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Month in Review – July 2011

So we have cruised through month number two in Europe. This month we were without our trusty companion Bitsy (leased car) and thusly were thrust into the world of European trains and low cost airlines. This month was also one in which we met up with family and friends, who were gracious enough to host us in there respective cities, allowing us to save some shekels and interact with someone other than ourselves. As promised prior, here are some of the key financial details of the month and a summary of our favorite events:

July- Calendar Overview – Key Dates and More

A few less cities this month, but overall a continuation of our rapid pace. We more than doubled the amount of countries visited, 3 to 7, and at the same time managed to spend an entire week in one place.

July – Monthly Expenses

Planes, Trains and Taxis:

Throughout the previous month (June), we navigated the European landscape with the help of Bitsy, our faithful car, incurring charges for lease, gas, tolls and parking. As disclosed last month, the sum of those expenses was ~$130 per day or ~$3,900 for the month.

This month we switched to low cost airlines, regional railway, subways and taxis.

  • Airplanes – $1,524 (includes last minute double booking snafu)
  • Trains – $711
  • Buses – $29
  • Taxi – $461 (includes $275 trip to airport…another snafu)
  • Subway – $200

The grand total for this month comes to just north of ~$2,900 for the month or ~$94 per day. This figure includes our two big mistakes of the trip – $275 taxi to the airport and a $580 last minute airline double booking. So the undeniable conclusion to be drawn is that it is vastly cheaper to travel by public transit as opposed to a privately leased car.

Before we stray too far from this topic, here are some tips we learned:

  1. When using low cost airlines in Europe, do your research on airport transfers. Most of the airlines operate out of secondary airports, which still carry the destination cities name, but are not located in close proximity to the city as implied.
  2. When traveling on trains, make sure to check about the rules – they won’t post them, but they will expect you to follow them. The biggest of these to watch out for is ticket validation. We learned this lesson when a ticket agent tried to levy a $60 fine on us for lack of validation – we opted instead to just get off at the next stop and gamble he wouldn’t really bother to call the police as threatened. We appear to have been correct, but recommend you avoid this situation all together.
  3. Book hotels in close proximity to the central train stations. They are almost always located in good tourist areas and save you some taxi fees, so in theory you could upgrade your room for the same cost.

Random Line Items:

  • Our per night hotel rate went up slightly to $119 and kept it consistent in our use of 2 star or 3 star properties. Many of them were Best Westerns – recommend checking them out for their location and value.
  • Meal per diems – Lunch $36 & Dinner $65. The savings in our dinner per diem were mainly because we didnt have any $200+ meals this month and the uptick in our lunch per diem was due to less McDonald’s action.
  • Attractions costs increased because we did a handful of the bus tours which are shockingly expensive (avg $35) but we feel are worth it as a relaxing and comprehensive way to see a city.
  • Media cost us less than $120 for the month. This was iTunes purchases for TV series and Amazon purchases for Kindle reading.

July – Summary

First, we have to redact our statement that we were on budget exiting June. The lease cost for Bitsy was not accounted for in our burn rate, which put us over for the month. Our burn rate for the month of July was of course below budget because we spent quite a bit of time with family and friends. So after two months. we are just slightly over budget on our $300 per day burn rate target.

The overall cost of the trip though is still under budget since we saved significantly on upfront cost and have been saving on recurring expenses.

We expect the burn rate will continue to decrease and to eventually drop below our target as we utilize some Starwood points in the next two months and cut down the number of city transfers.

So there it is – let us know if you have any questions!

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