money savingsI got this question from a reader recently and I think it’s probably relevant to more folks than just her.

Dear ShareTraveler: 

Thank you for all of your research and excel spreadsheets! I have been going through your site and learning so much about various home exchange companies. I am currently trying to convince my husband that we should join one and plan a trip to Europe in December. We live in a very nice beach community in California, and I think we would be a destination spot for many people. I was curious what your travel budget is when you do a home exchange? I’m trying to get a rough estimate so I can continue to discuss this with my husband. I’m assuming that a significant amount of money is saved due to the lack of hotel fees & being able to cook at home; however, I’ve never traveled in Europe so I might be wrong. Outside of purchasing a plane ticket, I’m wondering how many thousands of dollars we would need (or maybe it would just be hundreds 🙂

Best to you in all your traveling adventures!!

Here’s my response (a bit edited):

Thanks for writing, I’m glad my website is useful for you! Good question about money savings. Here’s a post I wrote about the money we saved traveling to Spain that you might find particularly appropriate if you want to go to Europe.

How much money you would save depends in large part on you. How much would you typically pay for a hotel?  If you and your husband would normally stay in a decent hotel you’d pay at least $100 per night, probably more in some parts of Europe. Another factor is how much you would eat in: I eat 2 out of 3 meals each day at my home exchange (or pack a picnic lunch), and when I eat out I don’t go for high end foods. Nonetheless, you could estimate that eating out relatively cheaply in Europe for breakfast costs about $10 per person, lunch about $15, and dinner about $25 (not counting drinks). Adjust those numbers to whatever you think makes sense based on your eating habits. Add those numbers up based on which meals you would cook in, and you have a rough estimate of your food savings. If you eat in all three meals you save $55 per person, minus whatever you spend on groceries.

Bottom line: for a typical vacation for two that is 2 weeks in Europe I think you could assume you would save between $1500 and $2000 on hotels (those are not fancy hotels but they’re also not the cheapest ones) and maybe $1000 on food if you eat in all meals instead of eating out. If you eat out some of the time maybe you save half or 3/4 of that. This is just a guess, but you can see from my trip to Spain that it was a big savings for us!

Good luck convincing your husband!