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moonlit123 Feb 25th, 2013 06:56 AM

Europe on a shoe string budget
Any advice on keeping to a true shoe string budget? These sites that suggest a three star hotel instead of a five star hotel are a joke to me. We are trying to keep to less then a hundred dollars a day for a family of four. We will camp and buy food from grocery stores. Any other advice?
Thank you!

Fra_Diavolo Feb 25th, 2013 07:02 AM

No, that should do it. (Just kidding)

Where in Europe would you like to go?

adrienne Feb 25th, 2013 07:08 AM

I rather doubt that you will not be able to feed and house 4 people plus provide transportation and sightseeing for $100 per day. I think you need fewer days in Europe or increase your budget to something realistic.

If you're camping, how will you get to campgrounds and then to grocery stores? Will you have a car? If so, you will definitely not be able to live on $100 per day for four people.

nytraveler Feb 25th, 2013 07:10 AM

$100 a day for a family of four is not a shoestring - it's just really less than you will need.

If you camp you will have to pay not just for that but also for public transit to get you where you have to go each day, plus entrance fees and food.

Not sure where you are going - but there are many major sights that have entrance fees of $15 to $25 per person - so taking you entire daily budget.

You can certainly do cheaper than 3* hotels - but unless you are going to just walk around and look at the outside of things I fear your budget will be insufficient.

Can you tell us the ages of the kids - if they are teens with big appetites that could be another issue.

Whatever you do - make sure you have access to additional funds vis your debit card if you need them. My D and 2 friend went summer before last and in Barcelona ran into a couple of american girls who had underestimated costs and run out of money - with 4 more days before their plane was to depart. My D and her friends lent them money for a hostel and food for one night until they could contact family and have more money deposited in their bank account to draw on.

adrienne Feb 25th, 2013 07:10 AM

I meant that I doubt that you will be able to...

nytraveler Feb 25th, 2013 07:19 AM

Sorry -
Remember that prices in europe are generally higher than in the US (even in small towns and especially in larger cities) - with Scandinavia and Switzerland at the top of the hit list (meals are twice at least what they would be in the US).

Some areas in southern europe are cheaper - but still - $100 for 4 people just isn;t realistic.

ira Feb 25th, 2013 07:26 AM

Hi M,

$100 is about 75 Euro.

I checked prices for a typical camp ground in the Dordogne region of France. (

They want 32E pd for a tent site for 4 with electricity.

The smallest, cheapest car available for the Dordogne at is about 15E pd.

That leaves you 28E/day for everything else.

Is this what you had in mind?


scatcat Feb 25th, 2013 07:29 AM

moonlit- I am a true believer that if you really want to do something, you'll figure a way. There are hotels in smaller towns that will fit your budget. You will still need money for transportation and food. In my experience, Germany is the least expensive of the western European countries. And breakfast is almost always included with your room.

socaltraveler Feb 25th, 2013 07:34 AM

In all honesty, your budget is lower than shoestring for a family of 4. Perhaps you should save for a few more years, and take the trip when your chidren are older and might even remember/appreciate it more. Just a thought for a more pleasurable and memorable once in a lifetime trip.

janisj Feb 25th, 2013 08:10 AM

Even camping $100 a day is not at all realistic. A solo traveler could manage that backpacking, couch surfing in some places, taking buses, few restaurant meals.

But for a family - no way no how. (And I doubt you could manage that in the states either - unless you already owned a motorhome. But the gas/petrol alone would eat up half your budget)

Lets say you camp -- you need to rent equipment (if you take your own gear you'll be hit w/ HIGH airline fees for extra baggage). Transportation from outlying campgrounds costs ££/€€, transportation between cities/countries really eats up $$, every single site/attraction costs to get in (except lots of museums in London - but there one dinner for 4 in a fast food restaurant would cost more almost half your day's budget)

Get serious - decide how much $$ you can spend. Divide that by about $200-$250 --that is how many days you can afford at a low end - hostels/camping/bus travel/etc (air fare would be extra)

janisj Feb 25th, 2013 08:14 AM

<B>OMG</B> I just saw your other thread w/ your proposed itinerary for SIX countries! Including Paris, Venice and other expensive places That is a $300-$500 per day plan -- <u>minimum.

adrienne Feb 25th, 2013 08:39 AM

I read your other thread and I echo janisj's comment - OMG!

