Chanoy Honeymoon: The Financials

Let me interrupt the carefully scheduled programming of holiday-related food posts for this important post about money.

I’ve had a few people ask me: How are you guys able to take this long trip? How can you make it work financially? I want to make one thing clear: neither of us are millionaires. We’ve just managed to win the birth lottery by chance, and a number of things lined up in our favour to make this possible. I run through the reasons why, and the numbers in this entry.

This is quite a long entry, so here’s some convenient skip to links to make it more manageable! Links will only work in post mode, not homepage mode.

P.S. If you follow this blog just for the food, feel free to skip this entry! This is more of a guide to how we budgeted for Europe, and what it ended up costing us – something that I hope will help future travellers. Here’s a pretty picture as a reward for reading to this point.

financialsimage

How We Were Able to Take This Trip

We’re lucky enough to live in a country with low unemployment rates, making it secure for us to quit our jobs and go travelling.

We had the benefit of a good education and subsequently well-paid but not extravagant jobs, allowing us to earn a decent income.

We lucked out with cheap living expenses while we were living in Sydney, allowing us to save a lot of money by living frugally, including rent that was 40% cheaper than comparable properties nearby.

We’re in a unique time in our lives where we’ve graduated, have developed a professional reputation in our fields, don’t have dependent children, and have the flexibility to leave the country knowing that we can return and set ourselves up again.

Most of the people living on this planet don’t have these same opportunities that we were lucky enough to have. So this trip? Most of it is down to luck of the draw, and only a tiny percentage is down to our hard work in saving to make it happen.

Different Priorities That Impacted Our Budget

However! If you manage to find yourself in similarly fortuitous first-world-privileged circumstances, you’re probably interested in knowing how much to budget for a trip like the one that we took. I note of course, that everyone travels differently and has different priorities. The following points were our priorities which most impacted expenditure on our trip.

Accommodation: We prefer private apartments – tiny studios are fine, but the key is a small kitchenette to prepare simple meals at home to save a bit of money. We did not want to stay in hostels or couchsurf as we’re both introverts of a type – happy to socialise when out, but our time at home is sacred quiet alone time, to rest and recharge.

Travel: We tried to find a balance between comfort and budget. Four hours on a cheap Megabus from Brussels to Paris is fine – sixteen hours on a cheap Megabus from Spain to Austria is less fine! Where we could put up with a little discomfort we did, otherwise we paid a bit more to get to new places faster and more comfortably.

Dining: Semi-healthy eating while travelling was a priority. We knew we would gain weight (a lot!), so we tried to eat out only once a day at lunch and cooked most dinners at home. Our meals out were more sit-down well-rounded meals at local restaurants rather than cheap takeaway kebabs – we spent more money as a result, but stayed healthier too!

Sightseeing: We’re museum and art gallery folk. While we did get a bit museum’d out by the end of the trip, we had spent quite a bit of money on tickets to various expensive museums across Europe by that point. We saved money by taking free (tip-based) guided walking tours which are readily available in many large cities around Europe.

So. Adjust the following figures accordingly if you know that you’ll be happy to stay in hostels or couchsurf, or eat pasta at home everyday, or dine out at Michelin starred restaurants everywhere, or never visit a museum, or join pre-paid guided tours everywhere you go.

It’s also important to note that for the most part, we researched and booked everything ourselves without any help from travel agencies. If you use a travel agency, things might work out to be a bit cheaper through their agent-only deals – or it might work out more expensive. It’s up to you to figure that out!

Actual Financials

Note – all figures from this point onwards are costs incurred as a couple, converted into Australian dollars at the exchange rate at the time! If you’re travelling solo in a fluctuating currency, plan accordingly.

Also a caveat – I kept an extensive budget spreadsheet during our travels, but wasn’t always careful about where costs were allocated. Sometimes intercity bus travel was allocated under “Metro/etc” rather than “Flights/travel” and vice versa, or other similar situations. As such, some of the numbers and budget allocations may seem a little bit shaky – I admit to that!

Days Spent Overseas: 228 Days
Total Budgeted Expenditure: $48,000 AUD
Total Actual Expenditure: $57,040 AUD
Average Expenditure Per Day: $250.17 AUD

Note – we kept well under our actual day-to-day budget (saved $5000 by the end of our trip), however I had severely under-budgeted on inter-city travel and we ended up spending a lot more in that space! If I was to budget this trip again, I’d allocate a lot more money in that category for those times we took planes or trains instead of buses.

