10-Day Trip to Europe: Cost Breakdown

Hello!

I have been asked by quite a few people how much my 10-day trip to Europe cost. I estimated the total to be around $3,000 total, including everything. However, I never really sat down to look at how much I REALLY spent – probably because I was too afraid to see the actual cost, and I know there are things I could have spent more wisely on! With it being my first trip to Europe, alone, I just wanted everything to be easy, so I kind of just handed over my credit card/took out cash whenever I needed something! The actual total ended up being $3,865. I know, I know, not cheap. However, I wasn’t super strict about my spending – almost half was on transportation (flight + train pass), and a LOT of which was spent on chocolate and beer! No regrets. This trip could have definitely been cheaper if I booked earlier than 2-3 months in advance. Anyways, below is the cost breakdown, including information on the credit card I used, and the timeline of booking my trip.

First things first: Credit card. This was definitely a year for spending money, for a couple of reasons:
1) I wanted to travel internationally
2) I wanted to cross a lot off my bucket list
3) I wanted to get my yoga teacher certification

With that being said, I got dinged with international fees when I was in Costa Rica last year & Belize earlier this year, so I needed a card that didn’t charge me fees every time I traveled out of the country. I researched a few cards, and decided to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Card. Since I’m not loyal to a specific airline, and I already bank with Chase, the Sapphire card seemed like the most logical card to get. Below are a few reasons why I chose this card:

  • No foreign transaction fees when traveling internationally
  • While there is a $95/year fee, the first year fee is waived
  • If you spend $4,000 within the first three months of use, you get 50,000 bonus points – which, when booking any traveling through the chase website (super easy and amazing, btw), is $625 towards airfare or hotels. I booked an impromptu trip to Florida, my trip to NYC, AND my upcoming California flights for free with those points!
    • $4,000 may seem like a lot to spend in 3 months, but I put everything on my credit card – bills, groceries, my trip to europe, and every single cost for my yoga teacher training. It’s definitely doable, especially if you add an authorized user to help you spend more money!
  • Add an authorized user within the first 3 months, get another 5,000 points (I didn’t use this because, well, I am single and have no one else to use my credit card ;)). However, you could add a parent or a friend to help you earn points!
  • 20% off travel when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards
    • You book by logging into your chase account, then go into chase ultimate rewards and book there. The last 3 flights I booked through chase with my points was 20% less than if I had booked through an airline or travel site!
    • As a side note – I had issues booking my last-minute flight to Florida back in October, so I called chase to book over the phone – they spent an hour on the phone with me, looking for the cheapest flight that fit my very limited schedule – seriously, the best customer service ever!
  • If you are partial to a specific airline, you can even transfer your points to your frequent flyer travel programs! Ex: Transfer 1,000 points from your chase card to your southwest frequent flyer miles.(Participating programs: British Airways Executive Club, Korean Air SKYPASS, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, United MileagePlus®, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Hyatt Gold Passport®, IHG® Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards® and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®.)

This was the card that I used, so I am pretty partial to it. It all depends on what you are looking for in a credit card, what your travel frequency, etc is. So, I recommend looking at all your options and picking what works best for you. Nerd Wallet has a tool that you can use to find the most logical travel card for you based on monthly spend, credit score, fees, etc. Check out their comparison tool here.

Now – on to the more detailed part of the trip
Below is a breakdown by transportation, food, activities, accommodations, items bought for traveling, etc. I am going based off of credit card/debit card activity, as well as extra traveling items I purchased for the trip.

I also created a google doc  beginning in June (I left the second week of September)to add misc information for my trip and to plan – I normally do this for any trip to a place I haven’t been before! It might seem a bit scatter-brained, but it was a great way to keep all of my information in one spot. I basically start out with a blank spreadsheet and add stuff as I go along – I think i edited this until the day I left! It took me a few weeks to actually create a solid schedule, and I estimated all of the costs, but that’s the fun of planning ;).You can check out what it looks like here!

Booking Flights:
I booked my flight less than 3 months before I left – so, my flights were definitely not the cheapest. I recommend booking sooner, if possible. I used google flights to find the cheapest flights based on my timeframe & where I wanted to fly into, then went through my Chase credit card rewards account to book the actual flights (it’s cheaper when booking with points!). Super easy, and all of my information is in one place.

airlines

Cost Breakdown:

europe trip costs

Transportation: $1,556
Activities: $465

Hostels: $618
Food: $111.07 (on credit card)
Misc (Food, Souveniers, etc): $862.38
Pre-Trip Purchases: $215.57
Total Cost of Trip: $3,865.80

You can find the actual spreadsheet here.

