A Travellerspoint blog

How Much Does it Cost to Travel Around the World?

Prior to our trip, we read several books and reviewed dozens of websites on the cost of traveling around the world in order to come up with our budget. In the end, the trip proved to be a little bit more expensive than we expected and as a result, we had to work extra hard to keep our costs down while still having fun and seeing the world. There was not a day that went by where we did not write down everything we spent money on that day and then evaluate the cost of the day against our daily budget and trip budget overall. We hope that this blog posting will be a useful and current resource for future travelers.

As a couple (i.e., for two people), it cost us an average of $148 per day to travel around the world. Or, to be more specific, an average of:

  • $131 per day in South America (we spent 40-days traveling through Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Bolivia)
  • $153 per day in Africa (we spent 94-days traveling through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya)
  • $128 per day in the Middle East (we spent 48-days traveling through Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Turkey)
  • $109 per day in Southeast Asia (we spent 89-days traveling through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippians and Indonesia)
  • $233 per day in Australia (31-days)
  • $219 per day in New Zealand (30-days)

What do these numbers include?

  • Accommodations (mostly dorm beds in recommended hostels, occasional camping and basic campervans in Australia and New Zealand)
  • Ground transportation costs (with the exception of a few rental cars, we always took public transportation and even hitchhiked a few times)
  • Domestic plane tickets
  • Food (a basic breakfast was generally provided at the hostels and we bought groceries to cover us for most lunches and dinners – we ate out about five meals per week, with the exception of Southeast Asia, where we ate out about two meals per day)
  • Drinks (we had a couple of alcoholic drinks every week and a soda or coffee just about every day)
  • Activities
  • Admission prices
  • Tours (see below for more information)
  • Visas
  • Internet time (free some places, but upwards of $5 per hour other places)
  • Toiletries
  • Laundry
  • And any other travel related costs incurred while on the road

What do these numbers NOT include?

  • International plane tickets (we bought a majority of our international plane tickets using airline miles)
  • Travel gear and clothing (other than a few replacement items bought while traveling)
  • Costs related to our lives back home (such as storage costs for our possessions, student loans, and the difference between the cost of our home every month and the rent we were able to collect)
  • Travel and medical insurance (we spent about $1,000 each on our insurance policies, but, thankfully, never had to make a claim)
  • Vaccinations and travel medicine (we went to a travelers clinic to get updated on our shots and took almost a year’s supply of anti-malarial medicine)

As to travel gear and clothing, we bought a lot of the latest and greatest stuff before we left, but, in truth, you probably already own most of what you really need to travel. At the end of the page please find our packing list. We would highly encourage you to pack as little as possible because you can buy almost anything you need on the road, you will have less to worry about, and traveling light makes walking around with your stuff so much easier.

What did we budget per day?

Our general goal as a couple (i.e., for two people) was to spend an average of $100 per day in South America, Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and $200 per day in Australia and New Zealand. We also set aside additional money to cover items that we knew would blow our daily budget, such as climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and skydiving.

Is it possible to do a similar trip cheaper?

Yes! You could probably do a trip similar to ours for about 25% less if you (i) passed on the few luxuries we allowed ourselves and (ii) skipped out on the more expensive activities.

So, for example, as to luxuries, you could do a similar trip to ours cheaper if you stayed exclusively in hostel dorm beds (in Southeast Asia we frequently stayed in private rooms and over the rest of our trip we occasionally stayed in private rooms – you could also couch surf or camp), avoided hostels recommended by Lonely Planet, Hostel World and similar resources (lesser known hostels are generally cheaper, but it is harder to know what you are going to get for your money), always took public transportation (we rented a car for varying lengths of time in South Africa, Namibia, Israel, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand), consistently ate groceries (in Southeast Asia we ate out about two meals per day and in the rest of the world we ate out about five meals per week), stuck to water (we had a couple of alcoholic drinks every week and a soda or coffee just about every day), traveled slower (we averaged about 12-days per country and transportation costs can really add up), and skipped Australia, New Zealand and other first-world countries (if we take out Australia and New Zealand, as a couple, the average per day cost of our trip was just $131, as oppose to $148).

