Alright team… I have another 30-day, full-time-traveler, nomad-in-Europe spending update for you!
I spent most of my second month of my stint in Europe in the Balkans and Mediterranean, which traditionally has a lower cost of living than western Europe. Days 31-60 brought me from Budapest, Hungary → Novi Sad, Serbia → Belgrade, Serbia → Sofia, Bulgaria → Istanbul, Turkey → Marmaris, Turkey → Rhodes, Greece → Athens, Greece → Naxos, Greece.
[If you’re new to my blog, I published spending updates every month during my six month sabbatical in Mexico… and the purpose of those and future updates is to inform and educate on what my lifestyle choices cost in varying parts of the world. This is not “how to do it on a shoestring” type of content — I’m drinking the wine, eating the gelato, and going on some tours, but I’m definitely creative when it comes to maximizing my budget. Plus, I still have responsibilities that I need to account for outside of traveling… I’ll call those out as well.]
In days 31-60 in Europe, I spent $2,914.41, or $97 a day — please excuse me while I mentally cringe — because yes, that’s about 25-30% more than I budgeted and feel comfortable spending at this phase in my mini-retirement. However, this includes some non-European spending (you know, adulting and sh*t) and a “big” splurge — the expense of my 7-night sailing trip in Marmaris, Turkey.
Nomad life spending, days 31-60 in Europe… in detail (in USD)
Dates reflected below: August 20, 2022 to September 19, 2022
|Auto & Transport||$526.88|
|Food & Dining||$496.55|
|Health & Fitness||$157.00|
|Gifts & Donations||$25.00|
|Fees & Charges||-$12.00|
“Travel” — includes hotels, vacation rentals, air travel and airport transfers, and other general travel expenses — was my biggest spending category this month — and actually, ALL YEAR! During this time frame, I spent:
- $550 on hotels and hostels
- $266 on air travel (3 flights) between Istanbul-Marmaris, Rhodes-Athens, and Athens-Corfu (one of which I paid for but didn’t fly in this time frame — and this also includes add-on baggage fees for my checked bag)
- $410 on my portion of the rental fee for our sailboat
- $25 for a visa for Turkey
I spent 10 nights in hotels and hostels, and 7 nights on the boat… the other 13 nights I stayed with kind and hospitable friends, friends of friends, and Couchsurfing hosts I met online! Thank you everyone ❤️
If you’re unaware of Couchsurfing, it is a platform for hosts and travelers to connect — hosts offer accommodations to travelers (and ironically, most of my stays did not involve a couch, but a bed). No money is exchanged — only culture and camaraderie. (Read about an earlier experience with Couchsurfing here.) It’s a great way to meet like-minded people, see a place through the eyes of a local, and of course, save on lodging, which is one of the most costly parts of traveling!
I next spent $527 on “Auto & Transport”, which included auto and public transportation spending. I spent:
- $247 on public transportation (metro and bus tickets, and ferries between the Greek islands — which are not cheap!!)
- $223 on my yearly auto registration renewal
- $57 for my share of fuel for the boat
“Food & Dining” was my third biggest expense this month and includes restaurants, groceries, coffee shops, and alcohol & bars, at $497 or about $16.50 a day. This was actually less than last month (because we cooked on the boat often), and since I knew I was overspending in the “Travel” category, I deliberately tried to save on dining out, with just a couple “splurge” meals.
“Business Services” this month was $157, which includes the cost of my domain, the cost of hosting my website, my email client, and other various business startup costs — September is my yearly renewal date. (I pay more for my website than I monetize. If you enjoy my content, want to support the lifestyle, or just want to treat me to a glass of vino, you can donate to Venmo @juliebrose… anything helps!)
I next spent $157 on “Health & Fitness.” This is my international health insurance that covers me both in the U.S. and abroad, provided that I remain outside of the U.S. for at least 6 months out of the year. While I paid the policy in full at the end of 2021, I “split” the transactions into 12 payments of $157 per month in my budget tracker Mint so it doesn’t hit me all at once.
Note: I’m not sure that I can recommend my IMG Global expat health insurance policy — they’ve denied my only claim. Another expat health insurance plan I’ve looked into and will perhaps go with next year is William Russell’s, click here to learn more (this is a referral link). I also have to thank my mother for negotiating down the hefy doctor’s bill that IMG denied and paying the balance — I appreciate and love you Momma!
“Entertainment” ($107) includes expenses like tours and park or museum entrance fees. I went to the Dohány Street Jewish Synagogue in Hungary, the amazing Rila monastery in Bulgaria, the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul, and on a gorgeous sailing day trip in Rhodes.
“Uncategorized” is cash from the ATM that I haven’t spent yet or tagged with a category. These are typically miscellaneous cash purchases, snacks, water, and tips that I just don’t have time to keep track of.
I did a little more “Shopping” in Europe, spending $66: a refill in Istanbul of my Clinique foundation ($30 — cheaper than the U.S. AND neighboring Greece) and $36 at the Calzedonia in Belgrade for five swimwear pieces, on sale (which of course, came in very handy on my sailing trip! (No additional sales tax, everybody!)
“Personal Care” for the month was $38 — $22 for a bikini wax in Budapest, $11 for some vitamins at the pharmacy, and some face wash.
“Gifts & Donations” are charitable donations or gifts for loved ones.
“Home” is my rental insurance policy that protects the items I store in my mom’s house.
“Fees & Charges” (-$12) are my reimbursements for ATM fees. Thanks Fidelity Cash Card!
MISSING FROM MY 30-DAY SPENDING REPORT: “Bills & Utilities” — my cellular plan! I recently switched from an $82 a month AT&T plan to an international T-Mobile plan, which I share with my mom who receives the senior discount — my portion costs $45.
Alrighty then. For my second 30 days in Europe, I spent $2,914.41. While this is still less than my spending living a traditional life AND nomading in the U.S., it’s more than I am comfortable with without making an income — so I was a little on the anxious side this month. But I keep reminding myself — I can make more money later in life, so I can’t allow these opportunities to pass me by.
And it’s all about lifestyle choices. I walk or take the bus instead of a taxi. I eat at “home” often, and when I do go out, I try to spend no more than $10-15 on a meal and drink. I don’t spend a lot on clothing, jewelry, or souvenirs, and I get DIY manicures, nor do I spend every night in a luxurious hotel, just once in a while.
If frequent or full-time travel is what you wish, and your funds cannot support fine dining and accommodations, not all hope is lost — you will just have to give a few things up. For me, the tradeoff is that I don’t HAVE to work and I get to live this beautiful life and see the world — so I accept the bunk beds and sharing a bathroom and eating street food and taking the bus. And if you’re really low maintenance… you can do it for far cheaper than I!
[For argument’s sake this month, let’s take out some of my spending totally unrelated to traveling — car registration, business services, shopping, personal care, and home — that brings us to $2,415 or about $80 a day. This is a bit more like average, but… a good example that bills come due, unexpected costs can come up, and even more choices can be made.]
Want to know the financial decisions I made in order to do what I’m doing now? I’ve blogged about it.
Note: I use Mint.com to track my spending by category. It’s super handy and most of the work is done for me. If you’re interested in trying Mint, it’s free!