Apr
03

How much did it cost me to travel the world for 2 years?

 

“How much did it cost you to travel the world for 2 years?”

“How did you afford to travel the world for so long?”

Those are just 2 of the questions I have received over and over since I started this trip and even more so now that I have finished my trip and am back home. Well wonder no more because I’m going to disclose it all right now. I already shared some random statistics from my 2 year backpacking trip around the world and now will share the cost of my 2 year backpacking trip around the world. I’m going to try and stay focused on the overall cost instead of trying break it down into detail. The reason I say that is because I literally kept track of every single penny I spent on this trip (yes I actually kept track of all my expenses on a spreadsheet) and know I could go into detail on average per country or many other things, but for now think it would be best to focus on the bigger picture and maybe in the future break it down into more detail. So here it is:

1 person – 731 days on the road – 30 countries visited = $27, 696.21

Yes the total cost of my 2 year RTW trip was $27,696.21

Go ahead pick your jaw up from the floor. I’ll give you a moment to grasp the total… Are you back with me? I know it’s crazy it’s less than what I made in a year living at home and also an average of less than $38/day!

This total is inclusive of everything from accommodation, transportation, food/drinks, activities and anything else that came up during my trip around the world. Crazy right… how could I have possibly spent 2 years traveling the world and only spent so little??? Some of you may already know a bit about my budget, because I shared it on my Daily Travel Budget post. Here is a break down of the total cost of my RTW trip by the categories I kept track of along with my thoughts to give you a better idea of just how I did it.

Welcome Sign.

  • TOTAL SPENT ON ACCOMMODATION – $5,896.75

I spent 731 days on the road so that meant finding a place to sleep for 731 nights. To save on accommodation the majority of my nights were spent in dorm rooms of hostels. Contrary to popular beliefs, hostels are not all dirty and dangerous; like wise I think hostels are amazing places to meet people and some can even be a luxury experience.

Of the 731 days on the road I did not pay for accommodation for 136 nights. I never used couch-surfing,  but was able to stay with people who I had met prior on the road who were now in their home town or even with some of my readers (you know who you are & I still appreciate it so much). I would also rent an apartment if I knew I was going to be spending more than a few weeks in a place. I rented a shared apartment in Athens for a month for less than $400, a shared apartment in Cairo for 3 months for less than $90/month and when I went back again to Cairo got an apartment of my own for 2 months for less than $125/month.  I would also book long train/bus rides to be overnight or even slept at the airport to catch an early flight to save on accommodation. These are just a few things I did to save money on accommodation during my travels.

Transportation around the world.

  • TOTAL SPENT ON TRANSPORTATION – $7,460.62

One of the questions I have received a few times now that I am home is “How did you get from place to place all over the world?”. Easy I’d take what ever was cheapest… yup be it a plane, train, bus, chicken bus, shared taxi, tuk tuk, collectivos, ferry or the occasional hitch hike. This total includes all my airfare and any money I spent on cabs, subways or any other form of transportation to get from one place to another (even within a city).

Of this total I spent less than $5,300 of it on airfare, that includes all 32 flights I took during my entire RTW trip. No I didn’t booked a RTW ticket and wouldn’t recommend it. Seriously a RTW ticket only brings you headaches and when you plan to be on the road for a year or more you want the piece of mind that you can do whatever you want whenever you want. I had no problem finding cheap fairs to get just about anywhere in the world. My most expensive flight was $852.96 to get from Houston to Paris. I also took advantage of the many budget airlines now all over the world. Yes like RyanAir, AirAsia and many others because when you are on a budget these airlines can be your best friend. Don’t avoid them because you’ve heard horror stories, it’s actually very simple the fairs are so cheap because you have a million rules to follow. If you can only have one carry on then check in your other bag, it ask you to print your ticket before boarding then go to a cafe and print your ticket, if it says jump 10 times then jump 10 times. If you follow the damn rules and you are golden. Sometimes though it’s cheaper to take the train like the 31 hour train ride from Mumbai to Delhi I took for $8 instead of paying $90 for a plane ticket.

Eating around the world!

