June 11th
2010
written by Alonna

Curious how much we spent this past year on traveling, but too shy to ask? Well don’t be, because we’re not shy to talk about it. In fact, I’ll just lay it all out for you. Analyzing the cost of something like this is really interesting to me – it seems like so much money,

Traveling the world

The trip of a lifetime

but it all comes down to your priorities in life, and what you want to spend your time and money doing. We chose to spend a good chunk of both on traveling around the world. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
 

The Costs

Total Travel Costs

Item Time Cost
Europe Travel 3 months $15,600
Europe Plane Tickets (Airline Miles) - $130
RTW Travel 5 months $18,580
RTW Plane Tickets - $9,530
Total (8 months) $43,710

Travel Costs by Country
Sorted by average cost per day in that country.

Country Nights Total Cost Cost/Day Sleep $/Day Eat $/Day Transport $/Day Sightsee $/Day Other* $/Day Explanation
Ecuador 7 $572.18 $81.74 $21.14 $27.91 $20.84 $7.36 $4.49 Very cheap country!
Germany 8 $814.78 $101.85 $37.69 $25.79 $30.23 $7.96 $0.18 Stayed with a friend 5 nights
Turkey 5 $523.53 $104.71 $39.20 $29.74 $10.67 $20.00 $5.10 Low transportation cost by staying in one place (Istanbul)
Hungary 5 $557.53 $111.51 $50.42 $25.41 $17.64 $11.27 $6.76 Low transportation cost by staying in one place (Budapest)
Czech Republic 5 $581.00 $116.20 $44.47 $29.22 $38.78 $- $3.73
Hawaii 9 $1,129.28 $125.48 $48.86 $39.28 $26.87 $7.23 $3.24 Stayed with a friend 4 nights
New Zealand 26 $3,442.43 $132.40 $40.78 $25.04 $34.04 $25.73 $6.80 Saved money by renting a campervan and cooknig
Austria 12 $1,645.14 $137.09 $34.19 $35.44 $32.79 $27.74 $6.93 Couchsurfing 7 nights
Belgium 2 $288.12 $144.06 $31.24 $25.84 $66.24 $20.73 $-
Chile 9 $1,333.71 $148.19 $37.18 $34.78 $52.11 $20.89 $3.24 Bought a domestic flight
Argentina 12 $1,837.70 $153.14 $29.67 $25.37 $54.07 $35.42 $8.62 Bought a domestic flight
Netherlands 3 $460.39 $153.46 $70.10 $31.68 $10.98 $40.71 $-
Australia 19 $3,266.89 $171.94 $53.59 $34.72 $59.71 $20.88 $3.05 Couchsurfing 5 nights
Italy 28 $5,121.84 $182.92 $68.58 $46.46 $27.14 $20.33 $20.42
South Africa 9 $1,784.11 $198.23 $58.89 $38.98 $69.51 $25.54 $5.32 Expensive safari fees and tours, couchsurfed 2 nights
Spain 3 $609.14 $203.05 $74.79 $64.33 $53.52 $10.41 $- Expensive because of the short visit and a domestic flight
France 15 $3,079.38 $205.29 $72.76 $34.17 $52.90 $29.57 $15.88
Egypt 9 $2,086.13 $231.79 $59.09 $25.25 $100.18 $47.11 $0.16 Expensive domestic flights
Greece 6 $1,477.02 $246.17 $63.62 $48.23 $112.29 $16.89 $5.14 Includes a RT flight from Rome
Galapagos 9 $2,384.80 $264.98 $45.00 $38.84 $101.89 $77.33 $1.91 Extremely expensive place to visit! Includes a 5 day cruise.
Switzerland 3 $858.42 $286.14 $45.05 $61.58 $131.71 $44.80 $3.00 Expensive due to short visit and expensive trains
Total 204 $33,853.52 $166.68 $48.87 $35.62 $52.58 $24.66 $4.95 Note: Total does not include the RTW flights

* NOTE: The “Other” category includes things like souvenirs, clothing, toiletries, laundry, internet, and guidebooks.
 

How it could be done MUCH cheaper

If this number scares you, but you’d love to take some time to travel, there are a few very easy ways to spend much less than us. I wouldn’t change a thing about our trip, but if I was going to do it again, I’d definitely be more aware of these tips:

A very expensive bathroom break!

An expensive bathroom break! (actually $0.20 USD)

Stick to cheaper countries – Central & South America, Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa/Middle East. Besides being nice on the wallet, it’s simply less stressful to travel in cheaper places. When we were in South America, we felt free to try something that looked interesting at the supermarket, go out to eat occasionally, and choose a slightly nicer hostel. But in New Zealand and Australia, we couldn’t afford to eat out, and every purchase (lodging, transportation, sightseeing, and food) was stressful since the cost was so high. If you’ve got the money and really want to see Europe and Australia – by all means do it. If not, you’ll have just as amazing an experience in South America and Asia for a fraction of the cost.
 
