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Vacation Recap: 10 Days in Europe

If you’ve been following along the blog, you may have read my previous post regarding some strategies on how to travel abroad cheaply.

These were all methods I employed to great success while on my 10 day European adventure!

I hope you all didn’t miss me too much while I was gone 🙂

One thing I really wanted to do while traveling was to disconnect and thus I did not sign up for any cell phone coverage while abroad. I would check in occasionally when on WiFi and post on Instagram, but only when back at our hostel (supposedly the easiest way to spot a tourist is when they ask for the WiFi password at an establishment!)

The entire trip was an absolute blast and while looking back it seemed like the trip went by very fast, the individual days were so full of adventures they went extremely slow! There were several times when we mentioned that we thought it was a lot later in the day than it actually was.

I suppose it’s true what they say in that giving your brain new experiences really does slow time down.

Anyways, I’ll give a quick recap of the trip, the cost breakdown (what everyone is here for) as well as a few takeaways I had.

10 Days in Europe

Dublin-Budapest

The trip started on a Thursday, where I took a half day off at work and flew into NYC. Instead of booking a round trip flight from DC (which would have cost $800+) I booked my international flight out of NYC and waited for a flash sale from an airline to buy round trip from DC to NYC.

Of course that meant a layover, but I’m a pretty patient guy, and really don’t mind any (reasonable) layovers.

So I waited a few hours and then took a very cheap overnight flight ($109 one way) from NYC to Dublin where I arrived in the wee hours of Friday morning.

After some sightseeing on my own (including Trinity College and Ha’Penny Bridge), I met up with my other 3 traveling friends and did tours of the Guinness and Jameson factories. Afterwards we spent the night in the famous Temple Bar area then called it a night, for we had an early flight to Budapest.

Trinity College Dublin

After arriving in Budapest (pronounced Buda-pesht), the days were filled with sightseeing while the nights were filled with a couple parties. Budapest has a world renowned “sparty” (spa-party a big clubby type party in one of their natural springs). Though very pricy, it was fun and a once in a lifetime experience really.

We also managed to hit up the famous ruin bars in the Jewish Quarter which are really just old dilapidated buildings that were turned into cool bars.

Prior to leaving we spent a relaxing morning at a beautiful old Turkish bath house. Just what we needed!

Vienna-Prague

After spending Monday morning relaxing at a Turkish bath house it was time to move on. One day in Dublin plus just over two days in Budapest meant we had to choose our next stops wisely.

In the end, we decided to only do Vienna for two days/one night (against the original plan of two nights). Here, we packed in as much as we could. We took a free walking tour as well as explored around on our own.

Palace in Vienna

The city was so beautiful! Alas, after biking around (the city bikes were just $1 per hour!) and seeing as much as we could, we hit a later night train and arrived in Prague on Tuesday late night.

We spent two full days in Prague and the sights were gorgeous including Old Town, Prague Castle and the parks adjacent to the latter.

Gorgeous view in Prague

We mixed it up from a regular tour and instead took a comedy tour (that included free booze and dinner!) instead which proved to be a riot. Friends from other countries were made at the hostel we were staying at as well. (Side-note it’s so easy to make friends abroad this way!)

Berlin-Copenhagen

After our time ran out in Prague we took another bus up to Berlin, for the last non-flight trip.

Berlin was an absolutely massive city with so many sights to see. We got nowhere close to seeing everything there was to see, but we got tons of walking in! (and another free walking tour).

The Brandenburg Gate, fragments of the Berlin Wall, the Victory column and Checkpoint Charlie were all big sights we walked our way too. Oh, and a classic German beer garden!

Had to get at least one Beer pic in!

At some point our European adventure had to come to an end and we made our goodbye’s Sunday morning.

One of my friends had the exact same flight path home (minus the DC part) and thus we had an 8 hour layover in Copenhagen.

Instead of sitting around the airport, we grabbed a locker to store our bags and took the metro into the city.

After grabbing lunch we successfully walked around for a few hours and saw the entire downtown area. There were so many canals and an insane about of bikes!

Copenhagen was definitely a city I’d like to spend more time in.

