How much I spent during two weeks of travel

How much I spent during two weeks of travel

I like to travel. Over the past decade, I've probably made an average of two international trips per year. But you know what? Never once in that time have I tried to track how much I spend while exploring the world. Sure, I log my numbers in Quicken (as I do for everything), but I've never analyzed the cost of an individual trip.

This month, I flew to Europe to hang out with my cousin Duane again. He and I enjoy traveling together. Because I was curious, I decided to be diligent about tracking my expenses for this trip.

Note, however, that I didn't try to do anything different. I didn't adjust my normal behavior simply because I knew I'd be reporting to GRS readers. I did what I always do. I spent in ways that felt normal to me.

I don't need a fancy hotel, for instance. Neither does Duane. We're happy with cheap, simple lodging. And because most of the time we don't book rooms in advance, we don't hunt for the best deal. When we decide to stop for the night, we look for a place to stay. When we find something reasonable ($50 per person per night is our target) and available, we book it. We don't continue to search. We'd rather use our time to explore our surroundings.

On the other hand, we're both willing to splurge on food from time to time. Our rooms aren't important to us, but what we eat is.

Similarly, we'll pay to see special sites, but mostly we're happy visiting free museums and/or walking around a city. We don't pay much for tours, etc.

So, how much did I spend for two weeks in Europe? Let's find out!

Chateau Chenonceau

Chateau Chenonceau in France's Loire Valley

Booking Flights

This trip was sort of spontaneous. Remember, Duane has throat cancer. We expected our trip in December to be the last adventure we had together. But his health has held steady — and his doctor is making hopeful statements that he might be around for Christmas! — so we decided to make another trip.

Generally, I try to book flights several months in advance. I feel like I find cheaper options that way. This time, though, I didn't book my flight until April 19th, less than a month before our trip.

Also, I'm fussy about flights. It's not that I need to sit in business class — I'm perfectly happy in coach — but I don't like layovers. I'm willing to pay extra for a direct flight.

Unfortunately, when I searched for flights from Portland to Paris, I couldn't find any direct flights. I could, however, find a non-stop to London. I like London. It's a pleasant city. “What if,” I thought, “I flew to London a few days early and used that time to get some work done? Then I could take the Chunnel train across to Paris to meet Duane when he arrives.”

So, I booked a flight to London. It cost me $996.63 and each leg took roughly 10.5 hours.

(I don't know how much Duane paid for his plane ticket. I think it was around $600, but he had to fly from Portland to Las Vegas to Los Angeles to Paris and it took him almost 24 hours. Yuck. I'm happy to pay a premium to avoid crap like that.)

I made a small mistake when booking my ticket. In the past, I've always traveled economy. That's what I thought I was doing this time. Nope. Apparently, there's a new(-ish) airfare class called “basic economy”. This is a massive “screw you” from the airlines to their customers. It's a little bit cheaper, but you're not allowed to make any changes to your ticket once you've booked. No option to upgrade. Plus, you board dead last. And you can't choose your seat. And if you check a bag — as I did for my return flight — it costs a ton.

Edinburgh

I flew into London with no real plan for the first few days. Brandon (the Mad Fientist) had invited me to visit him and his wife in Edinburgh, Scotland, but I felt like I oughtn't do it. I felt like I should stay in London and work.

When I landed, though, I changed my mind. “Is it still okay if I come up to see you?” I asked. “Sure!” Brandon said. So, I hopped on Trainline (an awesome app that Duane and I used to buy train tickets during our December trip) and booked a ticket from London to Edinburgh. Cost: $101.92.

While waiting for my train at Kings Cross station (and watching the tourist throngs at Platform 9-1/2), I withdrew £200 for spending money, which is about $252.31. I used this cash to buy things like coffee and snacks and souvenirs. I brought home £141.15, which means I spent £58.85 (or about $74.24) cash while in the U.K.

I had a great time hanging out with Brandon and Jill. They showed me everyday life in Edinburgh, one of my favorite cities. They put me up in their spare room, took me to pubs, and we wandered together through the streets and the parks.

