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Most people assume a trip around the world would be too expensive to afford. But try this, add up all your expenses: daily expenses, monthly bills, yearly dues, etc. (include everything), and figure out a daily average. This number may surprise you.
Now, here are a few things to consider.
- While you travel you will not have expenses such as rent or mortgage, utilities, gasoline, commuting costs, clothing for work, entertainment, vacations, insurance etc.
- If you take unpaid leave, you will not be making money for that part of the year. That means, your taxable income will be that much lower.
- Your travel mode. Do you travel to expensive destinations or cheap destinations? Do you pay a premium to make arrangements in advance such as hotels, tours and cruises, or do you make arrangements locally. Do you buy a package, or travel independently. Do you require luxury hotels and meals, or can you enjoy simplicity.
Here’s a breakdown of expenses for an around the world trip:
Visas ranging from $20 to $100
Photos for passport and visas, plus shipping costs
Immunizations, health insurance and supplies
You will need to fill prescriptions for antibiotics, and enough supplies for any other medications you regularly use.
Other non prescription medical and hygiene supplies.
If you wear glasses or contacts, take an extra pair, and take your prescription with you.
Supplies of any toiletries or cosmetics you must have.
If your medical insurance does not cover you while traveling, or even if it does, it’s a good idea to have travel insurance. This also offers trip cancellation coverage.
Shoes and clothing
- Get sturdy, comfortable walking shoes. If you get new shoes, make sure you break them in with plenty of time before you go.
Guide books and maps
Camera, and digital memory
Internet café use
Daily living expenses:
Invest in a good quality travel bag. You’ll be living out of it for a while and if it’s uncomfortable, or inadequate, the money you save on a cheaper bag will not be worth it.
Take multi purpose clothing items that you can rinse out in the sink. Plan on buying most of your clothes as you go. Moving from one climate region to another, you’ll find what you need locally. And you can toss or donate what you no longer need.
Budget for these, whether you buy them ahead of time or as you go.
If you will be checking email, or booking transportation and lodging at your next destination. In first world countries, the cost for these sessions can add up quickly.
In addition to your basic itinerary air tickets, you’ll need to budget for additional fights or ground transportation between destinations. Arranging this locally is less expensive.
Budget separately for each region, and for how long you plan on staying there. Lean towards the high end of your estimate. You may want to splurge on a nice hotel, or a special activity once in a while.
As you travel, you may find you can make do with less. And you’ll find your comfort level. Do you require a/c or will a fan do. Do you need a private bath, or can you share. To us the most important factors were safety and cleanliness. Research feedback from travelers on accommodations you’re considering. We found Hostel Bookers to have a good rating system.
In some countries, the cost of a hostel per person in a dormitory with shared bath was $40 That’s $80 for a couple. Compared to a private room with bath in a decent hotel for $100, to us it was worth the extra $20 bucks.
It is safe to eat from street vendors. Use your common sense. If in doubt, go somewhere else.
You can fix your own meals at hostels. Some hotels have kitchenettes. In London, you can rent a ‘flat’ with shared kitchen for a long term stay which is usually 3 months.
Local transportation and incidentals
Admissions to attractions and tours.
You will need to re-supply toiletries, sunscreen, etc.
Souvenirs. If you’re planning on buying specific items, get average prices before you go. We all go a little crazy, but remember that you’ll have to lug it around with you. If you’re planning on mailing stuff home, keep in mind that shipping costs are expensive.
Sample budget per person for someone traveling independently, and staying in hostels.
Advance expenses $500
Air tickets $2,500
Other flights and ground transportation $600
Accommodations 3rd / 1st world per day $10/$60
Food 3rd / 1st world per day $8/$30
Local transport and incidentals per day $2/$10
Books maps $30
Souvenirs $100 – ?
Emergency fund $1000
Once you come up with an estimated budget, add 20%.
How to bring money
- Arrive in each country with at least $50US in local currency.
- You can find ATM’s in most countries in airports, towns and tourist areas. ATM’s dispense local currency. This is the safest, easiest, and least expensive way to get money.There usually are per transaction fees, so it’s cheaper to make one large withdrawal than several smaller ones.
- Besides your ATM card, bring at least 2 other credit cards. If you can’t find an ATM, you can take a cash withdrawal at a bank. But keep in mind that credit card withdrawals are more expensive than ATM withdrawals. Use this option only when you can’t find an ATM.
- Use your credit card for larger expenses, instead of cash. But don’t count on being able to use a credit card at hostels though. Most of them accept only cash.
- Make sure you let your banks know you will be traveling, so they don’t freak out and freeze your account when they see a cash withdrawal from Bangladesh.
- Keep records of credit card numbers and phone numbers to report them to if stolen, or if you have problems with them. A safe way to do this is to email them to yourself.
- Travelers checks are obsolete. Most merchants don’t accept them. Hotels do, but you may not get the best exchange rate.
Budget Saving TIPS
- Arranging travel, lodging, and tours locally rather than in advance is less expensive. Most places are not listed on the internet or with travel agents. The ones that are, pay for the advantage, and so their prices are higher.
- You don’t have to fly everywhere. You can travel by train, ferry, bus, or even drive. We took an overnight train from Kuala Lumpur to Georgetown Penang in a private cabin. It was very romantic. We took a ferry from Piraeus Port in Athens to Santorini and got a spectacular cruise through the Greek Islands.
- Traveling through the first world, you may need to be more careful with your money. Use surface travel, stay in hostels, cook your own meals, etc. But in 3rd world countries, you can afford more luxuries like nice hotels, eating out more, hiring a private guide, and having your laundry done.
- Going in low or shoulder season can save you up to 60% on airline tickets, surface transportation and hotels. Also, avoid travel during weekends and local holidays, when it’s more expensive.
- The longer you stay in once place, the lower your average per day expense will be.
- Get changeable airline tickets to keep your schedule flexible.
- When booking flights, check the stops. Some of these may be free stopovers. For example, on our flight to Australia we had free stopovers in Tahiti, New Zealand, and the Cook Islands!
- You get better rates at hotels and hostels if you book for at least 3 days. Most places offer the 3rd or 4th night free, or throw in transportation to/from the airport.