After once more heading back to the airport, it was officially time to say adieu to my European trip and get back home (only after literally running to catch my NYC to DC flight!)

The entire trip was an absolute whirlwind with hardly any time to relax, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Cost Breakdown

Now I know what you all are asking. I had last left you on a cliffhanger, mentioning I would give you full cost breakdown post-trip.

Well here we are! And this is what I have for you:

Flights

Here’s how much each leg cost:

Roundtrip DC-NYC – $127

NYC->DUB – $109

DUB->BUD – $64

BER->CPN – $60

CPN->NYC – $280

My friends and I certainly took our time coming up with where our departure city would be. I got that price booking less than a month out!

The flight(s) home could have been much cheaper I think had we figured it out earlier.

The DC-NYC roundtrip was booked on one of JetBlue’s flash sales.

Dublin to Budapest was through RyanAir, a notorious budget airline. Luckily I had packed light and did research so didn’t need to worry about any hidden fees!

Fully packed Eurotrip bags

The other flights were all booked through Norwegian Air.

Lodging

Traveling with 4 people was a great number. We were able to get private rooms with our own twin size beds in all the hostels we booked, 6 nights worth.

In addition, the other 3 nights we just got hotels in which we got two full size beds and shared.

Splitting these costs 4 ways really helped to keep that price manageable!

I know some people get weirded out by hostels, but we had a great experience and met some really cool people who were also traveling that way.

Trains/Bus

We all know how much I advocate for the buses as a cheap travel option.

I ended up taking 3 buses (one to Stewart airport outside of NYC where my Dublin flight was out of) and one train as the price was the exact same as the bus on that route.

We mostly slept on these trips (aside from an epic game of euchre on the train to Prague!), so we were all in agreement that cheapest was best.

Also – we literally booked all these trips the night before. We wanted to keep our options flexible so that if we really enjoyed a city we could stay a bit longer.

That hurt us on the price point, as we probably could have gotten them cheaper by booking further in advance, but they were all fairly cheap anyways and I liked the added flexibility.

Taxi/Uber/Metro

At first this number surprised me in how much it was, but this also includes over $20 alone in uber pool rides to/from the airport in the DC.

Dublin ubers and taxis ($6-7 each per trip) as well as the Copenhagen metro ($6 one way) were also surprisingly expensive.

Other than that, most places were fairly inexpensive. The ubers in Prague and Vienna were shockingly low, so when we need it we opted for those over the metro.

With all the travel between bus stations, trains and airports, as well as getting around the cities, I suppose this number really shouldn’t be that surprising.

Food

This is an area I was expecting would be a lot more. That number even includes a few drinks in it!

I really only need two meals a day, so I’d either have a big breakfast or lunch depending on where we were at.

When we stayed at the hotels, we got free breakfasts which were amazing and I easily combined those to be breakfast and lunch.

In general, the food there was extremely cheap. In Budapest and Prague you could get solid portions for roughly $4-5 which is an absolute steal.

One night in Budapest we had a 3 course meal plus two bottles of wine (split between us) for $18!! It was amazing.

I also brought a bunch of snacks like trail mix and protein bars that held me over a few times.

Entertainment

A majority of these expenses were bar related, with the biggest one coming at the “sparty”. The $73 definitely hurt (my friend had said they were $50 prior to buying.. not getting into that here!) but it was a fun time and came with all drinks included.

Many times when we got tired from walking we’d take a break and stop to grab a drink somewhere outside.

We really didn’t have time to hit up museums, and the weather was gorgeous the entire trip so we kept outdoors.

Other expenses were doing these free walking tours. They were technically free, but it’s customary to give them a tip afterwards.

In Prague we paid for a comedic walking tour, in which a comedian walked us around while giving the typical history lesson and telling jokes. It was pretty hilarious and a different experience from the other tours we did!

The Guiness and Jameson factory tours in Dublin, as well as a relaxing morning at a Turkish bath house in Budapest were a couple other expenses.

This expense easily could have been lower, but like I mentioned, I wasn’t going into the trip being stressed about how much I was spending. I certainly was mindful of it (and kept track as we went) but mainly just wanted to have a good time with my friends.

