View from the campground overlooking Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, México. Photo taken February 14, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Cabri Regional Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Where are they going next? Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on September 25th!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Trip costs...6 weeks in Romania and Moldova

Well, the numbers are in.

This trip was definitely more expensive than our previous trips. And most of it comes down to the time of year that we were visiting. We kind of compared this trip to when we did Czech Republic and Slovakia back in 2012. It was approximately the same length of time. But we had done that trip in the summer...and this one was in November and December.

We were gone for 45 days, and we spent a total of $4,953 CAD ($3,800 USD) including airfare.

The airfare from Ottawa was $675 CAD ($515 USD) each. I had booked that deal way back in May and so it was paid for a long time ago. But we include it now as part of our expenses to give a better representation of the costs of the whole trip. So if we remove airfare, we spent $3,603 CAD ($2,750 USD) which sounds a little more reasonable.

But, the biggest "unexpected" cost was car rental.

We hadn't planned on it, but we decided early on in the trip that the best way for us to see what we wanted to was to rent a car. The alternative was to use the minibus system that exists throughout Romania and Moldova for the locals. Very few tourists use them.

Our rental car in Moldova.

In hindsight, we would have been better off renting a car for the entire duration from the time we left Brasov until we were ready to go to Moldova. This would have presented another problem though, because only the more expensive corporate car rental places might have let us actually take the car into Moldova. So, you can't win.

We spent a total of $737 CAD ($560 USD) on car rentals for a total of 26 rental days. Plus, $249 CAD ($190 USD) in fuel for those cars.

Despite doing that, we don't regret it. Had we been there during the summer, it would have been easier to get around. But we don't like the cold, and standing around with our bags waiting for a minibus would not have been enjoyable. And, we got to see a lot more than had we would have otherwise.

We also traveled by train four times. First from Zurich airport to downtown during our layover between flights. Then Bucharest to Brasov, then the sleeper train from Alba Iulia to Iasi, then the sleeper train from Chisinau to Bucharest. We spent a total of $304 CAD ($235 USD) riding the rails.

Ruth, in our sleeper berth from Alba Iulia to Iasi.

Accommodation also was more expensive than we had planned. We didn't stay in any hostels, preferring to use AirBnb instead, mostly because of the better kitchen facilities. And we did manage 4 nights with our great couchsurfing hosts Gaby and Valentina in Alba Iulia, but otherwise it was frustrating dealing with couchsurfing hosts who don't reply to requests. We found that Airbnb removes that frustration because there is money involved. They are quite happy to get back to you quickly! We think that many of the more responsible couchsurfing hosts have migrated to AirBnb because they can make money...and we don't blame them.

We spent a total of $1,080 CAD ($825 USD) on accommodation during the 45 days. 36 of those were paid, so an average of $30 CAD ($23 USD) per night.

Eating and drinking was fairly cheap though!

We spent $370 CAD ($285 USD) on groceries. Pretty darn good, although you'll also see quite a few meals out listed under "Entertainment".

Wine and beer are very inexpensive. So, we drank quite a lot of it! Total for the 45 days was $178 CAD ($135 USD). An average of $3.95 per day.

We also did well in the "Miscellaneous" category. Usually, the highest item in here is our internet access. But cellular internet is both high quality and dirt cheap in both Romania and Moldova. Our highest single expense in this category was the $17.50 bus fine we paid in Bucharest on our third day! Total of $109 CAD ($83 USD). Most of the balance was for local city buses and car washes.

Entertainment was $545 CAD ($415 USD), mostly for meals out, but $174 of that was for various tours.

So, a grand total of $4,953 ($3,800 USD) divided by 45 days is $110 CAD ($84 USD) per day on average for the whole trip start to finish for the two of us.

Not quite "frugal" travel compared to some of our previous trips, although still not bad for the amount that we did and saw.

Our two months in Spain and Portugal will be quite a lot cheaper.

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18 comments:

  1. That was pretty expensive but cost per day not too bad compared to what you saw and did, and enjoyed your time there.

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    1. Well I don't know that it was "pretty expensive", but it was certainly more than we normally spend.

