A Little RTW Budget… How Much Does it Cost to Travel the World for a Year? (2020)

Last Updated on December 30, 2019

taking my round the world trip
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.

When I left on my first round the world trip, I asked veteran travelers a key question: How much does it cost to travel around the world? It was the single biggest factor impacting my trip length and destinations, and the number of things that impact a long-term travel budget are far different than a two-week European vacation. Estimates varied wildly, and knowing where my own around the world trip would fall in that spectrum was a great unknown. I had no idea how long my travel savings, my freelance income, and travel blogging to would keep me on the road, so over that first year, I tracked every single dollar I spent while traveling.

Since that first around the world travel, I’ve spent more than a decade of traveling, and budgeting for short- and long-term around the world travel is my specialty. My upbringing was modest , yet I was still able to save the money to travel and work remotely for all 10+ years of my world travels.

Let’s dive into a very detailed breakdown of what an actual one-year trip cost, the hard costs associated with around the world travel, and the factors that most dramatically impact your budget.

How Much Does Traveling the World Cost?

Generally, $20,000 is the baseline cost for a trip around the world for one person for one year. This estimation falls in line with popular recommendations that budget travelers can spend an average of $50 a day on the road, and allows additional budget for flights and vaccines.

You’ll spend up to $30,000 for a budget trip that includes fewer hostels, and some accommodation, transport, or food. Traveling as a couple or family does not directly double/triple/ etc the costs because lodging and transport are shared expenses.

As you’ll see in the detailed trip budgets below, world travel costs for mid-range to luxury world travelers can run as much as $40,000 to $50,000.

My Personal Round the World Trip

A one-year budget breakdown of costs to travel the world

On my first RTW trip, I traveled around the world for for 328 days (11 months) through 15 countries and I spent USD $17,985.

Then I decided to keep traveling. I’ve been on the road since 2008, still traveling as of 2020, although from my homebase in Barcelona, Spain.

In the years since I originally posted my cost breakdown for world travel, other backpackers have loved the precise and meticulous details of just how much I spent throughout a year of active world travel. And even with rising global food costs a decade later, people still travel on similar budgets—yes, so many elements impact a travel costs that you can still travel the world for the same price as a trip 12 years ago (more on how that’s possible later).

Let’s dive into the good stuff. The following tables and charts further outline my around the world trip costs including the country-by-country expenses and budget.

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

My Total Costs to Travel the World for a Year

Travel ExpenseCost (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

My final costs of $17,985 completely include 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, and surfing lessons, and straight through to my first delicious sub back on home soil when I passed through Philly on my final layover.

What does that number not include? Some personal choices upped my costs: an external hard drive for photo storage, a new camera (old one was waterlogged in Australia), and a rental car splurge in Ireland. 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.

In the above category breakdowns, consider:

  • 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 for my chocolate obsession.
  • Entertainment covers 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 in Nepal, and all tours, trips, and group adventures—everything from diving to ziplining to visiting temples and museums.
  • Transportation excludes flights, but covers all intra-country transportation like buses, trains, taxis, and tuk-tuks.
  • Misc is a catch-all and a large portion of costs there came from paying for fast internet—it was pricey to make sure I had a strong connection for my work. It also includes shipping things home, gifts, and toiletries along the way.
  • Flights includes puddle-jumper little flights between countries in the same region—I did not use a RTW ticket, but instead booked along the way (here’s why).

Budget of Daily & Total Costs Per Country

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

Don’t forget to check out my 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 Google drive for editing, or download as an excel file!).


How to Much Will YOUR Dream Trip Cost?

Finding a way to travel the world is a mental obstacle as much as a financial one. Every situation is different, but I believe that if you truly prioritize travel, then it’s possible to plan and execute an around 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 Does It Cost to Travel the World?

BUDGET

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. Available on Kindle, ePub, and PDF.

save for world travel ebook

SAVE

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 12 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.


How to Decide on Your Final World Travel Budget?

Travel was my bootcamp for life. My around the world 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 dream of living. I am forever glad I chose to travel our beautiful world.

~ Shannon O’Donnell

Creating an accurate anticipated budget for your world tour is an important step—you certainly don’t want to plan for a year but run out of funds in month eight! Each person has different goals, a unique trip itinerary, and differing travel styles. These factors can create significant differences in the total cost of a round the world trip.

Assess How Much You’ve Saved

A round the world trip is not as expensive as you assume. Most anyone reading this post has the ability to save for travel if it’s a true priority. My family is quite poor and I put myself through college with merit-based scholarships. Instead of counting on help from family, I budgeted for the trip, and I traveled with the budget I had—not the one I wish I had.

Before leaving, I purged everything I owned and saved ruthlessly in the countdown months. When calculating if I could afford my trip around the world, I even accounted for my student-loan and medical credit debt repayments (because yes, I was actually in a fair bit of debt). I took on side-hustles to sock away money. And then I worked on freelance SEO remotely for the entire year.

Compared to my life in LA, where $1,200+ went toward rent and bills each month, I used that same online income to travel the world, digging into my small savings for my travel gear and long-haul flights. I wasn’t sure how much my trip would cost when I left to travel, and the information just wasn’t out there like it is now. Now you can play with your travel route and your travel style and come up with a tally in just a few hours for what your dream trip will cost. In fact, I believe so much that world travel is affordable that I wrote a budget guide and spreadsheet to help you price out your dream trip and have all the possible resources you need at your fingertips.