From this point onwards, figures do not include costs of travel insurance ($1,278.10), flights to and from Europe with stopovers in Asia ($3,253), or inter-country travel (varies). It does however, include most inter-city travel, e.g. Skopje to Ohrid in Macedonia or Nis to Belgrade in Serbia.

Breakdown by Category

Accommodation

Total spent: $18,951 AUD
Nights in an Airbnb apartment: 184
Nights in a hotel: 41*
Nights in transit: 3
Average cost per night: $84.89

*Our preference was for Airbnb apartments, but there were some places where hotels made more sense – e.g. single night stays, Russia because of tourist registration by hotels, Turkey where we were on a tour, etc.

Food (Meals and Groceries)

Total spent: $14,535
Total spent on ‘special treat meals’: $1,524.64
Average number of meals out: 250

Sightseeing

Total spent: $5,021
Number of ‘free’ (tip-based) walking tours taken: 39
Cost of week-long tour around Turkey (not including tips): $1,594.98
Cost of hot-air balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey: $479.30

Travel

Total spent: $17,033.90
Number of flights: 17 (does not include flights to and from Europe)
Total spent on flights: $4,517
Number of trains: 13
Total spent on trains: $2,076
Number of buses: 13
Total spent on buses: $503.38
Days of car hire: 38 Days
Total spent on car hire: $1,926.83
Total spent on metro tickets/petrol/tolls:
$4,126

Other Expenses

Total spent: $1,686

Breakdown by Country

Malaysia

Days in country: 6 Days
Accommodation costs: $381.77
Food costs: $205
Sightseeing costs: $69
In-country travel costs: $105
Incidentals: $40 (massage!)
Average per day cost: $133.46

The Netherlands (Amsterdam)

Days in country: 5 Days
Accommodation costs: $600
Food costs: $517
Sightseeing costs: $186.77
In-country travel costs: $261.63
Incidentals: $21.95
Average per day cost: $317.47

Belgium (Brussels/Bruges)

Days in country: 4 Days
Accommodation costs: $260
Food costs: $336.49
Sightseeing costs: $97.88
In-country travel costs: $137.45
Incidentals: $2.35
Average per day cost: $208.54

France

Days in country: 15 Days
Accommodation costs: $1025.38
Food costs: $1305.41
Sightseeing costs: $522.84
In-country travel costs: $946.87 (includes car hire, tolls, petrol)
Incidentals: $230.75
Average per day cost: $268.75

Switzerland (Geneva)

Days in country: 2 Days
Accommodation costs: $146
Food costs: $98.48
Sightseeing costs: $17.49
In-country travel costs: $171.79 (includes car hire, tolls, petrol)
Incidentals: $6.49
Average per day cost: $220.13

Italy (Turin)*

*Summary of expenses in Rome, Florence and Venice further down – we visited Turin quite early on!

Days in country: 4 Days
Accommodation costs: $287.90
Food costs: $276.26
Sightseeing costs: $159.20
In-country travel costs: $212.20 (includes car hire, tolls, petrol)
Incidentals: $59.67
Average per day cost: $248.81

Spain

Days in country: 12 Days
Accommodation costs: $678.99
Food costs: $728.81
Sightseeing costs: $242.23
In-country travel costs: $995.29 (includes car hire, tolls, petrol)
Incidentals: $13.84
Average per day cost: $221.60

Portugal (Lisboa)

Days in country: 4 Days
Accommodation costs: $230
Food costs: $174.96
Sightseeing costs: $42.34
In-country travel costs: $327.32 (includes car hire, tolls, petrol)
Incidentals: $0
Average per day cost: $193.66

Austria (Vienna, day trip to Bratislava)

Days in country: 7 Days
Accommodation costs: $575.05
Food costs: $842.25 (includes fancy Michelin meal for birthday)
Sightseeing costs: $106.17
In-country travel costs: $455.32 (includes final day of car hire from France)
Incidentals: $12.80
Average per day cost: $284.51 ($230 without Michelin meal)

Germany (Munich, Rothenburg, Berlin, plus daytrips)

Days in country: 12 Days
Accommodation costs: $1019.00
Food costs: $678.42
Sightseeing costs: $125.95
In-country travel costs: $897.18 (includes Eurail pass)
Incidentals: $267.72
Average per day cost: $249.02

