A Little RTW Budget… How Much Does it Cost to Travel the World for a Year? (2017)

A one-year budget breakdown of costs to travel the worldThe single most frequently asked question I get about my travels concerns the cost of budgeting for a solo round the world trip. While understanding how I pay for it all tops the list of questions, the actual cost of traveling for a year around the world is the big unknown. I had no idea how much my RTW trip would cost when I left — some people reported around $10,000 (which seemed absurdly low) while others spent upwards of $40K to travel a bit more luxuriously. So I thought of it as a grand adventure. How much will it cost, and how long can I keep going with my freelance income?

Over that year, I tracked every single dollar I spent on the road.

My full tally is complete and I traveled around the world for for 328 days (11 months) through 15 countries and tracked what I spent, what each and every country cost, and where I could have done better.

Just want the cold hard figures? Navigate the Google spreadsheet by the countries listed at the bottom of my full RTW Travel Budget.

How did I save for around the world travel?

Jumping at the Taj Mahal

While admission to the Taj was pricey, everything else in India was crazy cheap. I spent less for seven weeks in India than I did for one week in Italy. And guys… it’s the Taj! It ranks up there as one of the cooler travel experiences out there.

I have answered incarnations of this question dozens of times. The real question is this: “Traveling the world is expensive, how could you have possibly afforded it?”

It’s not as expensive as you assume, and most anyone reading this post has the ability to save for travel if it’s a true priority. As regular A Little Adrift readers have surmised, I don’t live off of a trust fund. My family is quite poor and I made it through college on merit-based scholarships. Instead of counting on help from family, I budgeted for the trip. I sold my couch, my clothes, my cups. I sold my car too, and I saved ruthlessly in the countdown months. I took on side-work to sock away money, and then, I worked on freelance SEO from the road for the entire year. And through all that, I came to the same conclusions as those backpackers who have adventurously gone before me: RTW travel is cheaper than you think! 

I am not saying it’s dirt cheap, but compared to my life in LA with $1200+ going to rent and bills each month, I used that same online income to travel the world, and I dug into my small savings to pay for the long-haul flights. I wasn’t sure how much my trip would cost when I left to travel, and there just wasn’t the information out there like there is now. Now you can play with your route and your travel style and come up with a tally in just a few hours. In fact, I believe so much that your dream trip is affordable that I wrote the budget guide and spreadsheet to help you price out your dream trip — it’s priced low so that there is no reason not to see how much you need to save.


Cost of My One Year Round the World Trip

Now, onto my travel budget!

I documented every single expense from my initial year-long RTW trip with meticulous care. My obsession with accurately tracking my expenses is epic but in the five years since I originally posted this breakdown, other backpackers have loved the precise and exact breakdown of just how much I spent throughout a year of active world travel. And five years later, even with rising global food costs, they are still traveling strong on similar budgets.

Total: USD $17,985

You’re shocked right now, I know, I sprang it on you out of nowhere! Close the gaping jaw.

That’s it?!

lakes-district england

This is how excited I was at the tail-end of my round the world trip when I was in England and I realized I had pulled it off. I had just one month left on the road at that point.

Travel was my bootcamp for life. This trip was the single best investment in both my personal growth and my career. Throughout life we are presented with a series of choices — each has the ability to help us create the life we want to have lived. I am forever glad I chose to travel this big beautiful world.

That figure. A mere $17,985 is fully and completely inclusive of everything from getting jabbed in the arm for my Yellow Fever vaccine to buying all of my pre-travel gear, my travel insurance,  all of my plane flights, bus rides, camel safaris, surfing lessons, zip-lining adventures in the Laos jungle, and straight through to my first delicious sub back on home soil when I passed through Philly on my final layover of the trip.

What does that number not include? Personal choices that upped the price bit: an external hard drive for photo storage, new camera (old one was waterlogged in Australia), and I rented a car alone in Ireland (most backpacker budgets wouldn’t allow for this so I included my car’s petrol to approximate the cost of public transportation for three weeks). My personal total, inclusive of all of that, was just under $19,000… so it’s still a bargain considering I was on the road for nearly an entire year. And again, I stress, this is thousands less than my annual expenses living in Los Angeles, California.

But lest you think it’s an anomaly, know that I have tracked cost of living around the world. If you’re considering a slow trip, I documented how I lived in places like Thailand for less than $600 per month, and Mexico for under $800.

What else contributes to a RTW trip budget?

  • Your route and speed around the world. This is the single biggest indicator of how much you will spend. Minimize the number of flights you need to take by traveling overland and slowly and to fewer places. Seriously, we all have a dream list, but if you’re on a limited trip (as opposed to open-ticket, no planned return RTW travels) then you’ve likely over-packed your route. The best advice I received on my RTW was to cut out 5 of the 17 planned countries–reflecting back on it, I can’t even imagine where they would have fit?!
  • Which countries you visit. If you add in developed countries like Europe, the United States, and Australia you will see your daily budget more than double (instead of $30/day in SEA and India, you’re looking at $75-$100/day in the UK, and Western Europe). Weight your trip heavily in favor of developing regions of the world – there’s a lot you’re already going to miss as you travel through, and I guarantee you won’t be bored spending a few extra months going more slowly. 100 % guarantee.
  • The food you eat and style of travel. How you eat on your travels impacts the bottom line; eat locally and at the street food stalls when you find them (rampant throughout Southeast Asia, India, Central America, etc)—they’re perfectly safe as long as you find the food stalls the locals are using too! Western food is more expensive and rarely actually tastes good anyhow. Local food is a window into the culture, so dig deep and eat like the locals, asking the vendors questions and learning more about each country’s food peculiarities. Also, when traveling in Western countries, shop for groceries and cook at the hostel at least two meals per day to limit costs! For more food travel tips, check out the Food Traveler’s Handbook one my my good travel friends wrote about safe, cheap street eats.

