I've put together this page in order to show you about what the two of us spent on our 2003 European Vacation, and what you might expect to pay if travel Europe during the high season. I've broken it down into statistical categories: Transportation costs, Lodging costs, and Restaurant meal expense, one per page.
Our European Vacation Travel Expenses--What's Typical?
This year we traveled around Europe for 7 weeks. We traveled in London, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, staying mostly in hotels.Our average hotel had three stars. We leased a car, a Renault Clio 1.4, for 49 days (read about renting vs. leasing).
We are frugal but not cheap. We like to eat well, so we spent a little more than most folks on restaurant food, and most days more on food than lodging.
(A detailed explanation of how I travel in Europe is available my article: How I travel in Europe)
The Statistics for our European Vacation--The Cost of Transportation.
We drove a total of 8683 kilometers across Europe--that's 5393 miles, 110 miles per day. (Take into consideration that we were traveling as journalists at a breakneck speed in order to collect as much info as possible on our "vacation." You will probably take it a bit more leisurely.)
- Our new Renault Clio had air conditioning and we needed it most drives.
- It went about 14km on a liter of fuel. (European volumes are specified in liters, 1 liter is .22 gallons, or close to a quart.)
- Fuel prices along our route varied between .76 and 1.15 Euros per liter.
- 1 US dollar let us travel about 12 km or 7.5 miles based on fuel costs alone.
- We spent about 600 Euros total for unleaded fuel on our trip.
- The 49 day lease of the car cost $1294
- The total cost of driving an air conditioned car in Europe was around $2000 (converting the Euros for fuel into dollars at the time of transaction).
- That's about $275 per week for transportation.
- Thus we spent $1 for 4.34km or $1 for 2.7 miles or $0.37 per mile in total cost. (This is not far from the average ownership costs of a car in the US, which was 51.7 cents at the time this article was written. The IRS allows a 36 cent deduction for business use of your own car.)
Note: Diesel fuel is much cheaper than gasoline in Europe. Frugal travelers might want to look into renting or leasing a diesel vehicle.
Transportation: Expense Comparisons with Train Tickets and Rail Passes
- Two Unlimited 2 month Eurail passes cost $2676, or $1338 each.
- A Eurail flexi pass that allows 15 days travel over two months costs $1350 or $675 each (source Rail Europe)
- Thus, a car is quite economical compared to first class train travel with a Eurail pass, especially with two or more people.
We don't have space to compare this with many point to point tickets, but you can get an idea of what rail travel might cost from my article Rail Travel in Europe - What's it Cost?
Here's a quick comparison of Italian rail travel per kilometer from 2002, when a 2nd class trip cost me 5.73 Euros for 113 kilometers, or 20 km per Euro, cheaper than our 14 km per dollar, but keep in mind that Italian train travel is about the cheapest in Europe (i.e. don't try this trick in the UK!). Remember that the expense of carrying more people multiplies the cost of a train trip, but more riders don't increase the cost of using a car until you've reached your limit (for the Renault it was 4 people.)
Fuel Costs in Europe - The Stats
Country with Lowest Cost per Liter of Unleaded Fuel: 0.76 Euro, Spain. (Greece is also known to have cheap gas.)
Italy, Belgium and France had comparable costs, which varied between 0.96 and 1.15 Euro/liter. (In France, the gasoline in those giant market malls called Hypermarkets was around 5-7 percent cheaper than most regular stations. Look for gas stations on the outskirts of town and usually inside Hypermarket parking lots.)
Petrol Prices across Europe (in pounds sterling, but you can see the relationships between prices in all European countries).
Click to the next page for information on the cost of Lodging on our European Vacation.