35% – 50% of meals)|
|Guided Tour – High End (Not Including Airfare)||$350 – $950 (50% – 75% of meals)|
|Bike Tour – America by Bike||$300 (Double Occupancy – Motels/2 Meals)|
|Multisport – California Redwoods by Backroads||$333 (Double Occupancy – Camping)|
|Bike Tour – Tuscany by Backroads||$566 (Double Occupancy – Casual Inns)|
|Bike Tour – Tuscany by Backroads||$766 (Double Occupancy – Premier Inns)|
So what seems like a monumental amount of money in the aggregate, nearly $39,000, when considered over almost six months (172 days) turns out to be a quite reasonable cost for all the exploring, eating, and drinking we did. People ask if we’d do it again and we respond “in a heartbeat”, ready to step off that plane in Brussels and explore each new day with an eager anticipation for the life that travel brings.
Was it all good? Not every day, just like with life in general. For both Joanna and I, a morning came along periodically when we’d just had enough of the constant movement, lack of routine, foreign languages, and the uncertainty of traveling like we did, moving about with no reservations. But the feeling didn’t last long, usually evaporating once we got off the bus and started some self guided walking tour, or slung a leg over the cross bar of our bike to explore a side road near camp.
Towards the end of the trip, with energy flagging and thoughts of home beginning to permeate our consciousness, I’d still find myself walking through a campground, a hint of fall in the air, catching snippets of conversation in Italian, a day full of new or familiar sights ahead of us and I just wanted to keep going, moving forward, exploring new places, meeting new people.
It’s the delicious conundrum of long-term travel; just when you are about to throw in the towel, a new reason to keep going presents itself. You fire up the computer, search the Internet for potential campsites, calculate the drive time, and begin listing the places you’ll see. It’s the siren’s voice drawing you towards the rocks and even though you know you’ll regret it, you follow the enchanting song all the way to its ultimate conclusion, knowing full well you wouldn’t have it any other way.
Europe Tour Comparison: https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/trip-planning/comparing-tours
America by Bike: http://www.abbike.com/Misc/FAQ.shtml
Backroads Multisport California: http://www.backroads.com/trips/MRECF/california-redwoods-biking-hiking-family-tour
Backroads Tuscany Casual: http://www.backroads.com/trips/BTTQ/tuscany-siena-italy-biking-tour
Backroads Tuscany Premier: http://www.backroads.com/trips/BTTI/tuscany-italy-biking-tour