Decide Your Route & Speed Around the World

Jumping at the Taj Mahal on my RTW journey
While admission to the Taj was pricey, everything else in India was crazy cheap. Seven weeks in India cost less than spending one week in Italy! And guys … it’s the Taj! It ranks up there as one of the cooler experiences when traveling the world.

This is the single biggest indicator of how much world travel will cost. Slow overland travel lowers costs, and you can minimize the number of flights needed. To save money, also consider visiting fewer places. Every travel dreamer over-packs their around the world route. You surely have a dream list, but unless you have unlimited funds, then you should scale back the number of regions/countries that you will visit. When I first planned my trip, a long-term traveler advised me to cut five countries from my itinerary. Looking back now, I can’t even imagine where they would have fit! It’s my route and speed that allowed me to travel for under $20K.

Read: How to Plan an Around the World Itinerary in 8 Steps

Determine the Types of Countries You’ll Visit

If you add in developed countries like Europe, Japan, Australia, and the United States, your daily budget will double. Instead of spending $25 per day in SEA and India, you will average $75 to $100 per day in most developed countries. For that reason, weight your trip in favor of developing regions of the world. Save Europe or the U.S. for a shorter trip later in life, and add a few off-beat locations to your planned route—these are most often the sleeper-favorites by the end of your RTW trip.

If You’ll Eat Local Food, Street Foods, & Shop in Markets

How you eat on your travels impacts your bottom line. Eat locally from mom and pop restaurants, and sample eats from street food stalls. Contrary to many assumptions from first glance, these locations are perfectly safe so long as you adhere to a few standard food safety practices. 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 prepare your own breakfast at the very least.

Read: How to Eat Street Food Without Getting Sick and buy the Food Traveler’s Handbook to learn even more about safely enjoying street eats


Note that budgets and guides give clear examples of how travelers can truly spend on average $50 per day on average to travel the world. And using the tips above, you can lower these figures even more, if needed. You could likely travel with as little as US $12,000 per year if you stick to one region—overland for a year from Mexico to Argentina; or overland through China, Southeast Asia, and India. The price of a budget trip jumps to US $25,000 to visit many regions rapidly. If you prefer mid-range accommodations, that might increase your expenses by $10,000; same goes if you’re prone to splurging on expensive extras like helicopter rides, diving, and adventure activities.

The bottom line: Understand your route, travel style, and goals before you can develop an accurate anticipated budget for travel.


Recommended Next Steps

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! My site and those of my friends contain every essential resource you need to plan world travel. 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 free 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.

Eight Steps of Planning a World Trip

  1. Save for Travel & Eliminate Debt
  2. Build a Realistic Trip Budget
  3. Plan Your Around the World Trip Itinerary
  4. Pick the Right Travel Insurance
  5. Pack for Long-Term World Travel
  6. Work Remotely While You Travel
  7. Stay Healthy on the Road
  8. Browse Free Destination Guides

Resources & Further Research

World Travel Budgets

Books to Read First

On-the-Road Travel Resources

  • ALA Travel Guides share comprehensive information on what to know before you go in each new destination. 
  • Grassroots Volunteering is ALA’s sister site, offering a database of responsible travel companies and volunteer experiences all over the world, as well as Responsible Travel Guides about how to use travel as a force for good.
  • Cost of Living Guides show you how affordable it is might be to live outside your home country. You can sometimes elongate world travels by months or years by stopping in these affordable locations.

Working on the Road

  • How to Start a Travel Blog: Record the highs and lows of your once in a lifetime trip. This no-nonsense page details the process and won’t upsell you on any courses you likely don’t need. Just basic facts of how to start your first blog, and maybe even make some money along the way.
  • Finding Freelance Work for Digital Nomads. Since money is a huge factor for many travelers, this resource page thoroughly covers remote work—something I’ve been doing since 2005.

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 an around the world trip possible.

~Shannon

377 thoughts on “A Little RTW Budget… How Much Does it Cost to Travel the World for a Year? (2020)”

  1. I’ve edited a list resources for finding seasonal jobs – these have helped me get nearly every seasonal job I’ve had. Most of the jobs provide housing which is deducted from your wage. So you don’t need to worry about finding your own place to live, and food is often included as well. If you’re willing to work while you travel, it’s a really excellent way to see the world on a small budget.

    http://jacquelineboss.com/2017/12/15/work-in-beautiful-locations-close-to-nature-resources-for-seasonal-jobs/

    Reply
  2. That’s a great article indeed! A really wise thing to do before going for a trip somewhere is to think over everything twice. Once bitten twice shy, you know. So, think over all the problems you might face up with. Make sure the accommodation you chose for your stay corresponds its actual price. Get in touch with the owner beforehand. Thank you again for this post. I wish next year everyone has a chance to have their own dream trips.

    Reply
  3. Hi,

    Great article!

    After deciding that it was time and purchasing a really inexpensive one-way flight from FLL to Auckland, I have been reading and researching on what my next step should be. I think I have a plan (sort of, maybe, I don’t know AHHH), but would you be able to direct me to articles, boards or anything on what type of meet up opprutunities are out there. I am a 31 year old female and am doing this adventure solo. I don’t mind being solo, but I think it would be great to meet up with people who are also traveling for more then a vacation.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  4. I bet you had an amazing experience on that budget as well. It’s so doable at every level. Some people assume it’s hugely expensive, while others assume you have to stay at hostels. Looks like you guys had a wonderful trip without sacrificing comfort!

