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Money Diaries: The Cost of a Six-Month Mini-Retirement in Europe

· Travel,Money


What’s the last trip you planned? How long did you spend on it? Organizing activities, setting itineraries, tracking flights, and picking hotels? If you enjoy the process of planning and anticipating, like I do, this can take hours.

I’m sure you can imagine how overwhelmed I felt planning my six-month mini-retirement in Europe.


When I asked my travel blogger friends opinions on a few different destinations, they told me to just wing it and go with the flow.

And you know what? I tried it. Winging it and “going with the flow” is what I did when I was bouncing around Southeast Asia.

But in my experience, it took me out of the moment –I couldn’t be fully present in Thailand, because I was planning my trip to Malaysia on Friday. I couldn’t savor Bali, because I was busy trying to make it through customs in Bangkok.

I love structure. I love planning. I’m flexible but I need a skeleton.

Naturally, I spent almost three months picking out flights, hotels, and activities, deciding and redeciding on destinations, and trying to figure out how long I wanted to be in certain places.

At last, my itinerary is complete in it’s half-year-long glory. I’ve never taken that much time off from work in my life. I’m already missing it (I know. I’m weird).

I was shocked that all of this only added up to $20,000 - with half of that cost going to accommodations.

The rest is made up of my own personal bills and planned fun spending. Meaning: you could spend even less.

In case you didn’t know, I don't value being frugal. I expected this trip to be expensive. I want to island hop through Croatia and Greece, ride gondolas in Venice, spend a day or two getting lost in the Louvre and shop on the Champs Elysees in Paris. I want to take an excursion to the Swiss Alps, while I’m in France, and visit Morocco, while I’m in Spain. Yacht Week runs all summer and I want to experience at least one week. I spared no expenses. This was not a trip where I wanted to stay in hostels and backpack and skip all of the activities.

Let’s break it down:

  • Saint Paul’s Bay, Malta
  • Split, Croatia
  • Budva, Montenegro
  • Rome, Sicily, Naples, Venice, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast, Italy
  • Athens, Santorini, Mykonos, and Oia, Greece
  • Paris, France
  • Madrid, Barcelona, and Granada, Spain
  • Lisbon and Porto, Portugal

Accommodations / Hotels: $10,000

Food and Entertainment: $8,000 ($1,300+ per month split evenly across both)

Transportation: $1,000 (thanks, Eurorail!)

Bills & Buffer: $1,000 (phone bill and misc. expenses)

My resort in Malta? $1,900 for the month.

My luxury hotel in Croatia? $1,300 for 4 weeks. Yacht Week? Another $1,000.

3 weeks at my hotel in Montenegro is only $1,450.

Bouncing around to hotels in Rome, Sicily, Naples, and Venice is running me $3,100 for 3 weeks.

2 weeks of island hopping in Greece? Another $1,500.

The hotel for my week in Paris is $1,000.

Two weeks in Spain is only $750.

Portugal only costs $1,100 for two weeks.

I purposely balanced shorter stays in high-cost areas (like Paris, Venice and Santorini) with longer stays in low cost areas (Croatia, Spain, Portugal) and tried to avoid each countries high season. For example, Italy doubled in price in June compared to March.

The premise of this all goes back to my mindful spending plan – spend as much as you want on the things you love and value, and cut ruthlessly at everything else.


1/14/19 NOTE: I realized that six months wasn't long enough for me to immerse in different languages, cultures and learn all that I hoped, so as an exercise in dreaming bigger, I decided to just move to Europe and slow-travel these places. If you're wondering how I can just move to a new continent and start working from there (and how you can do the same), download my guide, Work from Anywhere.

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