I have been asked by quite a few people how much my 10-day trip to Europe cost. I estimated the total to be around $3,000 total, including everything. However, I never really sat down to look at how much I REALLY spent – probably because I was too afraid to see the actual cost, and I know there are things I could have spent more wisely on! With it being my first trip to Europe, alone, I just wanted everything to be easy, so I kind of just handed over my credit card/took out cash whenever I needed something! The actual total ended up being $3,865. I know, I know, not cheap. However, I wasn’t super strict about my spending – almost half was on transportation (flight + train pass), and a LOT of which was spent on chocolate and beer! No regrets. This trip could have definitely been cheaper if I booked earlier than 2-3 months in advance. Anyways, below is the cost breakdown, including information on the credit card I used, and the timeline of booking my trip.
First things first: Credit card. This was definitely a year for spending money, for a couple of reasons:
1) I wanted to travel internationally
2) I wanted to cross a lot off my bucket list
3) I wanted to get my yoga teacher certification
With that being said, I got dinged with international fees when I was in Costa Rica last year & Belize earlier this year, so I needed a card that didn’t charge me fees every time I traveled out of the country. I researched a few cards, and decided to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Card. Since I’m not loyal to a specific airline, and I already bank with Chase, the Sapphire card seemed like the most logical card to get. Below are a few reasons why I chose this card:
- No foreign transaction fees when traveling internationally
- While there is a $95/year fee, the first year fee is waived
- If you spend $4,000 within the first three months of use, you get 50,000 bonus points – which, when booking any traveling through the chase website (super easy and amazing, btw), is $625 towards airfare or hotels. I booked an impromptu trip to Florida, my trip to NYC, AND my upcoming California flights for free with those points!
- $4,000 may seem like a lot to spend in 3 months, but I put everything on my credit card – bills, groceries, my trip to europe, and every single cost for my yoga teacher training. It’s definitely doable, especially if you add an authorized user to help you spend more money!
- Add an authorized user within the first 3 months, get another 5,000 points (I didn’t use this because, well, I am single and have no one else to use my credit card ;)). However, you could add a parent or a friend to help you earn points!
- 20% off travel when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- You book by logging into your chase account, then go into chase ultimate rewards and book there. The last 3 flights I booked through chase with my points was 20% less than if I had booked through an airline or travel site!
- As a side note – I had issues booking my last-minute flight to Florida back in October, so I called chase to book over the phone – they spent an hour on the phone with me, looking for the cheapest flight that fit my very limited schedule – seriously, the best customer service ever!
- If you are partial to a specific airline, you can even transfer your points to your frequent flyer travel programs! Ex: Transfer 1,000 points from your chase card to your southwest frequent flyer miles.(Participating programs: British Airways Executive Club, Korean Air SKYPASS, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, United MileagePlus®, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Hyatt Gold Passport®, IHG® Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards® and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®.)
This was the card that I used, so I am pretty partial to it. It all depends on what you are looking for in a credit card, what your travel frequency, etc is. So, I recommend looking at all your options and picking what works best for you. Nerd Wallet has a tool that you can use to find the most logical travel card for you based on monthly spend, credit score, fees, etc. Check out their comparison tool here.
Now – on to the more detailed part of the trip
Below is a breakdown by transportation, food, activities, accommodations, items bought for traveling, etc. I am going based off of credit card/debit card activity, as well as extra traveling items I purchased for the trip.
I also created a google doc beginning in June (I left the second week of September)to add misc information for my trip and to plan – I normally do this for any trip to a place I haven’t been before! It might seem a bit scatter-brained, but it was a great way to keep all of my information in one spot. I basically start out with a blank spreadsheet and add stuff as I go along – I think i edited this until the day I left! It took me a few weeks to actually create a solid schedule, and I estimated all of the costs, but that’s the fun of planning ;).You can check out what it looks like here!
I booked my flight less than 3 months before I left – so, my flights were definitely not the cheapest. I recommend booking sooner, if possible. I used google flights to find the cheapest flights based on my timeframe & where I wanted to fly into, then went through my Chase credit card rewards account to book the actual flights (it’s cheaper when booking with points!). Super easy, and all of my information is in one place.
Food: $111.07 (on credit card)
Misc (Food, Souveniers, etc): $862.38
Pre-Trip Purchases: $215.57
Total Cost of Trip: $3,865.80
You can find the actual spreadsheet here.