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  2. Considering the weather I think you were wise to rent a car!

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  3. To me, it sounds like a miracle. I just can't figure out how to follow your plan. I went to Lake Chapala in Dec 2015 about 1,800 for 10 days and didn't even do much. The most expensive thing I did was stay a nice hotel. $50 a night. Glad you had wonderful trip and I am looking forward to your next trip.

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    1. We are assuming that $1800 included your airfare? One thing that we try to do to save money is to supply ourselves with breakfast and lunch and then buy dinner or a big lunch and then have snacks/sandwiches for supper if we stay in a hotel but we prefer to stay somewhere where we have access to a kitchen so that we can make most of our meals. We also normally use public transportation which can save a bundle.

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  4. I have found over the years the most expensive part of any trip is getting from point A to B, planes, trains, buses, they all cost the most - but if you don't move around in a Country you don't see much. The last trip we flew into Malaga and out of Madrid but still had train costs between those cities. I think you had a fabulous trip, saw far more than most people and as I always say, money spent on travel experiences is some of the best money spent.

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    1. Your are generally correct unless you are able to find an amazing flight deal. Or in Europe we find that you get cheaper prices in you buy your train or bus (one city to another) tickets well in advance rather than at the last minute.

      We think we did fairly well too. It would have been much better had we not rented a car so much but it was worth the extra cost. We still think we spend way less in the 6 weeks traveling than many people spend living in their own homes for the same amount of time and not going anywhere.

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  5. Great value for the money! You can't take it with you...

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    1. Thank you Peter, we think so too and you are right you can't take it with you so you might as well enjoy it as much as possible while you can.

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  6. You and Ruth completed a superb trip. Do you know how many books are written regarding Europe on $50 US a day or Europe for $100 US a day! The theme throughout those books is use of low quality facilities and food. You and Ruth stayed in nice accomodations and ate balanced and high quality meals. What you paid for the convenience of rental cars and trains (my favorite long distance travel) was more than offset by the low cost of food, alcoholic beverages, and overnight stays. The bottom line is what counts, and you did that well. I really don't think you would have done as well during the summer because these countries would be pricing things differently during their tourist high season and, as you said, many couchsurfing hosts have converted to AirBnbs; they are trying to make hay while the sun shines.

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    1. Thank you Dee, we did indeed have a great trip. Considering it was the two of us we are quite happy with our overall expenses for our six weeks. And yes, for the most part we had great accommodation and fantastic food and drink, we certainly have no complaints. I think in Romania and Moldova, it wouldn't have made a huge difference if we went in the summer, it may have been a little more expensive but not much, not like if it had been in Spain, Italy or France.

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  7. My personal opinion, if you look at cost per day, including car rental, fuel and the fact that you ate out a bit more than usual and ate well, I think you got a really good deal. That comes out to about $80 a day. Very impressive. I doubt you did without anything on this trip. The area (Romania) has always fascinated me.

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    1. We agree with you Chris, overall we do think that we did well for our six weeks there, considering all the different places that we traveled to. And no, we didn't do without anything on this trip.

      Hope one day that you can go there for a visit as well.

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  8. To make you feel better our Mexico trip a few weeks ago cost us about $3000.00 for 7 days or about $425.00 per day and we didn't rent a car. There now you must feel better. Expenses are just the cost of experiences which can never be replaced. Glad you had fun.

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    1. Yes, when you put it that way, we did very well!

      You are right you can't put a cost on experiences but you also still have to live within your means. :-)

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  9. Renting a car seems like a very smart decision, especially given the time of year you were traveling there. From reading your blog posts about your travels, it seems like what you spent on the trip was well worth all of the wonderful adventures you had.

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    1. Yes, we think that it was a good move as well, especially at that time of year. We also agree, that what we spent on the trip was worth it! We feel all in all that we did pretty good with the budget especially knowing what some people can spend on a trip that is even shorter than this.

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