The Cost Of Travel, Part II: My Year By The Numbers

Ali over at Ali Adventures recently posted about what it cost for her and Andy to travel through Europe for two months, and also what it cost just for their trip to the Netherlands.  This sort of number crunching is always kind of interesting to me, so I wanted to break out some of my own spending.

Before I get into the numbers, I wanted to say this:  I don’t spend a whole lot of money at home.  My rent and utilities are a little more than 20% of my income.   Once I had the basic things I needed for my life here, I stopped buying.  The walls of my apartment are unadorned- I never put up any art or curtains here.  I bought one light fixture for the ceiling but never actually wired it in.    I have a fair amount of gadgetry, but for the most part I live a pretty frugal existence.  I don’t care to spend a lot of money on my residence here because I don’t actually spend much time there outside of the work week. If there’s a chance to be traveling to somewhere new, I’d rather be doing that.

I’ll be paying for this year’s travel well into next year, and I’m OK with that.  Let’s talk numbers.

My tracking is a little less accurate than Ali’s post, for several reasons.  First of all, my banking is spread across both American and German bank accounts, and my statistics come from my use of, which is only valid for the US bank accounts.  (I love Mint though-  I never really understood just where my money went until I started using it a few years back.)

Secondly, and far more importantly, a fact of life in Europe is that cash is king.  Outside of hotels and major tourist attractions, American style credit cards are rarely accepted or just don’t work at all.  A tremendous amount of my expenses during travel are paid in cash, so I don’t have that side of things itemized.  What I do have is rather amazing, though.

First, I went to my German bank account and I pulled the totals for two big categories.  The first is payments to, the German ticket site that I use to buy my concert tickets.  I only pulled payments for 2013, so this doesn’t include tickets that I bought late last year, like the Leonard Cohen ticket.  It also doesn’t include tickets that I paid cash for, or tickets that someone else picked up, where I paid them back later.  In 2013, I’ve spent at least €110 ($144.99) on concert tickets, but it was more likely two or three times that amount.

Next, I checked out what I’ve spent on Deutsche Bahn tickets so far this year.  Once again, there are times that I paid cash for my tickets, so those numbers won’t show up here.  However, any time I planned a trip in advance, I bought the tickets using my German bank account, so I have that total.  In 2013, I’ve spent at least €932.30 ($1228.86) on train tickets.  The majority of these tickets are at a 50% discount, because I have a BahnCard 50.

Next, I went to to pull everything that I’ve categorized as travel in 2013.  This doesn’t include my 2012 travel numbers, which were also sizeable.


  • $7,826.15 on hotels.  Hotels are by far the largest expense for my travel.  There are one or two hotels that I paid for on my German banking account, but this is most of them.
  • $3,199.39 for air travel.  This does include my upcoming trip to visit the US in November, but it also includes two trips to London and back, one to Paris, and one to Dublin.  If a train trip would be more than about six hours, I consider flying instead.
  • $1,137.85 for rental cars and taxis.  I don’t use rentals or taxis very often in Europe, as I prefer to use public transportation whenever possible-  more than two thirds of this is for my rental car in Florida this November.
  • $442.65 for “travel” and “$377.76 for “Vacation.”  This just proves I need to categorize things better.  These two include tours booked in other cities, as well as things like the Paris Pass.
  • $112.25 for the rail ticket I booked between London and Cardiff for this October.  This number doesn’t include the fees I’ve paid for the Heathrow Express, a train between Heathrow airport and Paddington station in London. Also, as previously stated, this doesn’t include anything from the Deutsche Bahn.

The total on all of this is $13,096.05 from the US banking and $1,373.85 from the German banking.

This means that in 2013 alone, and only 2013, I have spent a grand total of more than $14,469.90 on travel.  And that doesn’t even include cash spending, food, or local public transit passes.

It is possible to travel at much lower costs than this, of course-  hostels, couch-surfing, and cheaper hotel alternatives are everywhere.  Many cities have free tours that don’t cost what I spend on Skip-The-Line tours  from

The thing is, I don’t care to travel more frugally.  My time in Europe is finite-  I won’t be out here forever.  In another fourteen months, I’ll be back in the US.  Once I’m back within those borders, it will be a while before I travel internationally again:  there’s still too much I want to see within the United States.

While I’m here, though, I’m making the most of it.  I want to see everything.  Here, let Buzzfeed chime in on this:

How much do you spend a year on travel?  Do you ever regret the expense?


5 thoughts on “The Cost Of Travel, Part II: My Year By The Numbers

  1. Ooh, this is interesting.

    I’m not sure how much I spend on travel because usually my boyfriend pays for us both and I pay him my share back. My Bahncard 100 costs A LOT, but I also use that to get to work and it includes public transport within Karlsruhe, so not all of that money is spent on travel for the sake of travelling.


  2. Hmm, I tried to leave a comment yesterday but I didn’t know my wordpress password to make the comment system work, so I don’t think the comment went through even after I updated. Anyway, thanks for linking me! The only way I was able to track our spending was to make a note of everything as we were spending the money, and then I had a big spreadsheet I would update every few days from my notes. It was a pain but I’m glad we did it, it was good to see what we spent.


  3. Oh very interesting. I never really record my expenses, but usually transportation is actually the cheapest as RyanAir and early booking on trains helps a lot. I tell my budget clients to plan $100/day after transportation in Europe, as sometimes it will be less (Germany) and sometimes it will be more (Switzerland).


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