So that’s it! This is what goes on in my brain when traveling and planning my trips! Also, planning versus what actually happens is very different (in a good way!), so always be prepared for the unexpected 🙂
I hope this helps anyone planning a trip to Europe, Oktoberfest, or pretty much anywhere! There are a lot of traveler sites out there with much more information, ways to travel cheap, etc. I recommend taking a look at as many blogs as you can, and taking what you want from them. It’s your trip, so plan the way you want and do what you are comfortable doing! If you have any questions, shoot me an email or leave a comment below!
**UPDATE 9/23! since returning from my trip, I have added notes in Bold/italic below about anything I would have or would not have packed.
Since booking my trip back in June, I haven’t given much thought to packing until the past week. Insert: frantic last-minute purchases on amazon prime. Since I am only taking 1 backpack, there is some serious consolidating happening. Which, surprisingly, hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. I already knew i wouldn’t be taking any hair appliances, and I’m perfectly fine with walking around in leggings the entire trip. So, I did a lot of research and made a list of what I needed to bring, including a few non-negotiable must-haves. Below is a list of everything I have packed – it seems like a lot, but it’s just a bunch of small things that all add up to fitting perfectly in 1 bag. Also – I am bringing a second bag for souvenirs & crap that won’t fit into my backpack (my books!).
Packing Cubes – You definitely need these for organization while traveling!
Top cube: Toiletries Middle cube: Bathing suit/socks/underwear Bottom cube: Clothes
Toiletries (travel size):
sunscreen – barely used this, would only bring if I went somewhere warmer!
shampoo & conditioner
toothbrush & toothpaste
hairbrush + hair ties/bobby pins
Clothes: **Planning on doing laundry at the hostels as needed!
8 pairs of socks
15 pairs of underwear – could have brought less, since I did laundry during my trip
2 scarves – these have secret pockets in them to carry my passport/valuables in! I had these made on etsy in black and grey – I could have honestly done without these – it wasn’t super cold, and I felt safe with just my cross body bag
1 pair of shorts – never wore, it was way too cold!
4 pairs of black leggings
3 tanks (1 white, 1 black, 1 casual)
3 workout outfits **Planning on running around the cities/impromptu yoga classes! – wore 1 workout outfit when I went for a run, and shorts when i did laundry. could have survived with packing only 1-2 outfits
1 bathingsuit – never wore this, but glad I brought it just in case
2 long sleeved shirts + 1 pair of fleece-lined leggings for when I am in the mountains!
1 long-sleeved chambray button up shirt
1 sweater – for the plane ride & cold nights – i completely underestimated how cold it was going to be when I was over there! i probably would have brought a second sweater that was thicker for when I was in the mountains!
1 rain jacket – it’s supposed to rain 2-3 days I am there! – one of my best packing choices, it rained a LOT!
1 pajama outfit
Secret Scarf with Hidden Passport!
Shoes: – perfect amount of shoes to bring, no complaints!
workout arm band – used this when I went for a run
charcoal tablets (for food poisoning/stomach issues)
peppermint oil (headaches/sinuses) – i used this + lemon everyday!
contacts + glasses
sunglasses – used everyday!
adapter plugs – for Germany & for Switzerland
camera – only used a few times, mainly used my phone for pictures!
locks – for my bag zippers + storing my bag at the hostels – honestly didn’t really need, I felt pretty safe the entire time!
Eurorail train tickets
Day bag for exploring + money belt for under my clothes – could have done without the money belt, day bag = best item brought on the trip! used it everywhere I went, and had no issues with pick pocketing
mini duct tape (who knows what type of emergency I’ll have ;))
Also brought an extra bag for souveniers – so glad I did! 10+ lbs of chocolate, a huge 1 liter beer stein + misc things collected – all needed to be carried back and would never have fit in my suitcase!
pictures/copies of ID/passport on phone/email
headphones – lifesaver!
baby wipes – lifesaver!
protein bars – lifesavers!
aquaphor – my lips were chapped the entire trip, so glad i brought this!
tissues – i wish i had brought more, as i used these for small spills and my runny nose!
carabiner/flashlight/whistle all-in-one – only used once while in the hostel, but still good to have.
backup phone charger – one of the top items used while traveling. SUCH a lifesaver! My phone battery drained quickly from using maps
mini notebook for travel notes – used this until I lost my pen ;/
books **planning on leaving these on the plane for the next person once I am finished – less weight to carry! – honestly wish I had only brought 1 book, if any. I didn’t really have time to read them, and it was hard to lug them around
Jet Lag medicine for the flight back – so far this stuff is magic! I didn’t sleep for 24 hours straight while traveling back to the states, and i got about 8-9 hours of sleep when I got home. Feeling a little groggy, but I was able to work and get stuff done the next day perfectly fine.