Let’s dive into the good stuff. The following tables and charts further outline my RTW budget including the country-by-country expenses. And because I just had to go that extra mile, I share a complete-down-to-the penny budget too. This budget spreadsheet includes every single expense itemized out in an absolutely gorgeous Google spreadsheet if I can toot my own horn for a moment!

Don’t forget to check out the well-loved Travel Planning Resources. And consider using the blank, formatted spreadsheet to log your own RTW travel budget (this is a Google Spreadsheet, either save a copy of this to your own drive for editing, or download as an excel file!).

RTW Travel Budget Breakdown

Total Costs to Travel the World for a Year

Travel Expense Cost (USD$)
Flights $3,577.40
Lodging $3,130.77
Food $2,820.11
Activities + Entertainment $3,613.18
Transportation $1,943.43
Misc (internet, gifts, extra gear, etc) $1,753.67
Visas $230
Pre-Trip Travel Gear $484.50
Vaccines $$606
Extra Costs $493.33
      TOTAL $18,588.39


* Lodging: Includes all accommodation; I couchsurfed in a few countries and stayed with friends a couple of times.
* Food: Includes everything from three meals a day, to snacks, and funding my chocolate obsession.
* Entertainment: Going out on the town, sharing beers with friends — this will be much higher if you drink often. My budget was for drinking on average once a week.
* Activities: Includes my volunteer program and all tours, trips, and group adventures. Everything from diving to ziplining to visiting temples and museums.
* Transportation: This total excludes flights, but covers all intra-country transportation like buses, trains, taxis and tuk-tuks.
* Misc: A large portion is the internet, it was pricey to make sure I had a strong connection for my work. Also includes shipping things home, gifts, and toiletries along the way.
* Flights: Includes many puddle-jumper little flights between countries in the same region. I did not use a RTW ticket, but instead booked along the way.

RTW Budget Daily Costs & Total Costs Per Country

My Average Daily Budget for Each Country on my RTW Trip RTW Expenses, Listed by Country and Number of Days

**These totals do not include flights, travel gear, and other misc pre-trip expenditures, only my actual on-the-road costs.

How to Much Will YOUR Dream Trip Cost?

Traveling the world is a mental obstacle as much as a financial one. Every situation is different, but I truly believe that if you are ready to truly prioritize travel, then it’s possible to plan and execute a round the world trip. The problem is, there’s crappy information out there about how to make it happen. Many bloggers have shared posts with a handful of tips about how much they saved for their dream trip, but they don’t break down how they arrived at that final figure. You may read this information and see my budget, but it leaves you wondering if your own travels would cost the same.

For that reason, I wrote two entire guides to address your current hurdle. One is about creating a realistic anticipated budget for your trip. The other is about saving for world travel.


How much will your dream trip cost? I wrote this guide to specifically answer the most common question I was emailed by readers: how much will a specific route/itinerary costs. In it, I share comprehensive and thoroughly practical advice about understanding trip budgets and understanding your own style of travel. The guide is a full treatise on how to estimate what your dream trip will cost and it includes case studies from other long-term travelers who tracked their trip budgets.

I’ve spent eight years on the road, and nearly that long talking with with other travelers about how they budget for travel. Using the aggregate of their knowledge and experience, I’ve outlined a road-map to taking a long-term trip. I wrote this guide to empower travelers and travel dreamers anywhere in the world with the tools to plan their trip. The guide breaks down average traveling costs for the world’s most traveled destinations, which you can use with the fully customizable Trip Budget Worksheet to create an accurate anticipated budget for your dream trip.

Aailable on Kindle, ePub, and PDF.

How Much Does It Cost to Travel the World?

Buy it for $9


True wealth is having the freedom to do what you want with your life. Many travel dreamers get waylaid by the financial side of life. If you’re new to personal finance, or lost about how to start saving for a big goal, this book distills hard-learned information into easily actionable steps specifically targeted at giving travel dreamers tools to become financially literate.

This book provides a thorough deep-dive into the principles of saving money, common obstacles, overcoming debt, and the tenets of strong personal finance. It offers a streamlined process to create substantial changes in your financial life. If money is your primary obstacle to leaving on a long-term trip, this guide breaks down exactly the shifts you can make to change your financial situation. Many travelers look at my adventures and experiences these past eight years that I’ve traveled and they dream of also traveling through the cultures, stories, and conversations. This guide gives you the tools to move the needle from dreaming to doing.

Available on Amazon Kindle or as a PDF bundle with the budget book.

save for world travel ebook

Buy them both for $13

Resources & Further Research for World Travelers

It’s easy to see the numbers, be inspired for a bit and then never take action. If you’re actively planning your RTW — fantastic! There are a few more essential resources below that will help you plan your trip. If you’re currently working, studying, or just dreaming of traveling, I have resources for you as well. And if you want a second look at those spreadsheets, visit my full RTW budget as a Google Document that will open in your browser. Or head to the blank spreadsheet to track your own expenses as you travel around the world. You can save an editable copy of these to your own Google Drive, or download for your own use.

World Travel Budgets

Plan Your Own Trip

  • How Much Will My RTW Trip Cost? (Available on Kindle or as a PDF)I wrote this guide to help travelers determine an exact figure they should save before leaving for long-term travel. It’s all of the budgeting and cost-planning information in one spot, with travel budget case studies, detailed worksheets, and specific averages for the daily budget in dozens of countries around the world.
  • How to Save for World Travel (Available on Kindle): This guide outlines the common hurdles people face when saving for big goals, and then sets a roadmap to financial fitness. This guide teaches you how to save, and it will give you a myriad of new ideas to top up your travel fund. Nearly $20k is a huge sum for most people, but it’s a doable sum too. It really is. Mental and psychological hurdles often play a factor in saving and learning how to budget, so this guide provides a streamlined approach, as well as further resources to maintain the strong savings habits that will allow you to travel the world.
  • Free World Travel Resources: This is a a full treatise on all the answers you need to plan and execute the planning of a RTW trip. It’s everything that you might find overwhelming, plus a few things you forgot to worry about. Includes what to pack, how to purge your belongings, picking travel insurance, handling your period on the road, and more.