    Reply
  5. great and inspirational story and in fact it also provide the best and in depth knowledge about the Cost per day on different countries.
    Thanks and God bless you :)

    Reply
  6. Hi Shannon,
    Thank you so much for all the time dedicated to your passion and thank you so much for sharing all of that with us. I will make a big use of your Google template, with my partner we plan to leave our lives here and start our passionate and adventurous journey to the unknown. I like the fact that you are ultra precise on everything, I keep your website as a reference. We have started a website and I will write blogs and articles on our journey, I will not forget to mention and link your pages; it’s just the beginning so if you have other advice and experience with blogging, digital marketing, …. I’ll be happy to take it on board.

    Thanks again Shannon for everything, enjoy the ride!
    Marlene

    Reply
    • I am so happy to hear that you plan to use the Google template! It’s still so handy on my own travels. As for the blog, it should be a passion project for you, something you love to build even if you never make money, and it should provide value that you can’t find elsewhere. Either a truly unique perspective on it all, information others aren’t sharing, or a niche that hasn’t yet been done. Find a voice and a story to tell and others will read. I wish you all the best luck! :)

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  7. Ma’am. I love all the detail you went into about saving for a RTW trip – something I’ve always wanted to do and am currently in the process of saving up for. I do have a question though (and I apologize for the ignorance – i just can’t seem to get an actual answer for anything).
    What are the visa requirements for just going on holiday to a different country? Will I be required to get a visa for every country I plan on visiting on this trip?
    I saw that you got an Indian visa, but no others were listed that I saw. Does it matter how long your there as to where or not you need a visa?

    Reply
  8. Wow… this has opened up my mind to what is possible… so really I just need to save the initial flights and a bit of a buffer for a month or so… and if I can get money by working online or something… I can then just continue to live in south east Asia or something for far less than where I live now (Australia). Just one question… how do you get the accommodation cheap? Like do you need to rent a place and sign a lease? Doesn’t it cost a lot more to live in a hotels for such a long time? or am I just use to Australian prices…?

    Reply
  9. Hi Shannon! I plan to go on the road next April 2018, so I have one year and a half to save up money. I believe I can save up to 7000 euros (being pessimistic, because I think I could earn more) and I would like to travel for 3 to 6 months. I live in Europe, so I think I wouldn’t travel, and I have 3 plans, so to say: 1) A tour including Letonia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Rumania, Eslovenia, Viena. 2) A tour in Canada 3) A tour in Asia (I’d like to visit China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodja and Korea). How much do you think I should save to do so? Which tour do you think it’s the most-doable one?

    Reply
    • Good question! All of your trip ideas sound incredible. For that €7,000, you will get the most for your money if you stay out of the Western countries. Your money won’t go as far in Canada, but even more than that, Canada is a trip that you may find yourself taking later in life when you have more money, kids, etc. It’s an easy destination to visit. You should look at picking a spot that really excites you and that also matches the adventurous spirit you have right now. My bet is on Southeast Asia since it’s very affordable and also a good spot for a first-time traveler since it’s very safe. Since you live in Europe, it’s dead simple for you to plan another trip in the future for the Baltics and Eastern Europe. I am going to send you a private email with some more thoughts! :)

      Reply
  10. I’ve heard some people travel for a year in the same continent for under $10,000 USD, South America, Central America, SEA… I hope I get my chance soon!

    Reply
    • That is absolutely within the realm of possible if you are limiting the number of flights that you take. Flights are usually the biggest expense, with accommodation next. So if you can limit the flights, and then pick regions of of the world with affordable accommodation (definitely SEA and Central America… South America can be pricier in areas and in the activities). Best of luck plotting and planning those travels!

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      • I just randomly came across this because as you mentioned, you get addicted to long-term travel…lol. I was trying to get some ideas for my 10k I’ll have saved up this year. But, wow! Seriously, 10k RTW is possible, I’m surprised that 5 yrs ago you didn’t think that. I spent 8k last year and went to 25 countries in Europe, Asia (South, Southeast, Central, and East/North), Middle East and Oceania. This year I’d probably concentrate on South America where I’ve not been yet, which should be even cheaper. I did things like a private 12 day tour in Mongolia, spent a month in Japan (usually expensive) etc. It’s definitely possible. I have friends who did this on even less, they hitchhiked and couch surfed most of the time (I only did this a couple times though I did get some accommodation/food free from some volunteer things I did. On the other hand I also stayed in 4-5 star hotels sometimes too.)

        Reply
  11. Hey Shannon,
    My name is Claire and I’m currently a junior in high school from Seattle, WA. I’ve have plans to take a gap year or two after graduation to travel throughout Europe. I would like to land in Barcelona, and take the Eurail throughout most of the other countries(Germany, Sweden, England, Czech Republic, Italy, Greece, etc.) I’m aware of the Eurail system, so I will plan on buying a pass. I’m also aware that staying in hostels is probably the cheapest/easiest way to go. The problem is, it’s a very vague plan and I am not very familiar with coordinating plane trips, train rides, hostel stays, etc (Since this is will be my first solo traveling experience).
    Do you have any suggestions on how to make money while I’m traveling, the steps to take before I go, how to find affordable places to sleep at night (that are close by the Eurail stations), and advice you wish you knew before you started traveling? From your experience, do you think $30,000 is enough to travel with for a year(assuming I also make money along the way)?
    Thank you so much for your time,
    Claire.

