A Realistic Budget for Backpacking Europe

January 21, 2017 1 Comments

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Not everyone planning to backpack Europe has flexible travel dates or unlimited vacation days that allow unstructured travel. And not everyone is comfortable with plan-as-you-go traveling or staying in dorm style hostels. I have created this Realistic Budget for Backpacking Europe for the traveler who must plan ahead due to life commitments, who enjoys a more structured travel itinerary and for first time travelers. This budget is meant to be realistic for the everyday person that would like to experience Europe!

This particular budget is based on a six week backpacking trip through Europe. The trip started with 4 days in New York City and included the following cities:

  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Isle of Mull, Scotland
  • Isle of Skye,  Scotland
  • Falkirk, Scotland
  • London, England
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Paris, France
  • Nice, France
  • Interlaken, Switzerland
  • Geneva, Switzerland

The two major costs for the trip were transportation and accommodation. Below is a breakdown of the budget focusing on these two primary costs. It is important to note that this budget is based on two people traveling together and sharing costs. The purple column highlights the cost per person.

As you can see, the total cost of our transportation and accommodation for 42 ish nights was $3,498.00 per person.


Of the total amount, $1,788.00 was allocated to transportation costs. See the breakdown in the table below.

With this $1,788 we traveled to 12 cities in 6 countries!


We booked a multi destination flight that took us from New York City–>Dublin –>Edinburgh and then later from Geneva –> New York all for $908.00 per person.  Neither of us love to fly, so we decided to skip the extra layover from South Carolina to New York and opted to road trip instead. This cost us a total of $183.00 per person for the rental cars. When looking for the best flight deals I like to use skyscanner price alerts to stay up to date on the cheapest flights offered.

Rail Travel

While in Europe we traveled by train using the Eurorail Pass. We used the Four Country Select Pass which allowed us to travel through 4 countries on 6 days within 2 months. It is important to check prices of the individual trips to make certain that the Eurorail Pass is actually cost effective. Additionally, some of the high speed trains in Europe (especially in France) required reserved seating which added an extra fee. One way to avoid paying these extra fees is to attempt to travel on the slower, regional trains if at all possible.

The Eurorail Pass does not work everywhere. As you can see on the table above, we had to buy two individual tickets to travel from Edinburgh to London and from London to Brussels (on our way to Amsterdam). For these separate trips we traveled with Virgin Trains and Eurostar.  Europe does have several budget airlines, including Ryanair, that could be less expensive than rail travel in some circumstances, however they often have baggage fees and very small baggage allowances. Personally, we preferred to travel by rail which is thought of as the traditional way to travel Europe.

Car Rental

Lastly, we rented a car in Scotland for six days in order to travel to some of the isles and visit castles along the way. For $91 per person this seemed like the BEST idea ever right?? NO, there were hidden fees! We had to pay 14 euros a day for GPS and then an extra 25 euros per day for insurance because I was under the age of 25 at the time. This more than doubled our cost, however renting a car really is the best way to see the beauty of Scotland’s countryside.


We spent $1,710 on accommodation per person. This means we each spent about $42 per night. We stayed in several types of accommodation including:

  • Hotels
  • Hostels
  • Tents
  • Airbnb Apartments


Before our trip, we decided that we did not want to stay in the cheaper dorm style rooms at hostels.

We were not willing to sacrifice our comfort for a lower cost.

Thus, we always stayed in private rooms (some of which included private bathrooms). In the private rooms we had privacy, could leave our stuff where we wanted and did not have to worry about the sleeping habits of other travelers. We had the opportunity to stay in some really awesome hostels including a houseboat hostel in Amsterdam and a castle hostel in Edinburgh. We found all of our hostels on Hostel World. I always make sure to check the reviews and pay special attention to the location.

AmicitiA Hostel, Amsterdam


In some cities, like London, Paris and Nice, we rented private studio apartments on Airbnb as it was actually cheaper than staying in a private room at a centrally located hostel. The Airbnb apartments gave us the the ability to cook more and even do laundry! New to Airbnb? Click on my referral link to earn credit that will automatically be put towards your first Airbnb reservation.


To save money in some areas we stayed in tent camps that are ran similarly to hostels. Each tent was furnished with cots and linens. Permanent bathrooms and wifi were also provided. Tents were the best choice in some areas where accommodation was limited or expensive.


During our stay, we rarely booked hotels as they can be much more costly when compared to the other options available. We did however, stay in a budget hotel in Times Square for 3 nights as we found a pretty decent deal. We also stayed in a small hotel in Geneva as it was the best option available.

This Realistic Budget for Backpacking Europe is based on my personal travel preferences. Therefore, your budget for backpacking through Europe may look a little different depending on how you like to travel and where you like to stay!

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This is so helpful! Thank you for providing your budget and explaining what each amount was for. I hope I get to backpack Europe soon!