Your day of driving from Paris to Cinque Terre puts you way over budget - E128 for fuel.

You really need to cut back your itinerary.

scatcat Feb 25th, 2013 08:48 AM

Or raise the budget!

moonlit123 Feb 25th, 2013 08:51 AM

Thank you all so much for your feedback. I should clarify a few things. We will be leasing a car from Renault and that will NOT be included in the $100 dollars a day. So, I am hoping we can camp, eat, sightsee and pay for gas on $100 a day. We have budgeted for more, but that is the hope. Also tickets are purchased and that is not included in the $100 per day. Thanks again and further advice will be considered.

MmePerdu Feb 25th, 2013 08:53 AM

Why not choose 1 city, rent an inexpensive apartment for the duation of your stay, get to know a city or town and the neighborhood, splurge on a couple of day trips and save on food, transportation and housing while having, as I see it, a higher quality experience. Maybe everyone can practice a language, study the history of the place and really make it come alive. Much more, maybe in a different way than you first envisioned, and possible.

moonlit123 Feb 25th, 2013 08:56 AM

More are 7 and 9 years old and very used to camping. We will be visiting smaller towns, not big cities.
Also, has anyone tent camped through Europe. I would love to hear from you.
Thanks so much!

StCirq Feb 25th, 2013 09:04 AM

<<So, I am hoping we can camp, eat, sightsee and pay for gas on $100 a day.>>

Well, you can hope all you want, but that won't make it possible. A simple campsite with a tent for 4 will be about 30 euros a night. Some of your driving days are going to cost 100 euros or more for gas, and that's not even accounting for tolls or the special sticker you'll need to drive in Austria. So you're already over budget before you even get to the food part, or any sightseeing costs.

MmePerdu Feb 25th, 2013 09:08 AM

After reading your other post, what you describe as the trip of a lifetime will be remembered by your children as a forced march from inside a car. I think it is misguided and not a plan that will enrich their lives as you hope it will. I repeat, the best way to have an enriching experience is to stop and make time for the experience. They aren't adults as you were when you camped on your first trip and made the choices you did. I think your children, while "used" to camping, would be far more comfortable and able to absorb the experience sleeping in a bed, not barrelling down a highway for days and weeks on end.

socaltraveler Feb 25th, 2013 09:09 AM

Paris and Venice are not small towns, and are definitely not inexpensive. Good luck.

janisj Feb 25th, 2013 09:09 AM

"<i>So, I am hoping we can camp, eat, sightsee and pay for gas on $100 a day</i>

Do you realize just the petrol will take a huge % of your $100? How old are the kids - if very young they will get into some sites for free. But as an example -Paris. No camp grounds IN the city so you'll be staying in an outlying area (extra transport costs because if you drive in the Parking will take more than a 3rd of your day's budget), entering the Louvre will cost about $30 (if the kids get in free), a very casual meal will easily cost $40 w/o anything to drink - probably more.

$100 a day is not nearly enough for 4 - especially paying for gas/petrol/tolls.

janisj Feb 25th, 2013 09:11 AM

oh didn't see the kids ages -we were all posting around the same time.

I hope you realize you could do this much cheaper w/o the car???? But still not @ $100/day.

janisj Feb 25th, 2013 09:18 AM

To clarify - I am ALL for budget travel. Do it myself all the time. But it has to be a realistic budget/itinerary. Neither you budget nor itinerary are realistic.

