I Spent A Lot of Money In Europe

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Really no other way to put it 🙂 Eating out in London is atrocious. After a while a £10 meal starts to look like a great deal, when in reality it cost you $19. A one-way subway ride in London starts at £3 ($5.60), and day-passes start at $11. I extended my trip even longer and went to Paris for a few days. I reasoned that the hotels and food were cheaper, so I could cover the train ride 😉 A one-way Paris subway ticket is less than $2 no matter how far you travel.

Did you know that the price of baguettes are actually controlled by the government in France? Less than 1 Euro for the best bread you’ll ever have. Stop by a charcuterie and a fromagerie for some deli-style meat and stinky oozy cheese by the kilo, and you’ve got yourself a righteous picnic on the cheap. Wine is literally cheaper than bottled water there as well, starting at about ?1 a bottle!

I did manage to try and save a little more money by sticking to the Bank of America’s Global ATM Alliance (Barclays in the U.K. and BNP Paribas in France) to avoid fees, and also used my Capital One credit card whenever possible to net 1% cash back internationally.

No more traveling for a while. I can’t afford it, and I can’t stand the security anymore either.

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  1. tiredbuthappy says

    You’re scaring me. I just booked a week-long trip to Germany for January. It will be somewhat cheaper because I’m staying with family, and we’ll stay out of the restaurants for the most part because eating in a restaurant with four kids under the age of seven is just not fun. But I know all those little train tickets and so on will add up.

  2. Four kids! Good thing you’re staying with family, I was about to suggest renting an apartment for a week instead of having to book multiple hotel rooms. I applaud your courage for traveling with kids. I know I don’t have the patience or stamina to do that!!

  3. Sounds like you had a great time anyway!!! I was also surprised how fast I started thinking of pounds like dollars. In the 10 days I was in England, I really never kept it clear in my head, and I’m obsessive about money!

    I was definitely struck by how taxes impacted the price of things there. It was amazing how expensive things were when compared with the same things here in the states.

  4. London food atrocious, or just prices? One reads that London restaurant food is terrif and a far cry from bangers & chips + mushy peas. Forgive me, Jonathan, but I think you flog that high cost horse too much. Travel costs money & you better get used to it. I thought that bit about saving cash by sleeping at the airport was economizing gone crazy. Perhaps you’re fluent in French; but if not it was surely easier to get around in London than during your trip to Paris. So there’s a bonus. And let’s hear it for those great West End theatres. Or did they also cost too much?

  5. I’m actually going away next week with my Boyfriend to Ottawa and Montreal. Ottawa is for business conference, but the Montreal stop is for pleasure. Sure, it’s not really abroad or across the pond, but it is another country. I am pondering if I should bring a lot of cash with me to exchange there instead of exchanging them here in Boston. I called HSBC how much it will cost to exchange at a branch there in Canada, she said 1%. But she seemed unsure or something. Oh yeah, thanks for the link to BoA. I can see the Global ATM partner there is Scotiabank. Nice to know I have two banks to “crash” at.

  6. I’ve been to Europe 4 or 5 days and love it, but since I started taking trips to brasil and other south american countries I have a better time knowing that my dollar is going so far there that it’s not even funny. Just as you mentioned the meal that cost 19 dollars looked good, I was eating like a king for 2-4 dollars in some areas. A bottle of their liquor in brazil cost me 40 cents last time I was there.
    The ticket alone is cheap. I purchased a ticket to South America for 350 dollars and next week I’m going to the midwest for business and the trip cost my company 850 dollars. Spending two weeks in certain countries in south america, actually saves me money and I have such a good time. The big difference is you have to watch your safety of course more than you would in Paris.

    By the way 10 euros is about 12-13 dollars, not 19 dollars.

  7. My wife and I visited France and had a blast. We went to Bordeaux, La Rochelle, and Paris. I stuck with my Capital One Cash Rebate card and purchased $1000US worth of Euros before the trip and let me tell that was the best move I have ever made because the Les Cars from CDG take cash only and we would have been stuck in the airport if not for my cash.

    We stayed at our friends places in Bordeaux and La Rochelle, Paris we stayed at a $90US/Night Hotel in Montmartre just half a mile from Basilica Sacre Coeur. My wife did shopping for half a day in Paris and we all purchased some brand name leather goods (great deal after the 12% detax) still waiting on the reimbursement from the French Government though

    We love traveling and are planning a trip to Italy and Turkey next year!!

  8. I totally forgot my HSBC card, but HSBC was also everywhere in the UK, not as much in Paris but I did see them here and there.

    Yeah, when I went to China food a super cheap too. I think next for me is Southeast Asia. Peru sounds good too. Or Eastern Europe. I hear Budapest is getting really expensive now too, however. So many places…

    Oh, and that’s 10 Pounds = $19, not Euros.

    I love Italy… maybe next-next year 😉

  9. Mike – The food was fine. To me, it was similar to NYC, but even more expensive. The food in Paris was far better for far less. Not much of a surprise there, though.

    One can travel widely and still be frugal, no?

    I barely speak French at all, but with a phrasebook, a smile, and some courage, you can get by just fine almost anywhere on the planet. Subways are also the same everywhere, from Tokyo to Paris.

    I forgot – I did see Mary Poppins in London. It was pretty good, and we got bumped up (or down I suppose) to better seats than we paid for.

  10. Europe rocks. Last year I went with a bunch of classmates (so things were cheaper as well) for 2 weeks to France and Italy, and it was pretty much the best 2 weeks of my life. Amazing all around.

  11. you think london is expensive? try oslo! 25 dollar for a hamburger. 10 dollars for mcdonalds. 8 dollars for a beer. 6 dollars for the subway.

    Oslo is not for the frugal travler!

  12. Matt is right about Oslo being expesnive. I’m not sure about the $25 hamburger, but beer is definitely around ~$10 if you are at a bar or restaurant. However, the prices are worth it because Oslo is a great city.

  13. I spent two months in London last March and April. After that long you begin to find ways to do things cheaply – especially on a college student budget. I really enjoyed it quite a bit and am going back in November (thanks to a $340 mistake AA fare, and it being the off-season).

    Eat at the pubs in London – the food isn’t great but you can get away with a full meal and drink for 6 or 7 pounds. A burger or fish and chips at a pub is about the same as a burger at McDonalds – and the food is better than McDonalds (well, depending on where you eat). Some pubs have specials as well (two meals for 6 pounds, etc) and most are actually chains, so look around. Outside of London you can easially find 4GBP meals.

    Buy an Oyster card for 3 pounds (technically refundable, but quite a process to do so) if you will be there and use the subway a bit – its half price of single tickets (1.50GBP per trip) and automatically maxes itself out at 50p less than a daily ticket will cost – its the best of both worlds, you will never pay as much as a day pass for multiple uses a day, and a single costs half as much. Plus its way easier to use (RFID contactless smartcard).

    On the trains, if you have a family, you can often travel within an hour or two of London on off-peak tickets for the price of 2 people for up to four people, its called “Groupsave” – you can’t buy these online or at a self-serve machine, you have to buy them at the ticket counter.

  14. I reasoned that the hotels and food were cheaper, so I could cover the train ride 😉 A one-way Paris subway ticket is less than $2 no matter how far you travel.

    ^ you can just jump the ticket machines.. tons of people do it there so i did it several times while i was there for a week. Not once did i buy a sub ticket.

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