Cook your own meals – We did this a lot, and if you think that means we missed out on local cuisine, think again! Going to the local supermarkets is a sightseeing adventure in itself, and you’ll save loads of money over eating out.
Stay in hostels – Besides being the cheapest bed in town (usually), hostels are a great way to make new friends and get good travel advice. And they almost always have a shared kitchen (see previous tip).Hostels
Couchsurfing – Whether you stay with a friend who lives in Germany, or someone found on Couchsurfing.org, sleeping for free is the most enjoyable way to save money. Plan your trip around where friends live or where you can line up couchsurfing hosts.
Even cheap flights take a toll on the budget

Even cheap flights take a toll on the budget


Take your time – Transportation costs are huge. We didn’t realize this until we added up all our trains, flights, buses, car rentals, etc – it’s a third of the total cost! By far the easiest way to save money on transportation is to stay places longer and travel slower. For example, in South America we took multiple flights within the continent. $200 for a flight across Argentina seems cheap to cover such a huge distance, but with only 2 weeks in that country, it adds a lot to the total cost. Instead, stay in Argentina for 3 months and take buses – you’ll save money and get to see a lot more along the way.
Sell your house – Keeping our house was a costly decision, especially since the market has only gone down in the last year. But having a renter helped, and it was sure nice to have a place to come home to.
 
Shopping in Paris

Shopping in Paris

How we kept track of expenses

In case you’re curious, we kept track of every single purchase we made while traveling. I kept a small black notebook in my purse, and wrote down every purchase. Occasionally I would enter it into a master spreadsheet to add it all up and see if we were on track. This allowed us to see what we were spending our money on, and make adjustments if we were out of line with our budget.

11 Comments

  1. Becky Kjeldsen
    06/11/2010

    This was amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing this information- we actually have my brother and his girlfriend over for dinner, and are all looking at it b/c your entire experience was so interesting to follow. Thank you so much for sharing- super interesting:) J

  2. Heather Fazio
    06/11/2010

    I am truly impressed. From the drive to follow your heart and take this trip to the way you’ve kept us all up to date along the way. This blog post is really great- you are a fantastic writer, a great organizer and you make the simplest things inspiring. I am sure there are loads of books on this topic but if you had the motivation I think you’d write a “must have” among travel books. You’ve got amazing stories and poignant advice. If nothing else, the rest of us love to read it :)

  3. Loren Hess
    06/11/2010

    Thank you so much for all of this information Alonna! Travel is such a priority for us and it is really great to see a break down of each country’s cost. Hopefully I will soon be reporting back with more travel adventures of my own.

  4. Hannah Albertus
    06/12/2010

    It has been so inspiring to know that people can actually do something like this, and the cost analysis makes it that much more real, I think. Now you have given me (and others) a goal to shoot for. If not for a year of travel, at least one country or another. While following this trip with you guys it has always seemed like such a lofty ambition to try and figure out if/how I could ever do this myself. Now it is a tangible object that can be attained by “working hard and saving your money”, as Grandpa always says. Thank you so much for all your hard work and I wish you luck now that you’re back at home and figuring out where to go from here!

  5. Sarah Swantner
    06/13/2010

    Alonna, this is awesome. You are my engineer/financial hero!

  6. 06/13/2010

    Thank you all so much for your kind comments. I glad that you’ve found this information interesting, and I’m excited that perhaps we’ve inspired you in some way. If you ever have any questions about this or other aspects of traveling, please don’t hesitate to contact me – I’d love to help!

  7. Aarti Kumar
    06/25/2010

    This is fantastic! I am planning a trip in September to Italy and Austria and your website is really helpful. Great job and I am glad that you got to travel and have so much fun.

  8. Madhu
    06/30/2010

    You inspire us a lot!Traveling and blogging with such details…its terrific.

    The cost you mention – for the airline trips is this for one person or two in the spreadsheet.

  9. 06/30/2010

    All of the costs listed (including flights) are for both of us – 2 people. So a single Round-the-World flight was $4,765 (includes all taxes and fees).

  10. R Patel
    08/17/2010

    Amazing, I really feel good to come across a wonderful and detail blog on world traveling.
    Keep writing about your experiences and future voyages, it is inspiring and helpful insight.

  11. Annie Miebs
    08/18/2010

    I’m actually surprised that your total wasn’t more! This seems pretty reasonable considering ALL the places you visited. I’m amazed at what landscaping costs, the construction of our new shop or even what the cost of land goes for. Thank you for sharing!