How much does it cost to walk long distances in Europe.
Well it depends a lot on where you walk. Doing a thru-hike through Scandinavia will cost a lot more than a similar one through Romania.
However, it is useful to have some kind of a yardstick when deciding where to hike and for how long.
Comparing Apples to Apples
To make a good comparison between different trails and to be able to adjust for the duration of the walk it is necessary to compare the on-trail costs while excluding once-off costs, such gear and the costs of travelling to the trail.
Once you have invested in hiking equipment it will serve its purpose on multiple trips so this cost can be excluded.
The next consideration is the cost of getting to and from the trailhead. This depends a lot on where you are coming from and what deals you can find.
Once-off trail costs such as these will cost the same whether you walk for two days or two months and so it doesn’t make sense to factor these costs into the daily on-trail costs for comparison purposes.
This leaves us with the magic figure which is the on-trail costs.
The On-Trail cost
I begin counting my On-Trail costs from the first morning of the walk, usually starting with breakfast, and continue counting up until I finish the hike on the last day. I include the meal of the last day but not accommodation.
The costs of getting to and from the trailhead with possible accommodation at the start and end are not included in the On-Trail costs, but are included in the transport costs.
The On-Trail costs includes all trail costs while walking the trail such as accommodation, food, drink, medical supplies, tours, etc.
A good ballpark figure for a fit and reasonably frugal individual thru-hiking in Southern or Eastern Europe would be around € 26 per day. Assuming an average distance of 30 km per day, this works out at €0.87 per km.
I have extrapolated these figures from the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA), which seem to fit in with my experiences of walking in Southern and Eastern Europe.
Pacific Crest Trail Costs
According to the PCTA, the average PCT thru-hiker will take between 4.5 and 5.5 months to walk the 2,659 mile PCT, while spending between $4000-$8000+. Applying these stats to the average fit and thrifty hiker, the PCT could be a be walked in 4.5 months for a cost of $4000. So on a daily basis, this thru-hiker would walk an average of 19 miles per day while spending $29 per day.
Spain and the Frugal Dutch Man
Based on my long-distance hikes in Spain, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, I think this cost could be much improved on. I have hiked a month-long section of the GR7 in Valencia, Spain, at a cost of €19.67 / day.
While walking the Camino Norte, in 2015, I met a Dutch man who had been walking for three months, from his home in Utrecht, Holland to Santander, Spain for about €17 / day. The Dutch have a reputation for being very wise with their money. But this man’s frugality was quite impressive considering that he had spent two months walking through France, which is much more expensive than Spain.