  • TOTAL SPENT ON FOOD/DRINKS – $7,395.42

I think this category is self explanatory… no? I guess anyone who knows me knows I love to eat and also love trying all types of foods. No I’m not a food junkie, I rarely put thought into what I am eating and just eat. To stay on a budget I would eat street food or try and find where the locals were going to get the local price along with eating at markets. A good thing is that many hostels offer free breakfast with a nights stay the bad thing is half the time I wouldn’t wake up on time to get said free breakfast and if that was the case well I’d only eat two meals that day so it all worked out in the end. Oh & don’t get me started on all the drinking I did… lord knows I love to drink and that it was my budget breaker. Drinking is was what got me here in the 1st place and know it got me into trouble on the road a few times too. Like the night I got naked in Boracay in front of the entire hostel and I guess I’ll end this category on that note.

Unesco Sights around the world.

  • TOTAL SPENT ON ACTIVITIES – $1,491.10

I learned early on that I couldn’t do it all and realized that I would be doing amazing things all over the world so was okay with not being able to do it all when I was in a certain city. It’s all about give and take when you are on the road for so long. So I’d figure out where all I was going in a certain country to do research and see what was something I couldn’t miss and what was something I’d be okay with missing.

Aside from visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza 3 times some of my favorite activity splurges were a Sahara Desert expedition in Morocco, 3 nights exploring the Kerala Backwaters by houseboat in India, a 5 star nile cruise exploring the ruins between Aswan and Luxor in Egypt, and exploring the untouched, unbelievable, majestic beaches of El Nido in the Philippines. Now that I think of it I guess one of the things that helped keep this total low was that I am a huge haggler, I would haggle (negotiate) for anything and everything especially when it came to the big splurge activities I did around the world. Not only that, but you can also search online for basic search terms like Cheap China Tours and see what comes up to get contacts and reach out to them.

Shopping for Souvenirs.

  • TOTAL SPENT ON MISCELLANEOUS – $5,452.32

This total includes everything that did not fall into one of the categories above. Like my $1 haircut in India, the over 200 postcards I sent home, any souvenirs I purchased for myself or family and friends, the MacBook Pro charger I had to buy when the one I had broke. Oh & 4 digital cameras… ugh I still hate myself for this, but yes I broke 3 during my RTW trip. That alone cost me about $1000. So imagine I would have had an extra $1000 if it wasn’t for all the accidents I had with them. Now that I have a DSLR I will have to make sure I take better care of it. I also bought a Galaxy Tab as a gift for a friend, a years worth of Travel insurance (I know was on the road for 2 and only purchased for 1, but I still thank Zeus I didn’t need it when I had it or didn’t). It also included all VISA fees, credit I needed to make international calls and well the million other random cost that came up during my time on the road.

Well there you have it the total cost of my trip broken up into the 5 different categories I kept track of during my 2 year RTW trip along with my thoughts to let you know how I did it. In reality I haven’t even mentioned the most important part… the most important part of a RTW trip is your destination. It’s your destination that is going to dictate how much or how little you spend. I spent over 80% of my 2 year RTW trip in developing countries. I did that because those were some of the countries I really wanted to visit, but also because I knew what my overall budget was and knew if I wanted to be on the road 2 years that’s how it was going to have to be. I can give you a million tips on how to stay on budget or how to make the most of the budget you have, but I believe everything I have written above answers the first question of how much it cost me to travel the world for 2 years.

Now to answer the 2nd question… no I am not rich, I am not a trust fund baby and I did not win the lottery. I was able to afford to travel the world for so long, because of my hard work and the sacrifices I made to achieve my goal. I remember working like crazy and even overtime at the job I hated before this (customer service at a banking call center), I also mowed my neighbors yards and babysat for some of my friends. Along with picking up random jobs to make extra money I sold just about everything I owned including my new car. I had a goal in mind and I was set on reaching it even if that meant only going out once a week and not shopping for stuff I didn’t even need. I remember all the sacrifices I made and all the times I told my friends I wasn’t going out because I wanted to save for my trip and it’s because of that I get mad when someone says “oh you are so lucky you got to travel the world”. I get mad because no it wasn’t luck it was my determination to change my life for something I wanted and that I made happen. I know what luck is… luck is winning the lottery or hell luck is coming home from a 2 year trip around the world and getting a full time job (like happened to me). So if you are still wondering how I was able to afford it I’m not sure what else to tell you because now you know… determination.

