Before I began my round the world trip, I figured I would spend around $10,000 USD total (including flights, food, accommodation, personal expenses, etc.) from the day I left home til the day I returned. I ended up spending a grand total of $11,661, which I think is pretty darn good and was close enough to my budget so I’m quite happy.
Some of you may be thinking “that’s a lot of money to spend on a four month trip”, while the rest of you are probably thinking “that’s really good, how did you do it?” I am going to respond to both thoughts. First, to those who think it is a lot of money to spend in four months: you must keep in mind that I flew 37,814 miles – that’s a lot of ground to cover! I flew to 3 different continents (not counting North America or any stopovers) and 6 different countries (again, not counting the U.S.).
I flew from Tampa, FL -> Detroit -> Amsterdam -> Delhi -> Almaty -> Bishkek -> Almaty -> Bangkok -> Kuala Lumpur -> Medan -> Kuala Lumpur -> Sydney -> Melbourne -> Cairns -> Sydney -> San Francisco -> San Salvador -> Lima -> Cusco -> Lima -> Fort Lauderdale -> Orlando
Now, for those of you wondering…how did I do it? I traveled on a budget, but I never hesitated to treat myself at any point if it was something that I really wanted. That’s the key. In Asia, I stayed in hotels because they are cheap enough (compared to the rest of the world). I spent an average of $9 per night on a hotel in Asia. In Australia, I stayed with friends, couchsurfed and stayed in hostels. In San Francisco, I stayed in a hostel. In Peru, I stayed with a friend and stayed in a hostel. I stayed in a dorm room in each of the hostels I stayed at. I never once treated myself to luxurious accommodation because that’s not my priority. If you’re a hotel snob, you probably could not do a trip like I did for less than $12,000. I knew if I stayed in private rooms (outside of Asia), I wouldn’t have the money to spend on the things I really wanted to do and the things I really wanted to eat! (Let’s be honest, eating is always at the top of my priorities list when it comes to traveling).
I told myself I would keep a budget in an Excel spreadsheet but I never did. Instead, I kept my budget in my head. I knew I was aiming to spend an average of $50 per day. On some days, I spent much less than this and on others (like on days I did expensive activities), I spent much more than $50. I figured it would balance out and for the most part, it did. Why did I go $1,661 over my original budget (other than treating myself more often than planned)? I originally did not plan to go to Kyrgyzstan and the flights to and from Kyrgyzstan were quite expensive. I think this added approximately $900 to my budget but would I do it again? Absolutely, it was 100% worth it. When else will I have the chance to go to Kyrgyzstan? Maybe never.
Keeping this in mind, I could have spent thousands less than I did if I really stuck to my budget and didn’t “treat” myself so often. But here’s how I thought of it: I worked so hard to earn this money and am on the trip of a lifetime, why not spend it the way I really want to spend it instead of just “sort of” living the trip of my dreams? I have absolutely no regrets.
Here’s a breakdown of what I spent (on food, accommodation and activities) and where I spent it:
1) In India, I spent a total of $2,067.63. I spent an average of $83 per day. This is very skewed and not typical because I was on a tour in India so I spent a lot more than I would have if I had done the trip on my own. The tour cost $1,600 (not including flight). Having said that, the tour was perfect and I would do it all over again given the chance. India is an extremely cheap country and it would be very easy to spend much less than $50 per day.
2) In Kyrgyzstan, I spent a total of $684.35. I spent an average of $34 per day. This is a good estimate of what it would cost per day traveling in India on your own.
3) In Thailand, I spent a total of $1,399.42. I spent an average of $70 per day. Thailand is a very cheap country but everything is approximately twice the price of what it is in India.
4) In Indonesia, I spent a total of $357.42. I spent an average of $71 per day.
5) In Australia, I spent a total of $1,665. I spent an average of $64 per day. I could not have done this if I didn’t have a friend to stay with in Sydney and if I didn’t couchsurf in Melbourne because Australia is extremely expensive.
6) In San Francisco, I spent a total of $300.11. I spent an average of $60 per day. I treated myself for each lunch and dinner and ate whatever I wanted to eat.
7) In Peru, I spent a total of $1,109.91. I spent an average of $58 per day.
On average: I spent $63 per day on food, accommodation and activities.
The bottom line is, I could have easily spent $50 per day or less in each country (except for Australia) if I really wanted to, but it wasn’t that important to me. Most of the countries I visited are very cheap, certainly much cheaper than the U.S. In Asia and South America, you can find street food for anywhere from 50 cents to two dollars for a whole meal.
Minus $96.51 for a refund of all ATM fees (because I used my handy dandy Charles Schwab debit card – the only debit card I use when traveling!)
TOTAL SPENT ON FOOD, ACCOMMODATION AND ACTIVITIES: $7,555
Here’s what I spent on my flights:
1) Flight from Tampa to Delhi: $802.06
2) Cancellation fee of $37.79 for my flight from Delhi to Bangkok
3) Flight from Delhi to Bishkek: $430.79
4) Flight from Osh to Bangkok: $594.40
5) Flight from Phuket to Medan: $179.70
6) Flight from Medan to Sydney: $213.22
7) Flight from Sydney to Melbourne: $50.83
8) Flight from Melbourne to Cairns: $168.40
9) Flight from Cairns to San Francisco: $1,324.80
I could have spent about $300 less if I wanted a much longer layover.
10) Flight from San Francisco to Lima: $813.50
I could have spent about $200 less if I wanted a much longer layover.
11) Flight from Lima to Cusco: $125.66
12) Flight from Cusco to Lima: $155.29
13) Flight from Lima to Orlando: $345.51
If I wanted to fly to Tampa, I would have had to spent about $300 more, plus I would have had a 15 hour layover in Fort Lauderdale.
I spent a total of $5,241.95 on flights, BUT:
I used 103,570 points/miles on 3 different credit cards for a total travel credit of $1,135.49. That’s right, I got over $1,000 in free flights just for using my credit card! So…
TOTAL SPENT ON FLIGHTS: $4,106.46
The bottom line is, if you make travel your priority, you can easily do a trip like this. Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can… and I sincerely mean that! Feel free to ask me any questions you may have.