You Can Ask Someone How Much Their Trip Cost, But Dig Deeper Into How They Traveled, Otherwise That Dollar Figure Doesn’t Mean Much.
We get asked a lot about the budget for our around the world trip. It is easy enough to just rattle off a dollar figure, but what does that really mean to you? If someone tells you how much money they spent to travel the world for a year you need to find out how they traveled.
- What level of comfort do they travel in?
- Camping, dorm beds, hostels, hotel rooms, long term rentals, house sitting or any freebie stays?
- How many flights did they take, and to how many continents?
- Was most of their travel overland by bus or train?
- Did they explore mostly on their own, or book tours.
- Restaurants or self catering?
- Did they include pre-trip expenses such as vaccinations, travel insurance, luggage and clothing?
Most importantly, where did they travel? If the list was mainly countries in Southeast Asia or parts of South America their costs will be quite low compared to someone who covered a lot of places in Europe. You need to find out what their travel style is regardless of where they traveled to. Europe can be done cheaply, just as Thailand could be done extravagantly if you want.
And The Big $$$$ Number Is……….
Our trip was fifteen months in total, but we have excluded all the expenses involved in the last three months. We extended our year long trip by renting a casita in Mexico for three months. We feel the costs of this portion of the trip do not reflect normal travel. At the end of the post we have listed the Mexico costs separately.
Okay, lets just get the big number out there. When it was all said and done for twelve months of travel and all necessities involved in making it happen came to approximately $52,000 CDN. Your largest costs are usually going to be flights, accommodation and food. Our total includes everything from vaccinations, medications, clothing, luggage, travel insurance, a storage locker and many other items that had the bill racking up even prior to leaving.
Since this was our first around the world trip, we were not really sure what a typical traveler spends. After talking to several people we found that our budget was on par with many others. It seems the average cost is $25,000 per person for one year of world travel. Some people would be able to do it for much less than this, others would require more for the level of comfort they require.
The Quick Breakdown Of Costs
- Flights 11,500
- Accommodation 14,900
- Food 10,000
- Travel Insurance 1,168
- Malaria pills, medications 1,000
- backpacks and suitcases 300
- clothing and footwear 600
- toiletry items 400
- vaccinations 500
- storage locker for our kept belongings 960
- car rental 1,800
- gasoline 600
- banking fees 350
- 5 day safari 1,600
- souvenirs, shopping and shipment home 2,300
- entertainment, activities, admissions, internet fees, etc. 2,000
I would best describe our travel as upscale backpacking. All hostels were private rooms, usually with their own bathroom. In most cases we found that a private room was not much more than paying for two dorm beds. We also stayed in guest houses and budget hotels, or whatever was clean, comfortable and reasonably priced. Once in a while we would spoil ourselves with a more luxurious hotel. Our accommodation was sometimes as cheap as $9 a night and went as high as $170.
We ended up spending $14,900 on accommodation for the year. That averages out to just over $40 a night. We did get 12 free days of accommodation with a family member in Hong Kong, but I’m sure we ate out in restaurants enough times during that stay counter balance that freebie. The price for accommodations could have been a lot less if we skipped some of our travel to Europe, that brought the daily average up a lot. Even the hostels were expensive in most places there.
This is one category that was easy to keep track of. We kept record of the name and cost of each property in a small pocket calendar. For more details on specific countries see our post on Accommodation Expenses.
For this category we don’t have an exact amount. We found it too cumbersome to keep a detailed track of it. The approximate price for one year was $10,000. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not really. If you do that math that works out to just under $14 per person per day.
If we were staying at a hostel providing cheap food we took advantage of that. A fair amount of our accommodation came with breakfast included. We did a lot of self catering if a kitchen was provided. Even when there wasn’t a kitchen we would go to local markets to buy items for snacks, or fruit and yogurt for breakfast and buy things to make sandwiches for lunch.
Sometimes you need to treat yourself to a restaurant meal. We would think of it as not just a meal, but go for the atmosphere or as a source of nightly entertainment.
Modes Of Transportation
We did a lot of flying as you can see the breakdown list in the section below. There were a couple of really expensive flights in that list that account for such as high total. Often within a country we choose to fly over taking long haul buses or trains. Many times travelers are not aware how cheap it can be to fly in certain countries. We would be looking into prices for 15 to 20 hour train or bus rides and find out that a one to two hour flight was only slightly more in cost. We were a bit concerned about safety of flying in some of the countries we visited, but there was no worry. We were able to seek out reputable airlines, most of the planes we went on were brand new.
