Author Topic: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?  (Read 7304 times)

hedge

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European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« on: March 21, 2014, 07:27:12 AM »
My job is sending me to Europe for a week, paying my flight, food and hotel. My wife wants to come (and before MMM she did so regularly) and we found a way to fly her there for free with our credit card miles/hacking.

We are staying for three days with a friend's family. The entire trip is 14 days: 1 day traveling, 1 day in a European City, 5 days working (while the wife does whatever), 4 days probably visiting some other city, 3 days staying with these friends.

So we'd probably spend $1000 or so on extra hotels, her food, and train trips/etc. Maybe $1500. For a trip to Europe.

I can't help but think (1) this is a very antimustachian thing to be doing, you know, spending money and everything on an experience like this, and (2) it would be very dumb for me to pass up an opportunity to see another part of the world for such a small amount of money. In fact it has been these trips that have helped us see outside of the American Consumerist Bubble of Excess and Stupidity.

Do I need a punch in the face?

Related question: any suggestions on how to make this trip fit more with the values of this site? We had an opportunity to stop by Paris but the horde of people made me think, "maybe some other time"...

arebelspy

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2014, 07:30:02 AM »
Sounds like an awesome deal!

As far as your last questions (re: crowded stuff), decide what is important to you/worth seeing, and then get a guidebook or three (library is best, finding reviews online and buying used is next best) for tips on the best way to do so, as well as the other stuff that you may not have thought of and may be less popular.

Mustachian doesn't mean "don't spend money."
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feelingroovy

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2014, 08:05:34 AM »
Whether you need a punch in the face depends on where you are financially.

If you are in Hair On Fire debt, then yes.

If you're not FI, but well on your way, then enjoy yourself.  Just choose how to spend your money carefully.  Small family run pensions rather than luxury hotels, etc.  It's more enjoyable that way, anyway.

aidanpryde18

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2014, 10:18:44 AM »
Small family run pensions rather than luxury hotels, etc.  It's more enjoyable that way, anyway.

Pensions are the best. Almost as cheap as hostels, maybe even cheaper with two people. Many train stations will have a tourist desk that can guide you to a nice, cheap place to stay.

I say do it. As long as you don't spend like you're the Duke of Windsor the experience is worth the cost. The experience will stay with you for your entire life. One tip, find the local market in the city and have meals there. Most of the time it will be much cheaper. My wife and I would often have meals that consisted of a cheap bottle of wine, some cheese and sausage while sitting in the park. Didn't cost more than 10 euro and it was a great way to get a feel for the culture.
 

plantingourpennies

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2014, 10:34:16 AM »
I actually think it's quite mustachian to add-on to work trips to maximize the value of vacation time and money.  We're doing that in another month, and ~$1000 will get us an extra week beyond the work portion of a trip to a continent we've never been to as well. 

As for entertainment - what do you guys like to do, and where will your trip take you?  Depending on the cities, there are often many free and inexpensive ways to explore and see sites.  You'll just need to do a little prep work before hand:
- look up free museum days if that's your thing
- check out sites like frugal traveler (nytimes)

Much of the advice for traveling relatively cheaply comes down to living like locals as much as you can. 

If you don't mind sharing the cities, I bet folks on this forum have a wealth of knowledge on fun and inexpensive things to do wherever you're headed.

JPinDC

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2014, 11:13:51 AM »
So we'd probably spend $1000 or so on extra hotels, her food, and train trips/etc. Maybe $1500. For a trip to Europe.

Check airbnb for options that might be cheaper than hotels and have kitchens (lower eating out). Split an entree so that there isn't really "her" food and you can expense it (I've never worked anywhere you can expense things, so I don't know if this is ok)? Otherwise, I think this is a great opportunity to travel with minimal expenses. Have fun!

2527

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2014, 11:50:52 AM »
I think these are exactly the best kind of vacations.  Have a great time!

ch12

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2014, 07:51:41 PM »
I actually think it's quite mustachian to add-on to work trips to maximize the value of vacation time and money. 

Mustachian doesn't mean "don't spend money."

