Mark JohnstonHOW MUCH IT COST US TO TRAVEL THE WORLD Britnee Johnston July 28 Planning, Popular, Round the World Trip, Travel, U.S.A. 15 Comments It’s time for us to answer the question you’re all wondering — how much did we end up spending to travel the world? First, let’s break down the costs into the five “legs” of our trip, grouping countries together in the itinerary and budget. I’ve broken down each leg of our trip to show the overall cost of each and their highlights, so you can see how far our money went in that region. There are many different and fun ways to spend money while traveling abroad. For us, the main bulk of our costs was for transportation, accommodation, food and sightseeing. THE COST TO TRAVEL AROUND THE WORLD IN ONE YEAR TO 26 COUNTRIES AND 78 CITIES Please note that the costs and time lengths of each leg are not exact figures. They are rounded-up estimates to make it easier to read. Costs include the major inbound flight into the region, daily transportation, accommodation, food, activities, entertainment and admission tickets. LEG 1: ASIA & RUSSIA ASIA & RUSSIA Japan // China // Mongolia // Russia Cost per person: $5,500 for two months (including the flight leaving America) Highlights: Asakusa • Shibuya • Takeshita-dori • Menji Shrine • Shirakawa-go • Okunoin Cemetery • Koyasan Monk Ceremony • A-bomb Dome • Hiroshima Peace Museum • Monkey Park • Gold Pavilion Temple • Pure Water Temple • Fushimi Inari Shrine • Bamboo Forest • Miyajima Island • Hallelujah Mountain • Yangshou Rock Climbing • Yangshou Kissing Fish • XingPing Scooter Ride • Great Wall of China • Forbidden City • Xi’An Drum Tower • Terra Cotta Warriors • Jinli Street Food • Leshan Giant Buddha • Moon Hill • Tianamen Mountain • Tianmen Winding Mountain Road • Tianmen Cave • The Bund • Xi’an Wall Bike Ride • Muslim Quarter • Donghuamen Night Market • Chengdu Panda Reserve • Tiananmen Square • Naadam Festival: Wrestling – Horseback Racing – Archery • Trans-Mongolian Railway • Ghengis Khan Statue • Gorkhi-Terelj National Park • Trans-Siberian Railway • Olkhon Island • Lake Baikal • Shaman’s Rock • Church of Spilled Blood • Red Square • St. Basil’s Cathedral • Kremlin • Gorky Park • St. Petersburg • Hermitage Museum • Church of All Saints • St. Demetrius’ Cathedral Cost Examples: $200 China visa • $410 Russia visa • 50 cents admission to Hiroshima Peace Museum • $1,500 train tickets from Beijing to St.Petersburg (Trans-Mongolian Railway) • $5 entrance to St. Basil’s Cathedral • $40/night for private room in Tokyo hostel • $7/night for dorm room in Ulan Bator • $25/night for private room in Beijing hostel • $7/night for dorm room in St. Petersburg. Notes: The Russian visa was the most expensive one we had to pay for on the trip. The Chinese visa wasn’t cheap either. Once we got into the counties though, accommodation and food was pretty cheap. Japan was one of the most expensive countries we went to with high costs for food and accommodation. Mongolia had some of the cheapest accommodation on the trip. The Trans-Mongolian was a fair price as we booked train tickets through an agency before we arrived in Russia. It was cheaper to do it this way rather than book a tour on the railway. LEG 2: EUROPE EUROPE Finland // Norway // Germany // Belgium // Netherlands // Austria // England // Scotland // France // Spain // Italy // Greece // Turkey Cost per person: $5,500 for two months Highlights: Särkänniemi • Finnish Summer Cottage • Sauna • Korvapuusti • Lake Näsijärvi Crayfishing • Mount Reinebringen • Lofoten Islands • Reine • Berlin Wall • Dresden • Saxon-Switzerland • Brussels Flower Carpet • Belgian Waffles • Bruges • Amsterdam • Anne Frank’s House • Schronbrunn Palace • Belvedere Palace • Mozart & Beethoven Tombstones • Hallstatt Salt Mines • Hohensalzburg Fortress • Mirabell Gardens • Selworthy • Exmoor • Dunster • Great Western Railway • Sampford Brett • Lake District • Helvellyn • Isle of Skye • Eilen Donan Castle • Melrose Abbey • Edinburgh • Eiffel Tower • Notre Dame • Louvre • Versailles Palace • Biblioteque National • Montemarte • Sacre Coeur • Paris Fire Show • Mona Lisa • Arc de Triomphe • Sagrada Familia • Barcelona • Gaudi’s Homes • La Rambla • Magic Fountain • Mercado de La Boqueria • Rome • Vatican City • Italian Gelato • Vatican Museum • Pope Francis • St. Peter’s Square • Colosseum • St. Peter’s Basilica • Athens • Acropolis • Santorini Island • Ancient Thera • Blue Mosque • Hagia Sofia • Basilica Cistern Cost Examples: $23 to top of Eiffel Tower • $1.50 bus ticket from Paris to Barcelona on Megabus • $65 EasyJet flight Rome to Athens • $80 Ryanair Barcelona to Rome • $22/night for dorm room in Lake District hostel • $1.50 for plain Belgian Waffle • $15 admission into Anne Frank’s House • $16 Norwegian fish soup • $25 admission to Vatican Museum • $25/night for private room in Santorini. Notes: Norway was the most expensive country we visited so we only stayed for four days. For three weeks we stayed with family and friends in Europe. For the other one month and a half we mostly stayed in dorm rooms in hostels. Hostels were usually expensive even for dorm rooms. Flights and buses were pretty