So that’s it! This is what goes on in my brain when traveling and planning my trips! Also, planning versus what actually happens is very different (in a good way!), so always be prepared for the unexpected 🙂

oktoberfest3

I hope this helps anyone planning a trip to Europe, Oktoberfest, or pretty much anywhere! There are a lot of traveler sites out there with much more information, ways to travel cheap, etc. I recommend taking a look at as many blogs as you can, and taking what you want from them. It’s your trip, so plan the way you want and do what you are comfortable doing! If you have any questions, shoot me an email or leave a comment below!

Traveling Yogi: What I did in Munich, Germany

What you all have been waiting for… my last post on my travels to Europe! After experiencing 2 straight days/nights at Oktoberfest, I decided to actually explore the city a little bit more. And with one day left, I went on a bike tour in the morning, and a pub crawl at night – best way to end my time in Munich! Below is a summary of my last 2 days in Germany:

Monday, September 21:

After being out until 2 am the night before & coming back to my hostel with someone in my bed, I was not exactly ready for my alarm to go off around 7 am. I scheduled a last-minute bike tour for 8:30 am – 4 hours long – with Mike’s Bike Tours. It was highly recommended by quite a few people I met while traveling, and its an easy way to see the city. I am not much for museum hopping or history, but the tour guide was absolutely hilarious and made the 4 hours pass by so quick.

mikesbiketour2015

We toured a few churches, learned about the history of hofbrauhaus, the city, hitler, politics…

munich2

Stopped at a nude park….

munichpark

and stopped at the world’s second largest beer garden for lunch (and some beer!). Yes, we all drank and rode our bikes back to the city. Total norm in Munich.

beer garden munich beer garden

We also got to watch some awesome surfers ride a wave on a river… dangerous, but very cool to watch!

mike bike tours

After returning our bikes, I decided to walk around the open air market a bit – basically a huge market with lots and lots of fresh food. I would go here every day and buy all of my groceries from the vendors if I lived in Munich.. this place was amazing! It’s pretty similar to a farmers market, but way bigger.

open air market

I was meeting up with a friend I met in Geneva/Chamonix for dinner, so I decided to head back and rest a bit beforehand. I barely got any sleep the entire trip, and I finally gave in and took a much-needed nap.

I met up with my friend at Fraunhofer, and it was seriously amazing.

munich22

I ordered some sort of dumpling dish – and you never know what you are going to get, because it’s always different at every restaurant you go to in Germany. And beer. Because, when in Germany… Also – Franziskaner Weissbier is now one of my favorite beers ever. Something about banana beer always gets me… Where can I find this in the US?!

german food final night

After dinner, we hopped around a few bars, grabbing a few more drinks before heading in at midnight.

munichbeer1 munichbeer2

Sunday, September 22:

I got up around 7/8 am, checked out of my hostel, and headed to the airport.

adios, hostel

adios, hostel

I wanted to check out the airbrau brewery – a brewery at the Munich airport – before leaving. And no matter how much I travel, I always need to be at the airport 10 hours before my flight leaves, because I have awful anxiety about missing my flight.

Anyways, I was going to check in, but my flight area didn’t open until 12:30. And it was 10:30. Soooo it was time for an early lunch at the brewery… and it didn’t disappoint. I mean, who wouldn’t want beer, cheese, pickles, sausages, and bread for breakfast?? And I am being dead serious. German food forever changed my taste buds… although, I still steer clear of sauerkraut. heck.no.

airport brewery

After finally being able to check in around 1, I find that my flight is delayed for a few hours. I ended up sitting and chatting with a couple from DC, so it wasn’t too bad. Except I had an awful sinus infection, and my nose would not.stop.running. Luckily, I found medicine at the airport, and the 9 hour flight to Canada wasn’t awful. However, I arrived back to the states around 11/11:30, and I hadn’t slept for over 24 hours. So, you could say I was ready to sleep when I finally got to my apartment. And jet leg – you are a real thing. I felt like I was walking around with my brain in the clouds until Friday afternoon!

So that sums up my first trip to Europe – I hope you enjoyed reading about it, and that it might be helpful if you ever decide to travel to Switzerland/Chamonix/Munich! I am thinking my next trip will be Iceland – has anyone ever been? Any other ideas where to go next? 

Traveling Yogi: Oktoberfest Part 1

Hello!

