What I spent on traveling: Looking at the numbers

As we’ve already established, I’m terrible at shoestring travel. I’ve already explained the mistakes that went into spending so much. Continuing my October budget crunch month (which is less of a resounding failure than it was at the beginning), I forced myself to actually add up the numbers for the first time, and I was shocked.

So let’s jump in; here’s a breakdown of the two trips, both of which were mostly spent traveling around Western Europe. (Note: A few of the flights are included in the pre-trip expenses, but I ended up buying a few more once I was over there.)

Summer 2011: 80 days

Cash saved: $7,600

Credit available: $4,500

Total of $12,100 available

How much did I spend while I was over there? Almost all of it. I came back with maybe $80. $12,020 spent over 80 days.

Pre-trip expenses that are not included:

RT ticket to Europe: $740

Travel insurance: $40 (I bought my plane ticket through Student Universe and at the time it was a cheap add-on. I paid more than $140 more for travel insurance the next year.)

Hotel in Ibiza (paid in advance): about $215

Flights (London-Madrid, Madrid-Lisbon, a RT ticket Barcelona-Ibiza): about $380

Downpayment on hostels booked in advance: about $70

Pre-trip expenses grand total: $1,445

And…drumroll: $13,465 total spent for the trip. This doesn’t include getting my passport or shopping for things I’d need for the trip.

Now for trip #2:

Summer 2012: 65 days

Cash saved: $6,500

Credit available: about $3,125

Total of $9,625 available

How much did I spend while I was over there? Roughly $8,725 spent over 65 days. I came back with about $900 total.

Pre-trip expenses that are not included:

$662 in flights (Rome-Athens, Athens-Dalaman, Rhodes-Barcelona)

Busabout’s Sail Turkey $718 (including accommodation + all meals for 7 nights)

Busabout’s Italian Adventure $389 (including accommodation for 2 nights)

RT ticket to Barcelona: $660 (through STAtravel)

Travel insurance: $187 (World Nomads)

Downpayment fees for booking hostels in advance: About $70

Pre-trip expenses grand total: $2,686

And lastly…2 months of rent paid in advance: $1,100 (seriously, find someone to sublet)

Grand total? $11,411 total spent for the trip. If you count rent in pre-trip expenses, it’s $12,511. Again, doesn’t included shopping for things I’d need for the trip. I also paid for a 2-week intensive Spanish class at Camino Barcelona (which was awesome–review coming soon).

I’m not saying that you need this much to travel. You can get by on much, much less, and still have an amazing time.

Hotel room to myself=totally worth it after sleeping on a boat for 8 nights

But for me, it was all worth it. I spend a long time being (mostly) frugal and (mostly) denying myself a lot of things to save for these trips. Then when I step off the plane it’s like I’m a different person. I allow myself a lot of comforts because I worked my ass off all year and feel like I deserve to do whatever I want. I also depend a lot on credit cards to tie me over. I would never advise anyone to do that!!

I’m not going to waste a lot of time defending my choices, though–everyone has his or her own preferred style of traveling.  But if you like to go out to the bars, go shopping, eat at restaurants, take cabs, and occasionally stay in hotels, then be aware that it can easily add up.

Or really…if you like to go to the bars, that’s all it can take for your spending to explode. Get a flask.


7 thoughts on “What I spent on traveling: Looking at the numbers

  1. I hear you. I travel a lot and certainly in my student days i was VERY good at the frugal thing. I spent almost a year abroad and came home with $8000. This was a little ridiculous because i’d been so careful and perhaps said no to some things i shouldn’t have. These days? I take every opportunity i can and having a good income and annual leave means i can afford things like hotels instead of hostels and taxis instead of public transport when it makes sense. You can travel for much less, but you can also travel spending a lot more. I try to save on a few big things (like flights, getting good accom deals and a few other things) but don’t say no to the opportunities that come my way while i’m travelling to do different and new things. In my view, the experience is worth it. However, it’s definitely a privileged position (one i’m very grateful to be in) but that’ss why i save up for the trips too i guess :) I’ve never set it all out like this though – i must do that sometime! Cheers, Leah

    • That’s amazing that you came back with so much money! I feel like whatever money I take with me, I spend. I was lucky to come back with some this time around, but next time I think I’ll keep it in a separate account or with my parents so I’m not tempted while I’m away.

      Seriously, it’s so worth it to take the opportunities available to you. I’m trying to think of everything I’ve done and if there’s anything I actually regret. All I can think of is what I WASN’T able to do, like not being able to afford a canal cruise or even museum entrances in Amsterdam at the end of my first trip because I had run out of money. The experiences are definitely worth the price, and then some.

  2. I was actually just working on a similar post! Being frugal is tough, but so rewarding when you finally get to spend your hard earned money. I came back from Spain with the same problem, totally busted my budget but happier than ever. I will leave my credit card at home next time though, that thing is pure evil.

    • Right?? When I’m home I can be so cheap, but when I’m away I have such a different mindset. I think about all the time and hard work it took for me to save that money…and then it usually makes me glad to spend it at a bar, haha. My next trip is going to be longer and I won’t be able to pay off my debt as easily once I’m back, so I’m considering going without credit cards too. They’re awful!! I get so reckless with them and now I force myself to leave them at home.

      I can’t wait to see your post!!

  3. Hi Kristine! I appreciate you being so honest about how much you spent. I admire ppl who can live very cheaply but I’m like you – I like a little luxury and I will gladly pay for a private dorm room or hotel room! I like to have a good time when I travel and scrimping too much isn’t my idea of fun! But I save money in other ways – as I don’t drink, don’t club and eat good food but inexpensively. So you’re definitely not alone in saving up to spend!

    And btw, I’m a student, I’m not rich and I saved up religiously for my study abroad (my parents only paid my regular sch fees & accommodation but I paid for my own flights, trips & pocket money).

    I spend way less on a regular day at home. But when on holiday, I splurge a little more! So I totally get where you’re coming from & just wanted to say, you’re not alone!!

    tiny p.s. I’m sure you have your reasons but I really would rethink the credit dependency! Save abit more, rather than use credit cards!

    • I totally agree! I can (somewhat easily) go a day spending $0 at home but when I travel, my spending just skyrockets. I love booking the cheapest, biggest room in every hostel (it’s so much more fun that way!) but the 2 major things that kill my budget are shopping and going out. I leave on a trip to Spain soon and I’ll be on a strict budget for the first time ever, so we’ll see how that goes!

      I’m the worst with my credit cards, though…I’ve paid them off and used them very sparingly back home because I’ve learned to never carry them around. I want to bring one to Spain in case of emergencies but I know I’ll just take it and go shopping. Decisions, decisions…

      • I am sure you will do great! We all have our vices (mine is splurging on high tea and cute cafes and throwing in the travel planning towel to just book a tour!) so don’t be too hard on yourself!

        As for the credit cards, maybe you could just try thinking of it as a debit card? My dad taught me that. So you can’t use the credit card if you don’t actually have the cash at home? I find it helps!

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