We did take a train on a few occasion. We used them throughout Portugal, it was a very efficient and reasonably priced way to get around the country. We definitely did a lot of bus travel as well. We found eight hours to the about the longest time we could tolerate on a bus trip. Most of our bus travel was in Thailand, Tanzania and China. Some countries have horrible track records for accidents involving buses. Do your research.
Don’t forget about all the other forms of transportation that start to add up, such as taxis, tuk tuks or public buses to get around a town or city.
Our Flight Costs
Flights came to approximately $11,500. This would be one of the most varied travel costs when asking someone what they spent on an around the world trip. This included quite a few long haul flights as well as many smaller ones. In total I think we were on a plane over twenty five times. The prices below are the total cost of the flight including all taxes and fees.
- Vancouver to London One year open return ticket $900 x2 British Airways
- London to Nairobi with a return ticket from Capetown to London (Open Jaw ticket) $1300 x 2 British Airways
- Moshi to Zanzibar one way $75 x 2 Air Tanzania
- Zanzibar to Johannesburg one way $250 x 2 South African Airways
- London To Bangkok one way $700 x 2 Qatar Air
- Bangkok to Chaingmai one way $50 x 2 Thai Airways
- Chaingmai to Bangkok one way $50 x 2 Nok Air
- Bangkok to Siem Reap return $350 x 2 Bangkok Airways
- Luang Prabang to Bangkok one way $150 x 2 Bangkok Airways
- Bangkok to Krabi return Bangkok Airways $120 x 2
- Bangkok to Singapore one way $50 X 2 Jetstar Asia
- Singapore to Hong Kong one way $80 x 2 Jetstar Asia
- Guilin to Kunming one way $60 x 2 China Southern
- Zhongdian to Lhasa one way $365 x 2 China Air (this price included the permit to enter Tibet)
- Chengdu to Xian one way $60 x 2 China Eastern
- Xian to Beijing one way $80 x 2 China Air
- Beijing to Hong Kong one way $300 x 2 China Air
- Hong Kong to Singapore one way $80 x 2 Singapore Airlines
- Singapore to Athens one way $600 x 2 Singapore Airlines
- Venice to Frankfurt one way $65 x 2 Ryan Air
- Frankfurt to Porto one way $45 x 2 Ryan Air
- Porto to Dublin one way $35 x 2 Ryan Air
- Cork to London one way $75 x 2 Ryan Air
We rented a car for a period of two months in South Africa. This cost was around$1800 with all the fees and insurances. We probably spent $600 in gasoline. This might seem like a lot of money, but for what we got out of it during the two months it was well worth it. We thoroughly got to enjoy South Africa. We went to many places we might not have got to otherwise. We loved having the flexibility to go where and when we wanted.
- travel insurance, approx $1.60 a day per person, that works out to $584 a year per person
- malaria pills for 3 months, emergency antibiotics and medication for altitude sickness came to nearly $1000!
- suitcases and day packs $300
- clothing and footwear $600
- toiletry items $500
- vaccinations $500
Other Expenses That You Might Not Immediately Think Of
- storage for your belongings if you need it while traveling
- souvenirs and costs to ship them home
- on going replacement of toiletry items, clothing and footwear
- other modes of transport, tuk tuks, taxis, subways etc.
- admission and entry fees
- postcards and stamps
- calling cards to phone family or cell phone costs
- internet fees
- activities, tours, and entertainment
- banking fees
Could We Have Done The Trip For Less?
Yes, of course. Ten years ago we traveled in a different manner. We stayed in much lower quality of accommodation. Our tolerance level of dirt, poor quality beds and discomfort was much higher back then. It’s not that this trip was a year of luxury, but comfort and cleanliness were definitely a lot more of a priority. We could have spent less on food and by taking long haul buses instead of flights in some instances. There’s always money that can be saved here and there. This was a trip of a lifetime though and it was meant to be enjoyed. We didn’t have a free budget, but we didn’t worry about having to pinch every penny either.
Would we change anything if we could do it all over again, probably not. We had the time of our lives!
Three Months In Mexico
Total approximately $7500
- Flights Vancouver to Mexico City return $750 x 2 Alaska Airlines
- Casita rental $1,500
- Groceries and limited eating in restaurants 3,000
- Travel insurance 288
- additional 3 months for storage locker 240
- Other Transportation 500
- Entertainment, activities, souvenirs, etc. 500
In Mexico we tended to splurge on items at speciality shops during our three months stay. They had many items we had been missing over the last year away from home. It was all too tempting to buy them even though they were not cheap. Otherwise if you shop at the local markets you can get produce, fruit and meats at very reasonable prices.
It’s dirt cheap to take a local bus from one town to the next. If you are traveling by bus on longer distances there are usually options to take a more deluxe bus. It’s not as dirt cheap, but still a very inexpensive mode of transport.