One of the main reasons for going to Europe was not just to eat endless amounts of chocolate in Switzerland, but also to attend Oktoberfest. I have heard so many amazing things from friends who have gone, so I just had to experience it for myself! Below is a recap of my first Day at Oktoberfest – I will write about my second day in another post, there is just too much to write about!

Friday, September 18 – Day 1 Munich:
6 am: Walk to Train station from Hostel
7 am: Catch train from Interlaken to Munich

After waking up at the crack of dawn, the hostel employees were still up drinking.. They tried to convince me to stay another night, or at least for a drink (at 6 am)… I politely declined, as I had a train to catch! So, I was given a roadie and sent on my way. There were 2 connections on the trains, and I was lucky enough to find a couple headed to Munich – we worked together to figure out what trains to get on, although we were still running to catch our connections!

After getting on the final train in Zurich, my train car was smoking because the heater was broken. I initially had planned to get some sleep and read a bit, but I couldn’t stand the smell. So, I decided to switch cars… and I am so glad I did! I ended up on the “party” train and met some awesome new friends. I can’t believe I even tried to be a hermit and sleep the entire way… There was always some sort of excitement to get caught up in!

DAY1munich train ride

The Swiss are very, very friendly people. As soon as I sat down, I was given a beer and food. Most didn’t speak English too well, but luckily there was someone from Chicago on the train. Sometimes it is just nice to be able to speak to someone that can understand you!

DAY1munichtrainride DAY1munich train ride2

From 10-1:30 pm, I drank, ate, and made new friends. After arriving at the Munich train station, I walked across the street to my hostel and checked in. I got settled into my room full of bunk beds, and headed out to find my outfit for Oktoberfest! After wandering around Munich and going into a few shops, I finally found my Lederhosen outfit. I opted out of wearing a dress because, well, I hate how they look. I don’t think they are cute… lederhosen, however… shorts with pockets, can’t go wrong with that!

leiderhosen

Fast forward to dinner – remember those Ohion’s I met back in France? They were in Munich for Oktoberfest as well, so we met up at Augustiner Keller for dinner. The beer garden was huge, and the basement was even bigger! I highly recommend stopping here for a bite if you are in the area. After 1/2 liter of beer + a belly full of pretzels, sausages, potatoes and eggs, I was ready for bed!

DAY1augustiner DAY1augustiner4

DAY1AugustinerKellerbeer DAY1augustiner3

The following morning, we all met back up at 7 am for the first day of Oktoberfest!

OktoberfestNina

We waited in line for over 2 hours at the Schottenhamel tent (most well known for where the first keg is tapped + all politicians/celebrities are at) until finally, we made it to the Beer Garden.

oktoberfest wait oktoberfest line

schottenhamelbeergarden

It was FREEZING, and PACKED, but luckily there were heaters over top of the tables. We ordered food, which took forever – pretzels and half chickens – and we sipped on sparkling water while we waited for the festivities to start.

oktoberfestmenu oktoberfestmenu2

Pretzel the size of my head oktoberfest1

The first keg was tapped, and we finally got our first liter of beer around 12:30 pm – well worth the wait! Everyone was getting a bit impatient – it was hard to wait 5.5 hours for a beer, but all was forgotten once we started drinking.

oktoberfest5

oktoberfest4 oktoberfest3

Oktoberfest33 Oktoberfest2

The tent was packed, and we ended up staying until 3:30 pm – there was no way we were getting into the tent (some people bribed to get in, and the bouncers were not very nice!), so we headed off to the Armbrustschützenzelt tent to see if we could actually get inside (it had amazing reviews based on what I researched beforehand).

Armbrustschutzen tent

Luckily, we were able to get inside AND find a table, all while meeting new German friends. Unfortunately, getting the table meant accidentally chugging an entire liter of beer on my part, so this is where things started to get a bit hazy… but absolutely entertaining. Everyone was so friendly and we ended up having an absolute blast!

Armbrustschutzen_2

Around 7-7:30, I headed back home – catching a cab, because there was no way I could maneuver my way back to the hostel! I had only been drinking beer since noon, so I was hungry – luckily my hostel had a restaurant, and I ended up ordering 3 plates of food… much needed after drinking 4-5 liters of beer! I also made some new Australian friends, and I hung out and ate with them until around 10-11.