The truth is I look at that number and am shocked that it’s less than what I made in a year living at home. What is even more shocking is that it was cheaper for me to travel the world for 2 years and visit 30 countries than to live at home for a year. I’ve been called crazy, I’ve been told I could have bought a brand new car or put a nice down payment on a house, but you know what I am a bit crazy and know I don’t want a car or a house right now. In the end I look at what it cost me to travel the world for 2 years and think I bought my self over a million memories made all over the world with people from every corner of the world that no one can take away from me. In reality it’s priceless because it’s only the memories we make on this beautiful planet that any of us can take with us when we leave anyway.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about everything written on this post. Please don’t hold back! Also please keep in mind that no 2 travel budgets are the same so as much as I know this will be helpful for people planning a RTW trip please note that it can cost a lot more or a lot less to travel for any given period of time. It all depends on your travel habits. Oh & remember if you have any other questions let me know in the comments because I will be doing an ASK ME ANYTHING post very soon and will answer any question(s) you have about my 2 year backpacking trip around the world.

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Comments

  1. This was so inspiring to read, I’ve been dreaming about travelling the world and have started saving for my trip but I am a bit nervous about travelling on my own and really want to experience as much as I can in each place as I know it will be a once in a lifetime experience, hopefully I will have enough money saved in the next 2 years to be able to travel for at least 18month but would also like to do some part time work whilst travelling to be able to allow me do as much as possible so I was wondering if you did any jobs to make some extra money whilst on your travels and how you felt about traveling alone( I’m a 21yr old women )

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Charity, that’s awesome. Yes make it your #1 priority and you will make it happen. It doesn’t cost much to travel the world, so save & save away. Remember the more you save the longer you can stay on the road and either way you can find work along the way to extend your travels.

  2. Hey Jaime !

    I’ve been through your feed, it was helpful in a 1000 ways..undoubtedly.. as I had no clue about how to get this thing started. I’m a traveling freak n would love to travel the whole world some day for sure.
    I’ve a weird dream of setting a foot on all the countries on this planet.
    I’m from India n I glanced through your daily expenses chart..it did tell me u spent some quality time traveling all over India.
    Now what I really wanted to ask you is if u can tell me an approximate figure of how much will it cost an Indian to travel the world..coz I see most of the nations u’ve traveled were among the developing ones which did cut out on ur expenses. But coz I’m an Indian my desire is to travel the west, be it America or Europe.
    I’d be glad if u can help me out on this..coz I feel there is no other person other than u who can probably help me out on this !
    One other question is how much approximately will it cost me to travel say like a 30-40 countries by air..? I;m gonna obviously chose only cheap flights..n what is this RTW all about..!?

    Cheers
    Saideep.

    • Hi Saideep
      If you take a $30,000 as a rough estimate and convert it to INR you need close to 16 laks. Unless you have a big trust fund or are relared to the Ambanis this is not easy to come by. My advice is work hard and try ro make your dream come true one country at a time. You can also consider holiday working visas that are offered by many countries and this will contribute towards funding your travel. Also schudiling travel during the off seasons will drastically reduce your airfare costs and youth hostels or websites like coutchsurfers could help you keep coats to a minimum.
      Wish you luck

  3. Scott Mort says:

    Inspiring read man. Me and a few buddies are backpacking from Ohio to New York, going by boat (probably) to Europe and backpacking all over. We won’t have slot of money saved and an on just roughing it. Eating mostly what we catch or collect. It’s gonna be an awesome experience and I’m so excited. We don’t have a set date of return and basically just wanna go wherever life takes us. Any suggestions of things I might not know or realize?

    • Jaime Davila says:

      That’s awesome Scott. Sounds like you are gonna have an amazing trip. As for tips… the truth is that you can find work just about anywhere on Earth so you should be fine even if you don’t have a lot of money. You are going to be just fine with your plans of just see where the road takes you. It’s going to take you to some amazing places. So just enjoy the ride… all of it. The ups and downs!!!

  4. I am planning one too since some time, I hope i can leave in less than 8 months from now.

  5. If I only got a privilege to travel the world without a hassle of visa I would definitely do it but having a passport with a limited countries you can make it even more hard,I can only travel to a few countries and most of them Ive already visited..I wish it could change somehow..Thanks for your blog it inspire me a lot..

