How Much Does 3 Months in Europe Cost: A Complete Budget Breakdown

how much to travel around europe for 3 months

Introduction

Are you dreaming of embarking on a grand adventure in Europe but unsure of how much it will cost? Look no further, because we have got you covered! At The Jet Lag Journey, we understand the importance of travel transparency. It can be challenging to determine the budget required for an extended trip, especially if you are transitioning from occasional vacations to a full-time travel lifestyle. That’s why we are here to share our first-hand experience of traveling through Europe for three months. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive breakdown of our expenses, giving you a clear picture of how much money you can expect to spend on a trip like this.

Why we chose to spend our summer in Europe

In recent years, we have deliberately rearranged our lives to have the freedom to work from anywhere. In 2022, we happily attended twelve weddings, dedicating our time and finances to celebrate the love of our friends. While we cherish those memories, we longed for a trip that was solely for ourselves. Despite having traveled extensively since our initial six-month backpacking journey in 2019, we were eager to hit the road again for an extended period.

Europe holds a special place in our hearts. We consider it our favorite destination in the world. Our dream is to become European citizens and eventually relocate there. However, for now, we are restricted to spending a maximum of 90 days in the Schengen region within a 180-day period. Even though we have explored many European countries, there are still countless new destinations on our bucket list. Additionally, there are cities we already love and wish to experience living in for more than just a few days.

Where we went on our 3-month trip around Europe

where to travel in Europe on a budget

Choosing the destinations for a long-term trip can be a daunting task. It’s surprising how quickly the calendar fills up, and you realize there are still so many places you want to visit! Our summer in Europe in 2023 was a mix of exploring new destinations and revisiting familiar ones that we adore.

To be completely honest, our itinerary was packed to the brim. Despite having some extended stays, we often felt rushed and exhausted. Maintaining work-life balance while fully immersing ourselves in the joy of travel can be challenging. If we were to do this again, we would likely choose to travel at a slower pace.

For more detailed information on how to plan long-term travel, be sure to check out our comprehensive guide.

Europe summer 2023 Itinerary:

  • Lake Bled, Slovenia
  • Split, Croatia
  • Annecy, France
  • Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Thun, Switzerland
  • Cagliari, Sardinia
  • Valletta, Malta
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • London, UK
  • Cork, Ireland
  • Edinburgh, UK
  • Malaga, Spain
  • Marrakech, Morocco
  • Mallorca, Spain
  • Porto, Portugal
  • Madeira, Portugal
  • Lisbon, Portugal

How much did we spend over 3 months in Europe?

Now, let’s get to the burning question: how much money did we spend during our three-month European adventure? Whether you are a solo traveler or traveling with a partner, our budget breakdown will give you a comprehensive understanding of the expenses involved. While we combine our expenses as a couple, we will also provide cost per person totals.

So, without further ado, here’s the detailed breakdown by category:

Category Total (2 people) Total (1 person)
Housing $20,239 $10,120
Transportation
Groceries
Restaurants
Bars
Activities
TOTAL $20,239 $10,120

To clarify, it cost each of us slightly over $10,000 to spend three months in Europe. However, it’s essential to note that you do not necessarily require $10,000 for a similar trip. In fact, we have detailed information on how we embarked on a six-month trip around the world in 2019 for almost the same amount of money. The key difference is that during this summer trip, we were both working as digital nomads, which allowed us to have a slightly higher budget due to our income while traveling.

No matter your budget, we firmly believe that there are always ways to be smart with your money while traveling without sacrificing your experience. Check out our article on 40 ways to travel cheaper for valuable tips and tricks.

Now, let’s delve into each category in more detail.

Budget Category Descriptions

Europe summer budget

Housing budget

The housing category encompasses the total cost of accommodations throughout the summer. Our budget goal for housing in Europe was an average of $100 per night. Surprisingly, we managed to come in under budget, with an average of $94 per night over the course of our 87-day journey.

When we embarked on our six-month trip around the world in 2019, our housing budget was a mere $40 per night. This significant increase in overall trip cost compared to our 2023 Europe summer can be attributed to the rise in housing expenses. It’s important to note that the budget we set was meant to be an average. Some cities, such as Copenhagen, simply did not offer adequate housing options for less than $180 per night. Conversely, we found a great Airbnb deal for $70 per night in Malaga, Spain. Additionally, we were fortunate enough to stay with friends in London and Ireland, which saved us the cost of accommodations. The key is to maintain an average budget and adjust accordingly based on the value and availability of housing options in each city.

As digital nomads, we predominantly stayed in Airbnbs during our summer in Europe. It was crucial for us to have access to a functional kitchen, a comfortable bed, and reliable Wi-Fi. Before booking any housing for an extended period, we recommend thoroughly reading reviews to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

Transportation budget

The transportation budget includes more than just our flights; it encompasses any form of transportation, such as taxis, trains, ferries, and public buses that we used to get from one point to another, excluding walking.

An important note is that we booked our trans-Atlantic flights using credit card points, which significantly reduced our transportation expenses. Typically, flights to and from Europe can be a significant portion of one’s budget when planning a trip to the continent.

