During the last 4 months of 2016, I traveled Round the World. I figured it might be helpful to show how much I spent for those who are planning a similar adventure. What I spent isn’t small (keep reading to find out how much), but it also wasn’t too bad considering what I got to see. This famous quote turned out to be true for me just as it has for almost anyone else:
“Pack half the clothes and twice the money” – Every person that ever traveled.
I ended up spending a few thousand more than I had originally planned, but I wasn’t very disciplined on a few things. I did well on lodging and transportation, but spent a lot on food, drinks, and activities.
Keep in mind, I traveled 27,923 miles over 4 months of travel. It was years worth of vacations packed into a short amount of time and was the best way I could have spent the money. Since the trip was so long, I also included all living expenses like health insurance and cell phone bills in my calculation.
Lodging – $2,764
I spent slightly less than $700 per month, which is a surprisingly low figure. I had a fairly simple methodology. I’d normally stay in hostel dorms as long as the rating was above 90% on Hostelworld. If there weren’t any good hostel options, I’d normally get a private room elsewhere. Asia doesn’t have as many quality hostels as Europe, so I stayed in fewer dorms in Thailand and the Philippines.
Note – in the tables below, D represents dorm stays. S represents a private room in either a hostel, hotel, beach bungalow, B&B, or pension.
Transportation – $2,285
I used points to purchase a RTW ticket, which covered my long-haul flights. Since I still had to pay for taxes and fuel surcharges, this cost me $669. Best of all, these flights were in Business Class! Want to learn how I did this? Click the link below.
Most transportation I took was pretty reasonable. Short flights in Europe and Asia were cheap. The flights I spent greater than $100 were normally booked less than two weeks from departure and sometimes only a few days before. Taking buses in Europe is cheap and extremely cheap in Asia. The only thing I thought was expensive were the high-speed trains I took in Spain. I love the train, so not a big deal.
Travel & Health Insurance – $727
This is the area I spent more than most backpackers, if not all. Insurance is expensive, and most backpackers forego it. It just made me comfortable knowing that if something happened, I’d be well covered. I was fearful of having an accident in the middle of nowhere where I could be shit out of luck. Travel insurance will pay for an air lift (if needed), treatment in a local hospital, and transportation home. I kept U.S. based health insurance incase treatment needed to continue once home. Here’s what this cost me:
- $338 = Travel Insurance
- ($329) = What was reimbursed by Travel Insurance
- $718 = 4 months of Health Insurance
The Travel Insurance ended up being a pretty good value since I got most of my money back. I got an ear infection from Scuba Diving, which required a doctor visit and antibiotics. A week later, I got scratched by a monkey, which required multiple hospital visits and rabies vaccinations (it’s not as bad as it sounds).
Food, Alcohol, & Everything Else – $6,245
Food and alcohol were the two things that kind of broke the bank. My philosophy wasn’t one that was meant to save much money in those departments. If I wanted to have a good dinner, I’d have a good dinner. If my new friends were going out, so was I. This is the point of backpacking, you don’t say no to the things you want to do. Here’s what’s included in the figure above:
- $4,324 in Food and Drink
- $367 for Typhoid and Malaria vaccinations
- $245 Scuba Diving course
- $200 in Local Transportation (metro, car rental, Uber, etc.)
- $259 in phone bills
- $350 for activities (museums, day tours, etc.)
- $500 for miscellaneous expenses
What I’ll Do Differently Next Time
Use More Points – With a little creativity, I think I could have spent less on flights.
Cook More – I just completely lacked any discipline when it came to cooking. I ate out most meals for 4 months. I really only cooked when I had to. If I cooked more, not only would I save a significant amount of money, I’d be healthier too.
Carry an Extra Debit Card – a Russian ATM ate my debit card in Dubrovnik’s airport. For the next few weeks, I had to wire money to myself using Western Union. This was expensive and a total hassle. Trying to find English speaking bank attendants in Ukraine was not easy.
Seek Free Lodging – there are tons of resources out there like CouchSurfing where I could have found free lodging. I wouldn’t want to do this all the time, but it is a good way to save money.
Seek Freebies – hopefully more and more people will find this blog, which will allow me to get occasional free lodging, food, and activities.