Build a Travel Budget
Before You Build Your Trip

Creating a travel budget for traveling in Europe is the best way to control the cost of your trip, no matter how you travel or where in Europe you choose to go.

Whether you're planning a two week walking tour of the Cotswolds, or a summer-long stay in a Tuscan villa, knowing how you’ll spend your money will keep you focused on your trip.

Not on your wallet!

Grounds Outside Warwick Castle Walls

Travel is created with money. Every component of your trip is purchased with cold hard cash.

In exchange, you receive the means to fly, drive, sail, sleep, eat, drink, sightsee, and photograph your way through your European itinerary.

Your adventures in Europe – the experiences, memories, emotions, new friends, new ideas, personal growth, and even the hassles – are the result of the various parts of your trip that you purchase.

By creating a travel budget for Europe, you're better able to control your costs, giving the benefits of your travel free rein.

In other words...the value of your European trip comes from what you see, do, and experience.

Not from what you pay.

What is the Cost to Travel Europe?

A workable, realistic travel budget is the only way to know what your cost to travel Europe will be.

The basis for defining both your budget and your anticipated travel costs is understanding the current exchange rate between the money you use every day and the currency of your destination.  

A great site for calculating overseas exchange rates is It's an easy to use site where you can find up-to-date rates, while calcu-lating exchange conversions for more than 164 global currencies.

You can personalize conversions by language or currency, as well as research current and historical rates in your preferred language.  

For U.S. travelers to Europe, you can print a table for daily currency exchange rates between the Dollar and Euro. Or vice versa.

Once you have the current exchange rate for your destination, you can begin to determine your anticipated travel costs and how expensive your trip will be. 

Currency exchange rates fluctuate daily, weekly, and monthly. The most important thing to understand is:

  • When the exchange rate of your destination favors your currency, you’ll pay less for similar goods and services than you would at home.
  • If the rate favors the currency of your destination, you should be prepared to pay more than you would at home and know your travel expenses will increase proportionately.

It's important to be aware how expensive your destination will be before you travel

Knowing your destination exchange rate and using it to create a realistic travel budget, allows you to travel more freely. 

It gives you assurance to know you'll make it financially to the end of your trip.

And it provides flexibility as you travel, knowing you won't be short on funds.

Nesting In A Turret

To get a feel for the local rate of exchange during the first few days of your trip, create a wallet-sized cheat sheet of familiar bill denom-inations to use as a quick reference.

For U.S. travelers, make a list of exchange rates for $1, $5, $10, $20, and $50, [or whichever bill denomi-nations you plan to use] alongside the equivalent amounts in the currency of your destination.

This will let you see at a glance approximately what things cost and teach you to ballpark prices, as you get familiar with the new currency.

In as little as a day or two, you’ll be able to approximate the value of the new currency and judge equivalent costs on your own, without referring to your cheat sheet.

Even if you carry a smartphone and use an exchange app, having these rough exchange rates in your wallet alongside your money, will help you more quickly learn the look, feel, and value of the new currency.

Or, if you prefer to use only your phone, download the free exchange app from Oanda.

The cost to travel Europe – even when done on a budget – is not cheap. For many travelers, it’s a once in a lifetime experience, accomplished by years of saving.

For others, travel is a need, a calling. It’s do whatever you must - even skimping on meals - so you can travel.  

Whichever kind of traveler you are, it’s important to estimate up front what your costs will be and create a budget to have an idea of your overall travel expenses.

You'll know what you can afford, what you can do on a whim, and what you can do without, while traveling in Europe.

How Your Travel Budget Controls Your Expenses

Every traveler hopes to get the most from her trip for the least amount of money.

For many U.S. travelers, choosing to join a group tour or escorted vacation is the way to determine the cost to travel Europe.

Tour operators and the agents who sell them frequently promote travel packages and pre-arranged tours as the best way to save money and establish a budget for travel in Europe.

But, this only covers your primary costs of travel.

When you choose a group travel package, the cost you prepay for your package is the major expense of your travel budget. Once paid, these costs are fixed in stone.

These can include such things as reservation costs [which can take the form of booking fees], tour deposits, final payments, prepaid taxes, surcharges, service tips, gratuities, and even cancellation fees.

Your final tour price covers the major components of your trip, plus all extra charges required to satisfy your confirmed booking.

But these are not your total costs.

Flemish Buildings From The Middle Ages

On the other hand, if you choose indepen-dent travel, you can budget and prepay for as many or as few travel expenses as your comfort allows, based on the struc-ture of your trip.

This will give you greater flexibility in your itinerary and more control over certain aspects of your trip. 

By leaving some decisions for when you're actually in Europe - like which sights and attract-tions to visit, your choice of hotels, local transportation, and where to eat your meals, you increase the excitement and spontenaity of your travel.

In either case - traveling as part of a group tour or on your own - you can dramatically lower your cost to travel in Europe by sharing travel expenses.

The best travel budget tool is a traveling companion. It won't quite be two for the price of one, but travel costs divided by two, or three, or more traveling together, results in less expense for all.

A shared meal, hotel, or taxi ride can not only save you money, but usually allow you to upgrade to better service you might not consider if traveling on your own.

The most important thing to do when creating a travel budget for Europe or wherever you travel is to determine your financial priority.

Is it cost?  Value?  Rate of exchange? 

Each plays a part in how you plan your trip to Europe, the ultimate cost of your trip, and how that trip unfolds.

When you take the time to build a travel budget before your trip, you’ll have more control over the cost of travel - and both your experiences and your memories will increase proportionately.

For more tips on planning a European trip, try the following pages:

Planning a Trip to Europe? Include the most important thing to
insure your trip’s success.

Create a Travel Itinerary for Europe and bring your trip to life.

Budgeting For Travel lets you know where your money will go, and if it will last as long as your trip.

Does your Europe Travel Plan include everything you want to see and do in Europe?

Can your Travel Attitude increase the benefits of traveling?

Return to Getting Travel Ready

Travel Tip

Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. - Warren Buffett

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