    Reply
    • Hi Claire, thanks for writing. I absolutely think that your gap year is doable and that you can certainly save the funds for that. An entire year in Europe would be hard because of the visa situation, and because it would be very pricey. You can backpack Europe for 90 days on a tourist visa, then you have to leave for 90 days. So with that in mind, you’ll be looking at other places you could work and travel. Have you thought about getting a work visa to a place like Australia? They are fairly easy to obtain straight out of school and many Europeans go there and work (picking fruit or waiting tables) and travel and save the funds that way to continue traveling. There should be good information about that online. I have a work and travel page here if you are keen to find a way to work online: https://alittleadrift.com/how-to-work-and-travel-rtw/

      As for planning it all out, that’s the least of your worries. The planning part is more straightforward once you are on the road, but finding ways to work and save now is, perhaps, the most important part of your plan. That work and travel page should give you some ideas. I have a ton of planning resources on the site (https://alittleadrift.com/rtw-travel/), and the working page lists out a lot of other job boards and ideas, from teaching English to finding an online skill. Best of luck! You’ve totally got this. If you dream of travel, then you can make it a reality with focus and determination to save the funds and work toward that goal.

      Reply
  12. Im guessing this was a while back and prices of things have gone up quite a lot since then. I keep coming back to this page like I did for past 2 or 3 years..keeps me motivated when i’m gonna start mine…Thank You

    Reply
    • Hi Mohammad! Suprisingly, it’s still possible to do a RTW trip for that same cost. Somethings have certainly gone up, but others have gone down. So it’s gotten significantly cheaper to travel in Australia, and I would save several hundred dollars a month if I was backpacking there now compared to being there in 2008 with the Aussie dollar was a much stronger global currency. Gas is also cheaper, meaning flights have gone down. So the cost of food in Thailand is about 50 cents more a meal, but that has been counteracted by other changes too. Take a look at this woman, she spent the same figure for a RTW in 2015: http://www.neverendingfootsteps.com/2016/02/16/how-much-does-it-cost-to-travel-the-world-for-a-year-my-2015-expenses/

      Reply
  13. I love your honesty! This is going to help so many travellers. I can’t say I kept my totals to the penny, though, but maybe to the nearest pound.

    Reply
    • To the nearest pound is still pretty fantastic. So many people dream of a trip and are surprised when they see the real costs broken down for them.

      Reply
  14. My business partners required DS-82 several days ago and used a website with lots of sample forms . If people require DS-82 too , here’s https://goo.gl/LqB8da.

    Reply
  15. Hi Shannon,
    I’m just starting grade nine, but I have a passion for travel and I’d love to do a solo RTW yearlong trip after going to university. My dream would be to leave right after finishing all my schooling, but I’m not sure if I’ll have enough of a travel fund by then.
    I’m very roughly planning on 2 months in Central and South America, 2 months in Africa, 4-5 months in the southeastern half of Asia (all the way from India to Thailand and up to China), 1 month in Australia/New Zealand, and 2-3 months in Europe. I’d be departing from and returning to Canada.
    I’d probably stay in hostels and guest houses most of the time, maybe couch surf in more expensive regions.
    I’m definitely considering working online while on the road, but I’d like a minimum of $15k before I go. Do you think it’s possible to save $15-20k in 4 years of high school plus 4 years of university? Or would you recommend finding a full time job for a couple years before the trip?
    Thanks, Kathryn

    Reply
    • Hi Kathryn, it is so nice to receive your comment! I have no doubt that you can make it happen with that much time and since you are clearly planning now. Since I doubt you can formally work, I suggest you save a portion of your babysitting money or any work you can do in the summers — enjoy some of it but get a savings account and set aside a portion. Then, once you can work, if you spend your summers really working hard, then you can easily reach the 20K in the next eight years. It’s even easier if you have help by living with your parents or family in the summer, then you are saving costs on accommodation while you work between college years. I know that the summer after I graduated high school, I had a job waiting tables and I managed to save nearly all of that money ($4K). I used it to buy a car, but if you put even a portion away each summer, you will surely reach your goals. I encourage you to talk to your parents now, ask for their help in getting a savings account set up, and ask for them to help you prioritize your savings. It can be easy to spend money on the little things, especially with so many activities in high school that require expenses, so with their help you can perhaps really focus on saving a healthy portion of anything you earn. I definitely think you can make it happen with savings ready for when you graduate! Keep me posted, and don’t hesitate to email me if I can ever help as you are saving and dreaming and planning. :)

      Reply
      • Thanks for the advice! I’ll definitely consult my parents to set up a savings account for travel, and although you’re right that I can’t apply for a traditional job yet, I have a semi regular pay cleaning my grandparents house for them. Not too many babysitting jobs, since I live outside of a small town, but there are a few. I’m planning to apply for a part time job as soon as I can. Thanks so much for the positivity and support, and I’ll make sure to keep you posted! :D

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      • Hey Shannon, so after looking at lots of RTW travel blogs and seeing how much Europe can raise the cost, and realizing just how much time I want to spend there, I think I might save that continent for a trip of its own farther down the road. The time I would’ve spent there will be spread throughout the other parts of the trip. How significantly would skipping Europe lower the total cost? Do you think $15k USD would be enough for the whole trip?

