This post is the first in a new category that I hope becomes very popular. I’m calling it “Real Trips” because, simply put, it breaks down “real trips” I’ve taken into their simplest terms, so you can see not only how much I’ve spent on the “big two” expenses — transportation and lodging — but also the logic I use when planning a trip. For reasons of simply sanity, I won’t attempt to recall or fabricate how much I spent on food and other incidentals.
First up is the Mediterranean and North Africa, a region I visited at the end of last summer. This post only covers the first six weeks of the trip that took me there; the second half was spent traveling through Europe for mostly work/personal reasons that don’t tie into the first part of the trip.
The first part of taking any trip is getting there, which almost always involves a flight. My trip to the Mediterranean and North Africa was one of many instances in which I booked a multi-city itinerary — in other words, flying into one city, then out of another. In this instance, I chose to fly into Athens and out of Lisbon.
Multi-city tickets are generally more expensive than round-trip tickets (although usually cheaper than buying two separate one-way segments), so I wasn’t surprised when the total price of the flight (AUS-EWR-ATH; LIS-EWR-AUS) came to $1,128. By contrast, round trip flights between Austin and Europe usually cost just under $1,000 when booked in advance.
Itinerary and Costs
August 30-31: Depart Austin; Arrive Athens
August 31-September 3: Athens (AthenStyle Hostel; 3 nights @ €20 = €60)
September 3: Depart Athens; Arrive Mykonos (Blue Star Ferry, one-way ticket €34)
September 3-7: Mykonos (Paradise Beach Resort; 5 nights @ €24 = €120)
September 7: Depart Mykonos; Arrive Athens (Blue Star Ferry, one-way ticket €36)
September 8: Depart Athens; Arrive Tel Aviv (Aegean Airlines ATH-TLV; €119)
Adding these figures together, the total cost of my eight days of travel in Greece — again, this is just lodging and transport — was €369, or about $492 at current exchange rates. That amounts to a cost of about $61 per day, which is pretty cheap for Europe.
Time-wise, I felt like I had enough time in both the capital Athens and the island Mykonos (in fact, I feel like I maybe spent a little too much time in Mykonos). I wish I’d had more time in Greece overall, however, as there are other destinations I would like to have seen.
September 8-15: Tel Aviv (Stayed at friend’s place, 9 nights @ ₪0 = ₪0)
September 12: Depart Tel Aviv; Arrive Akko; Back to Tel Aviv (Israel Railways, round-trip ticket ₪60)
September 15: Depart Tel Aviv; Arrive Eilat (Egged Bus Company, one-way ticket ₪90)
Israel was cheap for me because I was lucky enough to have a friend who lived in central Tel Aviv. Of course, incidental costs in Israel are high (as I detailed in my post about the cost of travel in Israel), but I was lucky not not to have had any accommodation costs. Over the course of eight days, I spent just ₪150 ($40) on lodging and transport, or a low cost of $5 per day.
Since my first trip to Israel was a complete disaster, I decided to focus this one primarily on exploring Tel Aviv. I essentially lived in Israel’s de-facto capital for a week and a half, which was a really great amount of time to spend in the city.
September 16: Cross Eilat-Taba border crossing; Bus to Sharm el-Shiekh (East Delta Bus Company, one-way ticket LE 30)
September 16-18: Sharm el Shiekh (Oonas Dive Club; 2 nights @ LE 108 = LE 216)
September 17: Ras Mohammed National Park (Round-trip taxi = LE 600; Park entry = LE 150)
September 18: Depart Sharm el Shiekh; Arrive Cairo (EgyptAir SSH-CAI; LE 540)
September 18-22: Cairo (Wake Up! Cairo Hostel, 4 nights @ LE 84 = LE 336)
September 19: Pyramids at Giza, Saqqara and Dashur (All-day taxi = LE 150; Camel ride – LE 200; Entry tickets ~ LE 100)
September 21: Alexandria (Egyptian Railways, round-trip ticket LE 70)
September 22-28: Aswan; Abu Simbel; Felucca on Nile; Luxor (Organized tour including trains, hotels, meals and felucca boat trip; total cost = LE 1500)
September 29-30: Cairo (Wake Up! Cairo Hostel, 1 night @ LE 84 = LE 84)
September 30: Depart Cairo; Arrive Casablanca (EgyptAir CAI-CMN; LE 1590)
Egypt has a reputation as being cheap and I generally found that to be the case on my trip, although “doing” a lot of things in Egypt raised my costs a bit. I’d imagine costs were even lower than normal due to the post-revolution tourist drought. Over the course of 15 days, my lodging and transportation expenses totaled 5,566 Egyptian pounds, or about $900. That’s a trip cost of about $60 per day.
One of the reasons I so fondly remember my travel to Egypt is that it felt so perfectly balanced. I never once felt rushed and although an organized tour of Southern Egypt left something to be desired, I recommend this “Egypt 101″ itinerary to anyone visiting the land of the Pharaohs for the first time.
September 30: Depart Casablanca; Arrive Marrakech (ONCF, one-way ticket 90 DH)
September 30-October 3: Marrakech (Hostel Riad Marrakech Rouge; 3 nights @ 133 DH = 399 DH)
October 3: Depart Marrakech; Arrive Essaouira (CTM Bus Company; one-way ticket 80 DH)
October 4-6: Essaouira (Riad el Pacha; 2 nights @ 70 DH = 140 DH)
October 6: Depart Essaouira; Arrive Marrakech (CTM Bus Company; one-way ticket 80 DH)
October 6: Marrakech (Hostel Riad Marrakech Rouge; 1 night @ 133 DH = 133 DH)
October 7-10: Sahara desert (Organized tour including transport, hotel, camel and night camping in Sahara; total cost = 900 DH)
October 10: Depart Merzouga; Arrive Fes (Private taxi; one-way fare 240 DH)
October 10-11: Fes (Riad Verus; 1 night @ 162 DH = 162 DH)
October 11: Depart Fes; Arrive Chefchaouen (CTM Bus Company; one-way ticket 70 DH)
October 11-14: Chefchaouen (Pension Souika; 3 nights @ 65 DH = 195 DH)
October 14: Depart Chefchaouen; Arrive Marrakech (CTM Bus Company; one-way ticket 100 DH)
October 14-15: Marrakech (Hostel Riad Marrakech Rouge; 1 night @ 133 DH = 133 DH)
Morocco, even moreso than Egypt, was a cheap place to travel. Over the course of 16 days, I spent 2,722 Moroccan dirhams ($325), or a low $20 per day. Food and incidentals were likewise cheap, which meant that travel to Morocco was one of my cheapest experiences ever.
The experience itself, however, was anything but cheap. Morocco is one of the most diverse countries I’ve ever visited, from Marrakech, to the seaside Essaouira, to the dusty Sahara and to the blue mountain town of Chefchaouen. As had been the case in Egypt, I felt that the amount of time I spent in Morocco (and how I divided that time) was perfect.
Overall Trip Notes
My trip to the Mediterranean and North Africa was one of my favorites because, over the course of just six weeks, I was able to experience several distinct cultures and dozens of landscapes. I do wish I’d spent more time in Greece and had been less sedentary in Israel, but overall I think this trip is a good starting point for anyone who wants to visit this region of the world.
To recap, the overall cost of transportation and lodging for the 45-day trip was $2,885, or around $64 per day, which includes the multi-city transatlantic plane ticket. Without the plane ticket, the cost of the trip was $1,757, or $39. Cheap, huh? This post is yet another piece of evidence that you don’t have to be rich to travel internationally.