  6. Hey man,

    Good read. It must have been tedious accounting for every penny but respect for that.
    I have always wanted to do this but feel toed to a really high paid job now. I’m 29 and i usually travel once a year for a month to 6 weeks then return to the job (which i hate) to save for the next eleven. Maybe one day when i come to terms with how unimportant money is, i’ll man up and quit like you haha.

    Peace ✌️

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Hi Michael, yes it was very tedious but worth it to share with everyone. As for your situation well I’m glad you travel, but if you hate it you should save and take off for as long as you can. I mean honestly why not? Is anything major holding you back? Get your bills together, get out of debt, save and go. I mean seriously it’s possible if you set your midn to it. Anyway just my thoughts. I know everyone situation is different. If you need help let me know and I’ll be more than happy to help you.

  7. Hello Jaime,
    First of all congratulation on such a amazing tour!!!. In reality I always wanted to do this. But in truth never really had the courage to do this alone. After reading your blog I am super inspired and may be within next three years I will have the money to go ( yes I do a boring desk job, which I hate every single minute). Anyway can you please tell me what it was like to travel alone? did you faced any problem? and most importantly any suggestions regarding travelling alone?

    Thank you in advance :)
    Razib recently posted..Ex nam docendi mandamus deterruisset

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Hi Razib, thank you so much. I’m so happy this may have helped you have the courage to do something you have always wanted to do. Honestly it’s beyond amazing and you will never regret it. The truth is even though you’re traveling alone you’re never really alone. You meet people along the way and every day on the road and so on. You buddy up to do things together and even to travel for a few days or even weeks together. I honestly never faced any problems, yeah I was held at gunpoint and almost sent to jail, but that could happen anywhere and well were just two out of a million experiences I had and I wouldn’t blame those on traveling along. Anyway sorry for the late response, but if you need anything just shoot me an email.

  8. Reading your blog is awesome.. Me n my partner is planning to RTW after we get married. We are from singapore, may i know, when we are travelling ,we are allow to work part time at a certain country ? Is it a hassle to go through just to work part time while travelling ? Could you list down a few countries that you have been ?

    Thankss

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Hi Sas, sorry for the late reply. Send me an email with all your questions and I will be more than happy to help you out if I can.

  9. This is fantastic and so inspiring. But I have the same problems like others, Visa problem. May be i need to migrant to the US and than have to make a plan for travelling..

  10. Man, I’m trying to do exactly this. Ive traveled overseas a little and it changed my life. Now I want to do it for real, because last time I only got to stay for 2 weeks(stupid vacation time at jobs, you know how it is). I want to do what you did, be gone for a while just enjoy different cultures and experience life. I don’t give a fuck about a car or a house either, all that stuff is meaningless. You can always buy a good cheap used car for 4000-7000 dollars and you can just stay at an apartment or shell up with the family for a year till you get back on your feet. Jobs aren’t going anywhere, the experience of traveling the world would attract many job propositions. Especially if you wanted to teach overseas.

    Anyways you’ve inspired me to do this. I believe I’ll only do it for year, but spend the same amount you did. Also I don’t know about “the world” but I do want to go to almost every big city and out in the country in countries where shit gets real away from the buildings and technology. Life changing stuff right here.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Oh yes I know what it’s like to only have 2 weeks of vacation. It sucks!!! I am so happy to hear that I have inspired you to do a trip of your own! A trip around the world can be done a million ways… so do what you have always dreamed and go for it. No two trips are the same, but if you need help let me know and I’ll be more than happy to help you out. You can do it… the sacrifices you make to make it a reality will be worth it. Trust me!!!

  11. What an awesome experience! I have been begging my husband for ten years to sell everything and travel for two years. His biggest fear is finding a job when we return as he is in his prime earning years. My goal is to be on the road by June. I pray he gets on board!

    To all the people who ask how I can afford to travel with a family of six, I simple say, “traveling is the only thing that you spend money on that makes you richer”.

    Your expenses for 2 years are the same as mine for 46 days in Europe for our family. Great job!!

    My question is how do you get into a country on a one way ticket? Most want to see a return flight and visa.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Stacey… tell him I said to do it!!! Seriously neither of you will ever regret it. It’s something that once done no one can take away from you. I just cringed at reading that my 2 years cost you what 46 days in europe cost you… wow just wow. It’s crazy though that you are a family of six. I am from a family of 8 so know how that goes. As for your question… most don’t ask for a return ticket, but the one that do I plan my trip aroudn it. So like Thailand needed proof so booked a ticket to Philippines and there too need proof so booked ticket to Malaysia. I booked them to exit on the last day the visa expired… Thailand 30 days Philippines 21 days and so used all the days I could in the country before moving on. Did that make sense?