While there, I spent:

  • $45.76 at Brewdog for beer and snacks. (Did you know that low-alcohol beer — like 0.5% to 2.0% — is a thing in the U.K.? I wish it was a thing here in the U.S. I'd buy it.)
  • $17.74 at Whiski Bar for an hour of music and Scotch.
  • $9.91 at Cairngorm Coffee, where Brandon and I spent a morning working.
  • $33.78 at Mother India restaurant, where the three of us had a fine meal of “Indian tapas”.

In all, I spent a total of $283.35 during my three nights in Scotland.

Picnic in the Meadows

Picnic in the Meadows with the Mad Fientist and friends

Paris

When it came time to meet Duane in Paris, I was faced with a choice. Originally, I had intended to take the train from London to Paris. But when I looked at times and prices to get from Edinburgh to Gare du Nord, I didn't like what I saw. The trip would take about 12.5 hours and the total cost would be over $350. Yikes!

“You should book a flight on EasyJet,” Brandon suggested. I've never used EasyJet, but I looked into it. For $199.45, I could fly from Edinburgh to Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG) in Paris — in less than two hours. I booked a ticket. Then, using Chase Ultimate Rewards points, I booked one night at the Hotel ibis, which is attached to CDG terminal 3. My cost: 7718 Chase points.

In Paris, I paid €17.99 for a one-day train pass, which gave me unlimited access to all Metro and RER routes. (The metro lines are the subway and local trains. The RER routes are the commuter trains that run deeper into the suburbs, going places like Versailles and the airport.) I also withdrew €200 in cash (about $222.50) to use for incidental expenses, such as snacks and souvenirs.

While I waited for Duane's flight to arrive, I visited Notre Dame to see what it looked like after the fire. (I was startled to note that when the wind was right, you could smell the ashes!) I bought an extra travel shirt. And I met my friend Amy for champagne and charcuterie. (Amy lives in Houston but happened to be in Paris for work.)

Amy and J.D.

Amy, J.D., and random amused French woman

At around 18:00, I returned to the airport to pick up our rental car. I was worried this might not go smoothly, but I was wrong. Estelle, the young woman at the Avis counter, was amazing. It didn't take long for her to get met set up with a Peugot 208. Plus, she was kind enough to phone ahead to our hotel to let them know we'd be a little late. I booked the car with British Airways points. My cost: 16,600 Avios — a bargain!

As I was finishing at the rental car, Duane cleared immigration. Perfect timing! We hopped in our little car, braved Paris traffic and made our way to the garden spot of Giverny.

In Giverny, we checked into our B&B (booked with 8154 Chase points), then hurried to the only restaurant in town that was still open. Duane spent €51.00 on our dinner of duck breast and red wine.

During two nights in and around Paris, I spent $199.45, €17.99, 8154 Chase points, and 16,600 Avios (BA points). Duane spent €51.00.

Normandy

The next morning, Duane and I started our driving tour of northwest France. I'd been worried that all French drivers would be like the ones in Paris. They weren't. On the country roads, people were much more mellow. Thank goodness. (I drive like an old man. I hate speeding and tailgating.)

First, we toured Rouen, the town where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. We saw our first cathedral of the trip, visited the (free) Museum of Fine Arts, and browsed the weekly market.

Duane and I both enjoy markets. We're happy to pass time looking at fruits and vegetables and meat and fish. For real. Plus, this gave us a chance to buy cheap food for the road. I picked up a paper sack filled with twenty baby chorizo sausages, for instance, and it cost only €5. (I think there were more than 20 sausages in the bag too. That thing lasted me almost the entire trip, and I was eating several sausages per day.)

In the afternoon, we drove to Honfleur with no plans about where to stay. The first hotel we visited was perfect: cheap and efficient. I paid €100.00 to book a room. Duane spent €54.00 on our dinner at a local pub.

On our second day, we meandered along the coast. We stopped to taste calvados (an apple brandy made in Normandy), nibbled goat cheese in Deauville, and stopped to visit the Grand Hotel in Cabourg, the site of Proust's famous memory-inducing madeleine.

