Expenses

I know for a lot of people money is very “hush hush”; if you’re one of those people, don’t read any further.

With this site I decided to make the money aspect of it all very transparent. Why? When I was researching this trip I found it almost impossible to accurately estimate the cost of traveling the world for so long. I did find a few websites that were helpful, but often they were outdated and some were too disorganized to be easily useful.

This page is dedicated to all those would-be travelers out there who are interested in getting a grip on what exactly it takes – financially – to travel the world. During our 7.5 month trip I kept a running list of all of our expenses and grouped them by category and country. I’ve provided the data here for you to use in planning your own adventures. My data sheet includes both local currency and US dollar equivalent so that you can still use the data even if the exchange rate has shifted significantly.

Side note: some sites I did find that were most helpful were the following:

GoBackpacking.com

360DegreesLongitude.com

Bootsnall.com

RTWexpenses.com

Surroundedbythesound.com

JackandJillTravelTheWorld.com

Budgetyourtrip.com

However, it can never hurt to have even more updated information on how much to expect to spend in various places. So… I’ll add to the blogworld karma by putting in our two cents (har har) on the topic.

Our rough budget started out at $30,000 for a 6 month trip. On our 6 month travelling anniversary, our total expenses came to $29,137, so we were miraculously pretty spot on with our planning. However, we extended the trip an extra month and a half so our total expenses were higher than that in the end.

And here’s the rundown:

TOTAL EXPENDITURES = $37,961.38

This includes flights, visas, accommodation, food, transportation, health insurance, and anything/everything else related to travelling. The first thing to remember is this is for TWO people. We had two of each flight, two of each visa, two of each meal, two beds in each hostel, etc.  How did these amounts break down, you ask?

Take a look at this:

So, as you can see, flights accounted for the largest portion (28%) of our budget. We expected flights to be the biggest chunk, although we had expected to spend closer to 50% of our budget on flights. In the end, we ended up getting a good number of flights for cheaper than expected (the beauty of having a flexible travel schedule) as well as taking buses/trains far more frequently than we knew we would. We had originally looked at getting an around-the-world flight ticket which was going to cost around $7,000 per person. So glad we decided not to do that. I wouldn’t recommend an around-the-world flight ticket to most people, except in some circumstances, because A) you have to plan all of your stops in advance, which is nearly impossible on an extended trip like this, and B) this might keep you from using more affordable regional airline options like Air Asia.

Our other major expenses were:

Tours/Excursions/Site Entry Fees: 20% of expenses – this included all of our scuba diving (probably the most expensive chunk of it all), any tours we took, museum entry fees, and that sort of thing. Basically any of the “touristy” stuff we did.

Accommodation: 13% of expenses

Restaurants/Eating Out: 13% of expenses – this is a GREAT place where potential travelers can cut costs. Cook for yourself as much as possible. However, since we were in South East Asia for over three months, most “restaurant” meals there were as cheap as cooking for ourselves so we ate out for every meal pretty much throughout the continent. Had we cooked our own food while there, the total expenses would have been similar, but would have just been included in the “groceries” category instead.

Ground Transportation: 11% of expenses – this included buses, trains, taxis, and boats (OK, I know a boat is on the water, not the ground, but you get the gist). Considering how many buses we took, it’s actually amazing that this expense category wasn’t bigger. Again, the beauty of travelling in South East Asia where $6 can get you all the way to another country.

All of the rest of the expenses were relatively minor, so I recommend when budgeting for a trip, look at the above major expenses first before trying to determine how much you’ll need to save.

Now, I am sure most of you aren’t going on the same exact trip as us, so you’re curious which countries were the most affordable or most expensive. Well, here you go… start by looking at the blue bar chart which shows our expenses per day in each country:

This chart is a little misleading, because it appears that Malaysia was the most expensive country. By cost-of-living standards, it was far from that. But our personal experience was that we took a rather expensive scuba diving trip for 5 of the 12 days we were there, so on average it appears that the country was more expensive than others. It was for us, but only because of our spending habits there. Peru and Bolivia have a similar quality to them – in Bolivia we took a tour of the Uyuni salt flats, which was 4 days long, almost half of our time in that country, and therefore the cost per day is overstated from what the actual cost of living would be there if didn’t take that tour. And if you’ve ever been to Machu Picchu, you’ll know there is literally NO cheap way to see it and no matter how you get there, it’s expensive. So it appears the cost of living in Peru is far higher than it really is. Lastly, in Spain we used my parent’s timeshare for a week in the Canary Islands, as well as Mariott points from Z’s mom in Madrid, so had we paid for accommodation in those places, the daily cost would have been higher. The remaining countries are more reflective of the actual daily cost to live/travel there.

Our total spending in each country:

Why does it say we spent over $7000 in the United States, you ask? Well, I decided that any of our major flights from one continent to another would be attributed to a “home” cost. Otherwise, the cost of the particular country we were physically in while we bought the ticket would appear inflated since these flights were the most major expenses. Our tickets were always purchased online and often in US Dollars, so we could have just as easily booked these flights prior to leaving while we were still at home, and therefore I didn’t think it was fair to apply these flights to any individual country. Flights from one country to another within a continent are attributed to the departure country (for instance, our flight from Malaysia to Indonesia is factored into our Malaysian expenses).

You can download our full Excel data sheet to use in your own planning by clicking here: World Trip Budget.

Notes:

Expenditures were recorded in our budget tracker in local currency unless we actually paid in USD. For sake of simplicity, a constant exchange rate was applied to the local currency in order to determine USD equivalent for every expenditure in that country. The result is likely NOT exactly what we actually paid in USD depending on small currency fluctuations over the course of our time in a specific country. 

-Before you start to plan a trip, check if your current health insurance covers travel vaccinations. Luckily, ours did. But not all insurance companies will cover this. Our vaccinations for this trip would have cost us just over $2500 per person out of pocket had they not been covered. That might have been a deal breaker off the bat. Yep, we got pricked quite a few times :-/