On social media sites I have read posts from fellow campers who have experienced price rises on their trips to mainland Europe this year. Everyone’s holiday experience is different but I was prompted to compare our spending during our 50 days travelling around Germany and the Netherlands in May and June against previous trips. As I say, everyone spends their money in their own way and so comparisons are hard but we are fairly consistent in what we buy. As usual on this trip we stayed on campsites and stellplatz, making as much use of our ACSI card as we could; we consciously didn’t drive as far as we might have done in the past and we are two wine-drinking vegetarians who mostly cycle and walk all day. We have a budget for our trips but, apart from the diesel, didn’t actively cut back on our holiday spending as we were so excited to be back in mainland Europe! Below is the detail of what we spent and my thoughts on increases.
Diesel €429 / £369
Of course, diesel prices have increased over the last few years but we only drove around 2,000 km while we were away on this trip [we could have travelled that far in Scotland]. We were never in a rush and this slow travel approach kept our diesel costs down. Also, our Renault Master likes being in mainland Europe and gave us its best mpg ever at around 39 mpg!
Supermarkets €664 / £571
The cost of food in Germany and the Netherlands varied compared to the UK for individual items but overall we spent about the same as we would have had we been at home. We are both vegetarian and have a weakness for delicious German veggie frankfurters, garlicy vegetable spreads and German beer so stocked up on these. We do take teabags with us!
Including the two dozen bottles of beer and half-a-dozen bottles of German wine we returned home with, our supermarket spending was the equivalent of €13.28 / day and 20% of our spending. Looking back at previous trips comparison is complicated. Last time we were in Europe was 2020 in France and we spent an average of €18.87 / day but we did return home with around two dozen bottles of wine. In 2018 in Spain we averaged €12.05 / day and also came home with a similar amount of wine. From these figures I would say that food and drink has increased a little but no more than in the UK.
Cafes, ice-creams and eating out €616 / £530
Wow! That is a lot of treats but it is one of those things I am loathe to give up. Stopping for coffee or beer and cake at a German cafe or bar is a fun part of our holiday experience and it looks like we did this loads. If we were trying to save money we could definitely have cut down on this. This amount is about 30% more than we would spend at home but this has nothing to do with it being more expensive than the UK. We just couldn’t resist the lure of a cafe and it soon mounts up. We had some lunches out, lots of ice-creams, some beers, plenty of coffees with cake but didn’t have an evening meal that wasn’t cooked in our campervan and this is something we would normally do. Given this, the €12.32 / day we spent is quite a staggering amount and appears to represent increased cost in Germany and the Netherlands as we have never spent anything like this amount in the past.
Overnights €1,137 / £997
It is a couple of years since we have travelled in mainland Europe and we certainly noticed how the cost of campsites has increased, as it has in the UK. Even making as much use as we could of our ACSI card this was a big chunk of our holiday spending, averaging about £20 / night and 32% of our spending. Even the stellplatz we used were around €15 a night and others could save lots of money if you sought out free stellplatz with no EHU and used your own facilities.
We use campsites for a number of reasons and the first one is that I love being on campsites! I enjoy meeting people, nipping out to collect the morning bread rolls for breakfast and I am happy going out cycling or walking for the day feeling confident that the Blue Bus is safe. That said, we do like to find a quiet and isolated pitch! What has changed me is Covid-19. We appear to have been extremely lucky and neither of us have suffered from Covid-19 but we could have caught it while we were away and quickly become too poorly to travel. Being ill in the ‘van isn’t a lot of fun and with no solar panel my anxiety levels would have been sky high without at least having EHU if we had to isolate in the ‘van for a week!
In 2020 in France we averaged €17.61 / night during August. The cost has probably gone up there too but German campsites have always been more expensive than France.
It would be hard to average £20 / night using campsites in the UK in 2022 and the reasonable cost of overnights is a big plus for travelling in the EU.
Trains, buses and ferries €210 / £180
We just missed the bargain €9 a month rail travel tickets in Germany as by the time these were available we had no plans to catch more trains. C’est la vie! The trains got us into cities, we crossed the Elbe on numerous ferries and used the Edam to Amsterdam bus service. We rarely had to pay for parking and train fares were generally cheaper than the UK.
Entrance fees €113 / £97
We were exploring so we paid to go into a few places as we travelled around. Prices for castles and museums were similar or less than in the UK.
Miscellaneous €143 / £122
This covers occasional wi-fi, washing machines and a few gifts for folk back home. Wi-fi availability in German was patchy, some campsites provided it, some didn’t, sometimes it was excellent and sometimes it was only just better than dial-up!
DFDS Newcastle to IJmuiden ferry return fare for two and a campervan with all meals £705.
When we first stopped working the nine-to-five jobs in 2017 we budgeted to travel across to mainland Europe twice a year. This was when the ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge cost about £500. This 40% increase in the cost of the ferry means that in 2022 we decided to only travel by ferry once during the year as our savings, while resilient enough, are feeling a stretch as everything increases in price
The cost of the DFDS ferry seems reasonable compared to the cost of our Brittany Ferries Portsmouth to St Malo trip in 2020, which cost £864 in high season!
Total cost of our 50-day trip – £3,551 / £71 per day
At £71 / day you can’t call our Germany and Netherlands trip a cheap holiday. Our August Brittany trip in 2020 cost us £84 / day but this was partly due to the ferry and wine stocks. A more similar length trip of 50 nights in Spain in 2018 cost us about £500 less. On this trip we spent £3,084 [approximately £60 / day] and given that the Portsmouth to Bilbao ferry was around £200 more than our DFDS ferry that seems like good value.
Inflation is here and doesn’t look like it is going away in the short term but the enjoyment we get from travelling around mainland Europe makes the cost worthwhile and I know we are lucky to be able to afford it.