Similarly, if you skipped out on some of the following expensive activities that we did, you could bring down the cost of a trip noticeably: safaris, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, a hot air balloon ride, zip lining, scuba diving, touring Fraser Island, Australia, zorbing, skydiving, bungee jumping and flying in a helicopter. After all, with the exception of a safari or two, you can still see the world without doing any of these activities.

What about tours?

The longest tour we took was a six-day guided climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro. We also took a five-day tour through southwestern Bolivia, two-day tours through the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Wadi Musa Desert in Jordan, Bokeo Nature Reserve in Laos, and Halong Bay in Vietnam, and about ten one-day tours. We generally found that the cost of a tour was more expensive than the cost of seeing most of the same sights on our own. As a result, we rarely signed up for a tour unless we were required to (such as with climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro), the tour allowed us to see what we wanted to see materially faster than what we could do on our own, or the cost of a tour appeared to be cheaper than the cost of doing it on our own (very rare).

Resources

We used many resources before and during our trip to give us information about what to do and where to stay, and these are the ones we found to be the most useful:

  • We used Lonely Planet for our guide books as they tend to be more targeted towards the budget traveler
  • Before we left I found “Lonely Planet’s Gap Year” book to be extremely helpful with pre-trip planning (clothing, where to go, round the world tickets, vaccinations, travel insurance, medical insurance, etc)
  • Hostelworld.com and Hostelbookers.com were amazing to get up to date reviews on hostels (hostel reviews in guidebooks tend to be outdated) and can even be used to book hostels online

As a final parting thought: “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half your clothes and twice the money.” Good luck!

  • For anyone reading this outside the United States, when we refer to dollars ($), we are referring to US Dollars.
  • Please remember that costs are constantly increasing. As such, for every year that goes by from when we traveled, you should expect prices to increase by a few percent per year.
  • If you are reading this blog posting and are going to travel by yourself, you unfortunately cannot simply divide our numbers in half. Instead, you should divide our numbers in half and add upwards of ten to twenty percent. When traveling alone you do not have the ability to share certain costs with others like we did, such as private rooms, rental cars, restaurant meals, etc.

Packing List
1. Passport
2. Visas
3. Immunization Card
4. Travel confirmations/itineraries
5. Driver’s Licenses
6. Credit and debits cards
7. Cash (both dollars and local currency) (spread cash, credit cards and debit cards around)
8. Reading material (we also took a kindle)
9. Passport size headshot photos (will need several for visas and border crossings)
10. Copy of wallet contents & passports
11. Money belts (2)
12. Wallet (carry some cash and an expired credit card or two)
13. Health and insurance documents
14. Contact/glasses prescription
15. List of important numbers (emergency, phone, frequent flyer, etc.)
16. Guide Books and Maps
17. Document Organizer
18. Main Bag (with cover) (2)
19. Daypack (with cover) (2)
20. Collapsible Extra Bag
21. Packing cubes/dividers
22. Wax ear plugs (several sets)- would highly recommend the wax, foam do very little
23. Eye shade (2)
24. Headlamp (2)
25. Basic Calculator
26. Towel (2)
27. Sleeping Sack (2)
28. IPod (with charger)
29. Laptop (with charger and case)
30. E-Book Reader (with charger and case)
31. Umbrella (2)
32. Poncho (2)- we didn't bring but wish we had
33. Pillow (2)
34. Ziploc bags (several)
35. Rubber Bands
36. Twist Ties
37. Sandwich Tupperware (2)- if you're going to make your own food they're good to have for leftovers or to pack a lunch
38. Plate/bowl (2)- they sell ones that collapse at most outdoor stores
39. Spork (2)
40. Playing cards
41. Camera (with battery, charger, memory, extra memory, stand and case)
42. Power adapters
43. Travel alarm (2)
44. Pen and paper
45. Water bottle (2)
46. Water Purifier- we used a steri-pen and would highly recommend it
47. Sewing/repair kit
48. Sink stopper- in case you want to wash some clothes in the sink
49. TSA approved Locks (4 – one for each bag)
50. Security Cables (2)
51. Extra Batteries (for camera, headlamps, water purifier, etc.)
52. Binoculars

