I would like to go ahead and start this with a disclaimer as usual:
Kids, don't try this at home.
No really, if you want discounts, most of the time, that means that you are also going to have to make some sacrifices and we sure did. At 3am in a freezing cold train station waiting for our next train, I questioned our sanity. However, once the night was over, I looked back and was so excited that we did it and got through it together. It's moments like those that grow your marriage (am I crazy? Probably).
So, to start, the reason that we were able to do this is because of:
- living in NYC (but it still would be much cheaper even from other places but cheapest here)
- We did Northern Europe (any other places would have been more)
- Airbnb (if you aren't using it when ya travel, who are you anyway? haha jk but really, it's amazing)
So, there is a flight called Norwegian air that has a hub from JFK in NYC to Oslo, Norway. It's cheap. Like dirt cheap. We got our one way to Oslo for $161 each ($322). We found a flight home through the same airline coming out of Berlin. The kicker is that it comes out of Berlin with Norwegian air which means it's going to have a long layover until Oslo has their one little flight back to NYC. If you don't live in New York, for example when I lived in North Carolina, it's around $200 for a round trip ticket to New York and sometimes cheaper if you get it early. I would probably book another flight out of New York because it would still end up being LOADS cheaper. Our flight back from Berlin was $526 for the both of us.
That totals $848 on flights.
To get from place to place (Oslo --> Copenhagen --> Amsterdam --> Berlin) we took trains. We mapped this out based on the cost of the Eurail. When we looked it up, the cheapest option for us would be to go to 4 countries and to buy our ticket together. We wanted to go to Paris, but that was going to take too much time, and then we would have had to buy the global Eurail pass which would have cost us more. The Eurail pass was $650 for both of us together.
For both of those, we are up to $1498.
Note: This is so important when considering places to stay and what you will eat. I think that many times, people view money differently. We have learned that if you save in EVERY spot, you will end up saving LOADS and LOADS. An example of money saving I did today. I live in NYC and need a flash drive. I went to get one and it was $23.99. That's ridiculous but I feel that most people would just say "whatever I need it." Not me. I'm going to take the extra step to get the deal. So, I went home and looked on Amazon. I found one for $6.99 with free shipping and I'm having it sent to me. Like I said, everyone views money differently and I'm not telling you how to spend your money. I just choose to do mine this way. My mac computer is off craigslist, my nice DSLR camera is refurbished, my road bike for training is used off craigslist, my coffee table, end table, living room chair are all off craigslist. I think you get the picture.
My point is: I'm not going to say "Oh I'm going to Europe so this is a once in a lifetime experience and I deserve to stay somewhere nice"
I'm going to just pick the cheapest airbnb place, with the best reviews. If it doesn't have reviews, we aren't staying. I'm not trying to get killed here. And if I'm with girlfriends vs my husband, I would be a little more picky as well.
Our airbnb stay for each place was as follows: TOTAL = $306
- Oslo one night: $44 (second night we traveled on train and hung out in a hotel lobby from 1am-5am
- Copenhagen one night-$46 (second night we were traveling again-we slept in a cold train station from 2am-7am; hot coffee never tasted so good)
- Amsterdam (two nights)-$63 x 2 = $126
- Shameless plug for City Hub-everyone should stay here. It's freakin sweet.
- Berlin (two nights)-$45 x 2 = $90
Our total for flight + Eurail + airbnb = $1804
Now, we get to the food. I actually have a lot of tips in this area that could have saved us even more.
- Every transaction on your credit/debit card will have a foreign transaction fee
- Every time you have to take money out-you are going to pay $5 or at least with Chase Bank you will
- Don't be afraid to hit up grocery stores in the area
- Look up the type of money that you will need for each location and their currency before you leave. If you have the chance, it would help you to get out money that would match. That's really hard though, so what I would recommend is taking out cash. They normally have a Western Union at each location and you can do the transition for free. That's what I wish we had done. We ended up spending like $30 total on fees with just being able to use our money-not a lot but again, we save everywhere.
We eat a lot, and we like coffee a lot, so it may not be a fair guestimation of how much you are going to spend. However, we spent a total of $700 in food/coffee/tickets/subways to things.
So, our total for the trip was $2504 (I guess I lied-it was $2500 not $2000). I'd say that's pretty AMAZING considering all we did. Here are some other things to consider.
We don't pay for tickets to anything that cost over like uhhh $10. I think the most we paid was $9 to go to the Anne Frank House. We would show up to museums (like in Amsterdam) and they would be $20 for a ticket, and we would say ... NEXT. We got to see PLENTY, we got to experience SO MUCH, and we asked all of our hosts at each airbnb stop what the local things to do were so that we were able to really get a feel for the city. They are able to tell you tons and mostly free activities. In Amsterdam, when we "couldn't" go to the museums for cost, we went for a run through their beautiful parks instead and even like played on the playgrounds (are we 5? who knows?). And, I'd have to say that was probably a better time with better memories.
I'm so thrilled that we were able to do this at such an affordable price, and I hope this can help someone else do the same!!!
With love and savings,