Pro-tip: When booking flights in Europe or anywhere else, always read the fine print regarding the airline’s luggage policy. If your bag needs to be gate-checked or your carry-on doesn’t fit the airline’s requirements, you may be hit with an unexpected, hefty fine. As experienced travelers, even we were caught off guard by an unexpected $150 charge each when flying back home with TapAir Portugal. The carry-on weight limit was surprisingly low, and everyone’s bags were weighed at the gate. Make sure to have a plan in place for your bags before arriving at the airport to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Grocery budget

The grocery category encompasses all the expenses we incurred from supermarket or convenience store purchases. As we were traveling for three months, we cooked many of our meals ourselves. It’s simply not feasible to eat out for every meal during an extended trip, both for financial and practical reasons. Additionally, we thoroughly enjoy cooking our own meals whenever possible during long-term travel.

The cost of groceries in Europe varies by country. For example, Switzerland stands out as one of the most expensive options, even though it offers the cheapest meal alternative. Grocery shopping in Italy, on the other hand, is considerably more cost-effective. Regardless, grocery shopping is the most budget-friendly option when traveling on a tight budget.

Restaurant budget

Now, here’s the deal: we aren’t the most extravagant foodies out there. However, we do relish the opportunity to dine out, especially in Europe. We always seek the best value for our money, refusing to visit fancy restaurants solely because they are highly recommended. As avid budget travelers, we typically dine out two to three times a week, trying at least one local establishment in each city. Overall, dining in Europe tends to be more affordable compared to the United States. In countries like Portugal, Spain, or Italy, you can enjoy a full meal, complete with wine, for less than $20 per person. However, dining out frequently in countries like Sweden, Denmark, or Switzerland can quickly deplete your bank account.

Bar and pub budget

To some, it may seem unconventional to have separate categories for bars and restaurants. However, we have a confession to make: we genuinely enjoy a good party! Exploring bars and experiencing the local nightlife is one of our favorite ways to immerse ourselves in a new city and embrace its culture. There are days and nights when we may skip eating out, but we will instead find a great happy hour deal or simply enjoy a night out with fellow travelers.

The bar and pub budget can be highly individualistic based on personal preferences. If you have a penchant for fine dining and sipping martinis, you may need to allocate a larger portion of your budget to these categories. Our go-to drink is the cheapest beer available, which means that our bar budget may be lower compared to someone who is less conscious about the cost of each drink.

While we did not have a specific budget in mind for our bar expenses during the summer in Europe (because let’s face it, who can accurately predict that?), we always aimed to find the best deals in town and opt for the more affordable drink options. That, in itself, feels like quite an accomplishment!

Activity budget

The activities budget accounts for typical tourist expenditures in a new city. This may include entry fees for castles, museums, fees for funicular rides to viewpoints, and similar expenses.

We did not set a specific limit for this budget category since we did not always know in advance which activities we would choose to indulge in. However, we made a conscious effort to prioritize the activities that excited us the most. We didn’t visit museums or tour buildings that didn’t pique our interest. It’s important to exercise caution with these types of expenses as they can add up quickly if you’re not mindful of your choices.

Our daily travel budget

If you know us personally, you’ll be aware that Seth is a budgeting wizard. He has mastered the art of setting and adhering to a daily budget. As long-term travelers, it is vital for us to stick to our budget to sustain this lifestyle. While it may be tempting to overlook your expenses when traveling for a week or two, this mindset does not apply when travel becomes a way of life.

The best way to approach budgeting is by breaking it down into a daily average. Our daily budget does not include major transportation or housing expenses, as we consider those to be overarching trip costs. Incorporating them into day-to-day expenses would complicate matters. With that in mind, our daily budget for Europe was $100, or an average of $50 per person per day over the entire trip. However, keep in mind that this is an average figure. Some days, we spent nothing, while on others, we exceeded $200, depending on the day’s planned activities.

In the end, we managed to achieve an average of $91 per day in total, or $45 per person per day, excluding housing and major transportation costs. We are thrilled to have stayed under budget!

To help you visualize your own travel budget and gain some inspiration, we have created a budget spreadsheet freebie that accompanies this article. This spreadsheet is an excellent tool for visual learners who want to see a detailed breakdown of expenses by destination.

How to manage your travel budget

Team JLJ is passionate about travel budgeting! We understand that setting a budget and sticking to it may not come naturally to everyone. Budgeting is a skill that improves with practice. The more you do it, the better you become at managing your expenses.

Our top recommendation for staying on budget is to download an app that allows you to track your expenses on the go. Numerous apps offer this feature, but our personal favorite is TravelSpend, which we used extensively during our summer trip in Europe. Although it may feel a bit odd initially to input each expense, it quickly becomes second nature. This app enables you to track your spending while traveling and stores all the essential details for future reference. So, if someone ever asks about your favorite dinner spot in Porto, Portugal, you can easily access the information and reminisce about the experience.

Establishing your own personal travel budget involves considering various factors. We discuss all the details in our article on how to create a travel budget.

Why you should plan your own summer in Europe

The truth is, there’s never a bad time to travel to Europe. However, spending the summer in Europe is truly extraordinary. Not only is it peak tourist season, but it also offers the best weather, particularly for beach destinations. If you prefer to avoid the crowds, we recommend traveling during the spring or fall when the weather is milder.

To kickstart your planning, take a look at our Europe bucket list, which will provide inspiration for your own European adventure.

Our goal in writing this article was to bring clarity to your extended European trip planning. We always strive to be transparent about travel costs because we understand how overwhelming it can be to embark on a journey without a clear understanding of the financial implications.

If this article resonated with you or if you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to leave a comment or reach out to us. We are always delighted to connect with fellow adventure enthusiasts and help them achieve their travel goals.

Happy travels!

XX Maddy & Seth

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