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Budget For Long Term & Short Term Travel

Ugandan Shillings (approx. 700 Euros)
Ugandan Shillings (approx. 700 Euros)

The most frequently asked question about my travels, no matter if it is a single short trip or one of my Round The World Travels, is “How much does / did it cost?” and eventually “How can you afford it?” but basically, both questioned are linked in my opinion…

Here you find:

  1. A breakdown of expenditures for more than 30 countries, both on Short Term & Long Term Trips between 2005 and now,
  2. An in-depth analysis of my budget during my first Round The World Trip and the main drivers of costs and the possibilities of cost reduction.

1. Breakdown of the expenditures per country including transport but not international flights (in € per person):

CountryContinentYearType of
FoodEvery Day
Tours &
ItalyEurope2018Travel with Baby36,5041,8048,000,003,50129,80
IranMiddle East2017Flashpacking12,7028,806,200,605,8054,10
ColombiaSouth America2016Flashpacking10,6016,808,801,6012,0049,80
Sri LankaAsia2016Mid-Range30,9017,6012,702,1015,4078,70
EthiopiaAfrica2015Tour    159,60159,60
BrazilSouth America2015Mid-Range26,6035,1015,402,7031,70111,50
IranMiddle East2014Flashpacking6,4015,006,806,1011,8046,10
OmanMiddle East2012Mid-Range35,0049,9014,401,3033,00133,60
UgandaAfrica2011Tour    159,30159,30
EthiopiaAfrica2010Tour    117,50117,50
ColombiaSouth America2009Backpacking7,0012,008,801,308,3037,40
Hong Kong &
New ZealandPacific2008Backpacking13,9013,6013,204,8013,1058,60
Cook IslandsPacific2008Backpacking20,4021,8016,404,3010,4073,30
Easter IslandPacific2008Backpacking9,4015,2016,105,6012,1058,40
UruguaySouth America2007Backpacking20,1012,3016,102,007,7058,20
ChileSouth America2007Backpacking23,0013,0017,902,101,5057,50
ArgentinaSouth America2007Backpacking17,8013,3010,204,709,6055,60
BoliviaSouth America2007Backpacking3,105,106,003,1012,0029,30
PeruSouth America2007Backpacking6,405,906,803,9010,6033,60
BrazilSouth America2007Backpacking10,7012,109,805,303,5041,40
VenezuelaSouth America2007Backpacking3,703,304,101,5018,3030,90
TanzaniaAfrica2005Tour    140,10140,10

(*) Accommodation: Double rooms (for a couple) – so price for the room itself must be multiplied by 2; Except in Laos (2014), Cambodia (2014), Vietnam (2015), Myanmar (2015), India (2015), Rwanda (2017), Uganda (2017) & Iran (2017)

2. Analysis of our budget during our Round The World Trip in 2007 – 2008 and the main drivers of costs & the possibilities of cost reduction

On our Round The World Trip, we spent in total 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:

  1. 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):
    1. 28 weeks in South America:                         53 Euros per day
    2. 11 weeks in the Pacific & New Zealand:     98 Euros per day
    3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?

Transport7.740 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.
Hostels3.790 Euros per person
Food & Drinks3.590 Euros per person
Tours & Various Activities3.790 Euros per person (that also includes scuba diving)
Every Day Life1.810 Euros per person: Internet & communications, laundry, purchasing small stuff, …
SouvenirsWe 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!

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. Of course, reducing your “standards” by staying in dormitories, by camping or by using the cheapest transport can save a lot of money.
  4. 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.

10 Responses to Budget For Long Term & Short Term Travel

  1. Corinne 13. January 2016 at 8:07 #

    Wow! This is a really informative post. I like the way you calculated the daily costs. Kudos!

    • Gilles Barbier 13. January 2016 at 8:24 #

      Thanks you Corinne!
      It was basically information I was looking for when I first started to organize a RTW back in 2007.
      Since then, I kept a precise record of all my Travel Expenditures.
      This is the analysis of it, and more will follow, as I still have lots of data I haven’t used.
      Cheers, Gilles

  2. tamara 13. January 2016 at 10:34 #

    We’re just about to leave Israel and i wish there would be more information about it. I found a great hospitality, great markets, especially in Jerusalem where we stayed up till yesterday. We found great hostel, Post Hostel which right in the middle of everything i think…
    We could spend our time here quite cheaply and fun. Do recommend

    • Gilles Barbier 13. January 2016 at 11:07 #

      Hi Tamara,
      Thank you for your input.
      I have been to Israel several times, but for very short trips, so I haven’t enough to give insight on costs.
      But I find Israel to be a quite expensive destination… This might be subjective, though, as once again, I have not enough data…
      Cheers, Gilles

  3. Bruce 13. January 2016 at 18:28 #

    This is a great and most helpful and interesting article. Thanks very much!

    • Gilles Barbier 13. January 2016 at 18:29 #

      You are most welcome, Bruce!
      Thanks for the feedback & happy that it helps.
      Cheers, Gilles

  4. Julieta Saling 28. August 2018 at 9:52 #

    This is a really good comprehensive article. Budgeting for extras is a big thing for us. As cheap as we get our daily budget down to, those expensive activities can really bump our weekly or monthly budget up high. Great article!

    • Gilles Barbier 28. August 2018 at 11:19 #

      Thank you Julieta !
      It really depends on which destination, but yes, “extras” like expensive activities (scuba diving, white water rafting and so on…) or tours to specific destinations (Danakil Depression for instance) can dramatically change your overall budget.
      Cheers, Gilles

  5. Gilles Barbier 3. August 2017 at 13:36 #

    Thanks for linking to my article @HektigTravels !
    Cheers, Gilles


  1. A Comprehensive Guide To Budgeting For Long-Term Travel - Hecktic Travels - 3. August 2017

    […] Gilles Barbier tracks per-day expenses across a variety of countries. […]

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