On-the-Road Travel Resources

  • How to Travel the World on $50 a Day. Published by Penguin and now in its second edition shows you how to stick to a budget while you’re traveling. It’s an guide for travelers new to budgeting on the road and weighs heavily toward backpacker-style travel with tips and hacks to save money by using travel cards, points, etc.
  • Plan amazing activities on the road. Use the ALA Travel Guides for comprehensive information on what to know before you go in each place. The guides and stories share my favorite experiences on the road, as well as plenty of tips for traveling responsibly. And Grassroots Volunteering is ALA’s sister site, offering a database of responsible travel companies and volunteer experiences all over the world.
  • Slow down somewhere and live somewhere fascinating. Use these posts on the Cost of Living Around the World to discover that it’s likely far more affordable to live elsewhere than you’ve ever considered. You can sometimes stretch your trip by months or years by stopping in places for a few months and digging into the local culture and way of life. I’ve done this everywhere from Mexico to Thailand and it’s allowed me to stay on the road and see these places in a new light.

Working on the Road

  • How to Start a Travel Blog: Many travelers find value in starting a travel blog to record the highs and lows of their once in a lifetime trip. I wrote a no-nonsense page detailing the process. It focuses on five quick and simple steps, and offers a realistic perspective on you can expect from your blog without the hype you find on some tutorials. While I don’t suggest professional travel blogging for most travelers, running a travel site for friends and family is a fun way to share your big journey — it’s an electronic scrapbook of memories and moments and stories.
  • Find Freelance Work & Work from the Road. Since money is a huge factor for many travelers, I have a resource page dedicated to working online. I’ve worked from my laptop for more than a decade and there are many jobs that also allow you to work from anywhere in the world.

I truly believe that world travel is possible for most people. When and how is unique to each person, but by prioritizing and planning travel, you can make a round the world trip possible. If you’re on the fence about making the huge decision to travel, read this. And if it’s months or years before you leave, why not read a few of my favorite classic travel books.

If there is ever anything that I can do to help, please do reach out on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let’s talk about how we can make your travel dream a reality. 


, , , ,

340 Responses to A Little RTW Budget… How Much Does it Cost to Travel the World for a Year? (2017)

  1. David Gardner May 14, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

    Hello Shannon, Great blog I have been referencing it a lot in my research to take my own trip. My wife has a chronic disease and is required to take medicine daily so we would need to keep health insurance in the US as we travel. Do you know anyone who has done this or perhaps yourself? If so I was curious if this was considered in your travel budget?

    • Shannon O'Donnell May 20, 2015 at 11:33 pm #

      Hi David. That’s a good question, and one that has changed over the years. In this budget, my one-year RTW, I did not have U.S. health insurance, just my travel insurance (which would have ended once I landed on U.S. soil if they ever medically evacuated me to the U.S.). Now though, I pay for U.S. health insurance on a basic plan (I got ObamaCare last year and it was pretty cheap), and then I buy my travel insurance on top of that. Keeping U.S. health insurance will definitely up your budget some, but it sounds like it may be a wise idea. And if you are gone for a year though, you could likely get away with catastrophic U.S. coverage, or a higher deductible. Really it would be your backup plan and only needed if your issue is so severe that your travel insurance sends you home rather than paying for an healing you in the country you’re visiting. I hope that makes sense? It’s going to be highly personal to your situation for sure, and this budget you read only included travel insurance. I wish you so much luck planning your own trip! Keep me posted and let me know if I can help with anything. :)

  2. One Year 75 Times April 30, 2015 at 11:48 am #

    I could hug you for posting this! Thanks SO MUCH!!!

    • Shannon O'Donnell April 30, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

      Aw thanks! Hugs right back atcha. And if you’re planning a trip and I can help in any way, just shoot me an email. :)

      • One Year 75 Times May 1, 2015 at 11:52 am #

        I can’t believe you spent so little! It’s really possible!!! LOVE IT!

  3. MK April 27, 2015 at 8:35 pm #

    I am 14 years old and my dream is to travel. I want to pack my bags and just go. I don’t realy have a destination in mind, but I want to get to six contintents (Antarctica isn’t really a place I want to go to) I wondered if you have any tips/suggestions about traveling for me? And also what are your favorite places so far? Just wondering what to put on my list!

    • Shannon O'Donnell April 28, 2015 at 1:17 am #

      I love that you already have that clarity now that you want to travel! I often speak to high school and middle school students, and here is one piece I wrote aimed just at your question: http://alittleadrift.com/2013/05/travel-young-travel-far/ The trick is to keep your eye on the long-term goal, even if you have some obstacles over the next few years! As far as favorite places, my top five are: Myanmar, Ireland, Italy, Thailand, and Guatemala! So take a look at those and see if any look like they inspire some wanderlust in you. :-)

  4. Jennifer April 15, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

    Thank you for posting this! The hype-organized side of me is worrying about how much I should be planning on saving for each country I want to visit and this is fantastic. Now to save, save, save!!