Meat and Cheese

Buying goat cheese and “bacon” in Deauville

In the late afternoon, we reached Bayeux. Our first hotel choice was booked, but the second had two cheap rooms available. We paid €49.00 each. For dinner, we chose an expensive restaurant (I can't remember why) that cost Duane €94.00.

After dinner, we wandered around town. It was a magical evening in mid-spring. We happened to hit the city during its “festival of lights”, and when we stopped by the cathedral, an American choir was performing a concert. We stopped in to listen.

In the morning, we visited the Bayeux Tapestry, a 70-meter long work of art that's nearly 1000 years old. In dozens of scenes, it depicts the Norman conquest of England. People think I'm joking when I say this, but I'm not: This tapestry is like a very early comic book. (And, in fact, the drawings used to plan tapestries like this are referred to as cartoons. No joke.) This visit cost me €19.00.

Bayeux Tapestry

Seriously, the Bayeux Tapestry is like a primitive comic book

While in Bayeux, we visited Omaha Beach and the nearby American Military Cemetery. After that, we drove backroads to reach Mont-Saint-Michel, one of the most famous tourist sites in all of France (and formerly one of the top three destinations for Christian pilgrims). This island used to be isolated from the mainland by ocean tides. Now there's a causeway that leads to it, but even that sometimes floods over (as it did during our stay).

I used 14,538 Chase points to book a room on the island, and I'm glad we did. During the day, the place is packed. After 18:00, the crowd disperses and things become peaceful. It's fun to wander the ramparts with nobody to disturb you.

Here, Duane paid €89.00 for dinner.

During our time in Normandy, I spent a total of €168.00 and 14,538 Chase points. Duane spent €286.00.

Mont Saint Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel at high tide

Brittany

The next morning, after a quick tour of the Mont-Saint-Michel abbey, Duane and I packed up to drive to Brittany. (The island actually sits on the border between the two regions.)

As we entered Brittany, we got our first taste of fuel prices in France. To put 38 liters (about 10 gallons) in the Peugot 208, I paid €60.00. Holy cats! That's nearly $7 per gallon, or about twice what we pay here in the States.

In the early afternoon, we stopped for a couple of hours in the walled city of Dinan, which is built on a hillside overlooking the river Rance.

Dinan

Looking from the ramparts of Dinan to the valley below

By early evening, we'd reached Carnac on the Atlantic coast. Carnac is famous for its “standing stones”, a collection of 3000+ domens and menhirs in the region. I love sites like this (and Avebury and Stonehenge in England), so was pleased to visit. (If you've ever read any Asterix comics, you're familiar with the stones of Carnac.)

The first hotel we visited had a cheap room available (€66.00), so we booked it. Our dinner next door was…an adventure.

Brittany, as you may know, is the source of the crepe. It's also the source of the galette (a savory crepe). Crepes and galettes everywhere in this region. Because we like to try local food when we travel, Duane and I decided to eat galettes for our evening meal. “You should get the andouille,” the restaurant owner told us, smiling. So we did.

Well. It turns out that American andouille is not the same as French andouille. French andouille is simply sliced pig intestine that has (ostensibly) been cleaned very, very well.

“This tastes like ass,” Duane said as he ate his galette. He couldn't finish. I did finish, but was a little mortified when I looked up the ingredients later. Our host seemed to take pity on us for being such good sports. When I ordered a glass of calvados after the meal, he gave me a huge pour.

I paid €46.00 for our dinner of pig-gut pancakes.

During our 24 hours in Brittany, I spent a total of €172.00. Duane spent nothing.

The Loire Valley

After a quick breakfast of coffee and crepes (€12.00 paid by Duane), we made our way to Angers, former capital of the Anjou region. (Angers is the source of both anjou pears and Cointreau liqueur.) Here, we visited our first chateau. Did you know that a chateau is a castle? I didn't — not until this trip.

