Monday, September 8, 2014

The Cost of Four Months Travel

Parisian river scene
 I recently returned from an almost four month extended vacation spent mostly in Greece, but with a two week side trip to Paris, France. As near is I can calculate it, my total costs for this trip were just under $7,000 (Australian dollars). Incredibly, this figure is pretty much what I would have spent if I had stayed at home in Adelaide, Australia.

By way of explanation: Transport includes all public transport (taxis, buses, trains), excluding ferries and flights; Eats includes meals out and snacks; Groceries includes purchases made at local supermarkets in Greece and Paris; Recreation includes visits to museums, galleries and other landmarks. It also includes shared family meals which I hosted and paid for; Other includes purchases that did not fit neatly into other categories. Finally, Bank Fees on overseas purchases and ATM withdrawals have all been lumped into this category. Here is a breakdown of my trip expenses (figures in Australian dollars):

Accommodations             $1526.40
- AirBnB, Paris         $779.00 (10 nights)
- Palace Hotel           $270.50 (4 nights)
- Delfini Hotel          $476.90 (10 nights)
Tower of St. Jacques, Paris, France
Flights                              $2013.97
- Emirates                 $1619.91
- Air France              $394.06
Ferries                             $225.00
Transport                        $127.37
- Greece                  $46.02
- Paris                     $81.35
Eats                                 $697.92
- Greece                  $390.27
- Paris                     $307.65
Groceries                       $552.39
- Greece                  $481.89
- Paris                     $70.50
Shopping                       $536.50
Recreation                    $762.64
- Greece                  $644.79
- Paris                     $117.85
Other                            $386.95
- Global Rorting      $18.22
Bank Fees                    $154.15         
===========================
TOTAL:                       $6983.29
===========================

Clearly, some of the costs in the above breakdown overlap with other categories. For example, I could have added bank fees (Currency Conversion Fees, etc) to their associated purchases, but I liked the idea of separating these costs out from everything else. Also, my hosting and paying for several family gatherings at restaurants could have gone into the Eats category, but I saw these as separate from meals and snacks I bought just for myself.

‘Global Rorting’ is my not so tongue in cheek name for Global Roaming fees imposed by all telecoms providers on travellers using their mobile phones outside of their home networks. Travel blogs and websites are full of horror stories about people who have returned home to find massive phone bills waiting for them, because they used their phones while travelling.

I got around this potential problem (just $18.22) by using Skype as much as possible, and by using my phone only when I absolutely had to. As soon as I had used my phone to make a call, I would turn off Global Roaming to ensure there was no chance of incurring costs and charges I was not prepared for. If you don’t have Skype installed on your smartphone or tablet device do so at the earliest opportunity. Calls to other Skype users are free―even if those users are on the other side of the planet. And calling people who are not Skype users incurs a fee that is a fraction of what your phone company charges, so do yourself a favor and install it now. Even the app is free.

Statue of Apollo, Versailles, France
An additional word or two about the Accommodations and Groceries expenses may be in order. Firstly, Accommodations. Clearly, since I only paid for a total of 24 nights in hotels, I must have had other sleeping arrangements in place for my remaining three months, and in deed I did.

I am lucky enough to have extensive family connections in Greece where two sisters and their extended families now live. Hence, I was able to share my time between both sisters at no cost in terms of accommodation. However, I did of course contribute financially in other ways while staying with family, either by hosting and paying for the already mentioned family gatherings, or by paying for petrol, groceries (other than my own), and for a new digital television and computer desk for family members (both Shopping expenses), and for other items.

As for Groceries: For most of my time in Greece and Paris, I lived in accommodations that enabled me to cook my own meals, thereby saving me a small fortune by not having to eat out at restaurants and cafés all the time. To clarify, most of my stay in Greece was spent in a self-contained studio apartment owned by family members for which I paid no rent, which obviously kept my accommodation costs to a minimum. A good example of how costs can add up quickly can be seen by comparing the Eats figures. I spent almost as much in Paris ($307.65) over two weeks as I did during 14-15 weeks in Greece ($390.27).

Of course, not all travellers have the luxury of free accommodation available to them when they travel, so I am extremely grateful to my sisters and their families for making my stay not only affordable, but the absolute delight it turned out to be.

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