Backpacking in Spain

How Much Did It Really Cost?

Fri 19 Aug 2022
fr es
I embarked for what turned out to be a 25-day backpacking excursion through part of Spain. While the organisation was somewhat vague, I figured I would do something a little different this time. I was curious about the the cost of living in Spain so I kept track of all spendings while on the trip. Here are my findings.
Barcelona Madrid Palma de Mallorca Valencia
There's something unquestionably seductive about the idea of travelling without planning: booking your one-way flight ticket the day prior, going to that random event you've just heard of, joining strangers for dinner or drinks, and for the most part being open to whatever may come your way.

After all, unforgettable trips often start with spontaneity!

But by their very nature, improvisation and spontaneity are at odds with budgeting. And this unfortunately leads to unpredictable spendings.

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.

Last month, I embarked into a backpacking excursion through Spain with the explicit goals of (i) having a good time, (ii) improving on my spanish, (iii) identifying suitable cities and neighbourhoods for my upcoming relocation move.

I stepped off the first plane in Palma de Mallorca. The first stop of what would turn out to be a 25 days experience, and soon to be followed by Bacelona, Madrid, and Valencia.

Itinerary Map
Purchase Departure Take-off → Landing From → To
04/07/2022 05/07/2022 17:25 → 20:50 London → Palma
07/07/2022 09/07/2022 07:20 → 08:15 Palma → Barcelona
19/07/2022 21/07/2022 11:50 → 13:20 Barcelona → Madrid
23/07/2022 25/07/2022 07:05 → 08:05 Madrid → Valencia
27/07/2022 29/07/2022 13:20 → 14:55 Valencia → London
As a side project, I also tracked all expenses (manually mind you! [1]) to get some insights into the cost of living in Spain.

Now for the usual disclaimer... Kindly remember that this is not a scientific study by any stretch of imagination. Rather, it is a fun exercise not to be taken too seriously.

The Backstory

I stayed flexible on departure dates and considered alternative destination cities. I monitored flight prices with Skyscanner.

I ended up booking a one-way flight ticket the day prior to departure to Palma de Mallorca. I initially had no plans to land in Palma but it was the only cheap flight from London Gatwick at that time. So Palma it was!

The same goes for accomodations. I made no plans where to stay beyond the first night of arrival. Once there, I never booked accomodations more than two days in advance. The reasons being that (i) I did not want to be stuck in a bad place, and (ii) I did not know where I would be beyond two days! I made most bookings via

The Data

In the end, I stayed 4 nights in Palma de Mallorca, 12 nights in Barcelona, 4 nights in Madrid, and 4 nights in Valencia.
I was first interested in finding out which type of expenses would dominate.

To find out, I broke down my expenses into five categories:
Next, I wanted to identify the cities with the highest cost of living [2].
Finally, I was curious about the rate of spendings throughout the trip.

The Bottom Line

Spendings remained constant with no obvious outliers. Total expenditures ultimately culminated at €1,814.4 [3].

Total price for the flying tickets was 64.9% of transportation expenses.

This is mainly explained by the cost of accomodations at peak holiday season (i.e. July and August) -- assuming all costs in the other categories are season-independent.

As it turns out, booking everything in advance is often more expensive. Hostels' booking prices are volatile. And from experience, you often get the best deal by searching directly on the spot.

Most importantly, I reached all the objectives I set myself to achieve before leaving!

That's All Good and Well, But...

Is improvised travel a blessing or a curse?

I guess it all depends on what kind of traveller you are. Not everyone travels the same way. Are you willing to sacrifice comfort for a high level of freedom? Are you willing to leave some things to chance ?

If you answered "yes" to all of the above, I want to hear from you!


  1. Dataset: [expenses.json] [flights.json]
  2. Flight ticket expenses were removed.
  3. All costs were converted in euros at the average exchange rate of €1.2 for £1 over the period.