Clothes – Elizabeth
54. Rain jacket
55. Fleece
56. Vest
57. Sneakers (1)- get a good pair preferably one that's water proof
58. Sandals (1)
59. Shower shoes (1)
60. Socks (8) (4 short, 2 mid, 2 long)
61. Underwear (8)
62. Undershirts (2)
63. Bras (3)
64. Long underwear
65. Short sleeve shirts (5)
66. Long sleeve shirts (4)
67. Pants (3)
68. Jeans (1)
69. Shorts (1)
70. Dress
71. Sleeping pants (1)
72. Bathing suit
73. Baseball hat
74. Winter hat
75. Gloves (1)
76. Sunglasses (plus case) (1)- I went through about 8 pairs and you can definitely buy them wherever
77. Belt
78. Workout pants (1)

Clothes – Jeff
79. Rain jacket
80. Fleece
81. Sneakers (1)
82. Sandals (1)
83. Shower shoes (1)
84. Socks (7) (3-long and 4-short)
85. Underwear (7)
86. Undershirts (2)
87. Long underwear
88. T-shirts (4)
89. Golf shirt
90. Long sleeve shirts (3)
91. Pants (2)
92. Shorts (2)
93. Convertible pants (1)
94. Bathing Suit
95. Baseball hat
96. Winter hat
97. Gloves (1)
98. Sunglasses (plus case) (1)
99. Glasses (plus case) (1)
100. Belt
101. Sport shorts (1)

Toiletres
102. Sunscreen
103. Insect repellent
104. Tissues
105. Toilet paper
106. Wet wipes
107. Hand sanitizer
108. Contact lens
109. Contact solution
110. Rewetting drops
111. Any personal persciptions
112. Comb
113. Brush
114. Toothbrush (2)
115. Toothpaste (2)
116. Dental floss
117. Deodorant (2)
118. Makeup
119. Mirror
120. Lip balm
121. Hairspray
122. Razor with extra blades
123. Shaving cream
124. Hairdryer- I did carry a mini one with me
125. Flat Iron
126. Shampoo (2)
127. Conditioner
128. Body wash (2)- after this ran out I just used shampoo
129. Laundry detergent
130. Stain removing wipes
131. Go Tubes (7)
132. Cuticle cutter
133. Nail file

First Aid Kit
134. Pain relievers
135. Cold medicines
136. Diarrhea medicine
137. Laxative
138. Sting relief
139. Antibiotics
140. Antibiotic cream
141. Moleskin
142. Malaria medication
143. Motion sickness medication
144. Tweezers
145. Band-aids
146. Thermometer
147. Throat lozenges

Posted by geldere 11:27

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Comments

Great to read a follow up post like this; we don't see enough round up posts like this after a trip! I've been following the blog from a bit of a distance as one of the owners of Travellerspoint, and I was curious if you guys ever considered using Travellerspoint to either book or read reviews of the hostels in places you were headed to? Given that you used our blogging functionality, did you know we listed hostels? We actually have more hostels than both HW/HB (we merge the properties from both) and they also give us access to their most recent reviews and the ratings, in addition to our own Trusted Reviews, so we're pretty confident we actually give users a more complete picture than they'd get on either. Of course we don't have quite their name or reach :)

Anyway, mostly just curious to get your thoughts on whether or not you knew about this, and if you had known (for example if a blogging app included this info), whether it would have meant you'd used our site more for researching hostels in advance?

by Sam I Am

Really informative post with comprehensive breakdown of costs. We are thinking of doing similar trip and this is of massive help, especially thanks to the granularity.

Thanks a lot guys.

by TheDukes

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