My Third Month in Europe: How Much I Spent & Where I’ve Been

I have officially been in Europe for 90 days, my longest stint on this continent yet — traveling from Naxos, Greece → Athens → Corfu → Ksamil, Albania → Saranda → Tirana → Kotor, Montenegro → Dubrovnik, Croatia → Sarajevo, Bosnia → Mostar → Split, Croatia. And guess what… I’m spending two and a half weeks in Split!

In 3 months, I’ve been to 13 countries — most of them new (to me)! And let me tell you, I have found it slightly exhausting. 

But first, if you’re wondering how I skirted the Schengen rules… easy!!

There were a lot of people asking me about Schengen when I first started out on this trip. While I vaguely knew there were some rules about how long U.S. travelers could stay visa-free in Europe, I didn’t know the details, nor did I think it even applied to me. Thankfully, I was right!

The Schengen rules, in short, as they pertain to Americans (in 2022):

  • Americans can spend up to 90 days per every six months in the Schengen area as tourists (Americans who want to stay longer need to qualify and apply for a formal visa)
  • The Schengen Area is not the same thing as the European Union, although there is a lot of overlap (22 of 27 EU countries are in Schengen, including 4 non-EU nations)

Fun fact: Nearly half of the continent of Europe does NOT belong to the European Union OR Schengen! I may be spending over 3 months in Europe, but I’ve only visited six Schengen countries — only 26 out of 44 European countries are a part of Schengen. 

My advice, if you want to stay in Europe long-term as a nomad? Spend three months in whatever Schengen country you like, then the next three months in any of the 18 other countries, or mix and match. 

SO HERE YOU GO: In days 61-90 in Europe, I spent $2,235.03, or $75 a day — nearly 25% less than I spent last month, and more on track of what I typically expect to spend. See how this month’s spending compares to month #1 and month #2 in Europe. However, this is not really the result of reduced spending — it’s the result of some travel points redemptions, to the tune of almost $400!

[If you’re new to my blog, I published spending updates every month during my travels this year… 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.]

Nomad life spending, days 61-90 in Europe… in detail (in USD)

Dates reflected: September 20, 2022 to October 19, 2022

Food & Dining$522.27
Auto & Transport$239.40
Personal Care$191.76
Health & Fitness$157.00
Business Services$51.37
Gifts & Donations$35.98
Fees & Charges-$29.49

“Travel” — includes sleeping accommodations and getting from destination A to destination B (hotels, vacation rentals, air travel, and long-distance buses, trains, and ferries) — and per the usual, was my biggest spending category this month.

During this time frame, I spent: 

  • $765 on hotels, hostels, and an Airbnb, cashing in $381 in travel rewards from my Chase Sapphire Preferred card and bringing my actual hotel spending down to $384 for the month: YAHOO!
  • $101 on air travel (for my return flight to the U.S., which I’ll take in November — I redeemed 22,000 frequent flier miles on American Airlines, so this charge is the carrier tax) 
  • $131 on buses (these are long-distance buses only… around-town transportation is covered in the transportation section)
  • $39 on ferries (again, the differentiation I make is that this is ferry transport only, not boat excursions)

In this time period, I spent 20 nights in hotels and hostels and the other 10 nights I stayed with kind and hospitable friends, friends of friends, and Couchsurfing hosts I met online. [If you’re unaware of Couchsurfing, it is a platform for hosts and travelers to connect — hosts offer accommodations to travelers. No money is exchanged — only culture and camaraderie. 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!]

And by the way, if you’re looking for a new travel credit card, I love my Chase Sapphire. The points add up fast and if you’re someone who uses their card a lot, like me, it’s well-worth the yearly fee.

»If you want to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, use my referral link to make my day — I get bonus points!

“Food & Dining” was my next biggest expense this month and includes restaurants, groceries, coffee shops, and alcohol & bars, at $522.27. That’s just a tiny bit more than last month at $17.41 per day. I spent $347 on dining out, $110 on groceries, and $65 on alcohol & bars. 

I next spent $239.40 on “Auto & Transport”, which includes auto and public transportation spending. 

I spent:

  • $194 on service and parts (my nephew charged me $389 to replace the side mirrors which were stolen off my vehicle in Mexico City. I broke this up into two payments to minimize the financial hit… so next month, I’ll take the second hit)
  • $23 on public transportation (local buses and metros)
  • $23 on ride share/taxis

Next, is “Personal Care” at $192. It was a long overdue month for hair! I spent $101 for blonde highlights in Tirana, Albania, and $33 for a haircut in Athens. I also got a bikini wax in Naxos, which was $15, and a massage in Split, which was $40 for 90 minutes.

“Entertainment” clocks in at $161 and includes expenses like tours and park or museum entrance fees. I went to the fortress in Corfu ($6), visited the ancient site of Butrint ($8), tipped for free walking tours in Tirana and Sarajevo, took the cable car in Dubrovnik ($16 one-way), took a boat to the island of Lokrum ($26), and paid for a half-day sailing trip in Split that my friend and I will take next week. 

I next spent $157 on “Health & Fitness.” This is my international health insurance that covers me both in the U.S. and abroad. 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. I talk ALL about my experiences with global health care in this comprehensive blog.

I spent $99 “Shopping” in Europe this month: I bought a jacket in chilly Sarajevo for $35 and a pair of shoes in Corfu for $15 (I donated another pair), and about $50 to refill some cosmetics and toiletries.

“Uncategorized” is cash from the ATM that I haven’t spent yet or tagged with a category. These are typically miscellaneous cash purchases or tips that I just don’t have time to keep track of. (You can subtract my refunded ATM fees from this!)

“Business Services” this month was $51, which is the cost of hosting my website, cloud storage, my email client, and other various business startup costs. (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 Paypal @juliebrose… anything helps!)

“Pets” is the money I send to my mom each month for any incidentals that come up when she’s taking care of Penny. 

“Gifts & Donations” are charitable donations (tips are reflected elsewhere, in restaurants or entertainment, for example) or gifts for loved ones.

“Home” is my rental insurance policy that protects the items I store in my mom’s house.

“Fees & Charges” (-$29) are my reimbursements for ATM fees. Thanks Fidelity Cash Card!

MISSING FROM MY 30-DAY SPENDING REPORT: “Bills & Utilities” — my cellular plan! In July I 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, but my mom says I can pay her later.

Alrighty then. For my third 30 days in Europe, I spent $75 a day, similar to my spending in Mexico. So, what do you think: are you willing to get creative and travel like I do?

FYI: I use Mint 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! Happy budgeting!

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