    • Shannon O'Donnell April 15, 2015 at 5:38 pm #

      So glad it’s helpful in helping you frame how much to save! Good luck and I hope you have an amazing time planning your trip as you save, that’s half the fun. :)

  5. Leah Dunne April 14, 2015 at 10:31 am #

    Hey! This has been so helpful and you look like you had a really great time! I am wondering if you can advise me. I am planning on leaving for rio (I live in Dublin) and spending some time there before moving on to Bolivia & Peru. Then flying from there to Sydney and picking up some work there – as I will have approx €9-10k for travelling and I think I may be running out at this stage! Then provided I can get some work there heading to Japan, Hanoi & India before flying home. As a 1st time solo female traveller I am wondering if this is a reasonable expectation? Any help/advice would be great!

    • Shannon O'Donnell April 15, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

      Hi Leah! Thanks for the email, I would love to try and offer up whatever advice I can. I am not sure how long you plan to be in each place, but in South America your 9-10K Euro should last at least 6 months, if that’s your plan. Then, flying onto Australia — the working permit there allows you to pick up seasonal or specialized work, and it’s very, very common, so there is a very good chance you will be able to replenish your funds after some months working in Australia, and then continue onward. That being said, the cost of living in Australia is very high, so it may take a while to save up funds since you will also be spending money to live and travel in Oz. All very doable though. You are picking locations that have good backpacking networks as a solo traveler, and your budget seems reasonable if you plan to stay in hostels and such. Good luck and safe travels! :)

  6. Zachary Hinds April 11, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    But you didn’t really travel the World. Just Europe, Asia, and Australia, not South America or African countries were listed…

    • Shannon O'Donnell April 11, 2015 at 11:02 pm #

      Quite true, but at the suggestion of veteran travelers when I planned my trip, I cut some locations so that I could move slower and travel more extensively in each region I visited. I have been to these areas since, but not on the one-year trip. There’s only so much you can do in a year on a budget, and cutting out a region saves on costs! I still went all the way around the world and back. :)

  7. cody March 26, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

    I want a travel buddy any takers? kinda hard to do the things you dream of alone:/

    • Shannon O'Donnell March 26, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

      It can be a lot of fun with other travelers. I recommend you look in some of the forums for where you want to travel and see if you can align that way — they have very active communities of like-minded travelers looking to share the experience.

    • Shannon O'Donnell March 31, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

      Heya! This morning this site just came across my twitter feed and I thought of you: https://www.triptogether.com/ :)

  8. Anthony March 17, 2015 at 9:30 am #

    Hey Shannon, I’m Anthony. I’m your typical 40-60 hour work week guy in his mid 20’s who is fortunate enough that he gets to do one 2-3 week trip a year. My goal though, is to see and experience the world, and I won’t ever be able to do that with 2-3 weeks of travel time a year (as many travelers quickly discover). I’m a numbers focused nerd (engineer by trade) who doesn’t party, doesn’t drink, and is a bit unsocial (or so I’m told). I’m attempting to project costs in order to establish a realistic budget, and your spreadsheet has been a blessing; I do have some questions for you related to it though. You mention that you’ve done some couch surfing, and you’ve stayed in dorm style rooms rather than private rooms (both of these options obviously reflect a huge cost savings). Could somebody who is not overly social and doesn’t drink at all comfortably couch surf or stay in dorm style rooms in hostels? If you had stayed in private rooms only, how much do you think that would have increased your cost (assuming you only paid your share of the room)? Also, the general consensus from a number of blogs I’ve read say that in order to keep food costs down, you should focus on small food vendors or “hole in the wall” type restaurants. In theory that sounds like a great idea, but I was in Europe the Summer of 2014, and that was not only difficult, but quite frankly, I found it nearly impossible in practice. As an example, I spent 2 hours wandering around Geneva, Switzerland one day trying to find a lunch for under $25 and there were plenty of times where I spent a fortune on bottled water just to keep cool and hydrated ($20 plus a day sometimes). In practice, how do you actually keep your food/drink costs down?

    • Dennis March 21, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

      Geneva is probably one of the most expensive cities in the world as most cities in Switzerland so I do not find it hard to believe that you could not find a cheap place in Geneva. As she mentioned Western Europe is kinda expensive but Switzerland is ridiculous. If you plan right and have a schedule you could also use TripAdvisor for each place you will go and there you can find useful info.

    • Shannon O'Donnell March 23, 2015 at 4:19 pm #

      Dennis is right Anthony, a lot of your budget will come down to the places that you choose to travel. And Switzerland is one of the priciest places in all of Western Europe, so it makes sense that you were blowing money. When I was in Italy though, I would often just buy some bread and cheese for lunch (you could get salami or something too) and do that for lunch, and that kept lunch costs way down. For the most part though, you really start to see some savings when you get out of Europe and travel through Asia, Central America, and then Africa and South America can be pricier than the other two, but are still cheaper than W. Europe.

      For dorms, in Europe I usually stay in small 3-5 bed dorms as the private rooms are very pricey, but now, as I travel in the last couple of years I managed to spend between 3-10 more a night for a private room at a hostel in the developing countries. It’s still super budget, and you get access to the other backpackers in the hostel and their knowledge base (which is a big part of knowing when and how to save money, but you have a bit more privacy.

      How you are willing to travel is a big part of the costs, if you can handle the hostel environment and stick to budget meals at least twice a day (I often eat breakfast in my hostel/guesthouse and then make a cheap lunch, and then eat out for dinner). This gets me by in the pricey places, and in Asia and other areas you can eat out three times a day and still stay on a budget.

      Good luck! I encourage you to really dig through Jodi’s resources on this page: http://www.legalnomads.com/wds she has compiled a huge list of regional budgets, and you can try to find someone who has a similar travel style and locations, and then flesh out your budget some more. legalnomads.com/wds

    • Hannah Marvin June 3, 2015 at 6:35 pm #


      I am currently in a similar situation as you (an Engineer in a 40-60 hour work week wanting to travel the world). Do you have any plans to work while you are traveling? Have you found any technical types of jobs that will still allow you to travel or that you can do online? I’d like to work while I travel and put my degree to some use but it seems that engineering is just not the right degree to do that with. I have student loans that I plan to put on hold for at least a year so that I can travel without needing to pay the 300-500 monthly payments. Any advice would help.