  12. Amazing. .. congrats for your bravery. I am curious about your experience in Brasil.

  13. I just read the entirety of your article and it has made me feel better, though the final total still seems quite daunting. Like you, it’s about a year’s salary for me so certainly it’s cheaper to travel for the 2 years than to live and work for a year. I would love to sell everything and live off one bag for 2 years. I’ve really started to appreciate what I need and the superficial stuff that I have. Not knowing what is around the corner is both exhilarating and fearsome. I’m particularly worried about returning to “normality” and finding work to sustain myself.

    One day…

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Robert… hope ONE DAY is one day soon!!! Everything you said is right on and you can really do it. If you can you should, because you will never regret it. As for going back home… that is the hardest part of it all, but is what it is and shouldn’t make you not do this. If you need help planning let me know… I’d be more than happy to help you out.

  14. hi thr! read about ur rtw trip n it was wonderful. making a trip the world over is what i have always hoped for…i too would love to visit places soon enough n if i have to realise my dream then i need to think of budgetary trip cz ain’t that rich

    • Jaime Davila says:

      You don’t have to be rich to travel… just know how to save a bit of money and take off. You can do it & if you need help let me know!

  15. Edward Barfield says:

    Hey Jaime!

    I’m hoping to start traveling soon for 2 years as well, your blog is just getting me even more exciting, my biggest questions though are: How did you deal with different currencies? Did you leave home with a range or currencies or just exchange some when you got there? And; what did you pack when you left? Ive finished planning where to go spanning roughly 100countries over 2 1/2 years and I’m really excited now! Thanks in advance for a reply :)

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Hi Edward, that is so awesome that you are planning a 2 year trip as well. I’m glad you found my blog and I hope it helps you like it’s helped others. As for your questions… With currency I had a Charles Schwab card that doesn’t charge any ATM fees and the fee the ATM charges you they refund it at the end of the month. It’s available for US citizens. So if you are I would say look into it. So with that I just WD money from an ATM as soon as I cross the border. I normally WD up to $100 at a time… so if I’m robbed it’s not much that is taken from me. As for what I packed I have 3 post explaining in detail everything I pack so check them out and those will answer that question. I know you didn’t ask but will give you my two cents… as for 100 countries in 2.5 years of course that is possible, but that is quite ambitious. You will find out real early on that backpacking is exhausting. Moving from place to place every few days takes it’s tool on you and you don’t quite get to enjoy a place as one should. I did 30 countries in 2 years. Of those 2 years I spent 7 months in Egypt and 3 months in India and over a month in Turkey and a month in Athens. So you do the math. Just being honest. Of course if you need anything let me know and of course no two trips are the same and we all have different goals… so you do what you wanna do. It will be amazing none the less.

      • Edward Barfield says:

        Hi Jaime. first of all thanks for the reply! I’m actually a UK citizen so ill look to see if there’s something similar with regards to the atm card. I will certainly read that post and I’m sure it will be just as helpful. With Regis to the countries I’ve started to realise this and I’ve had to try and make a decision on whether to travel longer or less counties, however my original plan was to reach NZ in a year and a half where I have family there and rest for a few weeks or so before going on my merry way to the Americas and home! Of course I have a bit of time to think things through before I start to book this dream of mine, so thanks for the advice and help I have a lot to think through!

        • Jaime Davila says:

          Ah no problem Edward. I am glad I can help and I will hear you out if you need to just share your thoughts with someone. I know it’s not easy to plan but my biggest tip may be to focus on certain regions of the world for you trip. During my frist trip my regions of focus were Central America, Europe, Middle East, India and Southeast Asia. That’s a lot to cover in two years but was very possible. This time around I’m covering South America, other parts of Europe and Asia I haven’t visited and then back to Egypt. So anyway that’s just a thought… the world is big and vast tons to see every where. You will realize every country is filled with many things to see and do it’s impossible to see it and do it all. You will alsp fall in love with some places and want to spend more time… so anyway planning is half the fun so enjoy it too. Trust me it’s a lot easier once you are on the road. Good luck with it all!!!

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