        Reply
        • I think that is a great figure and plan. Europe will be there and surely you will make it back there in the future. 15K will go a long way toward backpacking all over. I am going to send you an email in a few days to something that I wrote — I think it will help you better play with the figures and potential budget!

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    • Hi! Im just starting 10th grade, and i also dream of traveling the world!….just like you Im going to try solo backpacking. Maybe ill try for a year or two Im not sure right now…and since im homeschooled i have time have a job so i can save up money to go. Im trying to go as soon as I turn 18 and school finishes which is roughly in another 2 years…
      Im trying to save up at least $30-40k in the next two years and even though it sounds like a long shot I truly believe its possible.
      Im going to Greece and Italy next year as part of my school trip and so ill get to see what it would be like to travel alone.
      I have this huge map on my wall and Im trying to plan out where in the world i want to go. Making a travel route of sorts.
      Pinterest helps alot!
      I was thinking of renting an apartment (cheap) so I can just travel through out Europe and always have somewhere to come back too… Do you think its a good idea? i dunno…
      I have some money put away so I don’t necessarily have to save up but it would be great to challenge myself and get some experience in working.
      I want to work and travel in bars, restaurants, cafes, teaching etc… would i need a special visa for that or something?
      Do think i should go to college first?
      All in all my end game is to find a place in the world i truly love and live there forever!
      After that ill go to university and get a degree in nursing!

      Reply
      • Thanks for writing! So sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I love that you are heading out on a solo trip. It’s wonderful that you are able to work now and save up the funds. As far as getting an apartment, that can definitely help save on costs in some parts of the world, but there are other considerations about getting a visa and such. In Europe, you can’t stay for longer than 90 days. Plus, it’s pretty pricey. Perhaps look into budget backpacking through Europe — you will meet a lot of others at the hostel. Then you could rent a place in Thailand, Mexico, or somewhere very budget that has a lot to explore.

        And yes, working is a whole other thing. There are times that you can find under-the-table work waiting tables or you can often work in a hostel and earn your bed (this is very common). It’s best to save up the majority of the funds that you will need, and not count on finding work. That said, look at the work-visa for Australia — it’s very popular and you qualify for that one-year visa until you’re in your late 30s. This is hugely popular and lots of backpackers work the farms picking fruit and waiting tables in Oz, and then backpacking this region (https://www.gooverseas.com/blog/americans-guide-working-holiday-visas).

        Lastly, it’s a tough call on going to college. I am very glad that I had my degree when I left long-term, it has allowed me to earn more money and stay on the road longer because I have a degree. It really depends on your situation. You could always backpack in huge chunks every summer throughout college and then go on a longer one- or two-year adventure. There is no wrong decision, and it comes down to your goals. There are travel nursing programs that could be an incredible fit for you, I recommend that you google these organizations that send nurses for several months to spots all over the world. I’ve met a few on the road and they seem like they have found a good dynamic to work-life-travel. (My friend Candy has a great blog about it: http://www.thegypsynurse.com). Best of luck! Keep me posted if I can help with anything. :)

        Reply
  16. Hi I am chandan planning for a backpacker trip of 20 days in may/June 2017 please help which countries should I visit. I am planning to visit whole world on continent basis say one continent or two in a year. Would like to start with Europe. Since I am from India will need help on 1. Which country to start and end. Visa requirements.trip cost with minimum air travel. I like to feel the place I visit. And best places to stay.

    Reply
    • Hi Chandan! So exciting that you have a good trip coming up. Europe is wonderful and will make for a fun way to start your years of exploring. As for starting and ending points, hub cities are the best. I recommend that you use Skyscanner to look for open-ended routes from the airport you will leave from and then you can just type in “europe.” This will allow you to find good rates into cities you might not have considered that have easy routes to and from India. Then look into Eurorail passes, the Global pass may be the best bet for the maximum way to move around and explore a lot of the countries on offer. Best of luck! It’s such a culturally rich area of the world to be exploring. :)

      Reply
      • Hi just update me on the best and cheapest season. Which countries have good landscapes. I love them. Considering 20 days trip which countries do u think I should opt. BTW thanks for immediate reply and such an informative post.

        Reply
        • I think you should look up the weather information for the countries you’d like to visit and you can chart a course through them in the right time of year for your ideal climate. There are warm parts of Europe even in the winter, or you could go north and ski. Up to you and will depend on what you are looking for! That type of information is not something I specialize in, but once you are planning the trip, I have a lot of gear resources and the such here: https://alittleadrift.com/rtw-travel/

          Best of luck!

          Reply
          • Hey Shannon, your story was amazing and inspired me to travel for about 3 months… Would $12,000 suffice? ????

          • Hi Amanda! $12K is a good sum! It will surely get you three months of travel at almost any travel style too. Even if you have a mid-range budget, that will last more than three months in developing countries. If you are backpacking Europe, then it’s a good sum to really enjoy and have tasty food and nice lodging the entire time. :)

          • Thank you so much! I also started following you on FB, your page is amazing!! ????????.
            Also I was wondering how far $12K would take me in SEAsia (Time Wise)? ????

