Tagged: travel budget

The harsh truth about funding that dream European tour

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EUR 2 = PHP 115

It takes a lot of work.

I’m not rich, far from it, so it took a lot of time and effort to save enough for a two-week trip across the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany.

I’m a fan of simple living, conscious spending, sensible investments, and saving. Years of saving ultimately made it possible for me to travel 6,500 miles away from home for a full 14 days.

When I met other travellers while on a Euro tour, I confirmed that I was and still am, in fact, poor when compared with those travelling from the US, Australia, or South Africa. (My peso-converted-to-euro spending power was laughable.) Yes, I traveled and enjoyed to the hilt, but could never really splurge on fancy shopping sprees or super luxurious meals. And that’s totally fine. 😀

I worked on a budget and stuck to it, prioritizing expenses for food and my chosen ‘mini tours’ within the city, and didn’t spend too much on shopping.

My best meals there were simple and cheap, but delicious — a pizza and salad dinner in Rome, a pork panini in Florence, a huge bowl of Vietnamese pho noodles in Berlin (!?), and a super affordable and satisfying 10-euro buffet with drinks in Montecatini Terme. My best experience was practically free: hiking in Murren/Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland with an amazing view of the Swiss Alps.

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Murren was a great, ‘el cheapo’ alternative to the trip I couldn’t afford — a journey up the glacier Jungfraujoch (top of Europe), which was offered by the tour operator as an optional excursion in Switzerland.

Dream big, but work really hard and save up.

This is the simplest unsolicited advice to fellow travelers with European travel goals.

Whether it’s a DIY backpacking trip or a packaged coach tour, you need to save up for it if you’re spending for your own trip. Set aside a “travel fund” from part of these savings.

At the risk of sounding like an disillusioned Gen Xer (I actually am one), to be blunt, if you don’t have any semblance of savings in your life, forego travelling. Again, this is assuming you’re spending for your own trip (not a sponsored one or some raffle prize… in which case, congrats!). Of what good is a nice travel photo uploaded on FB or IG anyway when you’re actually drowning in debt, right?

As unromantic as it sounds, travel is a non-essential. It is not a requirement. It’s nice to experience, yes, but it’s  unwise to travel without any substantial amount left for far more important expenses in life (like feeding the family, maintaining the household, insurance premiums, tuition fee, emergencies and the like).

Live a simple life to facilitate savings. Huwag mag-asawa at mag-anak. (Just kidding.) Work hard. Invest. Explore alternative income streams. 

Then, remember to reward yourself. Cherish the good stuff. Value substance over porma. Learn how to budget and follow that budget. Research all possible options and choose wisely. And those Euro travel dreams may just come true. 🙂