  9. janaya March 11, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

    My name is janaya, I am 15, I am from California, I am extremely poor, I live in a hotel even, I am trying to work so hard to travel the world, I know I am young, but I already wish I started this journey years ago, I am trying to become an interpreter, I know English, German, Russian, French, Spanish, and of course I want to learn MANY more, not just to get a good job but I really love doing it, I am absolutely fascinated with diverse cultures, anyways my point is, I want to travel the world and work hard and donate my money even , I want to volunteer and many things, I have no help though, I just need some advice even, some really good ways to save money and to boost confidence, someone who’s experienced something like this and overcame it, thank you maybe I should put down my email, so here curejanaya@gmail.com

    • Chance kizito October 24, 2015 at 5:33 am #

      We will travel together

  10. স্মৃতিলেখা চক্রবর্ত্তী March 2, 2015 at 11:29 pm #

    This insurance of “World Nomads”; does it cover Indian travelers as well?

    • Shannon O'Donnell March 2, 2015 at 11:51 pm #

      They sure do! It’s really easy to input your details on their site and see what it will cost for the length of your trip. :)

      • স্মৃতিলেখা চক্রবর্ত্তী March 3, 2015 at 6:12 am #

        Awww! Thanks. Will definitely try that…

  11. Sophie March 1, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

    Oh my gosh, that is so expensive! Almost 19000 dollars…

    • Shannon O'Donnell March 1, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

      It is a lot in one lump sum, but it is the entire cost to live for about a year, which is far less than I spend for a year in the U.S., and it included some awesome adventures throughout. (Also, it could be done for a lot less if you leave out Europe and super developed countries). Happy travels. :)

  12. Jennifer Sinclair February 28, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    I’m just beginning to plan a RTW trip for next year, and this post is BY FAR the most helpful thing I’ve come across! Thank you!!

    • Shannon O'Donnell March 1, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

      So glad you found it useful! And congrats on the upcoming RTW — that is huge and you must be so psyched. Don’t hesitate to shoot me an email if there is anything I can do to help. :)

  13. Yu Chi February 26, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

    If I am holding s working holiday VISA for a year in New Zealand. Do I have to buy the insurance for one year? I am confused!?

    • Shannon O'Donnell February 26, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

      That’s a tough one, I’m not sure! You may very well need insurance still for your time in NZ unless it’s possible to get it through the government there? Sorry I don’t have that answer, but I believe that working-backpackers in Oz purchase travel insurance.

  14. Iz Bishop February 23, 2015 at 6:10 am #

    This helped a lot, I’m going on a world trip right after I graduate high school, and needed to know about how much it would cost me. So thanks for posting this!!!

    • Shannon O'Donnell February 23, 2015 at 10:27 am #

      Glad you found it useful and congrats on the upcoming trip! Good luck and let me know if I can help with anything else as you plan. :)

  15. Anna Gomersall February 14, 2015 at 10:04 pm #

    Hi! I turned 15 in December and am a sophomore in high school. I am planning on doing a program that allows me to go to high school and a community college at the same time for free. With this program I will be able to graduate a year earlier but will graduate as a 16 year old, or I could graduate when I am a senior with my associates degree. I would love to graduate early and travel around the world and am able to save enough money for a trip like this but graduating high school as a junior in college also sounds very tempting. Also, I would always be able to travel I graduate too. As someone who has travelled around the world, what would you recommend I do?


    • Shannon O'Donnell February 15, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

      That’s a tough choice Anna, but what a wonderful situation to be deciding between. Congrats on all the hard work and studying that goes into both those choices. As far as travel is concerned, there is no way I could know what is the right next step for you, but I do think that a long-term trip could be easier when you are over 18 with all the legalities of entering and exiting countries and navigating. Have you thought of a compromise —perhaps staying in school until you’re a senior but spending your nearly three months of summer traveling. You could combine the two and get some travel under your belt while still finishing school? Get creative with your options, and then really look at what you think is going to be the best fit for your goals and how you want to be living your life. Travel is never a bad idea, but that can look like whatever you want it to look like — summers, a long-term trip at 16, or any combination you can think of. Best of luck and let me know if I can ever help. :)

  16. kim February 4, 2015 at 1:53 am #

    Are the total costs for your budget in US dollars?

    • Shannon O'Donnell February 4, 2015 at 10:47 am #

      Yes, all of the costs in the spreadsheet are logged in local currency, but then on the right column translated into USD.

  17. Reid Cockburn January 28, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

    This is really fantastic! I’m just starting to consider a RTW trip. It’ll be less extensive, I’m looking at 3-4 months, but your budget speadsheet is terrific reference! Thanks!

    • Shannon O'Donnell February 4, 2015 at 10:47 am #

      So glad you found it helpful! Just let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help, happy travels! :)

  18. Graham Johnston January 28, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    Your details are very informative, and thank you for sharing your experience. I am 46 years old, and am considering on quitting my Fashion business for a year so that I can enjoy my travel. As soon as I feel confidence with my photography (as am currently learning), I would like to travel as a Photography vacation especially in Southern Africa (from Kenya to Cape Town overland), and then to South American countries plus Cuba ………. the rest of the countries – still deciding.

    • Shannon O'Donnell February 4, 2015 at 10:49 am #

      That would be an incredible trip, I was in Africa last spring and it was incredible to do that route (in reverse, I started in Cape Town). If I can ever help with anything, just let me know. Happy planning. :)

      • Graham Johnston February 4, 2015 at 10:56 am #

        Thank you Shannon. I had planned to start in Cape Town too, but I would need to be in Kenya in mid to late August to witness the ‘Great Migration’ so it makes sense to start in Kenya. Antarctica needs to be in December or January for full lights and for the warmest weather (still cold though).

