It’s the second biggest question we get asked- how much does it cost to travel Europe? (Anybody want to guess what the most popular question is??!!)
Today we’ll share with you how much it cost us to do a campervan tour of Germany for two weeks– which is the time limit most people have for their holidays. *sad face* Germany is AMAZING! It’s definitely one of my favourite countries in Europe to visit- there are incredible castles, history and the scenery is breathtaking.
Cheapest way to travel Germany (and Europe)?!
So, travelling Germany on a budget is the same as travelling most of Europe on a budget (Note: I don’t include Norway in this!! 🙂 If you want to know how much it costs to travel in Norway, here you go) One of the cheapest ways to travel Europe is by road trip. This could mean motorhome (like us!), car, campervan or even motorbike. If you can’t road trip, then train travel/ backpacking is a good second. I don’t have much experience with that, so this post is going to focus on the cost of road tripping Germany.
Touring Europe in a Motorhome – costs & caveats!
I debated whether or not to share this information with you, as I’m worried it will scare some of you away from road trip life completely! The web is full of people touring Europe in a motorhome who live on a teeny tiny amount (fair play to them if they can do that- I’m in awe!), but those figures just aren’t realistic for many people, especially for a family addicted to snacks *cough cough*. My hope is that this data will be useful for people travelling Europe on holiday, not just a full-term lifestyle.
Of course, everyone will have different expectations from a holiday. Naturally, you eat out more, do more activities (which you generally have to pay for!) and for us at least, we drink more alcohol! Wahoooo!
Some people will stay in proper campsites. Others, like us, prefer to stay in wild camping spots or cheaper aires whenever possible. There is no way we can cover every budget or preference, so we hope that by showing what WE spent, it might give you some guidance to prepare for your own motorhome trip.
A couple of things before we start:
- We travelled just under 2000 miles in 2 weeks, which is a LOT! That’s why our fuel bill is pretty hefty. Other (sane) people would take a month (at least!) to do the trip we did.
- Secondly, this was a holiday for all of us, and we acted accordingly. We ate out a lot, even when we really shouldn’t have (looking at YOU, Neuschwanstein!) and we paid to visit some great attractions to enhance our journey. You can ABSOLUTELY do this journey for a LOT less than we spent- heck, if you extrapolated this data into a year it would be 52,000€ (which at today’s exchange rate is £45,000!) That’s just crazy.
- We are a family of three, all adults, who eat a lot! (Jade is fussy, but when she finds something she likes, oh boy does she like it!!) This means our entrances fees, gifts and food bill are all different from what a couple might spend.
- We have a motorhome with a trailer. Fuel costs, some parking costs and ferry/ tunnel costs are more. (Generally, the ferry & tunnel costs are nearly DOUBLE, as we’re taking up an extra car space….!) We also have some additional motorbiking expenses which many motorhome users won’t have.
Right, I think that’s all the caveats, concerns and general procrastination I can think of for now. Let’s begin!
|Campsite Services (water/ laundrette/ waste etc)||8.5|
|Campsites/ Aires/ Stellplatz||89
|Eating out (ouch!)||263.8|
|Ferry/ Tunnel fees||670
|Fuel for Bikes (Petrol)||47|
|Fuel for Motorhome (Diesel)||572|
|Gas (for cooking/ heating)||38|
|Parking during day||4|
|Tolls or Tunnels||135.34|
|Van repairs/ improvements||209|
Europe Vanlife Cost Breakdown
Fuel and food costs when travelling by motorhome
So, as you can see, fuel is our biggest expense (I’m ignoring the ferry costs for now- more on that below). Not really a surprise, considering what we did in those two weeks! Next was food shopping/ eating out which was, quite frankly, diabolical. Food shopping was expensive because we had to buy EVERYTHING for the van this time around, including things like tinfoil, spices, toiletries and kitchen roll. In our previous trips we’d borrowed things out of the house, but now that we’re going to be in the van more regularly, we wanted to completely kit it out with everything. Normally we spend £80/ week on food, so this was a fair bit more expensive than our normal costs. Still, I’m hoping next trip that will rectify itself!
Eating out costs wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t been for the 78€ meal we accidentally had at Neuschwanstein! Entirely our fault and down to poor planning- silly when the van was full of food and only about 200m away! Oops. That is most definitely an expense we can cut down on… and something we’ll need to curb in Norway as I’ve heard that place is EXPENSIVE! (I’m predicting I’ll be longing for an overpriced restaurant in Neuschwanstein by the end!)
Entrance fees included the ice cave in France, as well as the toboggan run in Todtnau (you HAVE to try this if you’ve never been!)