cheap across Europe. The most expensive flight was from Vienna to London at around $300. No visas were required for Europe, which helped that we didn’t have to pay to enter these countries. LEG 3: SOUTHEAST ASIA SOUTHEAST ASIA Nepal // Thailand // Cambodia // Vietnam Cost per person: $7,500 for six months Highlights: Kathmandu • Annapurna Circuit • Annapurna Base Camp • Pashupatinath Temple • Swayambhunath Temple • Boudhanath • Bangkok Grand Palace • Wat Pho • James Bond Island • Ao Nang • Patong Beach • Ko Phi Phi • Snorkeling • Kayaking • Raya Island • Maya Bay • Khao San Road • Angkor Wat • Bayon Temple • Ta Prohm Temple • Choeung Ek Killing Fields • Tuol Sleng Genoside Museum • Bein Hoa • Mui Ne • Dak Mil • Dalat • Crazy House • Hoi An • Marble Mountain • DMZ tour • Halong Bay Cost Examples: $36 for a month’s accommodation in teahouses in Annapurna region • $60 for seven-day Angor Wat pass • $1 passionfruit smoothie in Vietnam • $100 for three-month visa in Nepal • $16 for Maya Bay tour • $6 bus from Bangkok to Phnom Penh, Cambodia • $515 private hotel room for one month in Phuket two blocks from beach. Notes: Southeast Asia was by far the cheapest region we visited so that’s why we stayed for six months. Nepal was the cheapest country for accommodation and food. The touristy Phuket was also surprisingly reasonable as we stayed in a cheap hotel by the beach for a month. Overall, all the countries in this region had cheap private hotel rooms and good deals on transportation and food. LEG 4: THE PACIFIC THE PACIFIC Australia // New Zealand Cost per person: $1,700 for nine days Highlights: Sydney Opera House • Art Museum of New South Wales • Museum of Contemporary Art • Featherdale Wildlife Park • Rocks • Sydney Harbour Bridge • Queenstown • Milford Sound • Ben Lomond Cost Examples: $630 flight from Hanoi to Sydney on Singapore Airlines • $70/night private room in Sydney hostel • $20 admission for Featherdale Wildlife Park • $80 for Milford Sound tour • $11 for a Fergburger • $230 flight on JetStar from Sydney to Queenstown. Notes: It was costly to cross the Pacific Ocean, but it had to be done to make our way back to the Americas. So we made layovers in Australia and New Zealand since we’d be going through anyways. It was difficult to find cheap hostels in both countries. The food was also expensive. There were no visa cost for New Zealand and a small one for an e-visa for Australia. The U.S. dollar was actually pretty strong compared to their dollars than usual, but even then everything still cost a lot. LEG 5: SOUTH AMERICA SOUTH AMERICA Chile // Bolivia // Peru Cost per person: $3,800 for two months (including the flight to go home) Highlights: Torres del Paine • Glacier Grey • Tierra del Fuego • Punta Arenas • King Penguins • Strait of Magellan • Neo Victoria • Volcano Calbuco • Atacama Desert • Valle de la Luna • Salar De Uyuni • Cactus Island • Pink Flamingos • Train Graveyard • La Paz • Cholita Wrestling • Puno • Lake Titicaca • Cusco • Ollantaytambo • Machu Picchu Cost Examples: $38 admission to Torres del Paine • $50/night for dorm room in Torres del Paine • $16 for lunch in Torres del Paine • $35/night for private room in San Pedro de Atacama hostel • $60 visa fee land crossing Chile to Bolivia • $160 Salar de Uyuni tour • $11 ticket for Cholita wrestling • $15 for a poncho in Cusco • $120 round-trip train ticket to Machu Picchu. Notes: Everything in Chile was expensive including accommodation, food and tours. Bolivia was by far one of the cheaper countries we’ve been to, but we had to pay a fee to enter the country. We paid $60 at the land border crossing compared to reports of $135 we saw online. When we entered Peru we didn’t need to pay for a visa and everything in the country was reasonably priced except when trying to get to Machu Picchu. The costs went up when counting the expensive train ticket, accommodation and admission tickets for Machu Picchu. TOTAL COSTS Before we left we budgeted $40,000 for a year’s worth of travels for one couple. Looking back, it was a pretty ambitious goal. Were we able to stay within this budget? Well…no. In the end, it cost us close to $48,000 total to travel the world for a year. TOTAL COST PER PERSON: $24,000 GRAND TOTAL FOR A COUPLE: $48,000 Some of the extra costs came from adding Turkey and Bolivia, which weren’t on our original itinerary. There were times we chose to buy more expensive flights over less reputable airlines. We also chose to be less rigid on our day-to-day budget and enjoy the vacation instead of constantly thinking about money. This meant we did more things we weren’t planning on like eating out often, shopping for souvenirs, sending postcards and buying bottled water. At the beginning of 2015 we also found out we’d receive a decent tax return and decided to use that extra money toward our trip. Any extra costs not covered by the tax return was pulled from our “return home” fund. So although we exceeded our budget by $8,000, we did it intentionally, knowing we had the money to do so. We still returned home with no debt and some reserve funds to get us back into regular life. WAS THE TRIP WORTH THE COST? Despite