          • Well, if you are willing to travel as a budget traveler, then you could backpack around Southeast Asia for about $1,200. That is staying a low-cost guesthouses or hostels, and going with the backpacker vibe. If you decide to stop in one spot for a month or two, it can be much cheaper. You can temporarily “live” in Chiang Mai or Bangkok for as little as $600-$800 for a month. If you plan to stay in nicer places, it will just cost a bit more each month. The $1,200 is a guestimate though because it really depends on the countries you choose. Vietnam is very, very cheap to backpack, and you will spend less than that for a month backpacking there, but Myanmar can be pricier. I think $1,200 is a good backpacker average estimate if you are in SEA for 8 months or so. :)

  17. Hi! Happy to see that your still responding on this blog post. I plan to pick up my things and just go very shortly. I currently travel on short trips every month in the US but I still crave more. There is just something about meeting new people, experiencing new things and just seeing the world that draws me in. I really think just finally deciding to go and experience such a once in a lifetime opportunity is what my soul needs.

    The only problem is I literally have NO idea where to start. I read blog post after blog post but still can’t find a starting point, nor a travel path that will be the most cost efficient. I do have about $20k saved up so thats not the problem its just determining my path that continues to pull me back. Any help on what to do when in this situation?

    Also, was wondering if you are still traveling? If so, where about may you be now? Do you expend your trips a bit longer then a month now a days. ?

    Thank you for any help,
    Bianca

    Reply
    • Hi Bianca! You have definitely reached the hardest step, which is saving up the funds. In terms of actually traveling and setting out, there are so many various options. There are a few key ideas that can help stretch a travel budget. If you stick to one region of the world, especially affordable areas of the world, then those funds can stretch to 18 months or even longer. You could slowly backpack around Asia for a very long time on a budget like that. Or even start in Central America and then head south until you reach the end of South America. This style of travel allows you to cut down on expensive plane flights, while also exploring neat cultures and countries, and also giving you the flexibility to stop for a few months in a spot if you end up loving it. All of these things would stretch the budget a good deal. I suggest that you start looking at what other travelers have spent in the countries that you are interested in. There are two levels — traveling daily rates accounts for things like touring and getting between cities. But cost of living breakdowns that some digital nomads post ( https://alittleadrift.com/cost-of-living/ ) will give you a good idea of what it will cost to go very slowly. I will send you an email with a few more ideas. As for me, I am currently in England, I was in Spain house sitting for two months, and now I am going to head to Australia for two months to visit a friend there. I go much slower now than I did on that first RTW trip.

      Reply
    • Yes indeed. $3,500 of that is flights. I didn’t book a RTW ticket, I booked as I traveled and it totaled out to just a portion of the total. If i had done fewer long-haul flights jumping continents it would have been lower on the flight expenses.

      Reply
  18. Aloha! I read your article a few years ago and I’m re-reading it again. We seem to have inadvertently used your article as a blue print for our careers. Becoming care takers has afforded us with a nice way to travel and submerse ourselves in a local culture. Kudos to this articles longevity and relevance today. BTW – You were way ahead of the AirBnB curve!

    Reply
    • Well it makes my day to hear you say that you found it relevant both a few years ago, and now too! And I am so happy to hear that you are traveling and immersing and cultures and on a life path you love. Happy travels! :)

      Reply
  19. Hi! Thanks for this informative article!
    The main thing I am worried about is safety as a woman traveling alone. I’d like to think I am above all the poor, fragile girl rhetoric and while I’m not THAT, the truth is women do have to take different precautions, especially when traveling and traveling abroad. Do you have any advice or and experiences that you can share?
    Thanks!
    Rachel

    Reply
    • Hi Rachel, so glad you found the piece useful. Safety is a valid concern. It’d be crazy not to talk about the fact that solo females have some specific concerns on the road. I wrote a piece here that looks at my experiences on the road, and how I’ve managed to stay safe. It includes some tips and thoughts about where your actual concerns should be, versus what aspects of travel we are taught to fear (most of which don’t pan out!). https://alittleadrift.com/2013/06/solo-female-travel-safety/

      Reply
    • I traveled by train and bus in Europe — it was really quite easy to get around this way. I rented a car for three weeks in Ireland, and that was the only spot that i did that.

      Reply
    • Very true. It was done on purpose. It’s the only country where I visited just one city instead of traveling around, however, so it felt like a lie to report that as the cost of traveling the Netherlands since Amsterdam’s costs are so different.

      Reply
    • Good question! From a cost perspective, it’s slightly less than double the costs. And it’s less than traveling as a couple. The kids get discount bus/train tickets in some areas (my niece got discounts since she was under 12, the boat in Laos was half-priced). Sticking to the cheaper regions and they don’t really add on much costs because you would already be doing many of the activities and the entrance fees can be low. I found myself doing more things like hanging out for free at the local park so she could play with other kids and less time out and drinking and such. If you want to know what the actual experience is like, I traveled with my niece for seven months in SE Asia, those posts are here: https://alittleadrift.com/category/traveling-with-ana/ And I traveled in Mexico this past summer with my two nephews: https://alittleadrift.com/2015/12/yucatan-mexico-kids/

      Reply
  20. Inspiring. I am 27 yo now, and planning to take a 1 year unpaid leave to travel. I really need to work on it seriously, It has been a day dream so far but reading your post, I know I can work on it.

    Reply
    • I wish you the best of luck Shahul, it can take time to save up the funds but will be worth it when you head out on that dream trip!