Other

These were just a few miscellaneous items such as doing laundry at one of the hostels (which is why we didn’t need to get an airbnb).

We also had to pay $1 to use towels at one of our hostels, and then I split a locker with my friend at the Copenhagen airport to store our bags while we went exploring.

Takeaways

Coming back from this trip gave me a lot to think about. There were several thoughts I had during the trip that have intrigued me. I really need to take time to sit down and re-evaluate what my priorities, goals and path forward are.

Does my current life match up with the one I want to be living?

No Work = The Best Work

Being gone for over a week from work was amazing. I did not bring my work laptop and my phone could not receive calls so I was not bothered at all by work.

With how busy I’d been over the past few months, I was starting to get a little burnt out and the break was much needed.

That is one benefit that is great about W2 salaried work (vs self-employed/some hourly workers). My company literally just paid me to go on this trip!

This got me thinking at the macro level about how by generating enough passive income, it could essentially be the same thing! I need to really focus and start acting on some of the side hustle ideas that I’ve had to see where I can take them.

Location Independence?

During the trip I was always surrounded by the amazing feeling of travel and experiencing new things.

It really was wonderful and is something I really want to experience more often. Like, much more often if possible.

I know there are jobs out there where you do not need to go into an office and can actually work out of anywhere.

The idea of being location independent while working is fascinating to me, I could still work while traveling across Europe, the US or anywhere there’s an internet connection really!

I don’t necessarily think this is something I’d want to do forever (there are potential other things I may want later on that could get in the way of that (ie. family)), so the time to go and experience that is now.

There is, of course, a trade off. I get paid a good salary at my current job, with fairly good benefits as well. I think it would be really tough to replicate that with any location independent job (or setting out on my own).

Do I really want to take a step back on my journey to Financial Independence for something like this?

Thus, I really need to sit down and weigh out my options. A big part of It will be keeping my eyes and ears open for opportunities that would fulfil this.

Let me know if you hear anything 🙂

I Really Need to Walk More

One thing I really loved on the trip is how much we walked. Just about all the cities were very walkable, and we liked that the best as we could see everything and get a feel for the city.

We all easily averaged walking over 20,000 steps per day!

I don’t know about you all, but that is an insane amount for me, easily leading to one of my highest average monthly steps ever (the other being the month my last 10 day trip to Europe 3 years ago – ha).

I’d say with my current job, I only average about 4,000-5,000 steps per day… Wayy too low, I know.

Even when I workout, unless I intentionally go for a run this is the number I’m at. I really need to be more intentional about taking a break from my desk and walking around, going for a walk after eating lunch, or after work. Maybe all the above!

All I know is that I really need to get more active again, the dangers of being too sedentary are well known, so doing this would be both a short and long term benefit.

.

All in all, this trip was an amazing experience, and one I want to do again soon!

Each city I could see myself re-visiting again in the future to spend more time. Definitely an expensive trip, but I could easily make it cheaper in the future should I want to.

It’s given me a lot to think about, so I’m sure once I come to any conclusions I’ll be sharing them here 🙂

Do you have any recent travel coming up? Or did you recently come back from a trip? Let me know! I’d love to hear about it 🙂

14 thoughts to “Vacation Recap: 10 Days in Europe”

  1. Nice recap, seems like you packed in quite a lot and it was a great break from work. My mom recently got back from another trip, this time to Greece (she has been all over Europe in recent years). I’m planning a trip out west to the Rockies in September, looking forward to that.

    I think a little shy of $1,600 for a 10-day trip is fantastic, especially for all the stuff you did. I don’t know much about hostels but it certainly looks like you saved a ton of money on lodging.

    Definitely get out for a walk more often than not while you’re at work, especially now that the weather is warmer. I try to do it every day (weather permitting), although I have been slacking a bit lately! 20-30 minutes is a great break and adds up to a nice amount of calories burned over time! 🙂

    1. Thank you! Yes I wasn’t really sure if $1,600 was good/bad since it was tough to find any kind of comparison. In mind mind it was all definitely worth it, which I suppose is the only thing that really matters. Already been taking measures to increase my step count.

