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Jocko’s Journey: Europe on a Whim (and a Major Budget)

Recently, Ryan Giacomini spontaneously decided to purchase airfare and a rushed Eurail Pass for Europe and head off on a solo journey of a lifetime. One week later, he was on his way! Through a series of adventures, ordeals and flat-out exhaustion, Ryan recently returned with some great stories to share. He not only proved to those of us dreaming we could do something like this, that it IS possible, but he also travelled on an extremely tight budget, and had money left over for souvenirs!

We caught up with Ryan after his three and a half week-long whirlwind trip, and learned a lot about budget travel through Europe:

Ryan enjoying the sights of Ireland

Ryan enjoying the sights of Ireland

Ryan, thank you for joining us here at DayTripper Magazine. Recently, we know you got a “wild hair” and up and went to Europe, on a solo adventure through many countries. What was the inspiration for that?

“I did it for the lust of piece of mind. It was something I just needed to do.”

So, to point out, you are a young, single guy in your 20s. But you have a job and responsibilities, so how did you manage up and leaving one week after you decided to go?

“Well, if you really want to know, I called my boss after a week and a half long staycation I was already on. He understood that it’s just a job, and this was a life experience, (and we were hiring new people anyway), so he decided he would be cool with it. And I promised him I’d make it up to him when I got back.”

Moral of this story: Having a good relationship with your boss helps! Many people claim they can’t travel to Europe because it’s so pricey. How were you able to do it?

“I could afford it. I don’t think Europe is so expensive. It’s how you spend your money. It cost me roughly $2700 (US). It included airfare and staying alive for 24 days—semi-comfortably.”

You travelled Europe for just shy of a month on $2700? INCREDIBLE! What did that include?Kiss and ride

“Air, lodging, food, train, Metro/The Tube/Budget Airlines, a tour to Stonehenge & back and money for souvenirs—lots of them!”

What took up the biggest chunk of that expense?

“It was roughly a 50/50 split between airfare (to and from Dublin) & my Eurail pass, and the other half (was for everything else).”

Wait a minute, you went in the summer! How did you manage that? Usually it’s a lot more expensive than $1350!
“I gave myself a budget of $700 for airfare round trip somewhere in the world.”  

And you were able to get to Dublin on $700?

“No—$695! *laughing* But then I spent some money to upgrade some seats—so total $750.”  

At that price, I wouldn’t call that going over budget, especially when you consider the upgraded seats! How did you find the airfare?

“It takes is a little bit of luck and the right timing. (Airfare is) always going to fluctuate, and I was able to find the right airfare within a hour (of getting on the internet).”

Always leave room in your budget for gelato!

Always leave room in your budget for gelato!

How much did you budget for daily?  

“I budgeted for about $50 a day, which at the time came out to be about $42 euro per day. (For the first half of the trip—until Brexit, then Brexit screwed me over. I was literally in the worst position for Brexit, moneywise, because I already purchased my Euros).

On my $50 budget I tried to spend $20-25 on accommodations, $15-20 on food & drink and $10 on whatever else I needed or wanted. And it’s important to have a little extra for a ‘Fun Fund.’

Also, I wanted to keep my trip under $2500, but I knew I’d go over, so I realistically gave myself an extra $500. Because s#!+ happens and you need more that you think you’ll need. If I went over that I was royally screwed.

But you didn’t! So we want to know, what are your best budget tips for Europe?

“Hit up Chinatown in every big city that has one! You can usually get a full lunch for less than, or around, $6 euros. I ate in Chinatown everyday in London. You usually have to get an all day metro pass, it’s your best option, typically, because you’re sightseeing, so you could start in Chinatown, ride the tube somewhere else, walk around London, and go back to Chinatown for another meal.  For that price, I ate there twice a day.

Also, don’t stay in the center of a big city, stay in the slight outskirts. On travel days you typically don’t spend a lot of money, because you can’t sit down and go to a restaurant, you usually have to grab something on the go. So that helped boost my budget.

If you can bundle more than one tour, do it. Like in Rome I bundled the Colosseum and the Forum, and that helped my budget.”

You travelled so many countries on this trip: Ireland, Belgium, Amsterdam, Germany, Italy, England—Which place was your favorite?

“I had so many great places I went to, (can’t pick a favorite).”

Soccer and a beer

Fair enough, we’ll have to have you back with DayTripper Magazine to have you dive deeper into the different destinations for us! So, given this experience, what would you do differently next time?

“I would not buy the 22 continuous Eurail pass. I could have saved a lot of money by buying the 14 day. I thought I’d use it everyday, but I didn’t. So that’ll boost my beer fund (next time).

On that note, it doesn’t hurt to budget hunt for a cheap pint of beer—because in a big city there’s always a cheap pint somewhere.”

Great tip! CHEERS TO THAT!
Join us next time with Jocko’s Journeys as he shares great day trips in Europe on a budget!

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