Behind the Scenes of a RTW Trip – Month 1 Travel Review

Posted By Jeremy in Europe, Planning, Reviews | 2 comments

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Lavender Fields in Avignon, FranceWow, can you believe it?  We’ve been traveling for one month already!  For a trip that was over 3 years in the making, the first month flew by (although feels like we’ve been gone for an eternity).  You can only imagine how excited we are to have another 13-17 more months ahead of us.

On the last RTW trip we covered on this site we featured a country summary after visiting a destination.   We wanted to continue that post series; however, we’ll be hitting a lot of countries in rapid succession throughout our trip such that we’d be full of posts for just a few days.  Instead, we decided that we’ll have a monthly review to summarize how our journey is going for the destination(s) we have visited over that period of time.

With that being said, it is time to see how Month 1 went!


The Louvre, Paris, France, at Sunset

During our first month of travel we spent roughly two weeks in France (Paris, Bordeaux, Avignon, Nice), two weeks in Switzerland (Geneva, Lauterbrunnen, Zermatt, Zurich), and a few days in the mountains of Austria in Mayrhofen.

Our total out of pocket spending for the month was roughly $6,000 USD, likely our most expensive month of the trip.  The good news from that is it will all be cheaper from here!

This spending includes the following breakdown on a per day average (in USD):

Accommodation Food Sight Seeing Transportation Souvenirs Misc.
France $72.60 $69.58 $39.13 $49.22 $8.84 $1.15
Switzerland $81.41 $67.59 $28.81* $13.85* $1.09 $6.77
Mayrhofen Pricing summary to be featured in Month 2 report

*Excluded from the above table is roughly $1,300 in partnerships in Switzerland that covered mainly transportation and sightseeing (or $50/day for each) in the form of a Swiss Pass and Zurich 72h Card.  Had we paid for this out of pocket without the pass, the value would have been much higher.  A review of these passes will be coming shortly.   

RTW Tally Snapshot

Matterhorn, Zermatt, Switzerland

Our RTW Tally is starting to fill up nicely.  As this feature is visible on our sidebar at all times, some of the data may get lost if we don’t recap it periodically.  So each month we’ll post the values we’ve achieved within this post and compare it to the previous months at the same time.

Days Traveling: 31   (+31)
Countries Visited: 5   (+5)
Dollars Spent (USD): $16,051   ($6,000 due to this month only)
Pictures Taken (Jeremy): 3,038   (+3,038)
Miles Traveled: 5,234   (+5,234)
Planes: 3; Trains: 19
Buses: 0; Ferries: 0
Days of Rain: 1.5    (+1.5)
Sick Days: 0
Itinerary Changes: 0
Arguments: 1    (+1)
Days Apart: 0.5    (+0.5)
Nights in a Dorm Bed: 7   (+7)
Combined Books Read: 2   (+2)
Bottles of Wine: 11   (+11)

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Random Thoughts

Hiking in Mayrhofen, Austria

As with the last RTW trip covered on this site, these monthly updates are a great place to put in the little random details that we found interesting in the countries we visited that may not find their way into a full blog post.  The following are some of our favorites from the countries we visited in Month 1:

  • Our trip started out with a crazy flight day.  Our first scheduled flight to Paris was canceled the morning of travel due to a 24 hour strike scheduled the next day by the air traffic controllers (what luck).  We were then rerouted on a flight to Frankfurt and then on to Paris, all while being downgraded in our seat assignment.  A complaint call later and we got our seats back.  By the time we got to the airport our first flight was delayed because of weather, causing us to miss the Frankfurt flight.   The attendant gave us no choice but to book on a later flight to Paris (direct), but was not helpful in retaining our upgraded seat.  Only in complaining even more, and holding up the line, were we re-upgraded; although only as a result of the plane being switched to a larger aircraft to accommodate the first canceled flight.   Yep, it was pretty crazy.
  • We rented private rooms in apartments on Airbnb for most of our stays this month with the exception of hostels in the mountains of Switzerland.  We found this to be the most economical option for two travelers with the added perk of having private rooms!  Yes, you read that right.  It was cheaper to get a room an apartment than two beds in a hostel in almost every city we visited.  Thanks Western Europe.
  • Food in Switzerland is incredibly expensive in both grocery stores and restaurants so we found ourselves cooking our own meals quite a bit while eating dinner out once per city.  A good fondue will set you back at least 25 Francs and a meal for two with drinks will easily cost 60-70 Francs.  Likewise, water in restaurants almosts costs as much as beer so we found ourselves drinking far more than we had planned just because it wasn’t that much more than water.
  • On the other hand, drinking at a restaurant in France falls under an incredibly odd pricing structure.  A glass of wine may be 3-4 Euro, but a 500 mL carafe may only be 6-7 Euro for up to four times the amount of wine.  We never got used to that one and ended up drinking a bit more than we anticipated because of it.
  • Compared to the other cities we visited, Geneva and Zurich felt incredibly empty and quiet.  A major festival was going on in Zurich during the weekend we were there, with hundreds of thousands of visitors, but go a few blocks in any direction away from the party and the streets were eerily empty.  The mountain towns on the other hand were quite busy, but no where near the magnitude of the cities in France we visited.  Perhaps Switzerland’s expensive nature is worth it for a few things!
  • Overall, I’m pretty happy that we went to the expensive countries first.  I think if we had saved them for last the sticker shock and lack of money in our account would have deterred us from doing anything at all.  Luckily we hit our budget almost exactly so we’re not sunk yet!

France and Switzerland Posts

Sunset in Geneva, Switzerland

Since each month is limited on the number of days, we cannot write our posts fast enough to fit it all in!  But don’t worry, we’ve got ideas for a lot of great posts for after this trip ends (if it ever does).  The following are a selection of some we’ve published:

Swisspass Review – The Best Way to Save Money in Switzerland
The GoldenPass Train in Switzerland – The Only Way to Travel
Zurich Events – The City’s Biggest Festival, Zuri Fascht
Schilthorn – Taking a Trip to the James Bond Museum
Visit CERN – Geneva’s Best Kept Secret Tour for Science Nerds
Schengen Area – Crafting a Travel Itinerary with 90 Days
Jungfrau Mountain – Rail Journey to the Top of Europe
Paris Catacombs – Exploring the Macabre Side of France
European Food – 6 Perfect Meals You Must Have in Europe
Lavender Flowers – Visiting Provence to Find Blooming French Lavender
Bordeaux Wine – Exploring an Iconic French Wine Region Without a Car
Paris Restaurants – Our Favorites From an Eating Intensive Visit
Eurail Pass – How to Make a Reservation
..and more!

So what will month 2 bring?  We’re heading to Italy in a couple of days to spend just under three weeks exploring the country, followed by about ten days island hopping in Greece!  Our spending is definitely set to decrease as we go which is something we so desperately need (and planned for).  Either way, its going to be a great time and we hope you’ll stick around to enjoy it with us!

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Is there something you’d like us to cover in our monthly reviews? Or perhaps something you’d like to see more or less of in our posts? Comment below to let us know and we’d be happy to feature it!


Jeremy founded Living the Dream in 2008 to chronicle his long-term trip around Asia. Since then he has been on two long-term trips, visited 68 countries, and is just getting started. He is now on a Lifestyle Design quest to build businesses to pursue a life of travel.

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  1. Cool guys. Just stumbled upon your site. We are 5months into our RTW trip. We are heading to Spain and Portugal for the next 3 1/2 weeks then off to do some island hoping in Greece as well. Where about in Greece are you headed and when? Maybe we could meet up and share some stories.

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  2. Nice! Spain is an amazing place. Went last year for our honeymoon! We’re going to Greece for the first 2 weeks of August and will be flying into Crete (doing Heraklion and Chania) and then going over to Santorini and Milos for a few days.

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