Below are a few of the apps I downloaded on my phone – are there any others that I absolutely need to have?
Hostelworld – this has all my booking information for where I am staying **Used this a few times for directions
TripIt – I have my entire trip planned out on here – Every confirmation email I got (flights, hostels, events, etc) – I forwarded to Trip it, and it automatically created my schedule. I then went in and added details as needed. You can also send a link to friends/family so they know where you will be (in case you ever go missing ;)). **Only used this a few times
City Maps 2go – I downloaded maps for the cities I will be in to navigate my way around, no internet required – if you are traveling, you MUST download this app! I used it everywhere I went – it points you in the right direction and is totally accurate.
Rail Planner – i was able to look up all of the times trains were leaving and create a list fo every train/transfer needed. If I miss my train, I can check for other times with no issue, as I don’t have to be online to look! — used this a ton to double check my train schedules!
Gate Guru – I use this for all of my plane travels! It has information on every single thing to do at each airport by gate, with maps. It is awesome for layovers & for finding out about any flight changes!
Google Docs – my travel spreadsheet with all info was on google docs – I accessed this a LOT
And that’s it! Everything fit in my bag, and I am ready to go. Has anyone ever traveled to Europe with just 1 backpack? Am I missing any essential items? I am planning on buying a SIM card as soon as I land in Switzerland. Anyone have experience/tips for this? **bought my sim card at the post office as soon as I landed in Geneva
Ever since I got back from Belize, I couldn’t help but begin to plan my next adventure: 1.5 weeks in Europe, visiting Switzerland & Germany. I have never traveled to Europe, let alone by myself, so I am terrified… but so excited to go! Once I started planning, I had to narrow down to just 2 countries because it was getting a little overwhelming (Italy, I am coming for you next year!). I’ve literally spent hours planning this trip already, and I still have a lot to do… I’ve only booked my hostel for Munich, so I’ll be booking everything else in the next few weeks! Below is my schedule so far:
Day 1: Fly to Geneva, Switzerland
Day 2: Arrive in Geneva early AM
check in at hostel
Rent bike and tour the city
visit the broken chair
Yoga class! (Any recommendations?)
Day 3: Day trip to Chamonix French Alps
Day 4: Travel to Lausanne/Montreux
check in at hostel
check out chocolate/cheese factory & eat my body weight in delicious swiss chocolate
Day 5: Travel to Grindelwald
check in at hostel
Yoga Class in morning/afternoon
bungee jump or paraglide! **anyone ever do this? I am terrified!
Day 6: Travel to Munich via train
check in at hostel, get situated
buy dirndl for Oktoberfest!
Day 7, 8, 9, 10: Oktoberfest!
hit the Schottenhamel tent for first beer pour of the festival
hang out with fellow Americans at the Hofbräu tent
Day 8, 9,10: Explore Munich
visit Olympiaturm (flying fox!)
visit Theresienwiese – Maiden of Bavaria
Tour Andechs Monastery and Brewery
Day 11: Fly back to the US
I started out wanting to end my trip in Italy, but it got to be too much in too little time. So for now, extra time in Switzerland and Germany! Transportation is probably the main thing that is stressing me out – do I need to book ahead of time? How much time do I need to take into account when traveling via train/air in Europe? How do I know what trains to take in between cities/countries? Do I need to purchase ahead of time? I am so excited to plan and travel this trip all by myself, even if it seems a little daunting. Has anyone traveled to Geneva/Oktoberfest? Any tips for a newbie solo backpacking in Europe? I would love to hear about your experience !
Back in October, I flew out to Asia & Europe for 3 weeks. Along the way, I stopped in Barcelona for a few days to tour the city, make new friends, and to do some yoga. With the craziness of non-stop traveling since then + moving to a new state, I finally have some time to sit down and write about my travels!
