Ok. I know you're all dying to know the costs. It's got to be the #1 asked question amongst new backpackers.
"I want to travel, but my budget is SUPER-tight. How much does it cost to travel the world?"
Time to do the numbers
Well, first off, it depends entirely on you. Where you go, what you do, where you stay, how you get there. It is possible to travel extremely cheap, it just depends on how much you like to stay within your comfort zone and what your travel standards are. I've met travellers who CouchSurf, hostel, hitchhike, cycle, and even dumpster-dive. There is no limit to what is possible, just on what you're willing to do.
If you want to travel Europe, be prepared to spend more than in other regions. Western Europe was especially expensive.
I was so impressed in Morocco when my credit card statements were in the tens (below $100) for withdrawals. Yes, I funded my entire trip on my credit card. A 28 degrees travel card, which is transaction free overseas.
In hindsight, I did alright, but I could have done better. More on that later.
Here's the month-by-month breakdown on 11 months of long-term travel, including destinations and activities. It's not the most accurate cost breakdown, I didn't keep all receipts, and I haven't poured over them with a magnifying glass. These numbers are based on my credit card statements and bank balances.
I did keep some receipts, I could go through and tally up the total flight costs, bus costs, ferry costs, hostel costs, etc. but let's save that for another day... can't have too much fun in one afternoon!
For the record, before we begin, I don't like to do things too cheaply; I mean:
I stay on strangers couches, or in 36-bed dorms, or campsites over hotels.
I order food where the locals eat, sometimes street food, or sometimes canned tuna and bread rolls.
But I must have drank my weight in beer in those first 6-9 party months. At Oktoberfest alone I estimate I drank 35L of beer over the week (approx 7 steins a day for a week minus recovery days).
And, when the opportunity presented itself, I found myself handing over fistfuls of cash to join in on the good times.
Remember that when trying to apply my numbers to your own budget. Do you party hard, or do you prefer Saturday nights in the Hostel with a good book? Only your travel lifestyle will indicate your travel budget.
By the month
But, when the opportunity comes up to do something I really want to do (think Bucket List). I don't let budget stop me. Live now, pay later. That's what I did. Things might be a little different for you.
By the activity
|hostel booking fees||-$90.89|
|hostel costs (sleeping)||-$908.9|
|Running of the Bulls and Ibiza Tour||-$566.37|
|language school (~$200/wk)||-$1881.16|
|charges for not paying credit cards||-$83.19|
|other transport (bus, train)||-$101.37|
|desert, morocco tour||-$393.53|
|aswan, luxor tour||-$623.48|
By the country
The grand total
From and including Sunday, 17 April 2011 to (and including) Friday, 24 February 2012
That's 10 months, 8 days or 44 weeks or 314 days!
Breaking it down further, that's $522 a week, or $74 a day.
Since I budgeted for $50 a day, I kind of went over budget. But I never expected to get robbed (all re-payed later by insurance, the claim not factored in here), and I never expected to get an advanced diving certification (for example).
Keep an open mind and an open itinerary, and you never know what will come out of it.
If you want somewhere cheaper to travel, have you looked into South America? Take a look at Jasmine's costs for her 2010 travels over at JasmineWanders, only $27 a day.
But for Europe, I think my spending is kinda in the ballpark.
You see the pattern here? Europe is bloody expensive (my Dad was right).
* flickr header image credit