Overall, my first day at Oktoberfest was a blast! I met amazing, interesting people and drank lots of GOOD beer! I am not a beer lover, but German beer has converted me. And the food… I thought German food was gross… until I ate my way through Munich. Besides sauerkraut, everything I ate was amazing. Potatoes, pretzels, sausages, cheese…. I could live on that and be a very fat, happy woman. If you are headed to Oktoberfest, make sure you order the half chicken and eat unlimited amounts of pretzels… it makes the experience that much better!

oktoberfest2015

So after an entire day of Oktoberfest, I wasn’t sure if I was up for another day.. However, traveling solo with an open mind means you never know what will happen next… with that being said, stay tuned for Oktoberfest Part 2, as well another post on what I did (besides drink ;)) in Munich!

Has anyone ever been to Oktoberfest in Munich? If so, what tents did you like the most, and what was your favorite part about it? I would love to hear about your experiences!

How to pack for a 10-day Trip to Europe (Updated!)

**UPDATE 9/23! since returning from my trip, I have added notes in Bold/italic below about anything I would have or would not have packed.

Since booking my trip back in June, I haven’t given much thought to packing until the past week. Insert: frantic last-minute purchases on amazon prime. Since I am only taking 1 backpack, there is some serious consolidating happening. Which, surprisingly, hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. I already knew i wouldn’t be taking any hair appliances, and I’m perfectly fine with walking around in leggings the entire trip. So, I did a lot of research and made a list of what I needed to bring, including a few non-negotiable must-haves. Below is a list of everything I have packed – it seems like a lot, but it’s just a bunch of small things that all add up to fitting perfectly in 1 bag. Also – I am bringing a second bag for souvenirs & crap that won’t fit into my backpack (my books!).

BackPack

Backpacking Front     Backpacking Side

Backpacking Carry On

Packing Cubes – You definitely need these for organization while traveling!

Backpacking Cubes

Top cube: Toiletries Middle cube: Bathing suit/socks/underwear Bottom cube: Clothes

Toiletries (travel size):
sunscreen – barely used this, would only bring if I went somewhere warmer!
shampoo & conditioner
body wash
hairspray
toothbrush & toothpaste
floss
hairbrush + hair ties/bobby pins
deodorant
razor
band aids

Clothes: **Planning on doing laundry at the hostels as needed!
pairs of socks
15 pairs of underwear – could have brought less, since I did laundry during my trip
bras
scarves – these have secret pockets in them to carry my passport/valuables in! I had these made on etsy in black and grey – I could have honestly done without these – it wasn’t super cold, and I felt safe with just my cross body bag
pair of shorts – never wore, it was way too cold!
pairs of black leggings
t-shirts
tanks (1 white, 1 black, 1 casual)
3 workout outfits **Planning on running around the cities/impromptu yoga classes! – wore 1 workout outfit when I went for a run, and shorts when i did laundry. could have survived with packing only 1-2 outfits
bathingsuit – never wore this, but glad I brought it just in case
long sleeved shirts + pair of fleece-lined leggings for when I am in the mountains!
1 long-sleeved chambray button up shirt
sweater – for the plane ride & cold nights – i completely underestimated how cold it was going to be when I was over there! i probably would have brought a second sweater that was thicker for when I was in the mountains!
rain jacket – it’s supposed to rain 2-3 days I am there! – one of my best packing choices, it rained a LOT!
pajama outfit

EuropTripPack

Travelers Scarf Secret Pocket

Travelers Scarf Selfie

Secret Scarf with Hidden Passport!

Shoes: – perfect amount of shoes to bring, no complaints!
flip flops
toms
tennis shoes

Backpacking Shoes

Misc:
workout arm band – used this when I went for a run
charcoal tablets (for food poisoning/stomach issues)
peppermint oil (headaches/sinuses) – i used this + lemon everyday!
contacts + glasses
sunglasses – used everyday!
adapter plugs – for Germany & for Switzerland
camera – only used a few times, mainly used my phone for pictures!
locks – for my bag zippers + storing my bag at the hostels – honestly didn’t really need, I felt pretty safe the entire time!
Eurorail train tickets
Day bag for exploring + money belt for under my clothes – could have done without the money belt, day bag = best item brought on the trip! used it everywhere I went, and had no issues with pick pocketing
mini duct tape (who knows what type of emergency I’ll have ;))
Also brought an extra bag for souveniers – so glad I did! 10+ lbs of chocolate, a huge 1 liter beer stein + misc things collected – all needed to be carried back and would never have fit in my suitcase!

