The most frequently asked question when we traveled for a year in 2007 – 2008 was “How much does / did it cost?”
Here is the answer: in total we spent 20.700 Euros per person for an entire year. That’s a lot more than most people spend. People we met usually had a budget between 12.000 to 15.000 Euros per person. Once we talked to a couple that lived on 10.000 Euros for 2 years, between the two of them! On the other hand we met people who burned 45.000 Euros per person in 15 months. Obviously the sky is the limit…
Most important, these numbers only make sense when seen in a context, what makes traveling cheap, what makes it expensive.
Key elements that really had an impact on our budget traveling for 12 months:
- The first and most important rule is: cheap countries are really cheap, expensive countries are really expensive. This sounds trivial, but no matter how we traveled, this had a critical impact on how much we spent. In Bolivia or Laos, we simply stopped worrying after a few days. Nevertheless we spent far less than almost anywhere else. On the other hand, in the Pacific, we simply found no way to stop the financial hemorrhagic!
We spent (including international flights)
|28 weeks in South America||53 Euros per day|
|11 weeks in the Pacific & New Zealand||98 Euros per day|
|12 weeks in Asia||38 Euros per day|
In short, we spent half of the budget in the Pacific, although we spent only one fifth of the time there. South America can even prove more complex. In Argentina and in Chile we spent almost twice as much per day as in Bolivia or Peru.
- The faster we traveled, the more we spent. Crashing in a village in Bolivia or Laos costs very little. Moving every other day from one place to another, as we often did during this trip, greatly increased our spending. Maybe also because when we were exhausted, we tended to reward us with little extras and more comfort. Given that we traveled South America, Asia and the Pacific Area, international flights made up quite a large chunk of our expenses: 4.020 Euros per person. On top of that, we slept in 174 different places in 354 days! This enabled us to see and experience a lot, but was also expensive. The total budget for transport was 7.740 Euros per person.
- Last but not least, the way we traveled and the level of comfort we chose indeed influenced our expenses. But interestingly enough, overall this was less crucial moneywise than where and how fast we traveled. Maybe worth mentioning, we no longer are in our 20s, so our “camping or dormitory times” are over. We chose budget hostels, but stayed in double rooms mostly with private bath. In most of South America and Southeast Asia, we ate at very local restaurants or food stalls. In Chile, Argentina & the Pacific, we cooked almost every single meal. We booked many tours or hired guides in museums or points of interest to get the utmost of those places, also in South America to practice our Spanish. Moreover we traveled in comfortable buses, when those were available. A few times we opted for a plane in order to avoid super long bus trips. We did save a lot of money by avoiding bars or clubs, but regularly enjoyed a drink or a bottle of wine with our fellow travelers in the hostel.
So, how much did we spend on what?
|Transport||7.740 Euros per person, the biggest chunk of this was on international flights: 4.020 Euro.We decided against a RTW-ticket, which is extremely inflexible, and all in all not that cheap, especially if you look at a somehow more complex route for your trip, for instance one that includes either South America or Africa.|
|Hostels||3.790 Euros per person|
|Food & Drinks||3.590 Euros per person|
|Tours & Various Activities||3.790 Euros per person (that also includes scuba diving)|
|“Every Day Life”||1.810 Euros per person: Internet & communications, laundry, purchasing small stuff, …|
|Souvenirs||We bought quite a few souvenirs, but did not include them in the budget of the trip. By the way, all those souvenirs we sent back home with regular postal service arrived safely in one piece!|
Break Down of the expenses per country including transport but not international flights:
|In Euro (€) per Person
|Local Transports||Hostels(0)||Food & Drinks||Every Day Life||Tours & Activities||Total|
|French Polynesia (4)||50,9||30,3||20,0||12,6||52,4||166,00|
|Pacific & Océania||18,30||17,40||14,90||5,40||15,40||71,00|
|Hong Kong & Macau||6,1||12,6||8,2||4,7||0,6||32,00|
|Total 354 Days RTW Trip||11,50||10,70||10,10||4,20||10,70||47,00|
(0) Hostels: Double rooms (for a couple) – so price for the room itself must be multiplied by 2!
(1) Venezuela: We did many tours (12 days out of 21), which might create a wrong split of costs
(2) Brazil: This does not include 4 days on awfully expensive Fernando de Noronha
(3) Uruguay: We spent only 4 days in the country
(4) French Polynesia: This includes scuba diving (2 dives a day)
(5) Cambodia: This was the last country, so we spent much more than usual
(6) Thailand: We only stayed in Bangkok (1 week)
You may wonder how to reduce costs if you do not have 20.000 Euros available for the trip. We would say that one third of those costs can be cut without major inconveniences if you consider the “Golden Rules” we identified at the beginning:
- Do not underestimate how fast you will burn your budget in expensive places like Western Europe, North America, Japan and the whole Pacific area including Australia & New Zealand… If you are on a tight budget, try to stick to cheap regions as much as you can. Southeast Asia & the Andean Countries of South America (except Chile & southern Argentina) are your best bet!
- Do not try to pack too much into your itinerary. Traveling fast will increase the costs. And reduce the number of continents visited if you are on a budget.
- Of course, reducing your “standards” by staying in dormitories, by camping or by using the cheapest transport can save a lot of money.
- Last but not least, do not underestimate partying and going out! We vividly remember travelers bargaining a dollar off their dorm bed in Cusco / Peru and then drinking the night away.