these costs, we both agreed that this trip was worth it! We actually saved money in the long-run by visiting all these places one after the other instead of buying round-trip tickets to each destination over time. Some of the costs to these destinations may not appeal to everyone, but for us, the cost for this route worked out. What matters most is that we’re very content with what we saw and did and definitely feel like we got our time and money’s worth. You may look at our costs and think this amount of money is out of reach for your own dreams of travel. However, dream trips come in all shapes and sizes. It could be a week on a beach in Mexico, a month-long road trip through the U.S. or a summer jaunt through Europe. For us, our dream trip was an extensive year abroad because that’s what best fit our situation. If we had less time and money, we still would’ve created a different dream trip for ourselves…even if it was camping for a weekend near home. We’ve learned there’s always adventure to be had no matter how far or long the trip. PLAN YOUR TRIP! If you need help in planning a route, here’s our itinerary recommendation. To figure out visa, accommodations and flights, check out our travel planning resources. Need advice on saving money for your dream? Here’s how we saved $40,000 for our one-year trip. Here’s to wishing all of you the best of luck in chasing your dreams and happy travels! 15 Responses Sarah (aka Jetsetting Fools) August 1 I love this cost breakout! We recently finished our year-long RTW and spent about the same. Worth it?! Um, YEAH!!! We’re actually off again (currently in Australia) ~ this time less directed and just seeing where our travels may take us! Travel well ~ Sarah (aka Jetsetting Fools) recently posted…Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes Britnee Johnston August 10 Thanks! Haha, yeah it was definitely worth every penny for a trip of a lifetime! That’s awesome you guys are still on the road, hope you have a great time in Australia. Stanley Brown June 18 I noticed you guys stayed in alot of hostels. I have never done that… How are they? Mark Johnston June 21 Hey Stanley, Hostels are usually great, but if you read some of our reviews, you’ll notice that not all were what we’d hoped. While the average guest is probably in their early to mid 20s, we met a variety of people of different ages, from young to old. Some serve great food, others none at all; some have A/C, others you’ll be sweating with windows open; and for extended travel, we recommend you occasionally spend a little extra for the peace and quiet of a private room. Hope this helps. Don Edolio August 27 I just read about you guys on Forbes. I’m about 90% sure I’m quitting my job without a clear plan B and move to Brazil to learn Portuguese (and explore the country too). Obviously, I’m a little scared, but reading your blog definitely gives me confidence in moving forward. Going to another country is nothing compared to traveling the whole globe. Thanks for the inspiration! Cheers! Britnee Johnston August 29 Thanks Don! Good luck with your travels to Brazil, it sounds like a great plan to me. Traveling to another country will be an experience you’ll always treasure. Britnee Johnston recently posted…HOW MUCH IT COST US TO TRAVEL THE WORLD Andrometa Cooper September 3 I am truly inspired by this blog. I have travelled quite few places in my 25yrs with my last trip being to England, France, Italy, Croatia, & Turkey as my graduation present. Your budget breakdown was amazing. The question I have is did you get a tax return for traveling expenses or just your regular return from your work. Mark Johnston September 6 Thanks! Our tax return was just a regular return from the five months we worked before we left home. Sam @ Financial Samurai December 27 Thanks for breaking up the cost of your round the world trip! We’re looking to go to Chang Mai Thailand of this year and Vietnam for maybe one month. I saw your website from a Forbes article and I’m looking forward to reading all about your adventures and how you did it. Cheers from San Francisco! Sam @ Financial Samurai recently posted…Financial Samurai 2015 Goals In Review Britnee Johnston January 4 We missed Chang Mai on our trip, but had heard great things about it from everyone we met who went there. Vietnam is also awesome too with lots to explore and not as many tourists as you’ll find in Thailand. I am biased toward Vietnam though as that’s where my family is from. Thanks for reading about us in Forbes! Alexa March 16 Wow love your blog so much! This is super helpful… a 6 month or 1 year of travel is a long term goal for me right now. Mostly itching to spend more time in SE Asia. I’ve been to Hong Kong and Bangkok before and I’m dying to go back and the explore the region further. Plus, super cost effective Thank you for all the information! Mark Johnston May 18 Glad you liked it, Alexa. Thanks for reading and good luck planning the trip. We felt like 6 months might be the ideal trip length, as after that we really started getting tired. But you could plan to hole up in one place for longer to feel somewhat settled and get some rest.