      Reply
  21. Thank you for posting this. I have a decent job but am not really feeling it right now. I’d love the experience of taking a year off and just traveling. I figure that if I work another couple of years I can take a year off and do just that. I had budgeted around $28k but it’s wonderful to hear that it can be done more cheaply.

    Reply
    • So glad that you found it useful! I think that aiming higher in the savings is always good, that way you can splurge when needed, and you may visit some more expensive countries. But in general your estimations are spot-on and you will surely have enough to set out on your travels! :)

      Reply
  22. Shannon,

    Amazing article. I am about to quit my job and travel around the world and im very analytical so your budgeting breakdown was amazing! I have never been backpacking but am excited to go.

    I saved about $35,000 So hoping to be as efficient as you.

    A couple things I am worried about. Have you had any trouble with people stealing things at hostels or getting robbed?

    Also what did you do for money? Any credit cards you recommend or an ATM card?

    Reply
    • That’s a great savings to get you on the road! For safety, I haven’t ever been robbed, which is a combination of simply luck alongside some careful planning. I am meticulous about locking things up at a shared hostel, and at guest houses I am careful about leaving expensive things out. But then, there are just some things you can’t always totally prevent. I use Clements for my gear insurance, never made a claim but it makes me feel better (https://alittleadrift.com/rtw-travel/#insurance and https://alittleadrift.com/rtw-travel/#safe have more info) and for the ATM card, my hands-down rec is to get a Schwab card if you are American (https://alittleadrift.com/rtw-travel/#cards).

      Reply
      • Holy crap. That link you provided to me was absolutely perfect.

        Ive read tons of blogs but yours seem on point.

        Thank you so much for all your help!

        Im looking forward to my adventure alone and I am American so thank you for that link as well!

        Reply
  23. HI Shannon thank you very much for the information provided by you about Travelling.i would like to ask you provide me little information,i am from INDIA,next year i.e 2016 FEB i am planning to travel Singapore and i would like to stay at hostel. but Is there any age restriction to stay at hostel reason for asking i am 28 years old.

    Reply
    • Hi King, usually the only age restrictions at a hostel are for teenagers or older people. At 28, it’s highly unlikely that your hostel has any restrictions, usually I would say 18-45 is a safe age range to assume most places. You can also email them if you are concerned, but they would have it written on the site if they had that type of policy. Have a wonderful trip!

      Reply
    • Well, I travel on an American passport, which means there are certain countries where entry is free (all of Europe, Thailand). The other countries weren’t too expensive, usually around $30 to enter, and since I stay in places for a month or two, it helped spread out those costs. There are regions of the world that are much more expensive and tricky to get visas (Central Asia is tough on an American passport). There are sites you can use to check out costs and requirements ahead of time: https://alittleadrift.com/rtw-travel/#visas

      Reply
  24. Hi Shannon,

    Great article thanks :) I am hoping to go and travel with my boyfriend and ideally a RWT would be what we are looking to do. We are flying from Europe and planning on starting in South America down in the South and then moving up North. It sounds so inspiring when you say that you managed to do your trip in under 20k usd………but when I look at the costs involved for our trip everything seems so expensive and I feel like I honestly do not know where to start. Financially, things to pre-book and plan, how much luggage to take, how much time to allocate to each area. I would love to also be able to stop in countries and work as I go…to be able to stretch our travels out, so that we are not chomping away at our savings :( How much time do you think is needed to preorganise and plan a long term trip for like 10 month to a year? And do you have any tips on South America?

    Reply
    • Hi Tanya! I know it can seem so, so overwhelming when you are first diving into the traveling, but I promise that you will start to dig through all of the noise to the pieces of budgets that best work for you. One key thing about my RTW is that I had a really solid mix of developed and developing world travel, and I also limited my trip to three continents. Flights and rapid transport are some of the biggest budget killers, so if you can land in one or two spots and then go overland, that helps a lot! I haven’t actually been to South America yet, but I hear that it’s in the mid-range to expensive in areas. Chile and Argentina are going to set you back, as are some of the high end things like the Galapagos and Machu Picchu. Comparatively, you could plan to start south but limit your time there and spend more time in Central America. Same goes for Africa versus Asia. I found Africa to be more expensive than you would expect when you added in the activities and such, and it was generally more than I had anticipated. South and Southeast Asia, however, are VERY budget, so if you plan the bulk of your time there, you again start to offset the cost of more expensive places.

      Jodi has a great list of budget posts so you can dig in and get a good idea for it. And one last thought is to look into WWOOFing ( http://wwoofinternational.org it sounds exactly like what you will want to do to stretch the budget and also really get to know an area well. Hope that helps! Keep me posted if I can help with anything, or check out my planning page for all the tips I wish I had known as I was planning too! ( https://alittleadrift.com/rtw-travel).

      Reply
  25. Shannon
    Thanks for detailed blogging.