Gifts and Toll costs
Gifts were a little more expensive than normal, as we bought presents for both Jade’s birthday and mine, which are both in June. We tend to buy things we like as we see them, which allows us to choose stuff and then forget all about it until the big day! Always fun to completely forget about a present you’ve chosen. Toll costs were entirely in France- it’s totally possible to get to Germany without using a toll road, but we visited friends in France on the way down, so that scuppered our route. We could have taken back roads but, with a limited timeframe, we chose to pay the toll and go on the motorways- personal preference.
Finding free campsites/aires for a motorhome in Europe
We were pleased with the amount we spent on campsites/ aires. The only ‘campsite’ we stayed at was the last night when we watched the Last Post at the Menin Gate. Otherwise, we stayed entirely at free parking places or in cheap Stellplatz. The costs work out at 6.36€/ night and services (waste, water, electric) work out at just 0.61€/ night!
Motorhome repair costs while travelling Europe
The van repairs are VERY high and were down to us forgetting to bring gas to Europe with us… because we’re silly like that! And also down to us removing our water pipe by scraping it on a road, causing all our fresh water to leak out! Oops.
Taking a motorhome to Europe – cost to tour Europe by motorhome
And lastly, the ferry bill was already high, but we changed our plans on when we would return so we could visit Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany, which meant we also paid for an extra Channel Tunnel crossing! So this category is actually about 1.5 times a ‘normal’ trip for a motorhome with a trailer during the School holidays.
What’s not included in our costings?
As this is only a holiday, we haven’t included costs we pay for yearly like our motorhome, drone & motorbike insurances, personal travel insurance, mobile phone bill, internet on the Motorhome (we love this one- check it out here) and several other associated motorhome costs which aren’t directly relevant to this holiday (like our storage costs.)
How to Tour Germany in a Motorhome cheaper than us!
Realistically, if you drove the exact same route as us, (apart from France!), planned your return properly, didn’t ride motorbikes and avoided eating at crazy expensive restaurants (yeah, I’m probably going to sulk about that for a while…), I reckon you could cut at least 560€ from your budget, which would mean it would cost you under 100€/ day for this trip- which is £87 at the current exchange rate. Try having a holiday with two hotel rooms and all your travel/food/car hire/ activities included for that!! Even though I think this was a particularly expensive trip for us, it’s still a heck of a lot cheaper than many family holidays would be to the same area, doing the same activities.
Touring Europe in a Motorhome- cost saving tips
To summarise, here are my biggest tips for saving money when you travel Europe in a Motorhome:
- Book your ferry or Tunnel as early as possible. NOTE: Check their main website as well as booking sites (or caravan club sites!) as we often find booking direct is slightly cheaper.
- Use apps like Park4night or searchforsites to find cheaper places to stay, instead of proper campsites
- Avoid Toll roads if possible
- Buy your food sensibly- don’t stock the motorhome for two weeks if you know you’re going to eat out every few nights. There is NOTHING wrong with eating out and enjoying local cuisine- it’s one of our favourite parts of travelling. But we bought food… and then decided to eat out, which is crazy! Still, it’s always good to have something to work on and improve!
I hope you found our round-up of our costs touring Germany useful. Let me know what you thought in the comments below (right at the bottom). Did anything surprise you?
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Kat never planned to buy a motorhome. She also never planned to quit her job as an air traffic controller, go touring around Europe in said motorhome, start one of the UK’s largest motorhome travel websites… or get a cocker spaniel.
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8 thoughts on “Everything you need to know to travel Germany on a Budget”
Great post and good honest information here.
We too like to have a splurge sometimes and in a post that I’m publishing tomorrow, I reveal that from a £69 shopping bill, £46 of it was alcohol! Oops!
Being able to wild camp means that we can spend our money on other things though and we generally shop local and eat in the van, so it’s surprising how far the money can stretch.
An excellent point- saving your money in other areas can allow you to splurge (or sample!) on other things! 🙂 So glad you found the post useful.
Thank you plenty of great information. Can I ask did you cross on the tunnel instead of the ferry? Was that cheaper? Also how many miles to the gallon does your van use? The cost is putting me off a bit to be honest.
Thank for sharing this article. By using an app like Camper Mate and Camping NZ we find out campsites with a click button. We were really dependent on the app. At last, we find campsites based location and views and of course clean amenities.
You’re welcome Shayra- glad it helps you 🙂
Very interesting I am setting off on June 19th for 66 days in me little campervan we used to go with the caravan unfortunately I lost my wife 2 years ago after 54 years we did get up to North cape on a 4 week trip .well I am going North.
Good luck with your trip Len. Sorry to hear about your wife but I hope your trip is filled with plenty of laughter and adventure.
another tip is to drink the German wine which is excellent and really good value—I have worked out the reason why we do not see a lot of German wine in the UK is that they drink it all there!!! Germans will often drink beer with food and wine on its own ANYTIME. I know as I have a German sister-in-law