This post is dedicated to all of the accountants out there. I also dedicate it those who meticulously track their out-of-pocket expenses. I was one of these dorks who manually kept track of all expenses for years with a basic spreadsheet before I discovered Mint.com. This website has really helped me when trying to manage 20+ credit cards, which would be a daunting task without its help.
It’s been about a month ago that my wife and I returned from an amazing European adventure. We spent 10 days away from work, kids, cell phone service, and most importantly my Mountain Dew (wink, wink). Our trip was full of adventure, history, fights with my wife, and delicious food. You’ll see me post more about the trip later to get the specifics, but first I figured you would like a detailed accounting of our trip along with its estimated costs.
10 Day European Vacation Cost Breakdown
- Clothing: $101.07
On almost all trips we end up buying clothes. This time we were both freezing as we had expected warmer weather.
This turned into a few trips to H&M to buy sweaters, scarves, hats, and a few other items. My wife picked out a pair of really tight pants from Zara, which I struggled with initially, but after window watching for 20 minutes I realized that it would help me to fit in better.
- Entertainment: $506.75
This is a broad category that included museums, Eiffel Tower, Medieval Castles, flower gardens, and more cool stuff.
- Food: $608.17
We tried eating from grocery stores (I love spending time in grocery stores in foreign countries) as often as possible to keep these costs down. Shopping like a local gives you healthier choices as you eat a more local fare this way. On various occasions our lunch was comprised of meat, cheese, fruit, french bread (WOW), chocolate, and water. It can take a serious hack from your budget when traveling if you can eat like this.
On a couple of occasions we spent over $50 on meals, and once we dang near spent $75 on a three-course meal in Paris. It lasted two hours, and was a great way to relax and reminisce our last night in Paris. We talked about life, kids, goals, and so much more. It is nice to sit down to a meal every once in a while when you’re not forced to leave because the server kicks you out of your seat.
- Hotels: $324.95
Our most expensive hotel was $100. That means we spent $224 on the other 9 nights of the trip. We stayed in some of the most luxurious hotels I’ve ever seen and paid less than most people pay at Motel 6.
Most hotels didn’t include a continental breakfast, but we usually would grab a pan au chocolat on the run to our first stop of the day and grab a Nutella crepe before noon. Did I mention we ate stuff with chocolate?
- Souvenirs: $140.84
You’ve got to spend a few dollars in this category. We aren’t huge souvenir people, but it is nice to have something special to sit on the shelf. I prefer pictures and memories the most, but will occasionally spring for something sweet that sits on my shelf.
- Travel Expenses: $803.15
Here includes train tickets, car rental, airfare, metro, parking fees, and tolls.
Grand Total: $2,484.93
But wait, it gets even better from here. We’ve talked about the power of the Barclaycard Arrival in the past in a number of posts. Check a couple of them out here:
- Reasons to Get the Barclaycard Arrival
- Eight Great Uses for the Barclaycard Arrival
- How to Redeem Points From Your Barclaycard Arrival
I picked up this card about a year ago and had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to spend these points to basically erase some of the travel expenses. The card comes with a bonus that will erase up to $400 in expenses. Somehow over the year I was able to accrue enough points to offset an additional $210.19, which saved me a total of $610.19.
$2,484 (Total Expenses)
($610.19) Barclaycard Arrival Credits
$1,874.74 Net Cost for the European Adventure
How Much Did I Really Save?
Honestly, it is hard to tell, but realistically I probably would have shelled out the following in addition to my measly $1800.
- Arrival $610
- Airfare $2000
- Hotel $1200
Saving dang near 2/3 of the cost on a vacation is awesome!! I’m here to tell you that you can enjoy the vacation WAY more when you know you’re not going broke.
The BEST part about this is you can replicate almost exactly what I did. Oh, so you don’t dream of Parisian Nutella Crepes? Fine. You can use these same principles to take you to the top of Machu Picchu. Oh, you hate mountain climbing? No worries, spend a week on a warm beach somewhere with a Pina colada.
Wait for an upcoming post that details how I was able to swing deals like this, and how you can do the same.