    I am from India and I am also looking to cover the world. Basically Europe with parents and lil more challenging like Antarctica in Cruise solo.
    That’s how I am sketching my future travel all the time, easier ones take parents and tougher ones just alone or with some another solo buddy.
    Currently I am also looking for such travel documentary types of jobs so that I can go to such places as a job :) :) . I am v optimistic here :P :P
    You have any suggestion in mind. I am checking trip together website too. But first would be Europe trip with family,
    Saving money somehow gives me an indication that it would take long to fulfill these dream. Any suggestion or such job suggestions in mind?
    Nevertheless, I loved your money managing skills along with your blog.
    Keep travelling

    Thanks
    Roopz

    Reply
  26. Hi! I absolutely loved this article! I am from Mexico and I want to go to Europe alone an this helped me so much with the amount of money I need to save, but there’s just one thing I don’t understand? The costs that you put are on dollars or in euros or in the currency of the country? Please can you tell me? I am 17 now and next year I want to travel solo but I need to see the amount of money I need to save and work for it! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Bere, that’s a good question! The prices in this article are in USD and for my trip back in 2009, so you will want to think about that. A few places have gotten more expensive since then, but some have also gotten cheaper (the Euro to USD rate is better now). So, there is a good chance you could plan a similar budget RTW trip for a similar budget. Within the spreadsheet if you click through to the Google Doc, those prices are in the local currency and then also calculated into the price in USD at that time.

      And if you are looking for budgets of a specific place I did not go, Jodi from Legalnomads did a wonderful round-up of budgets here: http://www.legalnomads.com/wds#budget

      Reply
  27. Hey Shannon, great blog, absolutely love it. I am planning a long trip abound the world with my partner :P what we are finding really hard is to save up for it. My graphic design job pays only 7500$/yr where am at. So it might take nearly 2 years not spending a penny to save up for a year of travel :( I try doing stuff on the side too, but still its a lot to save. Anyways I have faith that l figure it out…

    Reply
  28. How about the Philippines? You totally should visit Palawan! The islands there are marvelous! El Nido and Sabang are my favorites :)

    Reply
    • I would love to make it there soon! The photos I have seen of the Philippines just look incredible. Thanks for putting Sabang on my radar, I hadn’t really considered it before!

      Reply
  29. You are pretty much the most amazing person ever. My fiance and i just traveled europe for 7 months straight and I wish I would have found your blog sooner you are seriously like my long lost twin. I wrote down every single expense to the penny and what exactly i spent it on. i have not put it in to categories yet it’s just divided by what place I was in and each day. I have never met another world traveler let alone one who would make a spread sheet with every detail. Good for you. Your amazing.

    Reply
    • I love that you tracked your European trip too! There is a deep satisfaction in being able to look at it after and see where and when you spent your money. I just find it fascinating in how it all breaks down. Good luck segmenting it out in the future if you choose to! :)

      Reply
  30. Hello! I’m 17 and i was thinking of saving up for a year (or longer) and going around the world. The problem is is that my parents (particularly my father) thinks it’s too dangerous and too expensive for me to do this alone especially, as my dad puts it, because i’m female and i guess he’s scared i’ll be taken???? It kinda heart me since i’ve been dreaming about doing this yet he refuses to even support. He would rather me go to college when i really don’t want to waste money if i don’t know what i want to do instead of do something i want to do. and i found this blog and got really excited knowing that you were able to do this and seeing things like this keeps my motivation going. so thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Jess, so good to hear from you and it sounds like you have an amazing plan in place! Traveling the world can be safe and can be a great education, but on the flip side, your dad has some legitimate fears and a formal education should be considered too. I went the traditional route of college, and then did a study abroad one semester and it was incredible, I am so glad I did it and also glad that I got my degree so that I could then work and travel for the past nearly seven years. It was a path in life that worked for me. Only you and your family know the one that is best suited to your dreams, passions, and needs. If I were in your position, I would come up with a clear plan of how long you plan to travel, when you’ll return for college, where you’ll go, and present it to your dad calmly and ask for his feedback, as him his concerns and to ask him to have a frank and open discussion about why he doesn’t support the trip. Opening those lines of communication in a controlled environment (on a good night when everyone is rested, eaten, and no looming time constraints) could help you both better understand where each other are coming from. Best of luck Jess! Let me know if I can ever help with anything. ~Shannon

      Reply
  31. This is an amazing article! What is your input on traveling alone and staying in hostels alone? I hear safety is a major concern (especially in Asia) so I wanted your input on that. Thanks!

    Reply
    • So glad it was helpful Helena! I traveled solo for nearly seven years now, and much of that was solo at hostels, so I think that you can absolutely do it safe. And Asia is pretty regional with it’s concerns — you will be totally fine in Southeast Asia. India is the big worry for solo females, just making sure that you are generally safe, for accommodation there, I stayed in family compounds and it seemed very safe to me the ones I chose. Though there are some concerns like scams in tourist areas of Bangkok, sketchy transportation standards, and things like that, I haven’t really heard anything bad about the hostels and guesthouses in Asia. I loved them and the community of backpackers passing through them. Safe and happy travels :)

      Reply
      • Phew! Super relieved to hear that! I’ll definitely be popping back in to badger you with more questions :) thanks so much for the helpful and quick response!

        Reply
        • Sure thing, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email with questions if I can help. I did a solo female safety post here as well: alittleadrift.com/2013/06/solo-female-travel-safety/

          Reply
  32. 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?

    Reply
    • 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. :)

      Reply
  33. 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!

    Reply
    • 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: https://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. :-)

      Reply
  34. 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!!

    Reply
    • 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. :)

      Reply
  35. 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!

    Reply
    • 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! :)

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

    Reply
    • 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. :)

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  37. 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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • 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

      Reply
    • Anthony,

      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.

      Reply
  38. 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

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

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    • 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. :)

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