Denmark (Copenhagen)

Days in country: 8 Days
Accommodation costs: $908.96
Food costs: $791.42 (includes one Michelin meal for anniversary, otherwise mainly cooking at home and packed lunches)
Sightseeing costs: $76.99
In-country travel costs: $207.26
Incidentals: $210.59
Average per day cost: $274.40

Norway

Days in country: 7 Days
Accommodation costs: $703.95
Food costs: $448.73 (mainly cooking at home and packed lunches)
Sightseeing costs: $84.31
In-country travel costs: $399.14
Incidentals: $0.89
Average per day cost: $233.86

Sweden

Days in country: 7 Days
Accommodation costs: $599
Food costs: $415.38 (mainly cooking at home and packed lunches)
Sightseeing costs: $152.29
In-country travel costs: $114.47
Incidentals: $0
Average per day cost: $183.02

Finland

Days in country: 3 Days
Accommodation costs: $321
Food costs: $243.71 (mainly cooking at home and packed lunches)
Sightseeing costs: $61.16
In-country travel costs: $15.29
Incidentals: $3.95
Average per day cost: $215.04

Russia

Days in country: 10 Days
Accommodation costs: $770.00
Food costs: $355.84
Sightseeing costs: $284.13
In-country travel costs: $34.91
Incidentals: $84.04 (includes a massage)
Average per day cost: $152.89

Turkey

Days in country: 11 Days
Accommodation costs: $1856.98 (includes a 7 day bus tour of Turkey with transport, guide, entrance fees, breakfast and dinner included)
Food costs: $351.64
Sightseeing costs: $831.82 (includes tip for guides and hot air ballooning)
In-country travel costs: $113.19
Incidentals: $184.59 (includes visit to a hammam)
Average per day cost: $303.47

Bulgaria

Days in country: 5 Days
Accommodation costs: $214.00
Food costs: $177.35
Sightseeing costs: $15.79
In-country travel costs: $20.06
Incidentals: $9.38
Average per day cost: $87.32

Macedonia

Days in country: 8 Days
Accommodation costs: $333.01
Food costs: $192.04
Sightseeing costs: $7.60
In-country travel costs: $64.69
Incidentals: $18.88
Average per day cost: $74.96

Serbia

Days in country: 8 Days
Accommodation costs: $445.15
Food costs: $261.42
Sightseeing costs: $119.59
In-country travel costs: $103.59
Incidentals: $11.36
Average per day cost: $117.64

Bosnia

Days in country: 5 Days
Accommodation costs: $191.00
Food costs: $137.17
Sightseeing costs: $53.03
In-country travel costs: $6.03
Incidentals: $13.96
Average per day cost: $80.24

Croatia

Days in country: 11 Days
Accommodation costs: $498.01
Food costs: $563.20
Sightseeing costs: $0 (K developed gout, so we didn’t go out and about too much – standing on his feet in a museum wasn’t an option!)
In-country travel costs: $162.49
Incidentals: $36.91
Average per day cost: $114.60

Ireland

Days in country: 5 Days
Accommodation costs: $395.00
Food costs: $426.23
Sightseeing costs: $198.96
In-country travel costs: $265.52 (includes three day car hire)
Incidentals: $58
Average per day cost: $268.74

Morocco

Days in country: 6 Days
Accommodation costs: $420.96
Food costs: $299.31
Sightseeing costs: $584.14 (includes hammam and tours)
In-country travel costs: $80.17
Incidentals: $13.06
Average per day cost: $232.94

England and Wales (London, Cardiff, Manchester)

Days in country: 16 Days
Accommodation costs: $2113.99
Food costs: $1789.64
Sightseeing costs: $377.17
In-country travel costs: $700.24
Incidentals: $158.78
Average per day cost: $321.24

Scotland

Days in country: 6 Days
Accommodation costs: $978.15
Food costs: $481.16
Sightseeing costs: $110.18
In-country travel costs: $284.40 (includes three day car hire)
Incidentals: $14.50
Average per day cost: $311.40

Iceland

Days in country: 4 Days
Accommodation costs: $508.00
Food costs: $301.83
Sightseeing costs: $651.63
In-country travel costs: $71.33
Incidentals: $0
Average per day cost: $383.20