Spain has been on my Bucket list for a while, and since 2016 was apparently the year to cross off half my bucket list as complete, I thought I’d stop by Barcelona on my way from Thailand to Ibiza. I had 2.5 days before heading to Ibiza for a week of yoga, so I booked my flight, a cheap hostel, and didn’t plan one thing (!). Normally, I plan most of my trips out with a little wiggle room for spontaneity… however, I was way too busy to even think about looking for things to do – I figured once I arrived, the hostel & people staying there would give me some good tips. And guess what – I don’t think I’ll ever plan anything to do on any trip ever again! I had an amazing time exploring the city by myself, getting lost, and meeting some really bad ass people along the way. Below is a recap of my first time in Barcelona – and definitely not my last!
Arrive at Hostel One Ramblas
The hostel was a bit dingy, and it didn’t look like the pictures on their website AT ALL. However, the staff was really helpful and gave me a huge map of the city with recommendations of best places to go. They also do your laundry for a few euros – so I handed the staff a bag full of sweaty yoga clothes and left to explore the city around 10 am.
First stop: La Boqueria, because FOOD! La Boqueria is a huge open market in Barcelona, and it is easily my favorite place ever.
Just look at how amazing and delicious everything looks!
Fresh fruit, fresh baked bread, meats, cheeses, chocolate… I wish I could take this market back to the US!
I grabbed a cup of fresh fruit & walked around, then bought some lunch before I left – baked bread filled with meat, mashed potatoes, and rice. So. So. Good.
After leaving the market, I wandered down La Rambla and explored different shops + people watched. It was so busy and so easy to get lost! In fact, I did get lost. However, that is the best way to figure out where you are in a new city, right??
tourist guide groups were everywhere!
I walked through parks, learned that street names were on buildings (seriously, so confusing!), and eventually made it to the Arc De Triomf. There was a lot of construction going on around it, but it was gorgeous!
Park de la Ciutadella was nearby, so I headed over there and people watched for a while. There were salsa dancers practicing, people blowing huge bubbles, and couples enjoying romantic boat rides on a pond nearby.
Blowing bubbles, with the Cascada Fountain in the background
Another reason to visit Barcelona: Architecture. Gaudi is very well-loved in Spain, as his architecture is stunning and so unique. His work is everywhere around the city, and it was amazing to be able to see it all! **In the picture above, you can se the Cascada Fountain, which was built by Josep Fontseré, with Gaudi as his assistant.
After leaving the park, I got lost. Again. BUT – I’m glad I did, because I found something very, very important: The Chocolate Muesum.
Made entirely from chocolate!
I learned about the history of chocolate, which is something I should know about since I eat so much of it! There were a lot of displays from movies, like minions, star wars, bambi, etc, all made completely of chocolate (see above)!
Since I had been walking around all afternoon, I decided to stop by a local tapas restaurant to grab another snack on my way back to the hostel. Everything was 1 Euro – a small glass of champagne, cheese, meats, etc. So, cheese & rose it was!
After finally making it back to the hostel, I showered & got ready for the night walk. There is a morning and afternoon activity planned everyday, and that night we walked for about a half hour across the city & up a LOT of steps & hills to get to a look point over the city. (I walked 12+ miles this day!)
We grabbed a bottle of wine & some snacks, and watched the sun set over Barcelona.
This night was hands down my favorite part of Barcelona – it was relaxing, gorgeous, and the views were unbelievable! If I lived in Barcelona, I would come here almost every night.
Afterwards, we all went back to the hostel to get ready for the night. The hostel I stayed at cooked a “family dinner” every night, and you could eat a plate (or 2) if you donated some money to help pay for the food. Afterwards, we all help clean up, then begin drinking before going out. Unfortunately for me, I forgot that I had been up for almost 24 hours and there was a 6 hour difference between Thailand and Spain… so, I got ready, decided to take a quick nap, then fell asleep until the next morning… Oops! Fortunately, I had another day to explore 🙂
Day 2 was all about getting lost, trying to find the best views of the city, castles, gardens, yoga, and dancing!
Placa Espanya – picture taken on top of a shopping mall!
I started my day off with with heading west to Plaça Espanya & finding the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya + water fountain that overlooked a part of the city.
