Travel Planning Between Backpack & Bourgeoisie

How can you afford to travel to Europe for three months?

I’m hashtag blessed. For real, traveling to exotic places you see on Instagram isn’t cheap when you account for air and ground travel, accommodations, and food as well as alcohol and fun excursions.
Trying to budget rooms for $1,000 monthly is about $33 a night, which is a hostel rate in most areas. The trick is to balance expensive capitals, like Dublin and Paris, with more affordable towns, like Cork and Marseilles.

Balance expensive cities with affordable towns for long trips.

My Airbnb budget was $60 a night or $1,800 each month. By booking private rooms in cities and during holidays and splurging on full apartments in less costly towns, I could stay within my budget while still traveling like a 30-something.
However, budgeting for food, fun, and travel are dependent on what I’m doing that day. For my three-month trip, I broadly budgeted for $100 a day ($3,000 month) for the restaurants and tour packages as well as trains, planes, and automobiles.
When I stay in a town for a week or longer, every day is not a tour day. Most long-term travel is living like the natives, including buying groceries and having Netflix-and-chill nights.
At a pretty strict budget of $4,800 a month, a three-month trip can cost $15K. Plus, there are always unaccounted-for extras like gifts and emergencies.

Saving & Earning Income

So, how did I afford it? For months prior to my trip, I moved into my parents’ house and banked my paychecks. Returning back home provided me with a nest egg that I can use as a backup to spread my wings. Bird analogies aside, did you caught the word ‘backup.’
I worked as a freelance editor position full time; dedicating 40 hours (or more) a week to earn an income while I floated from country to country. I earned enough to avoid dipping into my blossoming savings account.
Related Article: Freelance Financial Fundamentals

What are accommodations in Europe like for $75 a night?

The nightly budget of $75 a night will mean something different in each location:

  • In Iceland, I am staying at two different private rooms in the capital region of Reykjavik, both of which are small-to-medium rooms with a desk and shared bathrooms.
  • In Belfast, Ireland, I am renting an entire apartment. To make up for the costs in Paris (and the rest of France), I’ll select other rooms to rent in Ireland for less than $50 a night.

Remember, $75 a night is an average. Better to have reasonable stays in less expensive areas rather than opting for the best at the top of your budget. For example, staying at places for $40 a night in Galway and Cork will allow me to stay in $120 a night places in Paris and Ibiza.

Balancing Creature Comforts & Costs

Since I make a comfortable amount and I have pretty minimal expenses at home (less than a grand each month), I’m opting to stay in Airbnbs over hostels and hotels. While I am not sponsored by Airbnb, I will say that their service has changed travel for fellow single 30-somethings.
Hotel in Madrid
Airbnb stays that accommodates multiple travelers can have the benefit of securely locking your room without losing the comradely of a flock of wanderlusts. Hostels are a hub of like-minded explorers who would rather spend more on getting to and being at the destination than privacy. These shared rooms can leave much to be desired when you’re trying to sleep over the snores of strangers.
Hotels, even the cheap ones, allow you to leave your suitcase with more peace of mind than in a hostel. Having a private bathroom is also another comfortable perk of hotel living.
However, these amenities come with a price. Not only are these sleeping arrangements more expensive but you also lose out on the opportunities of sharing experiences with others. Fellow travelers can let you in on real-time reviews of popular tourist traps as well as unique adventures few know about online.

What do I need to know to travel for three months or more abroad?

When you travel for a long time, you get tired, sick, worn down, and just generally exhausted at trying to make the most out of your days. Take every fourth or fifth day to do nothing.
I call these “Local Days.” Sleep in, have a healthy breakfast, do some laundry, and work. Not every day can be a trip to the Cliffs of Moher or a tram ride through the serrated mountain landscape of Montserrat.
Muscle ache and immune systems can be compromised without adequate rest and TLC. Plus these days help you mitigate the costs of going overseas for a long period.

Lower Food Costs While Traveling

Ice Cream in MadridTaking a day to grab some groceries and prepare some easy takeaway meals can make your adventure days that much more rewarding.
While eating the local cuisine is always recommended, eating a basic meal of “homemade” sandwiches can give both your wallet and digestive tract a break. Similarly, keeping plastic food baggies with you to store restaurant leftovers can also save you resources and effort.
Some tours or self-guided trips to rural areas will mean bringing food with you, as a restaurant may not be around. A bagged lunch, protein bars, or even some snacks stored in your bag can save you from getting hungry when buying a meal isn’t an option or if you don’t want to blow your budget in one day.
Related Article: How Much Does Travel Cost?

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