      Love the Rockies hope you enjoy it out there!

  2. Wow, $1,600 is a fantastic price for a 10-day, multi-city trip! Especially without doing any travel hacking, and with the more expensive activities. You certainly could’ve done it cheaper, but you were with others who don’t have to report their spending on their blogs 😉 Plus at a certain point worrying about every dollar spent takes away from the enjoyment of the trip, and the point was to go and have a good time with your friends, not to optimize every single expense. As someone who likes her itineraries planned out in advance, it might’ve been stressful for me to do things like book travel only a day in advance, but I also really love the idea of having that flexibility. And $82 is a pretty reasonable price to pay for it (I’m looking at something like $45 minimum to go up to NYC for the weekend next month).

    Haha jealous of your ability to only eat two meals a day. Being hangry while traveling is the worst so I would’ve brought so many snacks/frequently asked if we could stop in somewhere so I could grab something quickly 😂

    As for walking, I’m currently in a Fitbit “workweek challenge” with a couple of other PF ladies. It’s the first time I’ve ever done one of these, and while I normally hit my 10k step goal most workdays, competing with others has meant I’ve very deliberately gone outside on my breaks and taken a 15-20 minute walk. Turns out accountability isn’t just for monthly spending reports!

    1. Had I gone with other PF bloggers I’m sure that total expense could have been a lot lower! To me it was all worth it for the experiences and going with longtime friends 🙂 I also typically like having my trips planned out in advance but I was totally going with the flow on this trip!

      Yes it definitely helps when it comes to keeping food costs lower! Maybe I need to join up in something like that once I get my Fitbit band back!

  3. A majority of these expenses were bar related

    Ha, sounds like my European trips when I was your age! Congrats on the cost, that’s pretty optimized. And on the walking thing, you’re right, ya never do as much walking as you do in Europe. But good luck trying to convert that to America, it’s just too hard. European cities are designed and optimized for walking and to penalize cars. We penalize walkers and optimize for cars. You no doubt experienced MANY car-free zones in those cities, how many car-free squares does DC have? I rest my case…

    1. Haha glad we have that in common!

      That’s so true, I guess it’s just something you never realize until you actually get out there and see and experience it. But good point, there really isn’t anything like that in DC or any other major city in the US..

  4. $109 one way. Talk about an awesome price. The west coast means it’s easy to get to Hawaii. Europe, not so much…

    And 20k steps a day is my happy place, but not something I get except for on the weekends / Wednesdays when I run to work.

    1. I know! I had to jump on that when I saw it even though it was a bit of a hassle to get to.

      Yes I’m really trying to be more intentional about getting more steps in especially on the weekends when I really have no excuses. Thankfully with the nice weather I’ll be spending a lot more time outside which should lend itself perfectly to walking more 🙂

  5. Ugh. So jealous of your flight prices. Oh to live on the East Coast…or anywhere that’s not Montana when it comes to flying 😉 Sounds like you hit up some pretty affordable countries and made smart choices by going with friends and taking public transit. We hope to some day visit several of these countries and with how affordable you make them sound, maybe we can do that sooner rather than later! Thanks for sharing!

    1. East coast prices to Europe are so much better than out west! My round trip from LA to Spain 3 years ago was sooo much more expensive.. I can only imagine what it is out of Montana!?

      Yes a lot of those Eastern European cities are extremely affordable! I’m sure you could totally make the entertainment costs a bit cheaper than mine as well 😂

  6. Looks like an awesome trip. Seeing flights at those prices it makes me rethink my churning hobby. We are debating putting together a Europe or west coast trip this summer…so many options and decisions! Either way it’ll be lots of fun!
    Glad you didn’t stress too much about the prices, traveling south friends saves money in some ways and increases the prices in others.

    1. Thank you yes it was a blast! Those prices were pretty crazy, Norwegian can be a great airline if you know when to book and how to navigate!

      Ah that’s such a tough decision as both places are wonderful! You definitely can’t go wrong 🙂

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