Mustachian means that you spend money on what you actually value. If traveling in Europe is something you value, then go for it. :)

jhartt3

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2014, 08:56:38 PM »
i think this is a great plan my wife and i travel alot and were thinking of adding her to one of my europe trips.  She would fly in at the end and we would save a RT flight for me.. thats a 50% savings on a flight.  and if you use airline points and her flight is free.  spending 1k on a 2 week trip to europe for 2 is uber mustachian. IMO

jhartt3

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2014, 08:57:17 PM »
on the other hand doing this frequently say 3-4 times a year may be pushing it unless its always a different country

hedge

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2014, 08:51:28 AM »
Thanks for the help everyone. Now that I see in writing $1500 to go to Europe for two weeks I feel silly even asking. I guess I'm excited to see my financial life go in fast forward now that I'm biking everywhere, cut out wasteful categories, etc. The reality is that $1500 isn't going to stop me from quickly meeting my goals.

belgiandude

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2014, 01:18:28 PM »
May I ask you which part of Europe you are traveling too?
I think it is rather expensive.

We used to live in Brussels/Belgium for about 1500 dollar/ month.
We used to travel around during our student years for about 200 euro / week or so. This includes trains/cheap ass flights/staying with friends/strangers.


Annamal

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2014, 02:09:04 PM »
The awesome thing about Europe is that even the really big cities tend to be very very walkable ( and well served by public transport). Why not pick a single city and get to know it by heart (and foot), that way you'll pay less in train trips etc and you might be able to score a bulk deal for a slightly longer stay in a single place.


chucklesmcgee

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2014, 03:26:27 PM »
So we'd probably spend $1000 or so on extra hotels, her food, and train trips/etc. Maybe $1500. For a trip to Europe.

I can't help but think (1) this is a very antimustachian thing to be doing, you know, spending money and everything on an experience like this, and (2) it would be very dumb for me to pass up an opportunity to see another part of the world for such a small amount of money.

I don't think spending money on experiences is necessarily antimustachian. Spending on experiences is usually a lot more fulfilling than on material things and the experiences you're paying for seem pretty cost-effective.

I'd say that generally Europe isn't the most compelling place to visit. I think of a lot of friend's travel to Europe as kind of a cliche, cautious and narrow-minded tourism- "oh look, the Tower of London! The leaning tower of Pisa! The Eiffel tower! The Louvre! Eating baguettes, drinking wine <3 XOXOXO! We are so worldly!!"

Of course that approach is avoidable. That said, it sounds like your situation, with work paying for a lot of the costs, makes Europe seem pretty decent destination.

hedge

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2014, 03:25:18 PM »
May I ask you which part of Europe you are traveling too?
I think it is rather expensive.

We will be in the Central part of Europe (Germany, Czech, Austria). You're right we're getting the price down but not as cheap as you're quoting. Perhaps you can give us some hints. Here's how it lays out:

1) Tickets to this region booked through my work's mandatory travel agent (boo): $1700-ish round trip (it would be closer to $1000 if it's not during the summer but I don't have much of a choice). But as I mentioned this will be covered by airline points.
2) We will do public transport while staying in the city where my job is for 5 days: $20-$30
3) Travel to another city to discover by bus: $60 round trip per person. We are doing this because we've been to the major city twice already and are ready to see something else. But we're thinking of something a little less touristy so costs will go lower, as we don't like the Chevy Chase-ish vacation of seeing sites.
4) AirBnb at the other city: $50-75/night
5) Food through groceries and possibly eating out: $50/day? This is a big factor in how expensive the trip gets.

can you think of any ideas I might be missing?

hedge

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2014, 03:29:52 PM »
I'd say that generally Europe isn't the most compelling place to visit. I think of a lot of friend's travel to Europe as kind of a cliche, cautious and narrow-minded tourism- "oh look, the Tower of London! The leaning tower of Pisa! The Eiffel tower! The Louvre! Eating baguettes, drinking wine <3 XOXOXO! We are so worldly!!"

I'm starting to see what you're saying. We were in Los Angeles for a weekend (on work again) a couple of years back and we ended up driving through LA and going to the mountains and doing hiking at a local B&B. I think we like biking/hiking/nature/grandeur more than we like the super-awesome thing that you saw on TV your whole life!!!