Travelers Bag (1)

Plane Necessities:
passport (duh!)
pictures/copies of ID/passport on phone/email
headphones – lifesaver!
aleve
baby wipes – lifesaver!
electrolyte packets
protein bars – lifesavers!
sleep medicine
hand sanitizer
aquaphor – my lips were chapped the entire trip, so glad i brought this!
tissues – i wish i had brought more, as i used these for small spills and my runny nose!
carabiner/flashlight/whistle all-in-one – only used once while in the hostel, but still good to have.
phone charger
backup phone charger – one of the top items used while traveling. SUCH a lifesaver! My phone battery drained quickly from using maps
mini notebook for travel notes – used this until I lost my pen ;/
books **planning on leaving these on the plane for the next person once I am finished – less weight to carry! – honestly wish I had only brought 1 book, if any. I didn’t really have time to read them, and it was hard to lug them around
gum/mints
Jet Lag medicine for the flight back – so far this stuff is magic! I didn’t sleep for 24 hours straight while traveling back to the states, and i got about 8-9 hours of sleep when I got home. Feeling a little groggy, but I was able to work and get stuff done the next day perfectly fine.

EuroTrip Pack

Below are a few of the apps I downloaded on my phone – are there any others that I absolutely need to have?

Apps:
Hostelworld this has all my booking information for where I am staying **Used this a few times for directions

TripIt I have my entire trip planned out on here – Every confirmation email I got (flights, hostels, events, etc) – I forwarded to Trip it, and it automatically created my schedule. I then went in and added details as needed. You can also send a link to friends/family so they know where you will be (in case you ever go missing ;)). **Only used this a few times

City Maps 2go I downloaded maps for the cities I will be in to navigate my way around, no internet required – if you are traveling, you MUST download this app! I used it everywhere I went – it points you in the right direction and is totally accurate.

Rail Planner – i was able to look up all of the times trains were leaving and create a list fo every train/transfer needed. If I miss my train, I can check for other times with no issue, as I don’t have to be online to look! — used this a ton to double check my train schedules!

Gate Guru – I use this for all of my plane travels! It has information on every single thing to do at each airport by gate, with maps. It is awesome for layovers & for finding out about any flight changes!

Google Docs – my travel spreadsheet with all info was on google docs – I accessed this a LOT

And that’s it! Everything fit in my bag, and I am ready to go. Has anyone ever traveled to Europe with just 1 backpack? Am I missing any essential items? I am planning on buying a SIM card as soon as I land in Switzerland. Anyone have experience/tips for this? **bought my sim card at the post office as soon as I landed in Geneva

Traveling Yogi: Backpacking in Europe + Oktoberfest in Munich!

Hello all!

Ever since I got back from Belize, I couldn’t help but begin to plan my next adventure: 1.5 weeks in Europe, visiting Switzerland & Germany. I have never traveled to Europe, let alone by myself, so I am terrified… but so excited to go! Once I started planning, I had to narrow down to just 2 countries because it was getting a little overwhelming (Italy, I am coming for you next year!). I’ve literally spent hours planning this trip already, and I still have a lot to do… I’ve only booked my hostel for Munich, so I’ll be booking everything else in the next few weeks! Below is my schedule so far:

Day 1: Fly to Geneva, Switzerland

Day 2: Arrive in Geneva early AM
check in at hostel
Rent bike and tour the city
visit the broken chair
Yoga class! (Any recommendations?)

Broken Chair

Day 3: Day trip to Chamonix French Alps

Chamonix

Chamonix Tour

Day 4: Travel to Lausanne/Montreux
check in at hostel
hike/explore
check out chocolate/cheese factory & eat my body weight in delicious swiss chocolate

Day 5: Travel to Grindelwald
check in at hostel
Yoga Class in morning/afternoon
bungee jump or paraglide! **anyone ever do this? I am terrified!

Day 6: Travel to Munich via train
check in at hostel, get situated
buy dirndl for Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest
Day 7, 8, 9, 10: Oktoberfest!
hit the Schottenhamel tent for first beer pour of the festival
hang out with fellow Americans at the Hofbräu tent

Day 8, 9,10: Explore Munich
visit Olympiaturm (flying fox!)
Canyoning
visit Theresienwiese – Maiden of Bavaria
Tour Andechs Monastery and Brewery
Visit Hofbräuhaus

Day 11: Fly back to the US

I started out wanting to end my trip in Italy, but it got to be too much in too little time. So for now, extra time in Switzerland and Germany! Transportation is probably the main thing that is stressing me out – do I need to book ahead of time? How much time do I need to take into account when traveling via train/air in Europe? How do I know what trains to take in between cities/countries? Do I need to purchase ahead of time? I am so excited to plan and travel this trip all by myself, even if it seems a little daunting. Has anyone traveled to Geneva/Oktoberfest? Any tips for a newbie solo backpacking in Europe? I would love to hear about your experience !

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