The Cost of Traveling:
February was much kinder financially and we ALMOST made budget! I would ordinarily be disappointed that we didn’t make it, however, believe it or not, travelling to London and having just under a week there, ate the majority of our budget this month!!! It’s an expensive city!
In fact, before leaving for London our budget looked AWESOME! In the first 23 days of the month we had used only $AUD1822 ($USD1364.50) of our budget!!! That’s an average of $AUD79.21 ($USD59.32) per day, which included eating out nearly every day!
But then we went to London and the budget took a nose dive! In only 5 days we spent a whopping $AUD2800 ($AUD2096.93) and we certainly didn’t go overboard! This includes flights of $AUD751.56 ($USD562.87) and accommodation of $AUD879.51 ($USD658.70) which in themselves make up almost 60% of our expenses in London!
So overall I was quite happy with what we achieved this month. We knew London would be expensive, so we actually expected that sticking to the budget would be much harder. The fact that so many attractions in the UAE were free (museums, forts etc) certainly helped us keep costs down.
So how did our expenses break down for the month… let’s have a better look:
ACCOMMODATION – $AUD879.51 ($USD657.87)
For the first 23 days of the month we were housesitting in Al Ain, UAE. As I have mentioned before, we LOVE housesitting, as it dramatically reduces our spending! This meant we had zero accommodation costs for the start of the month.
For the last part of the month we were stung with very expensive (well, expensive when you are a budget traveller) accommodation. 100% of our accommodation costs this month happened in only 5 nights!
Unfortunately our accommodation in London was far more expensive than I’d initially hoped… and this came down to problems booking! We learned a valuable lesson about AirBnB this month – if you want to immediatley confirm your accommodation, use the INSTANT BOOK feature!
The problem we had was that we would find something that we thought was perfect, put in an enquiry, wait up to 24 hours for a response and then find out it was not available. We’d then put in another enquiry, wait another 24 hours and get a negative response. In the mean time availability decreased and what was left was really expensive! As a result, we ended up paying $AUD224.00 ($USD167.64) per night, way more than we ordinarily would.
We did have one little win however – our bus from London to Paris was an overnighter, which meant 1 less night of accommodation!
ENTERTAINMENT – $AUD397.20 ($USD297.10)
Al Ain was a wonderful place to visit as budget travellers – we saw a lot of the local area and tourist attractions, but most of them were FREE!
Our biggest expense was a Desert Safari which cost us $AUD140.00 ($USD104.80). Riding camels was a big thing on our wishlist, so this was a must do activity for us.
Once we left the UAE and headed to London, we spent most of our time simply exploring on foot, or taking part in Walking Tours, which were incredibly informative AND FREE!!
Our big expense in London was visiting the Tower of London and the London Dungeon at $AUD160.00 ($USD119.76). This was definitely money well spent – the Tower of London was simply amazing!
FLIGHTS – $AUD751.56 ($USD562.16)
In February we had only 1 trip by plane, from Dubai to London via Germany. We flew this with Eurowings – the cost was quite low in comparison to other airlines and the service and flight itself were fantastic!
EATING OUT – $AUD1076.93 ($USD805.53)
We spent a lot more this month than we ordinarily would, but given that the costs of attractions were so low (or free) at the start of the month, for us, eating out and trying new food was part of our adventure! Whilst in Al Ain we would venture out, find somewhere to eat, and then explore the area we were in! Even though we ate out every day, we only averaged $AUD34.40 ($USD25.75) which we were really happy with!
In London our eating out costs were relatively low, simply because we had a full kitchen in our apartment, so most of our food was prepared at home!
GROCERIES – $AUD585.20 ($USD437.72)
Because we ate out a fair bit in the UAE, our grocery costs weren’t too bad – $AUD393.20 ($USD294.25) for a period of 23 days! We generally ate 1 or 2 meals at home and because we had a full kitchen we were able to cook up some really yummy meals.
Whilst in London our grocery costs came to $AUD192.00 ($USD143.70) for 5 days! Eating out was incredibly expensive, so we opted to cook at home! This amount was actually higher than I would ordinarily expect, but there were so many yummy things in the supermarket that we just HAD to taste test!
MISCELLANEOUS – $AUD172.10 ($USD128.73)
Our miscellaneous costs this month were a bit all over the place – we bought a new computer mouse, had to pay to use toilets in London and scored a parking fine whilst in the UAE. We also had a bunch of printing we had to do which cost us far more than it should have, but we simply didn’t know a better place to do it, so ended up in the business centre of the Hilton Hotel!
PARKING – $AUD83.00 ($USD62.10)
Our standard monthly cost, covering our car parking at home, at the Melbourne Airport!
PHONES – $AUD70.00 ($USD52.37)
This cost was much higher than we expected this month, and was 100% for data use! Whilst in the UAE we had huge problems with our internet connection at our housesit, with local workers spending days trying to get it up and running. As a result of that, we had to buy data through our local sim card, which over the time it was needed, quickly added up.
Ordinarily our daily data cost was quite low – our local sim card had an awesome plan of 2gig per day for only $AUD1.20 ($USD0.89)!
TRANSPORT – $AUD610.55 ($USD456.81)
Whilst in Al Ain, our transport costs were simply petrol, which at only $AUD40.00 ($USD29.94) to fill the big 4WD we were driving, was super cheap. Our total fuel costs came to $AUD118.80 ($USD88.92).
Once we left our UAE housesit however, the costs skyrocketed. A taxi from Al Ain to Dubai was $134.40 ($USD100.00)! We did look at renting a car, but the added extras were ridiculously exensive and hiring a car for a day was going to be far more than a Taxi!
In London our transport costs included our Oyster cards for getting around on the Tube at $AUD100 ($USD74.86), and a bus from the airport to the city at $AUD48.00 ($USD35.92).
Finally, we had our overnight bus from London to Paris, which I think was a bargain – it saved us a nights accommodation and got us to Paris for only $AUD169.35 ($USD126.78).
VISAS – $AUD0.00 ($USD0.00)
No visa costs this month – being Aussies, we had no fees for entering any of the 3 countries we visited.
We almost made it!!! This month has really proved a couple of things – housesitting is perfect for budget travellers, and London is expensive! But, despite the extra expense, a bit of careful planning kept us pretty close to meeting our budget, and we had an absolute ball.
Overall our daily budget ($4250 per month / 29 days) was $146.55 and we averaged $159.00 – not too bad given that we visited Europe!
March however, may be a different story. With only a single house sit of 5 nights, we will be paying for accommodation for 25 nights. Plus we have flights back to Bangkok, and then back to our Easter house sit in Brisbane, Australia. We already know that March is going to be waaaay over budget, BUT, we also know that because we are moving around so much in March, April is going to be nice and quiet, and should help balance out the budget overall!