Sorry - but those are simply facts.

reality check: Petrol costs about €1.60-ish a liter in France. That = approx €6/$8 per US gallon

BigRuss Feb 25th, 2013 09:38 AM

<<I am hoping we can camp, eat, sightsee and pay for gas on $100 a day>>

Good luck with that. The Renault may have a smallish tank (13-15 gallons [50-56 litres]) but at $8/gallon, it's $100 per fill-up and one full-tank drive every three days will (amortized) eat up about $33/day of your budget. Then add in the tolls . . . Our drive from Versailles to Amboise was about 17E and that's less than a two-hour trip on the toll roads. How much would Paris to CT and then cross-country from CT to Venice cost?

MmePerdu Feb 25th, 2013 09:43 AM

Looking back at Moonlit's question, "Any advice on keeping to a true shoe string budget?...We will camp and buy food from grocery stores. Any other advice?" I don't think ours is the kind of advice she was looking for. Saying we WILL, apparently means we should not confuse her with the facts, her mind is made up. She WILL do these things whether it's possible to do it or not. It sounds to me as if there isn't room for the possibility that adjustments may be in order.

Cathinjoetown Feb 25th, 2013 09:45 AM

You can save a bit by getting a car which uses diesel (gazole in France). In SW France it's fluctuating between 1.36-1.39€ a litre, if purchased off the autoroutes from stations linked to grocery chains. Has anyone mentioned autoroute tolls in France and Italy?

Gazole prices will be higher in and near major cities.

Regarding groceries, I admit I have limited camping experience but what I do remember is campground stores having very limited selection and high prices. Do some research on locations of large grocery stores, open-air markets and note that with some exceptions the groceries do not keep Walmart hours nor do they have Walmart prices.

It's good to have a goal, yours is just unrealistic given the cities you want to see and amount of road travel.

dgassa Feb 25th, 2013 10:16 AM

If your car and air fare is not included in your $100 a day will still be very difficult. My wife and I spent 7 weeks in a leased car and stayed in B&B's, ate one meal a day out and one picnic a day. We didn't visit large cities and stayed in smaller towns in France, Germany and Austria. We didn't go to many museums or tourist attractions. We got by on $150 a day not including the cost of the car lease. you can read about our experence on our blog here:


Good Luck!

moonlit123 Feb 25th, 2013 10:50 AM

Thank you all for your replies.mi appreciate the feedback. I am listening. I realize mmeperdue does not know me, but I wouldn't ask for advice if I didn't intend on listening. Thank you mostly for all those that gave alternate ideas. I appreciate it.

suze Feb 25th, 2013 11:03 AM

Somehow you need more money. The obvious ideas would be to shorten the length of the trip. Or wait another year and save so you have more money to spend.

75 euro per day for 4 people by car simply isn't feasible.

suze Feb 25th, 2013 12:13 PM

Moonlit is gone already.

nytraveler Feb 25th, 2013 01:11 PM

Well I guess some people don't want to be confused with the facts.

I want a brand new Porsche for $20,000. That doesn't mean I'm going to get one.

bilboburgler Feb 25th, 2013 01:13 PM

If I wanted to do a very cheap holiday I'd have to look at camping, pick up some cheap second hand bicycles and loiter near some interesting sites. For example

Camp on the Mosel, take trains and bike rides up and down the river getting to know the locals or

Take up a camp site south of the Euganian hills down to the PO valley, there are cheap camp sites there and you can day trip into Ferrara, Venice, Palma etc again by train and bike.

adrienne Feb 25th, 2013 01:23 PM

bilbo - the op has left the forum.

MmePerdu Feb 25th, 2013 02:57 PM

Let me see if I can translate again although it is the case that I don't know her.

"I wouldn't ask for advice if I didn't intend on listening."

Listening but not taking advice that she doesn't like even if true and would help.

"Thank you mostly..."

But not entirely. And certainly not me because she especially didn't like what I told her might work on her budget. Who do I think I am anyway.

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