“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.