Our trip cost us $12 000 each for 6 months including our return flights from Sydney to Paris, we visited 41 cities within 17 countries.
internal travel: $3,000
extra expenses: $3,000
I booked our flights through STA travel as it was the first thing we did and I was a little overwhelmed. In hindsight I don't recommend using a travel agent to book your flights as if you want to alter or cancel them the travel agent will put an extra fee on top of the airline your flying with's fees . For example, we wanted to change our flight home to a later date and Vietnam airline's change fees alone were under $100 but STA's change fees were upwards of $350 and it was going to cost us more than $500 just to change our flight's date. So if you can book directly through the airline the cost of the flight should be the same and then you don't have to go through the booking agency if you want to make any changes. Use sky scanner to find the best price for your flight and then use the website to book directly through the airline.
How we saved up enough money
I got back from Canada in late February and a few weeks later started working at a cafe in Waverton. I nannied several times a week and in the last 2 months before we left picked up a waitress job at a restaurant in Neutral Bay. In total I worked for almost 4 months and earned around $11,000. I had a few thousand saved in my bank account already which I used as back up in case we needed extra money however we were lucky and managed to stick to our budget! Ebbs started with nothing and worked several jobs to save up the $12,000 that we needed. He started work whilst I was in Canada. In the months leading up to the trip my life revolved around work and sleep which meant I didn't really have time to spend any of the money I was making even if I had wanted to.
How we managed our money overseas
Ebbs and I shared a commonwealth bank travel money card by putting equal amounts of money on it and then using it to pay for everything (flights, accommodation, food) it made it really easy as we didn’t need worry about who owed who or splitting bills and meant we could book everything online together. If you are travelling with a close friend or partner I really recommend sharing a card/account as it made it really easy to keep track of our spending.
When travelling through countries that don't use the euro we put Australian dollars on our card as there is no conversion rate. If we used the euros we had on the card already it would have converted the money twice. The commonwealth bank travel money card we used only stored major currencies (AUD, USD, EURO, POUND, etc) so Turkish Liras and Hungarian Forint (etc) didn't make the cut.
We left Australia with 350 euros in cash which was incredibly useful for things such as bus fairs and small food shopping and meant we didn't have to get money out for a month or so. We found it surprising how many places in Europe didn’t use the euro. Almost half of our destinations! Most of these countries are a lot cheaper to travel through although it can be hard to keep up with the constant change in conversion rates. London is a massive exception to this and was the most expensive place we visited.
Countries that we visited that don’t use the euro
Different ways that we saved money
Airports we slept in
We stayed in a lot of hostels that we booked using hostel-world. We had mostly positive experiences and met heaps of really cool people.
The cost ranged from $6-$30 a night for a bed in a dorm.
AirBnB was our favorite type of accommodation. We stayed in some amazing places for amazing prices and were given a local perspective from the people we stayed with. (On our budget we stayed in places ranging from $20-$60 a night -split in 2) We had all positive experiences with the places we stayed in and all our hosts were incredibly helpful and knowledgeable.
We very rarely we stayed in hotels (maybe 3 times on the whole trip) and that was only out of desperation for a night or 2. Try not to get yourself into that situation because spending and extra $80 a night on accommodation is such waste and the money adds up.
We booked out flights in late February and flew to Paris mid June. We found we got good deals with our flights booking at this time although the earlier you book your flights the better. In saying that make sure you're 100% certain about the flights and your plans before you book them as it can take away all your flexibility once your locked into your flight dates.
The first half of our trip we flew to and from most of our destinations. Europe is home to many fantastic budget airlines that all compete with each other for price. They make their money through expensive baggage costs and extras so make sure you never pay to choose your seat (you will pretty much always be seated next to the person you booked with) and don't over-pack! As far as airlines go I would only avoid Voletia (an Italian airline) as their baggage fees were upwards of $80 each; a cost we could not avoid and weren't aware of when we booked our flights (normal cost of baggage is about $30). Also pay attention as many of these budget airlines require you to check in online before you come to the airport, something we saw many people forget to do. Most of our flights cost an average of 60 euros (including baggage) but there were obviously exceptions. We had several flights to and from London with Ryan-air that cost only $26 and our flights to and from Croatia were closer to $200.
Buses and Trains
We used a website called go-euro that calculates the cheapest and fastest options of travel when you select a destination from your current location. The options included trains, buses and flights and it was because of this website that we got into bus travel. We caught countless buses over our trip's duration, mainly overnight ones that covered big distances such as Prague to Amsterdam. Bus travel was super cheap and so much more convenient than flying as you are taken to the center of the city and are able to avoid airports. We also used buses (and a few trains) for our internal travel within different countries such as Italy, Turkey and Morocco where we caught overnight buses to and from the different cities. Around central Europe the main bus companies we used were Megabus, Ouibus and Meinfernbus. The average cost of an overnight bus trip was around $30 which included the nights accommodation (on the bus), the cost of travel (obviously) and usually wifi and drinks. As far as trains went, we only used them a handful of times as they cost similar to flying and weren't as fast. They are a fantastically pleasant way to travel especially through alpine regions and along coastlines. As far as Eurail passes go I did a considerable amount of research before we left and concluded that they are overpriced and inflexible.
I'm sure many people may disagree having had good experiences with the likes of Topdeck or Contiki but I don't think these tours are the best way to travel. The luxury of not having to think about where your going next or how your getting there whilst travelling would be nice but your paying for it in both money and experience. A 1 month Topdeck tour in Europe costs $4000 plus expenses (alcohol, lunch and spending money). I spent $1400 a month on everything plus we were able to choose how long we wanted to stay in each place and didn't just see the touristy side of each city as you do on a scheduled tour. These trips also use day time bus travel (as opposed to flying/overnight buses and trains) from city to city, something I tried to avoid as much as possible. Not only is it terribly dull and you can't really sleep for the duration of the journey but you are wasting a full day that could be spent exploring.
Positano - Italy