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Before you plant your first boot print anywhere in the world you are going to need a plan to keep your costs down and to keep yourself traveling for as long as possible. The following is a great guide that can help you accomplish these things without breaking the bank.
Travel guide(s) $18-$50:
The standard guides out there are Lonely Planet, Let’s Go, and Fodor’s. These are all great guides but they all pale in comparison to the In Your Pocket Guides. The In Your Pocket guides give you the information you want, not a lowest common denominator appraisal of a city.
For instance, In Your Pocket will tell you where the best places to get laid are. They will also tell you where the cheapest booze is and where you can get a cheap meal that doesn’t have ’tail’ in it.
You are like a snail and your backpack is your full-time home away from home for the duration of your trip. You wouldn’t want to live in a crappy home, so don’t settle for a crappy backpack. Firstly, the thing has to be comfortable, you’ll be lugging it everywhere and if you develop sores on your back, or some back problem it could ruin your trip.
Secondly, it should be big enough to carry all of your crap. This will depend on you and how much crap you need to live. If you are a true traveler this should be very little. If you need more room, I suggest the luggage compartment provided by Contiki tours Booze Cruise.
Also, unless you plan on climbing Mt. Everest, don’t spend a lot of money. It’s just a bag.
Travel accessories $75-$150:
Firstly, you are going to need something you can sleep in. This could be the ubiquitous sleep sheet, or possibly even a sleeping bag. No matter what it is make sure it is small and sturdy. You would also bring a knife, utensils and a compass. The knife will come in handy cutting bread and spreading whatever manner of discount paste you’ll be putting on it, and the utensils will allow you to eat all sorts of things out of a can. The compass, may seem like a stupid idea, but you’ll need one trying to navigate your way through any city in Asia.
Passport and pictures $65-$75:
You cannot go anywhere without one of these. Make no mistake. Therefore be absolutely sure that your passport is 100% correct before you leave. You should also make sure that you start the passport process several months before your departure.
Hostels of Europe Discount Card for discounts at over 200 Quality Independent Hostels and Budget Hotels, reductions for Internet Access, tours, activities, transport and entrance into sites. $15.00 Hostelling International one year membership for HI hostels all over the world, $25 (AT&T Universal MasterCard’s Student Advantage offers membership for $15 to card holders) International Student Identity Card (ISIC) $20 (can be purchased from Council Travel and Student Travel Agency (STA).
Airline ticket $500-$800:
I used frequent flyer miles (50,000 pts) that my dad’s American Express Card earned. Explore your resources and you too may find a pleasant way to cut down your expenses. See my "Transportation" page for more info.
You can bring this cost down by: asking for some of these things for birthday, Christmas, or graduation presents (example: I got my Swiss Army knife, my boots, and my guide books for my birthday; my backpack for Christmas; my plane ticket for graduation--saving me about $600-$750), using frequent flyer miles if you can, or begging your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, and/or strangers to donate money to the " Your Name Here--Europe or Bust Fund."
I’d like to give a special thanks to all my friends and relatives who contributed to my "fund." Their money was well spent!
Remember it is a nice gesture to send a postcard to everyone who contributed in making your trip possible.
On the Road Expenses: the cost of traveling, eating, sleeping, & site seeing while in Europe
Moving from one place to the next:
Travel in and around Europe using either bus or train depends on the length of your trip and the number of places you want to visit. Traveling by bus for three months should cost about $300-$800. Train prices vary, but you can buy a decent rail pass for $400-$800 for travel in continental Europe, add another $300-$500 for travel throughout U.K. and Ireland). For most people a bus or train pass averages out to about $15 per day. People traveling in Europe for less than 30 days will probably pay more and people traveling for more than 60 days will probably pay less.
Accommodations $15-$25 per day except in UK:
Prices tend to be at the higher end of this range in large cities like London and Paris, but considerably cheaper if you go to cities in Eastern Europe like Prague and Budapest. See my "Hostels, etc." page for more info.
Eating: Food $10-$15 per day:
This of course depends on how much, what, and where you eat). Personally, I bought most of my food at grocery stores and limited myself to two meals a day (breakfast and a late lunch. If you plan to do most of your eating in restaurants, then expect to pay a minimum of $25 per day (restaurants prices in Europe are outrageous!).
Unless you plan to walk 20 miles a day, you’ll probably be using local buses, subways, and/or renting bicycles to get to the attractions of the town you’re visiting--once you get there you then have to fork over more money for entrance fees, etc. Cost depends on where you go and what you see, but you can expect to pay about $10-$15 per day more or less depending on how extravagant you are. If you plan to do a lot of drinking this could easily double.
On the Road Expenses TOTALS: 30 days=$1,500-$2,000
(These prices do not include Pre-Trip Total)
Remember this does not include your airline ticket and your "Pre-Trip Expenses" because prices for those items can vary so drastically from one individual to another.
One quick way to get a rough cost estimation for your On the Road Expenses is to multiply the number of days of your trip by US$50.
Trips can be done for less than US$50 per day, but it is better come back with a little extra money than to find yourself short of funds in the middle of your trip.
The $4,500 I spent during my 3 months in Europe covered: all transportation costs, food, hostels, entrance fees to museums and other tourist attractions, buying toiletries as needed, a dozen or so alcoholic drinks, souvenirs, internet cafe fees, buying a replacement camera after I lost mine while hiking in Scotland, going on a 5 day backpacker’s tour of Scotland, going on a six day backpacker’s of Ireland, and going skiing for a day while in Switzerland.
I figure if I hadn’t lost my camera and splurged on alcoholic drinks, backpacker’s tours, and skiing, then I could have saved myself somewhere around $800.