        • Shannon O'Donnell February 4, 2015 at 10:58 am #

          Yes! That makes perfect sense and the Great Migration looks incredible, I wish I had timed my own trip to see it. And with Antarctica too, you have an incredible trip lined up! :)

  19. megan January 13, 2015 at 7:38 am #

    Hi :) I’m 18 and want to go travelling for 5/6 months later this year by myself through Europe, America and South America :) Just wondering if you think it is a good idea for me to bring my laptop? To Skype home etc? Love your blogs!

    • Shannon O'Donnell January 13, 2015 at 11:22 am #

      Congrats on the big trip coming up this year. I think a laptop is good in some situations but not for everyone. Think about what you need to do– will you update a blog, or do you just need photo storage (easy in an external hard drive). If you surf the Internet and want to be able to do that, most hostels have free wifi. Weigh out the pros and cons and then consider if a smartphone would suffice! Happy travels. :)

    • Shannon O'Donnell January 13, 2015 at 11:24 am #

      Congrats on the big trip coming up this year. I think a laptop is good in some situations but not for everyone. Think about what you need to do– will you update a blog, or do you just need photo storage (easy in an external hard drive). If you surf the Internet and want to be able to do that, most hostels have free wifi. Weigh out the pros and cons and then consider if a smartphone would suffice! Happy travels. :)

  20. Jennifer Smith-Parker January 3, 2015 at 7:10 am #

    Honestly, 20K IS a lot. So for a couple, that’s 40K, which is a hella lot of money to travel. So in the end, traveling is expensive and I HATE when travel bloggers act like it isn’t.

    • Shannon O'Donnell January 3, 2015 at 9:42 am #

      I see your point but I still disagree. 20K is a lot if you are planning on dropping it all out of pocket at this very moment; some people save for 6+ years and do that. I didn’t leave with anything near 20K (6K because I sold my car). I have a friend making 20K doing 30 hours a week of content writing work for an online education company. Point is, for her, she could travel with that job/income, and yet that money doesn’t get her very far living in Denver. I grew up in a trailer park, I know that 20K is a lot, but if you can make money online, or have an open mind to jobs you can take overseas, you can likely travel for what amounts to a poverty-level salary here. And that is a god’s-honest fact. Also, it’s not actually double for a couple because you are splitting all the accommodation and local transport—I’d have spent a couple thousand less if I had traveled with someone the entire time.

      • Jennifer Smith-Parker February 8, 2015 at 11:11 am #

        I can see your point to an extent, especially in Southeast Asia, where I have traveled myself a few times. But again, that was JUST me, and not my husband. And yes it IS double for many aspects like food and drink, cultural attractions, and bus/plane fare. The only way we would possibly save would be accommodation.

      • Rachel C March 27, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

        Could you tell me about traveling alone? Especially as a female.. Was it ever scary?

        • Shannon O'Donnell March 28, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

          There are some tricky times on the road when you need to be very aware of your surroundings and take precautions, but in general I have loved traveling solo. It gave me a freedom and an openness to make new friends and really focus on the new cultures, people, and stories. I wrote a piece on solo female travel safety here: http://alittleadrift.com/2013/06/solo-female-travel-safety/

      • Rob Small October 1, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

        I love your heart felt advice Shannon 👍

    • Debbie Green February 8, 2015 at 12:49 am #

      I don’t agree that it would double for a couple. Travelling is worth every cent

      • Jennifer Smith-Parker February 8, 2015 at 11:13 am #

        You don’t have to agree with facts and can choose to have your head in the sand. And to say travelling is worth every cent is just ignorant. Travelling is all I think about, every day and most hours of that day. But I also have to ya know, eat and pay rent.

        • Rachel C March 27, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

          Maybe you were just having a bad day when you wrote this, but you sound like a very angry person. How is someone saying, “Traveling is worth every cent” ignorant? YOU sound ignorant. You don’t have to agree with their opinion. Doesn’t make them ignorant. Honestly i feel the same way. And 20k for traveling around the world for a year is not a lot. You’re insane. Some people make that much a year and struggle everyday. To get to go around the world and do and see so much for a year and only spend 20k is great. This blog is so awesome and helpful. Take your negative ass somewhere else.

          • Jennifer Smith-Parker March 27, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

            What I posted probably didn’t come across right. What I meant to say is that “traveling is worth every cent” is an idea I agree with in concept but in reality is much harder. And yes traveling around for 20K IS A LOT. Maybe you have some trust fund Rachel or mommy and daddy are shelling out nicely but I don’t have that and 99.9% of people don’t.

            Overall, the advice here is awesome and I appreciate it very much. But people like you Rachel don’t like the hard, cold truth of numbers. Rather to paint me as negative. So be it. SMH.

          • charoferg April 8, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

            I think 20k inclusive of shots, visas, gear, flights, etc. is pretty reasonable depending on how you look at it. Before I found this site that’s how much I had estimated – so seeing a woman who has done it, solo and assuming her income is probably not even as much as mine (based on how I have interpreted what she’s written) I know I can do this.

            Don’t be angry about it – maybe you don’t need to do a year. Maybe you can do three months and that won’t cost as much. Maybe you can find other alternatives to make your budget smaller. I don’t see the point in being harsh at her budget. She did it already.

            This budget has really inspired me and I’m sitting at my table right now, in a few hours I’m going to be thirty and I’m excited because I know a year from now I will be gone from this place. Inspiration at it’s best. I’m choosing to see the positive. I’m halfway to my 20k and I know I can do this. Positive thinking. Don’t shake ya head boo. Shake the cramps out your fingers and start writing out a plan.

