Europe can be expensive yet Europe can be inexpensive. After several trips, I have come to realize that you can spend what ever you want and still live through the experience. Once I went about a week with a dollar or two to spend each day. It was not pleasant. But I survived. This experience I would not suggest. It resulted from a problem with a money transfer which eventually got straightened around.
Right up front I want to say how much it will take. First you need to buy your airline ticket. That can run from as little as three hundred dollars round trip, (sometimes even less-really!) to as much as you want to spend. You can check airline fares when you get to that page at my site here. There are links to all the rates boards for the airlines which serve Europe.
You also need to pay for a rail pass. Railroads are the only way to travel once you get to Europe. I know, I know. You may feel that a rental car is the way to travel. Well, you'd be wrong. I drove about 50,000 miles around Europe in a VW camping buss many years ago. It was great fun. But I paid very little for gas because it was much less then. And I was living there at the time. On a vacation you need to get from place to place in a hurry without having to figure out which roads to take. The train folks know just how to get from place to place. And they leave you off in the middle of town. You don't have to find a parking place, even. Yes, trains are the only way to go in Europe for a three to six week trip. If you are staying for a full summer, then a car might be just right. If you are there for a year, then a car is great.
After paying for your airline tickets and rail passes, now it is time to figure what will be needed for everything else. My estimates are exclusive of gifts you may buy for the folks back home. A word about that: don't. Paying for a gift will draw down your cash really fast. And then you have to carry this gift for how ever long you have remaining to travel around. Even a shirt can get heavy after carrying it for several hundred miles.
$100 per day per person is an adequate amount to have available to you if you are traveling with another person. That would be $50 each for a room, and $50 each for food and tickets to attractions. At this rate you'll not say at upscale places. But there are m\any nice places for under $100 per night. I give you suggestions on the accommodations page of this web site.
$200 per person per day is wonderful but typically unattainable for me when I travel. I figure it this way: I would rather stay in Europe twice as long and live a little bit closer than spend half as long and live high.
My wife and I made it through Europe on our honeymoon, twelve countries, thirteen if you count Miami where we left from, on about $100 per day for the both of us. We slept on a train overnight only about three times. But that was more than a decade ago.
So what's right for you? Well read about my EurailHotel concept. If this is something you think you can do, then you could travel to Europe for $50 per day per person with no difficulty. In 1989 I went to France for the bicentennial on about $20 per day for two weeks. I couldn't go with more. It was a quickly planned trip. I managed to get the time off, and wham! I was there. I lived through the experience. And even had a good time. Of course I slept on the trains and took my showers in the train stations. But that is doable.
Since I always return home broke, with just enough money to get my car out of hock at the airport if I drove, and a burger on the way home, I now say I didn't have a good time if I return home with any money. You'll develop your own sayings about travel. You can adopt mine if you'd like.
I'd say after airline tickets and after train passes, you can do quite well with $1200 per person for a 21 day trip. Why 21 days, well, less and you will only just be getting the feel for the travel thing and it will be time to return home. Also, the first two or three days in Europe, you'll feel ripped after rushing around getting ready to go, and that horrid airline flight of at least 10 hours. No, 21 days is what you should look for in an airline ticket. That is the maximum stay on some airlines for a great rate.
If you work for a company where a 21 day vacation is not possible, even if some of it is unpaid, then quit 'em. And find a job for someone who appreciates the fact that life is not the job we do. The job is not the sum total of a persons existence. If the people you work for don't want you to have a life you choose to have, then who needs them. Why help them by working for them if they do not care about you? No, just move on to where you are appreciated. Gosh, you can go to Europe between jobs. Then you'll have as much time as you'd like.
One way to reduce the cost of a European vacation is to combine business with pleasure. Perhaps there is a conference or trade show associated with your profession that you might attend. See if your employer would contribute money or time off with pay to you if you attend.
Another possibility to reduce the cost of a trip is to ask your friends what they might want you to bring back for them that you could bring back in your luggage. They could give you the purchase price plus something extra for your time and trouble.
Or you could consider buying collectible items to resell when you return. The difference between what you paid there and what you could sell the item here for may produce a difference which could help you offset the cost of your trip. A word of caution is in order here. For this to work best you need to have specialized knowledge and buyers waiting so you know what you should pay and what you will make as a profit.
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