The next step I want to take regarding travel is to get my wife to not freak out about security in a non European/American destination. But that's the topic of another post :)

Ayanka

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2014, 02:49:23 AM »
I don't know for Austria, but for Czech the prices seem rather high and I doubt that in Germany you couldn't find anything cheaper (Germany does have some weird systems and no minimum wage). I don't know what cities you are exactly going to, but I would put some time in finding local things to do and stay. I know it is a lot of work, but I think it will be worth it also because you might find more fun things to do. Could you find a more local hostel/b&b than the airbnb? You could try trivago to find some cheaper lodging. The headquarters of Aldi and Lidl are in Germany, so I am sure you could find one close and perhaps do some picknicking?

MissPeach

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2014, 02:02:41 PM »
The great thing about Europe is that public transportation is usually really great. I've always been able to get anywhere by bus, subway, or train. It depends on what sort of vacation you enjoy. I usually spend a day or two each in the little towns and then a few days in a city. I'm usually done with the cities after 2-3 days.

Not sure which country you are visiting but here are a few of my tips:

- If you are traveling (such on the train) bring food and snacks with you. I can usually find a nice sandwich or something at a place in the morning and bring it on my train. The dining cars are crazy $. Some countries tend to have reasonable vending machines (i.e., soda for $1) on board but I only saw this in Spain.

- Try to find the local farmers markets. I've had some great meals here such as fresh juices in Spain for $1 or roasted chicken, potatoes au gratin and a bottle of champagne in France for less than $30. Picnics are a great way to cut some costs for breakfast or lunch. Bakeries and other places are pretty easy to find in Europe.

- If going to the major museums, often there is a way to preorder tickets online and then you don't have to wait in lines. The Louvre is one of these places.

- Locals are great for places to eat. In some countries I have been able to find happy hour-type deals. I will get some bread at a bakery or visit the farmers market but I don't like to cook my own food while abroad because I feel the local food is such a part of the culture I want to experience it.

YK-Phil

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2014, 04:08:50 PM »
AirBnB is a good place to find nice accommodation. We've used that site all over the place whenever we don't have a place to stay with friends and family. Accommodation vary, from dorm style to luxury country houses, and prices vary accordingly. For transportation, although Europe has an excellent train system that will take you almost anywhere, it can also be pricey and many locations are not easily reachable. On our last few trips from Frankfurt, Paris and Barcelona for example, we rented a small car which allowed us a lot of freedom to stop anywhere we wanted. Roads and highways are excellent, even the smaller highways if you want to avoid expensive tolls. I recommend to get a GPS if you don't know the local languages. We found great deals through Carrentals.com or other site, I think we paid something like 12 euros per day plus taxes. Some credit cards include car rental coverage so you save quite a bit of money, but verify before. In Germany for example, some car rental companies will demand a personalized letter from your credit card company confirming whatever coverage you have through them, otherwise they will oblige you to pay the full premium, which is usually higher than the daily rental rate itself. We didn't have that problem in France or Spain.

YK-Phil

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Re: European Trip the Mustachian Way...is it possible?
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2014, 05:21:53 PM »
So we'd probably spend $1000 or so on extra hotels, her food, and train trips/etc. Maybe $1500. For a trip to Europe.

I can't help but think (1) this is a very antimustachian thing to be doing, you know, spending money and everything on an experience like this, and (2) it would be very dumb for me to pass up an opportunity to see another part of the world for such a small amount of money.

I'd say that generally Europe isn't the most compelling place to visit. I think of a lot of friend's travel to Europe as kind of a cliche, cautious and narrow-minded tourism- "oh look, the Tower of London! The leaning tower of Pisa! The Eiffel tower! The Louvre! Eating baguettes, drinking wine <3 XOXOXO! We are so worldly!!"


What I am reading here may not be what you are trying to convey, but this comment sounds to me as ostentatious as the people you seem to be making fun of, or at the very least very judgmental. While I would never do a 15-day whirlwind trip to 20 countries in Europe or spend two weeks in an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, I certainly would not mock those who do, for whatever reasons they have.