Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Autumn travel expense total

In the summer, I posted my mid-year travel expense total. It was a really good snapshot of how much I’ve spent, broken down by category… and it made me realize that I couldn’t keep spending at the pace that I was going.

Changes needed to be made, and I had to cross some trips off my list. If you click through to the old expense total, you will see that upcoming trips included Ireland, Scotland, and Bulgaria. Well those got scrapped in favour of spending more time in Turkey, an additional trip to France, and a trip to Oktoberfest in Munich (both relatively cheap b/c they’re close to Stuttgart). My Iceland trip got put on hold, but that will be happening in about 3 weeks because I was able to get a free stopover on my way home to Vancouver, and my accommodation is being sponsored.

Here is my updated travel expense total (click to make bigger):

So you’ll see that I will have traveled a total of 78 days in 2012, for a rolling total cost of €7,127.13 or $9,071.41.

Of course, I still have to factor in the cost of Cologne and Reyjavik. Cologne will be relatively inexpensive as we are only there to check out the Christmas market – and any presents that I buy aren’t reflected in my travel expenses. Reyjavik will likely be costly, but I haven’t booked anything yet, so it’s all up to me.

$9,000 is a lot of money, and I certainly would have loved to see that amount added to my RRSP or in a TFSA. But, this year my net worth has actually risen +$8,876, so I feel like even though my financial progress has significantly slowed down since quitting my full-time job (my net worth rose +$22,813 in 2011), I’m still doing well. I was able to take an entire year to travel and write in Europe – without incurring debt, and saving a little bit in the process.

Anyway, here is the cost break-down per trip, and per day:

Obviously I can’t talk about travel expenses without mentioning my partnership with It has saved us well over $3,500 combined this year, so it’s quite a significant chunk of money I’m saving.

However, for those who think the numbers above might be unrealistic for someone without an accommodation sponsor, it’s worth mentioning that almost all of my trips include round-trip travel expenses – whereas someone on vacation or extended travel likely wouldn’t have to spend round-trip costs because they’ll be continually traveling, not based out of one city like I am.

Also, even though I saved a lot on accommodation, I still had to spend almost €1,000 on accommodation myself, with an average price per night of €20.56 or $26.18. A few times, we stayed in hostel dorm rooms to save money, but 90% of the time we had private accommodations.

Here are a few other bullet points that are worth mentioning:

  • My 6-day trip to Toronto is not listed in the above spreadsheet because it was a business trip.
  • Some of my travel expenses will end up being tax deductible because I was writing stories about the trip for publications, or reviewing services for publication.
  • Day trips are also not listed b/c they didn’t include an accommodation component. I would estimate we went on 6 or 7 day trips.

I’ll do a final recap of my travel expenses at the end of December. :)

Let me know if you have any questions. I’d be happy to answer them!

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Isn’t it amazing what happens when we create an expense report? It provides a snapshot making us more aware of how we are spending our money. I’m sure you’ve discovered ways to save money once you saw where your money is going…I call it “follow your money.”

  2. I am SO jealous of your travels. @_@;

  3. Ashley says:

    This is so excellent. I love seeing what you’re spending. And it may be a lot of money but I think it’s so important that you made the most of living so close to so many amazing cities while you were there. Your expenses could’ve been much higher trying to see all those cities in shorter vacations from Canada.

    What I’m wondering is how much of this you are able to write off as being business because of your travel blog. If part of your earnings are from the Frugal Wanderer, is this travel not considered an expense? At least in part?

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Yes, I will definitely be able to write off some of my travel as a business expense. It’s kind of hard to accurately determine exactly how much I’ll be able to write off… I think I’ll need to get an accountant this year. :)

  4. Mike Holman says:

    Interesting look at the numbers. First of all – given that you were in Europe temporarily, it only makes sense to do more traveling than you normally would. You were able to visit a lot of places much cheaper than if you tried to do them from Canada.

    Also – given the high number of short trips, your costs are quite reasonable since transportation is a major factor.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      That’s exactly why we traveled so much – it’s so much cheaper to do it now, while we’re based in Europe, than try to come back overseas in the future. Still, the final numbers sting a little bit!

  5. damien says:

    Saving while travelling is an achievement in its own right !

  6. stellaky says:

    I love this post — your spreadsheet is awesome :) Congrats on keeping costs super low. I wouldn’t regret one penny of that money!

  7. SavingMentor says:

    When you say $9000 dollars like it is a lot of money, I look at it and think the complete opposite. There are TONS of people out there that would throw down $9000 on a single luxury 2 week vacation for their family.

    The fact that you spent that amount of money and visited what seems to be like every city in Europe is a major accomplishment that you should be very proud of. Well done!

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