Anyhow, the Chateau d'Angers is home to the amazing Apocalypse Tapestry, a 600-year-old visual retelling of the apocalypse story from the Bible's Book of Revelation. Like the Bayeux Tapestry, it reminds me of a massive comic book made from cloth. It cost us €12.00 each to see the chateau and its art. (Duane paid this.)

Apocalypse Tapestry in Angers

The Apocalypse Tapestry at Chateau d'Angers

In the evening, we experienced our big splurge of the trip. Based on a GRS reader recommendation, I had booked a night for us at the Royal Abbey of Our Lady of Fontevraud, a former monastery founded in 1101. Although many old buildings remain (and guests are free to explore them), the site is no longer an abbey. It's a fancy upscale hotel and a Michelin-star restaurant.

Going in, I'd told Duane to ignore the costs for our night at Fontevraud. “I'm paying for the hotel and dinner, and it's not part of our trip accounting. Don't try to balance it out,” I said. “I'm making a deliberate decision to splurge.”

Our room at the abbey cost us €172.00. Our meal cost €239.00. As I mentioned earlier this week, the food was fine and I'm glad I experienced it. But I wouldn't do it again.

In the morning, we traveled country roads to visit another chateau: Chenonceau. We each paid €19.00 to tour the grounds of this beautiful old estate.

In the afternoon, we moved to nearby Amboise, where Duane paid €73.00 to book a hotel. We hiked up the hillside, then tasted wine in a cave. We ate dinner at the tiny Restaurant L'Ilot, where the woman waiting tables chided us for not making a reservation — then was playfully grouchy the rest of the evening. This meal cost Duane €94.00 because he insisted we order a bottle of wine.

The next day, we stopped briefly in Blois to visit the church of St Nicolas. This place is barely mentioned in the guidebooks, but we loved it. During World War II, most of its stained-glass windows were destroyed. They've been replaced by modern windows with modern glass. The results are amazing. When light shines through them, color spreads throughout the church.

St Nicolas Church in Blois

The light show from the stained glass at St Nicolas Church

We next stopped in Chartres to visit its famous cathedral, which is especially known for its stained-glass windows. And while yes, there are many of them (176!) and they're impressive, I liked the ones in Blois better.

During our time in the Loire Valley, I spent a total of €430.00, most of it for my splurge at the abbey. Duane spent €281.00. (He filled the car with gas at one point.)

Wrapping Things Up

After touring the Chartres cathedral, we didn't know what to do. We found ourselves on the southwest side of Paris, but wanting to reach the northeast corner by the following evening. We couldn't make up our minds, so I simply drove east.

Eventually, we reached Fontainebleau, which we decided might be fun to visit. But the town was packed and we were tired. Instead, we drove on until we found a budget hotel (aptly named Budget Hotel), where Duane paid €86.00 for a room. For dinner, we each paid cash at a French fast-food chain.

The next morning, we returned our rental car. I was sad to say good-bye to the Peugot 208, which had served us well. Before we turned it in, Duane paid €32.00 to top off the fuel tank.

For logistics purposes, I'd used 11,182 Chase points to book us separate rooms at the ibis Hotel once again. (It's handy having this place next to the airport train station.) We each paid €17.99 for one-day train tickets, then we rode into Paris.

With several hours to kill, we decided to walk the city. But we didn't walk the downtown tourist core. We've both done that before. Instead, we chose the Coulée verte René-Dumont, an elevated greenway akin to New York's Highline. From there, we made our way along the canal. This 5k stroll made for great people-watching.

Here, we said our good-byes. Duane wandered off to spend time on his own. I met up with my pal Matt Kepnes (a.k.a. Nomadic Matt) for a couple of beers.

In the morning, I took an early flight back to London (booked with 4500 Avios and $27.50), then boarded my Delta flight back to Portland.

On this final day, I spent a total of $47.48, 4500 Avios, and 11,182 Chase points. (At some point, I withdrew another €200.00 in spending money. I returned home with €102.66, which means I spent €97.34 of that — or about $108.41.) Duane spent €86.00 and $19.98.

