VACATION!!! (again)

I booked my hostels today and am pretty happy with my choices. I’m staying 3 nights in Amsterdam for $98 and 2 nights in Brussels for $58.

My friends in Germany sent me an email today, and they’re going to pick me up from the airport in Dusseldorf, so that will save me the €20 of going from the airport to their house and will keep me from getting in to their place late (which is very likely to happen) and they have a 4 year old son. So it is good not to mess up his sleep schedule. I asked them if there was anything they wanted me to bring from the states and they only had two requests: 1) a baseball magazine for him and 2) Crest Glide Floss Picks for her. I find both requests hilarious, but I will totally bring them. I suppose it is funny the things you take for granted. =)

For the other three train rides I need to take I’ve noticed on the RailEurope website that each time I look the prices have gone down. I have a feeling this is based on a decreased number of American travelers to Europe. I’ve decided just to buy my tickets while I’m there and ‘risk’ full trains. Since I don’t plan on traveling during peak times (early morning and evening) I don’t think it should be a big deal.

Based on the amounts I’ve seen on various rail sites, it looks like I’ll be paying around $150 for my three rail trips, depending on which lines I take. All my hostels are near major stations, so I don’t think that which rail I take (as long as it goes to the RIGHT station) will be fine.

I’ve also tried to make sure that all of the hostels are within 15-20 minute walks to attractions that I want to see and close to train lines if I want to go somewhere a little further.

I’ve been looking through my travel guides (that I for FREE using Swagbucks), and here are some of the things that I want to do while I’m in these cities (which will, unfortunately, cost me money):


*Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) – €2,50
*Schokoladen Museum (Chocolate Museum!) – €7,50 (this is pretty expensive, I may pass on this)
*Explore on foot the Roman and Medieval architecture and churches

*Whatever my friend Misha recommends!
*Van Abbemuseum – €8,50

*Oude Kerk – €5,00
*van Gogh Museum – €13,00
*Rijksmuseum – €9,00
*Red Light District (Sex Museum, Erotica Museum, ect) – €7,50
*Walk around the canals and Jordaan is walking “tours’

*Beer, beer, beer, beer, beer – I plan to drink a lot of Belgium beer – my FAVORITE!
*Musee Bruxellois de la Gueuze – €3,50
*Depending on how things go I’ll either walk around Laeken or around the Grand Place. Who knows, maybe I’ll be so tired of walking at this point I’ll just want to get on a bus and just be driven around all day. =)

All in all, for the things that I WANT to do, it will cost me €56, or around $80. That isn’t too bad.

As for food, I’ve booked myself at hostels that have breakfast included, so I don’t have to worry about buying that meal. When I was in London last year I was able to find a cafe that served a sandwich, chips, fruit and soda for £6. I ate this for every meal when I was in London because it was a great deal. I hope that while I’m in Amsterdam and Brussels I’m able to find such a good deal. If not, I should be able to find a grocery store and get some bread and peanut butter for a cheap dinner option. I’ll eat lunch out and about (if I can’t find a good cafe deal like in London) since that is generally a cheaper meal than dinner and I’ll want to experience SOME local cuisine. My travel guides do a great job of pointing out good places that are RELATIVELY inexpensive (€8-12, or $11-16). I’m sure that people in the hostels will also be able to point me to some decent food on the cheap.

I’ll also need to plan on taking out the two couples that I’m staying with in Cologne and Eindhoven for a decent dinner. Since I’m staying 2 nights with each, I should at least plan on spending on them what I would for a hostel in those places for at least 1 night. So around €30-40.

I should probably plan on spending more than $10/day on food while I’m traveling around alone, especially since the exchange rate makes things more expensive. We’ll see if I can make it from €10/day (a little less than $15/day). While 10 days on my own, this is around $150, I’ll say $200 to be safe.

Food: $200
Entertainment: $80
Lodging: $156
Transportation (rail): $200
Transportation (airplane): $237
Souvenirs & Misc: $100
Total: $973

Plus the expenses back home:

Dog care: $225
Cat care: $60
Total: $1,258

Plus the anticipated cruise expenses:

Cruise: $1,000
Total: $2,258

*sigh* Based on my projected totals from last week I’ll have around $2,000 to spend. So I’m about $200 short. So how can I get this $200?

1) Start tutoring my ass off
2) Jack gets no more daycare till I leave
3) Frugal city with my food

The honest answer though is a combination of all of the above. I have a monthly “budget” of $750 for living expenses during the month. I’m leaving on the 20th of June, so I should try to live the next 20 days at the height of frugality. I have some days left of daycare at Jack’s daycare that I’ll use for him to go 1-2 times per week until that runs out and only on days when I know I *have* to work late. Otherwise Jack can get his exercise on a long walk or run with me.

As for tutoring, I’ll try to pick up a few more hours when I can. But what I really need to do is stop CANCELING hours. I have 6 hours scheduled for the remainder of the month. Just doing those 6 hours will, at a MINIMUM, get me $33 and up to $60. If I do just 6 hours a week, I’ll be able to get at least $150, though any June money I make won’t be deposited until I’m in Europe. But I’ll be able to use my card as a credit card to access the funds.

And frugal city, I’m planning on not eating out while in my town (not Cpt. Baseball’s since he is moving next weekend and so cooking stuff will be in boxes) until I leave with the exception of ONCE a week for lunch. I’ll get some sandwich stuff and eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (MY FAV!). It should be easy to motivate myself by keeping in mind my goals for Europe (and get me in the ultra-frugal mindset while traveling!)

I’m hoping that for the first 20 days of June I’ll be able to live on $200 for EVERYTHING. Gas, food for me, food for the pets, toiletries, ect. I’m just going to grab $200 from the ATM and hide the cards after that. This should get me an extra $400 that I didn’t have in my original budget.

Hopefully through all these money saving and making ways for the next month I’ll be able to score myself $500 extra for my trip and get me to my $2,500 vacation fund goal!


3 Responses to VACATION!!! (again)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Do you have lots of experience staying in hostels? I have a trip planned that I want to do as cheap as possible, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking at the hostel route. The only thing that concerns me is somebody stealing my laptop/ipod/whatever. I’m curious to know your thoughts on the hostel experience.

  2. SS4BC says:

    I’ve stayed at 3 different hostels (2 in Hawaii on Oahu and Kawai’i and 1 in London) and have not had a problem with any of them.One thing that I look for when I’m checking out hostels is whether they have a locker for each person in the room. Usually the lockers are big enough for a backpack or at least the expensive stuff in your backpack (like electronics, passport, wallet, ect).I’ve had nothing but GREAT experiences at hostels. The one on Kawai’i I made some great friends that I still talk to now, four years later.My typical mode for picking a hostel is to search, and search by reviews. If they have a higher than 80% review they’re probably fine, so I just pick the cheapest of the best reviews. Also, read what the other people complain about, because people can complain about weird stuff and that can skew the reviews. For instance, many hostels you have to rent your towel, and people don’t realize this before hand (even though it is on the hostelworld website) – so they’ll give a negative review for that even though they SHOULD have know this going in.I wouldn’t hesitate for a second staying at a hostel that is in a good location that has great reviews. They tend to be very professional. I haven’t stayed at a non-English speaking hostel before though – so we’ll see how that goes. =)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Great advice. Thanks

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