Workaway Budget: Lisbon

Ok so you’re prob wondering how I can travel for a year without realllllly working.


No, I don’t have a secret funder. My mom doesn’t pay for my gas anymore because I don’t even have a car haha!

I think only one month into my move to China I decided to start saving for a RTW trip. My goal was 10K and since I was magically refunded twice for my flights (once by my program and another time by my school. Don’t worry, I like to tell myself that their spending budget increases by writing off my flights) I came pretty dang close to that goal! Snaps for responsibility!

Here I’ll break down my cheapO spending habits so you can see that if you really want to do it….YOU CAN!

But only if you want to. I’m not saying you should!!!

Here in Lisbon I work five hours per day, 5 days per week in exchange for a bed in an all girls dorm. The dorm is about 15 euro per night. So that works out to about 4.20 euro per hour. No, it’s not great, but where else will let an American work for such a short period? Also, I like being a part of the hostel community and being approachable to all the guests in a way I couldn’t be if I were only a guest myself. Plus, some days I do a check-in in Spanish and a phone reservation in Portuguese and feel like a total badass.


I have issues with my work not being very meaningful and not meeting locals, but all in all I enjoy seeing all the new traveler’s faces and feeling at home in this international apartment.


I have an app for that lol

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 12.17.10

I use the spending app on my iPhone to track my purchases and then I use the YNAB program on my computer to budget my savings and enter my spendings.

Since I’ve only been in Lisbon a little over three weeks I’m estimating my last few days of spending to round it to a whole month. Since breakfast is included in the hostel, my money has gone to transportation, eating out or cooking lunch and dinner, shopping (winter clothes and miscellaneous things like deodorant) and nightlife.

Surprise surprise! I spent the most money in CAFES!

In one month I spent aprox €55 in cafes.

My favourite way to see a city has always been to start the day with a pastry and a coffee in a cute cafe and then walk around for hours. I also like to go to cafes to read or do things on my computer even though I could easily do them at ‘home’ in the hostel. It’s a nice way to get out of the house and people watch for a bit. And then there’s cake. And sometimes live music.

I even budget while in those cafes!
I even budget while in those cafes!

I spent aprox €50 on shopping for miscellaneous things.

I didn’t have winter boots and it has started to get cold. 😦 I also just so happened to run out of things that I won’t need to shop for again for a while like deodorant and razor head refills. Boring purchases, but life’s monotony doesn’t stop when you travel.

I spent aprox €35 on transportation.

I like to walk. Like a lot. I walked from cais do sodre to belem once. It was beautiful. It took me over an hour. I think post camino de santiago 5km is nothing to me. I’ve already had to reglue the sole of my new boots that I purchased with my shopping budget lol When walking is absolutely impossible I take public transportation. I took a taxi ONE time and that was a huge budget killer.

while on my walk
while on my walk

I spent aprox €30 on groceries.

In the hostel people leave things over all the time. There’s a cabinet full of free rice and pasta. Being vegetarian (amongst hundreds of other benefits) is cheap! I cook simple, but delicious meals like lentils or chili sin carne to keep costs down.

homemade black bean veggie burger
homemade black bean veggie burger

I spent aprox a whopping €20 on restaurants.

I avoid eating out at all costs. It’s the number one budget buster after shopping, but at least with shopping you have something you can hold onto. I don’t even remember where I spent that twenty. I went to a community kitchen twice that charged 3 euro for a vegan meal…

RDA 69
“This is not a restaurant.” -RDA 69, the community kitchen

Lastly, I spent aprox €45 on nightlife.

I know, that’s laughable. I still haven’t had a proper “clubbing” night out in Lisbon and I honestly don’t care if I do. I’ve seen live music, had drinks with friends and danced the night away to random ass african music with a 3 euro cover and 1 euro beers. Who’s complaining?





Sure you have to buy the ticket here, but all this means that (if you drink less coffee than me) with just a 1,500 USD budget you could live in Lisbon as a workawayer for half a year. 

Of course if you’re American, 3 of those months would be here illegally. If Europe is your bag, you could always hop on a cheap flight out of the Schengen area to the UK, Ireland, or most the Balkans where the cost of living is even cheaper than in Lisbon. A beer in Belgrade is 17% cheaper than one in Lisbon 😉


2 thoughts on “Workaway Budget: Lisbon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s