The Bottom Line

After all of that, how much did I spend on this trip? Let's crunch the numbers. For two weeks (three nights in Scotland and ten in France), I spent:

  • $996.63 for my flights from and to the U.S.
  • $573.65
  • €637.98 (about $710.63)
  • 19,336 Chase points
  • 21,100 Avios (British Airways points)

Converting all of my expenses to dollars, my total cost was $2277.91 plus rewards points. That's an average of $175.22 per night. (I spent $1284.28 plus points if you ignore the flight, for an average of $98.79 per night.)

If I hadn't splurged €411.00 for the abbey experience (and instead paid €100 for dinner and lodging that night), my costs would have been €311.00 less.

During our nine nights together in France, Duane spent a total of €670.99 (about $747.40) plus whatever his flights cost him (about $600, I think). That's $83.04 per night ($149.71 with his flights). Together, not counting flights, we spent the equivalent of $2031.68 and points for this vacation.

Because I've never tracked my trip spending before, I have no frame of reference for our costs. I feel like we did a good job of using money wisely — spending only on things that brought us value — but who knows? I'm sure plenty of people would spend much less on a trip like this. That would probably require advance planning, though, and half the fun for us is making this up as we go.

Here's the thing, though. How much have I been spending simply to live here at home? About $5000 per month, right? (And I'm aiming to get that down to $4000 per month.) When you compare the cost of travel to the cost of simply maintaining my lifestyle here in the U.S., it's shockingly affordable. Cheaper than living in Portland, even.

That's food for thought.

One final note: In Edinburgh, Brandon showed me how to use Apple Pay. Believe it or not, I'd never done this before. Now, though, I'm hooked. Even back here in Portland, I'm using my phone to pay for things, not my actual credit card. I think this is awesome. Duane is less convinced. But that's a subject for a future blog post…

More about...Travel

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Dave @ Accidental FIRE
Dave @ Accidental FIRE
1 year ago

Looks like an amazing trip, and done pretty frugally considering you didn’t get a great flight deal. I remember touring the beaches, museums, and cemeteries of Normandy, such hallowed ground. It gave me chills.

Selena
Selena
1 year ago

Glad you had fun. I absolutely adore France. And I just learned I spend way too much when I travel ?????

FoxTesla
FoxTesla
1 year ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

I can understand picking household/clothing categories to record in Quicken, but as far as the question of “how much did you spend on your trip?” I think the soap/shirts/souvenirs/etc should be included. (I would be using a tag, if they were already introduced in your version of Quicken). Example: I went to GenCon in Indy last year. Upon returning with two suitcases and one backpack full of new games, my wife asked “how much did you spend on your trip?” Should I have answered “three flight legs on Southwest flights cost 12k points, after splitting the five days/four nights of… Read more »

Eileen
Eileen
1 year ago
Reply to  FoxTesla

Isn’t he just sharing the travel expenses as the cost of travel, lodging, tours/entry, and eating? Anyone else might spend $0 on souvenirs & gifts or 5 times as much. It’s not relevant to the discussion here I don’t think.

“It cost JD $_____ to go to England/Scotland/France for 2 weeks” is relatable to the reader. What he bought for himself or gifts is very specific to JD.

FoxTesla
FoxTesla
1 year ago
Reply to  Eileen

I think it is relevant – a vacation/trip can act as a catalyst/incentive/motivator to spending that wouldn’t normally happen. Re: the soap. It’s likely a small delta, but I imagine there IS a delta cost from the specialty handsoap purchased as a result of the trip vs the equivalent amount normally purchased at home. Applying to my own example – I purchased 21 games/expansions/accessories directly from the exhibitors hall (at MSRP). Would I have purchased some of the items eventually anyway (but possibly at a discount)? Yes. Are there some I would NOT have heard of or purchased, had I… Read more »

stellamarina
stellamarina
1 year ago

Very interesting and helpful info… Thank You. It is good to know there is an Ibis hotel at Paris airport. I recently stayed at one at Auckland, New Zealand airport and it is a good budget hotel in a useful place. The furniture all looks like it is from Ikea. From now on I am watching out for Ibis hotels.