The Fountain is HUGE in person!
View over the fountain!
I am not really a museum person (unless it is about chocolate!), so I didn’t actually go IN to the museum… but, the outside + views were absolutely amazing!
Afterwards, I began to wander South to the Olympic museum & stadium(s) as well as through some gardens. Honestly, I was just trying to find my way to Montjuïc Castle Castell de Montjuïc, but I could not for the life of me figure out how the heck to get there. Fortunately, there are signs that point you there, and a LOT of hills that let you know that you are reaching a higher part of the city (where all the views are!).
You can also take a cable car up to the castle, which will definitely save you some time and miles… However, I recommend walking, as it is great exercise and you can walk through different gardens on your way!
I had to pay a small amount (I think 10-20 Euro) to get into the castle, which was really cool to explore. And the views were of course, amazing – you can look out over the city & the harbor – well worth it!
On my way back to the hostel, I got lost. Again. However, I did find a yoga studio, which I ended up going to later that night… this is why I love traveling!
I stopped at a local tapas restaurant called Blai 9 (recommended by the hostel staff) for some food + a beer, because.. Spain! There needs to be more restaurants like this in the US… It’s like a buffet, but for appetizers – 1 Euro each!
After walking around all day, I stopped by a local nail studio for a pedicure… 20 euro for a gel pedicure = best money spent the entire trip! The salon staff were hilarious, and they helped me learn a few more spanish words in the hour that I was there 🙂
After my pedicure, I finally made it back to the hostel for a quick nap… then, YOGA! The entire point of my international travels 🙂
I went to The Garage, a yoga studio transformed from an old garage from the 1940’s. It was an absolutely beautiful space, and I was lucky enough to take a class from the owner.
The class was slow, calm, and entirely in spanish & sanskrit – so I knew what was going on half the time! Chanting & breathwork followed by a simple sequence was perfect following a day of walking 10+ miles around the city.
Following yoga, I went back to the hostel for a shower and dinner… then a night full of drinking & dancing! I couldn’t tell you the places we went, as we took a train across the city and went to 2-3 different places. However, it wasn’t the places that we went that were awesome – it was the people. I met some really amazing, beautiful people traveling – for fun, on a search for meaning in their life, coming from a pilgrimage on Camino de Santiago, students, working people in their 20’s and 30’s… It didn’t matter if I’d ever meet these people again – hearing their stories and learning from them are priceless, and it’s one of the main reasons I travel. Hearing about someone else’s experience can literally change the course of your life, your passion, where you live, where you travel… it’s amazing, and I think everyone should experience & meet other travelers at some point in their lives (whether it be in a hostel, across the world, across the US, in a bar, at an airport… location doesn’t matter!).
After leaving the first bar (where an entire bottle of liquor was given to pour as much as we wanted into a glass), we went to a club and danced… until 2:30 am! Hours literally passed by in minutes, I swear. So, I left with a few other people & headed back to the hostel. After we got back, I ended up walking to the pier and talking with another girl from Germany until 4 or 5 in the morning. It was so quiet & peaceful, and it was the perfect ending to my stay in Barcelona!
The next morning, I decided to stop by La Boqueria again, because I wanted some chocolate/candy before grabbing a cab to the airport…
and, of course, some gelato and a cappachino for breakfast. Who doesn’t love being an adult?? (I swear, I don’t eat this bad everyday!)
All sugared up, I headed back to the hostel & said my goodbyes. Then, a quick cab ride to the airport, on schedule to fly out for a week in Ibiza (blog post coming soon)!
**Side note – I flew Ryan Air for the first time and learned the hard way that you need to print your ticket out ahead of time… Otherwise, you will have to wait in line for an hour + pay 20 extra euro just to get the ticket printed out.
Also – Spain & Ibiza is expensive. And the cost to take money out at the airport & ATMs are ridiculous – so try to take as much cash as you can before flying internationally, or you will be paying a lot of fees! I recommend stashing different amounts of cash in different areas of your luggage/carry on/clothes in the case that something gets stolen or lost.
Overall, Barcelona is amazing. I would go back and spend more time there, or even live there for a year or 2. The city is gorgeous, and there are so many things to do and explore!
Has anyone ever been to Barcelona? If so, what were your favorite parts??