Greece

Days in country: 6 Days
Accommodation costs: $315.00
Food costs: $409.64
Sightseeing costs: $145.09
In-country travel costs: $57.44
Incidentals: $27.62
Average per day cost: $159.13

Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Days in country: 12 Days
Accommodation costs: $1455.96
Food costs: $868.69
Sightseeing costs: $397.43
In-country travel costs: $375.26
Incidentals: $154.71
Average per day cost: $271.00

Czech Republic

Days in country: 4 Days
Accommodation costs: $217.00
Food costs: $363.77 (includes Michelin-starred meal for K’s birthday)
Sightseeing costs: $144.80
In-country travel costs: $7.16
Incidentals: $41.63
Average per day cost: $193.59 ($142.56 without Michelin meal)

Hungary

Days in country: 4 Days
Accommodation costs: $173.00
Food costs: $203.91
Sightseeing costs: $78.78
In-country travel costs: $18.06
Incidentals: $0
Average per day cost: $118.44

Poland

Days in country: 6 Days
Accommodation costs: $328.98
Food costs: $175.76
Sightseeing costs: $207.83
In-country travel costs: $15.61
Incidentals: $3.50
Average per day cost: $121.95

I haven’t included costs for the few days we spent in transit between Europe and Australia, primarily in Cixi, a town in Zhejiang province in China where my family is from. Whenever we’re in town, my relatives tend to pay for everything – they book the hotel and bus tickets for us and take us out for meals. They won’t let us pay for anything!

Generally, I just give my grandma a large sum when I leave as a gift from grandchild to grandparents – anywhere in the region of $500-$1500 AUD depending how flush I am at that point in time. As this transit time in China is a bit of an anomaly in terms of travel expenditure, I’ve decided not to include a summary of it above.

Summary

What a trip! We spent a lot of money – a lot. We could have done it cheaper, but it wouldn’t have been the stress-free, carefree, relaxing holiday that it was. You can do it for a lot cheaper, and you can do it for a lot more money. That really depends on you and your tastes.

I hope the financial details above have been helpful for you as you plan your own grand adventure. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out either in the comments, or through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), and I’m happy to help and clarify where I can!

For blog posts about the trip itself, you can visit the About page where I’ll be linking summary posts for each city we visited on our trip.

3 thoughts on “Chanoy Honeymoon: The Financials”

  1. Wow, what a detailed write up! I kept an eye on our finances during our 6-week trip but not to the degree you did. But I totally agree with you re the inter-city travel, I had totally underbudgeted for that as well. All those long distance train and plane rides and public transport costs really added up. Still, all part of the experience I suppose!

    I found London to be the most expensive place we visited (more so than Amsterdam), mostly due to the exchange rate I suppose. Paying 10 pounds for incredibly mediocre ramen at a London restaurant (rated as a” cheap eat” no less) really put a sour taste in our mouths. Still, I’d love to revisit one day, there’s so much to explore in the UK!

    I don’t know about you, but after our trip (not as long as yours obviously) I came to the conclusion that we have it REALLY GOOD in Sydney. While all the places we visited had their local specialities, it made me appreciate how diverse our food culture is in Sydney and generally how much good food we have around the place. Other than maybe Hong Kong, there was no place I visited that made me feel “wow, this place is overall better than Sydney for food, I’m going to sorely miss this place”. But that’s just me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

    1. I think the reason our costs in Amsterdam were so high was due to the fact that it was our very first stop in Europe and we were particularly excited! As a result, we weren’t as careful about how we were spending our money, and were doing things like buying bottles of water from a proper sit-down restaurant (5 Euro!), rather than from a supermarket (0.50 Euro!) – little things like that really add up! After a few days when we realised how much we were spending, we started to get a bit smarter about where we chose to spend our money.

      If it wasn’t for that, I think the UK would definitely have been the most expensive place we visited. If we’d ended up paying for all the museums we visited, it would have been even more expensive – thank god for their free museums! As it was, we were doing a lot of casual meals from places like Pret A Manger and buying lunch from M&S Food Hall rather than doing a sit-down meal – all to save a little bit of money.

      I definitely agree with you though on how lucky we are in Australia. It’s not even just about the food either – sure, we are incredibly blessed to have fantastic access to a wide variety of fresh locally grown groceries and have many diverse cuisines represented in local restaurants. It goes beyond that though, to having great green spaces and community spaces, to a higher standard of living, to a good economy and high employment rates, etc. We really are very lucky!

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