          • Shannon O'Donnell April 9, 2015 at 12:50 am #

            I am so happy to hear that this inspired you, and that you are currently in the planning and final savings stages — what an incredible adventure you have in front of you. And planning and dreaming about it are half of the fun, so I wish you so much luck this year as you align all of your plans for your trip. Don’t hesitate to shoot me a message if there is ever anything I can do to help. :)

          • charoferg April 12, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

            Thanks so much! I def will shoot you a message if I get a little flustered. My family is 100% behind me in my effforts to travel. They even bought me a backpack and donated money as a bday present and when we were talking about budgets I referenced you. I am very inspired.

          • Jennifer Smith-Parker April 11, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

            Sigh, again, I’m just making the point it’s a lot of money. I’m NOT saying its not doable. Good for you that you can do this- again YOU. Traveling single is so.much.easier than doing it as a couple. I have traveled solo enough to say this (and will continue to do so as I have more hols time than my husband).

  21. JessRep November 30, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    Thank you so much for this. I have one question… what is a puddle jumper flight? Thanks for sharing and safe travels on your next adventure!!

    • Shannon O'Donnell November 30, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

      Glad you found it useful! Puddle jumpers just refers to smaller flights that jump small distances, sometimes from tiny regional airports and use smaller planes. Asia has a lot of discount airlines (Europe too, though not as cheap) that jump between the various cities and help you get around for a lot less than using the major airlines. Good luck planning. :)

  22. sachin97 October 2, 2014 at 2:43 am #

    Hi my name is sachin and I m from India my dream is to travel whole wor ld meet new people and I m 17 year old I want to go to boania and serbia for 1 month I need you help how much will it cost me ? Please help me to see this beautiful world

    • Shannon O'Donnell October 2, 2014 at 11:52 am #

      I’m not sure of the current costs in that region, but I know that there is a great hostel and train network that should help you keep down costs. They also have some good and easy lunches (bureks in Bosnia) that are cheap and easy as well. All these things add up to making it a lot more affordable than most of Europe. In this budgeting post you can look at my spreadsheet and see what my daily costs were in Bosnia. Then, I suggest you do some research on the price of hostels (http://www.hostelworld.com/) in the places you want to go and use that as a base for what your daily cost will be. You can also use sites like Couchsurfing to keep accommodation costs down. Best of luck!

      • sachin97 October 3, 2014 at 7:35 am #

        Where you gonna travel next ? And I don’t want to stay in hostel because I m sacred I m 17 and this is going to be my first travel experience so please give me something other tips to save money and have fun

        • Shannon O'Donnell October 3, 2014 at 10:29 am #

          Honestly, I think you should work on overcoming the fear of hostels — these are the best places to meet other travelers your age and the hostels are often the best place to find affordable things to do. Basically, they are the heart of the budget backpacking network around the world. If you are looking to go with a higher budget, you can use hotel booking sites and things like that — lots of planning tools out there and this page on my site has heaps of resources :http://alittleadrift.com/rtw-travel/ Good luck!

      • sachin97 October 3, 2014 at 7:38 am #

        And please give me ur email I cant find ur email on ur page so please give it to me thanks

  23. Rubab September 26, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    We are a family of 3, my Husband, my 6 month old daughter and I. We’re planning on a RTW trip in 2015 most probably in the summers. Started thinking of getting a house and living our lives like we’re suppose to as a family with security but both me and my husband feel we need to see so much before we put our foot down and live in one place forever (or for atleast a few years). We’ve travelled a lot as a solo traveler and couple but with a daughter this young, do you feel the RTW is doable. What places seemed comfortable enough for a kid to tag along to? I am sure we need a lot of planning. But we’re thinking if we should use our savings for buying a house or travel the world. Because you know wise people say YOLO! haha

    • Shannon O'Donnell September 26, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

      Hi Rubab — so glad you found the budget and are planning some round the world travels. You can DEFINITELY make a go of your trip with a baby in tow, I have met other travelers with younguns and though they often had a different style of travel (slower, nicer places than the budget ones I was often in) they were on an adventure and had few regrets about acting on their desire to do a RTW with each other and their children. Almost Fearless traveled with an infant through Asia, and then she had another and continued: . And the folks from Going Anyway had a very young baby and several kids and I met them in Thailand and they were all on the adventure of a lifetime: http://www.goinganyway.net. There are definitely resources out there to give you an idea of other families on the road with small children, you aren’t alone. Your child can be as portable as you see fit, so places like Southeast Asia, South America, Europe, all of these are options — they have good tourism networks, some are very budget, and you can see some amazing things along the way. :) Safe travels and best of luck in planning!

  24. Rosa Sophie Renn September 7, 2014 at 3:43 am #

    Most interesting european countries for travelling are missing: France, Germany, Spain and Sweden. Replaced by visiting poor countries most europeans don’t want to travel: Bosnia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Croatia… So sad i loved france and the others so much.

    • Shannon O'Donnell September 7, 2014 at 11:10 am #

      I agree those are great countries and I have loved visiting each one of them. On a round the world though, there is compromise between the very expensive countries and the less expensive ones. And, as an American I have to factor in that I only have three months in the Schengen zone — on my trip I chose to spend it in the Netherlands, UK, Scotland and Ireland. You could definitely switch those out on yours. Safe travels.

    • Jennifer Smith-Parker February 8, 2015 at 11:08 am #

      Most Europeans don’t want to travel to Bosnia, Slovenia, etc etc? Wow then the Europeans I met in Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia must have been MAKE-BELIEVE. You obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

  25. Shannon O'Donnell August 12, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your iPhone app link Matias! Tracking your budget on the road is an important part of the travel process, I’ll definitely check out your app! :)

  26. Matías R August 11, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    Hi Shannon,
    Excellent information! I keep track of my travel budget as well, with as much detail as possible. I created an app for iPhone which initially I used for myself, but now I’m sharing it for free in the app store. It features many reports (per category, country, payment method) and features that might be useful for other travelers. You can find it here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tripcoin/id896518806?ls=1&mt=8

    I hope someone else finds it useful!