Erith
Erith
1 year ago

As an Edinburgh resident, while you were in Edinburgh, I was in Istanbul. (certainly missed the day when it was warm enough to picnic in the Meadows…) Another great city, the weather was a lot nicer, and food really cheap, as exchange rate British Pound to Turkish Lira. Like you we only tend to eat once a day when travelling. Have used Ibis in London, Netherlands, Singapore. Clean, pretty basic but absolutely fine. Sounds like you had a ball in France. Like you, I retired early, do a fair bit of travelling, but I also like taking longer trips in… Read more »

dh
dh
1 year ago

Fun post, JD. Wolter’s World (my fave travel vlog) just covered Normandy in case you are interested:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQIAACZzJlA

S.G.
S.G.
1 year ago

Sounds like fun. I am constitutionally incapable of travelling like that. I dont know if that’s because I’m just a planner and can’t wing it, or if I’m scared from too many nights spent in the car when my family tries to wing it and couldnt find a room.

Eileen
Eileen
1 year ago
Reply to  S.G.

This was eye opening to me as well.

Part of the problem is that my vacation time (as a corporate 9-5er and a spouse who can literally never take > a week off) is very limited and very specific. The odds of me going to Europe for 2 weeks is probably very very small, thus we feel the need to plan to maximize our time and money spent.

But yeah, this is really a great read and food for thought and I thank JD for taking the time to document it in this way.

S.G
S.G
1 year ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

I think there are a couple things that help. The first being a level of financial independence. As with minimalism there’s a different measure of “what’s the worst that could happen?” When you have enough money a $250 hotel room is a bummer, not a budget breaker. The second is kids. I really haven’t traveled much as an adult when I didn’t have kids. THey make planning a must. Not just because of rooms, but also meals and rest breaks because they don’t know their own limits and if they pass them they aren’t terribly…gracious in their misery. Honestly, I… Read more »

JanBo
JanBo
1 year ago
Reply to  S.G

We traveled the most when our kids were 3 to 12 years old. Out of diapers, they learned to nap where ever. We always carried water, fruit and granola bars ( and their small blankets). They saw, easily, Middle East, Europe China and 20 states. We stayed in 1 star and 5 star. We often planned ahead, but sometimes didn’t.
Not so fun from 12-16, then good again from 16-21. We still travel together-with their spouses and six kiddos….
It is all about seeing it as an adventure and not a chore.

S.G.
S.G.
1 year ago
Reply to  JanBo

I dunno. So much depends on the specifics of the kids and adults.

I’m glad it worked for you, but I think it’s presumptuous to think it would work for everyone. Stress works very differently just between my kids. Ultimately winging it is more stress than is worth it for me. But that’s me and mine.

Jennifer
Jennifer
1 year ago
Reply to  S.G

We’ve travelled with the kids since they were little, and it IS a lot more stressful than solo or with two competent adults! It’s tricky to find the balance between planning, and allowing for cool, unexpected things. It does get easier as the kids get older. When we travel by plane, I like to plan the intercity transit (planes, trains, etc.) and lodging in advance. We usually wing everything else (local transit, food, activities, side trips, festivals, etc.), because there are so many things you hear about after you get somewhere. When we drive in the US, I might reserve… Read more »

Angelica
Angelica
1 year ago

I love the way you travel! My husband and I are taking a river cruise on the Danube this fall with two friends and all I want to do is walk around the beautiful cobblestone streets and eat.

Since breakfast is provided on the ship most days, we’ll probably grab whatever local cheap eats for lunch and then have dinner on the ship. We’re not much for souvenirs but we usually pick up one piece of local art that we can bring back.

Joe
Joe
1 year ago

The trip sounds amazing. How was the driving? I’m always very nervous about driving in another country. But Europe sounds like a good place for that. We’ll have to try it next time.
Great pictures.
I think you need to convert the reward points to $ too. If you include those, it’ll be another $2,500 or something like that. Anyway, you had a great time. I think it’s worth the expense.

