This is it! It is the total cost of our trip. Every yummy meal. Every awesome activity. Every hidden cost. Every random cost. Every b***shit charge. Every scam. Even our health care premium. In one year (technically 345 days), Laura and I spent a total of… drum roll please… $71,574!!! That’s $207 each day or about $6,000 per month.
And more importantly, it was worth every single penny. We have no regrets. Our experience was invaluable and I hope we will continue to see the fruits of our travels for more years to come.
What did that money get us?
We stayed in private rooms at hostels, AirBnB’s, hotels and resorts. All of our locations were a 5-30 minute walk to the center of the downtown for each location. About half the places had a private bathroom. The majority had Wifi. There was a handful of places where we had to pay for wifi, towels or linens. At the end of the day, outside of a few “treats,” we stayed at budget accommodations for most nights.
We changed our attitude towards food during the trip. With the majority of meals at restaurants, the quality of our food progressed as we started with the inexpensive stuff (pasta, burgers, fried chicken, soup, rice) and ended with higher quality or more expensive foods (fancy salads, healthy soups, fish and western dishes).
Our activities were as little as $6 to do a day trip snorkeling around the Gili Islands, to as much as $1,250 to see the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda for an hour. We also found many free museums, art galleries, walking tours, parks and interesting sites to visit, but we would often make a donation or tip for the free activities. I think having a healthy activity budget is an important part of the trip experience. We met many real budget backpackers (the kind of person who live off $10/day in Thailand, which is possible!) and we were shocked by how little they had seen and done! For me, it isn’t worth quitting a great job to travel the world and have a limited experience of the culture, natural beauty and interesting activities of the land.
How much lower could we have gone?
I think our budget worked well for us—however, we could have certainly spent much less, if we were willing to give certain things up.
Here is what we could have changed:
- Skipped on the souvenirs and gifts, which cost us $879.
- Skipped on the travel insurance, which at $1,378, turned out to be an expensive and also unused comfort item.
- Modified our renter’s insurance. We added $100 annually to our premium to itemize our electronics in our policy in case of theft or damage. We never filed a claim.
- Reduced our safaris in Africa (we did four for a total of $8,000).
- Reduced our daily accommodations, grocery and dining out bills…although I don’t think it would have been worth the reduced experience. That being said, we could have spent $6/day for all our food in Thailand if we were really cheap whereas we spent $27/day because we wanted healthy, interesting food.
Are you interested in long-term travel?
If you are thinking of traveling and are looking for cost saving tricks, here are my suggestions:
- Focus on the big ticket items like tours, hotels, and transportation cost. The savings goes further than skipping an afternoon snack.
- Travel to third world countries.
- Consider countries with a weak currency against the dollar.
- Travel to fewer places. Transportation is expensive, especially flights.
- Quit or reduce your coffee, alcohol and gelato habits. These are all expensive because they are yummy! It’s so easy to do all three when you are constantly on the move and have a reason every day for a celebratory drink or a gelato because you walked for five hours.
- Shop your health care. We saved $6,000 using MassHealthcare. We could have saved more, but decline free health insurance and policy discounts even though we qualified.
- Review your investment portfolio. We sold our assets to partially fund the trip and reduce risk, but also to take advantage of a lower tax bracket.
Do you remember opportunity cost from your economics class in college? Stay tuned for my next post what our next best option was with this money.