  27. dannyrock1981 . July 24, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    First of all I just want to say how much I love this website, so thank you! And secondly I have been looking all over the web for an actual breakdown of costs for a RTW trip like this. I have travelled a lot in the past but I am currently saving and planning for a long trip starting late next year, North America for a few weeks then Central and South America will be my main focus after that and possibly back over to Europe and Asia. I’m just at the budgeting and route planning stage. I will keep reading through your blogs for any other advice and once again, thank you.

  28. cameraandcarryon July 23, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    I love how you break down the cost of travel, because ultimately that’s what people are looking for when considering a crazy idea like traveling for 6 months (but are just too afraid to ask). We did a full budget, too, before leaving our cushy jobs in NYC — planned, saved, leaving room for a little ‘extra’ for emergencies — and managed to stick to it and came in $100 under budget after our 6 month adventure. Imagine that ;) We hope you check out our video recap of our journey and share this with your followers (we’re pretty proud of it!). In some small way, we hope to help inspire others to get out there and live out their dreams and explore all this awesome world has to offer. http://www.cameraandcarryon.com/2014/07/video-traveling-and-living-dreams/

    • Shannon O'Donnell July 23, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

      Thanks for sharing the video of your journey, I will have a look now. Underbudget is a great place to be on the flip side of your trip and it’s likely a testament to the careful research it sounds like you did before you left! Safe travels :)

      • cameraandcarryon July 24, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

        Thanks, Shannon! (I’m a Shannon, too… hehe)

        I want to say we were lucky to come in under budget, but I think careful purchases and recording our expenses along the way was key to sticking to the ‘plan’. Careful consideration of how much money you’re comfortable spending, while being realistic about expectations of the experience you’ll have, is one of the most important factors in successful extended travel IMO.

        We love your writing, tips, and information. Thanks for being a great resource and voice!!!

  29. ZeroCapital July 22, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    Im 17 years old and I want to travel too.So I need some advise.I m going to become a game designer and if not then a programmer.When I’ll become one I will be 23 years old.I will need to save up for my journey wich will take me 2-4 years depending my salary.Howerver
    when I’ll be done with my travel budget I will be 25-27 years old and after I depart for my journey I will be unable to work so I will have to quit my job.The journy will take 2-4 years and when I’ll return I will be 27-31 and unemployed.This kind of plan seems realy risky to me because I may end up an unsuccesfull person without anything left since I abandoned my whole normal and comfortable life in order to make my foolish dreams come true.So to conclude can someone give me some advise about a better plan or how to make one?

    • Shannon O'Donnell July 23, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

      That seems like a lot of things you are holding as firm truths where there is actually flexibility and unknown in all of that. It may seem certain that this is your path — and it might be! — but you dictate what your future will look like, not some unknown path that says that it will take you this amount of time and that when you come back you will be “behind” others or in a risky place. Those are assumptions, not truths.

      The world and the future are great unknowns. There is every reason to think that you could travel, find synergies and work for some of the largest Asian-based gaming firms in the world just as a matter of making connections on your trip. That is just as likely to happen as the scenario you laid out. Neither is a more a truth than the other, they are both open possibilities for your future. You are choosing to see one as an obstacle or the only way it could shake down if you travel.

      The savings part is negotiable as well — I bartended throughout college and managed to save up enough for what would have been a 3-6 month trip through Southeast Asia, just in a single summer living at home with my parents (I instead chose to spend it on 2 months in Europe, but the savings was the same and could have fostered either trip). Every person’s situation is different, has different levels of support and opportunities, but I come from a low scoio-economic bracket and made it work. All you have to do is believe it’s possible and is something you want — open your mind to the possibilities that this trip is 1) something you can make happen and 2) something that doesn’t necessarily predicate career failure, but rather could open new doors you can’t even imagine right now.

      Best of luck, here if you ever need help planning that long-term trip. :)

      • ZeroCapital July 25, 2014 at 9:20 am #

        Someone said that the only thing that gets between yourself and your goal is the obstacles that you put there by yourself.Thank you for reminding me that.

        • Matías R August 11, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

          Hi there,
          Sorry to jump into the discussion! ZeroCapital, if your plan is to be a sofware/videogame developer, you shouldn’t worry too much. Today it’s rather easy to work remotely, every day more and more companies allow their employees to do that.
          You can of course create your own video games or be a consultant, which you can do from anywhere in the world.
          So don’t worry too much, your skill will be in high demand in the future!

  30. Paula Puchacz June 24, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    This is just soo helpful, I wouldn’t get how much I need and probably ended up with no money to come back from the first spot. I’m planning to start a trip in June 2015, 13 countries, half in Latin America, 4 friends on the road to stay over, lots of hitchhiking & couchsurfing included. And I also plan a budget around $10.000, I know it may sound ridiculous, but I plan to do a lot of volunteering (done it before-no fee, accommodation and food in exchange for work) in Mexico, also US will be cheap, because I will work there for 2 months and then spend it only there for travelling around.
    Thanks for this :) Will be coming back for more tips!

    • Shannon O'Donnell June 24, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

      So glad you found it useful! Your budget definitely sounds doable, especially if you are sticking to just a couple regions, like Latin America — that will cut down on the expensive plane flights between places. Happy planning and safe travels, I have a resource page for long-term travelers that you may find helpful here: http://alittleadrift.com/rtw-travel :)

Leave a Reply