Joe
Joe
1 year ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Thanks for the feedback. Big city driving is always tough because you’re not familiar with the road. I’ll get a car next time we’re in France. 🙂

RandomJane
RandomJane
1 year ago

Tip: look into Scott’s Cheap Flights. They scan the internet for price drops on international flights. You can get on a free emailing list or pay $50/year premium membership for even better deals. It will pay for itself several times over with just one flight.

I too made the mistake of purchasing the “screw you” seats the first time I booked after that started. Never again. Maybe a short domestic flight but never international.

Jennifer
Jennifer
1 year ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Our family of 4 (2 adults + ds17 + dd15) did economy to London (Air Canada), and were able to choose our seats 24 hours in advance, and volunteered to have our bags checked when they asked. We ended up sitting together for the long-haul flights and didn’t have to pay extra for checking bags. Sometimes it works out — our kids are old enough and experienced enough in the way we travel (frugal + flexible) to roll with the inconveniences of the cheapie options. Other people (my mother, for example), would hate having to deal with any of it.… Read more »

Jennifer
Jennifer
1 year ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Maybe Air Canada is less stupid than others. Ticket says “Economy Basic (K)”.

Lonelle
Lonelle
1 year ago

That sounds like an amazing trip, I love being able to be free and wing it. My partner, not so much, he likes things to be planned out. Plus – money without time is pointless! And what a great way for you and your cousin to enjoy time together!

mary w
mary w
1 year ago

My random thoughts: -Ibis Hotels are a good bargain option. The one we stayed in in Brussels was “fine” (nothing like the swanky hotel we stayed in AMS.). However, the Ibis Brussels airport caused me to tell my husband I would no longer kid him about the El Paso Motel 6 he once had me stay in. He admitted the Ibis was much cleaner. Can’t image what the nextdoor Ibis Budget Brussels Airport hotel was like. -Yeah, Basic Economy sucks, especially if you don’t know you’ve booked it. I did it once on purpose when I was traveling alone and… Read more »

Candi @ minhus
Candi @ minhus
1 year ago

Looks like a cool trip! I have never understood complaints about boarding last. It’s not like the plane takes off any sooner than once everyone boards. I prefer last. I want to be crammed in that plane for the shortest amount of time possible. We booked basic economy to Mexico and I don’t see that it’s that different than economy, other than not being able to make changes (which I never do anyway). I would have had to pay the same checked bag fee regardless. Somehow we got put in the exit row the whole trip out. Ahh! No such… Read more »

Tre
Tre
1 year ago

Sounds like a fun trip! We like to just explore and find a hotel when we are ready to stop for the day too. Makes for some great adventures.

Jennifer
Jennifer
1 year ago

Sounds like a great trip, where you spent money you could afford in ways you really enjoyed. We also tend to dine 1x/day and picnic/forage/snack the other meals — it sure cuts down on expenses! Some times we’re at the grocery stores daily picking through the “exotic” local choices.

Ian
Ian
1 year ago

Good report JD, I’m always curious what it’s costing others to travel. Your last paragraph was what we realized three years ago. So when we retired two years ago we just started traveling, Europe in the summer, warmer places in the winter. Family and friends between the two. Our expenses have gone from $6000 a month in San Diego to between $3-$4k a month depending upon if we are in cheap countries or expensive ones. But we are traveling slower rarely do we spend less than a week in a location and we do day trips from there.

Louisa
Louisa
1 year ago

While gas in Europe is pricey, I think it should be. It’s absurd how little we pay in our car-worshipping US. If we paid more, we’d have more federal budget for trains and railways. which in turn would reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and help the planet. Not gonna happen in the foreseeable future, sadly.

Fran
Fran
1 year ago

The goat cheese bento box looks great! When it comes to booking flights I’ve been relying on an airfare newsletter from http://cheapoflights.co/ lately and have found some great deals.

If you want to find the best deals, it seems like booking 30-90 days prior during the last quarter of the year and flying in Q1 of the following year yields the best deals. And doing so on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

Having recently returned from Estonia and Lithuania, you’ll have to go. My next trip will be Edinburgh and I can’t wait.

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