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: AsakusaShibuya • Takeshita-doriMenji Shrine • Shirakawa-go • Okunoin Cemetery • Koyasan Monk Ceremony  •  A-bomb Dome • Hiroshima Peace Museum • Monkey Park • Gold Pavilion Temple • Pure Water Temple • Fushimi Inari ShrineBamboo Forest • Miyajima IslandHallelujah Mountain • Yangshou Rock Climbing • Yangshou Kissing Fish • XingPing Scooter Ride • Great Wall of China • Forbidden CityXi’An Drum Tower • Terra Cotta WarriorsJinli Street Food • Leshan Giant Buddha • Moon Hill • Tianamen Mountain • Tianmen Winding Mountain Road • Tianmen Cave • The BundXi’an Wall Bike RideMuslim Quarter • Donghuamen Night Market • Chengdu Panda Reserve • Tiananmen Square • Naadam Festival: WrestlingHorseback RacingArchery • Trans-Mongolian RailwayGhengis Khan Statue • Gorkhi-Terelj National Park • Trans-Siberian Railway • Olkhon Island • Lake Baikal • Shaman’s RockChurch of Spilled Blood • Red Square • St. Basil’s Cathedral • Kremlin • Gorky Park St. Petersburg • Hermitage Museum • Church of All SaintsSt. 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 CottageSauna • Korvapuusti • Lake Näsijärvi Crayfishing • Mount Reinebringen • Lofoten IslandsReine • Berlin Wall • Dresden • Saxon-SwitzerlandBrussels 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 • ExmoorDunster • 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 • MontemarteSacre Coeur • Paris Fire Show • Mona Lisa  • Arc de Triomphe • Sagrada Familia • Barcelona • Gaudi’s Homes • La RamblaMagic Fountain • Mercado de La Boqueria  • Rome • Vatican City • Italian Gelato • Vatican MuseumPope Francis • St. Peter’s Square • ColosseumSt. Peter’s BasilicaAthens • 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: KathmanduAnnapurna Circuit • Annapurna Base Camp • Pashupatinath Temple • Swayambhunath Temple • Boudhanath • Bangkok Grand Palace • Wat Pho • James Bond IslandAo Nang • Patong Beach • Ko Phi Phi • Snorkeling • Kayaking • Raya Island • Maya Bay • Khao San Road • Angkor WatBayon TempleTa 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 ParkRocks • 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 PaineGlacier Grey • Tierra del FuegoPunta Arenas • King Penguins • Strait of Magellan • Neo Victoria • Volcano Calbuco • Atacama Desert • Valle de la Luna • Salar De Uyuni • Cactus IslandPink Flamingos • Train Graveyard • La Paz • Cholita WrestlingPuno • 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.

round the world travel map

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!

How much does it cost to travel around the world for one year?

About The Author

Britnee traveled around the world with her husband on a shoestring budget for a year. A few of her favorite destinations include Scotland's Isle of Skye, Chile's Torres del Paine, Bolivia's Salt Flats and Nepal's Annapurna Circuit.

15 Responses

  1. Sarah (aka Jetsetting Fools)

    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 BoxesMy Profile

    Reply
    • Britnee Johnston

      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. :)

      Reply
    • Stanley Brown

      I noticed you guys stayed in alot of hostels. I have never done that… How are they?

      Reply
      • Mark Johnston

        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.

  2. Don Edolio

    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!

    Reply
  3. Andrometa Cooper

    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.

    Reply
  4. Sam @ Financial Samurai

    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 ReviewMy Profile

    Reply
    • Britnee Johnston

      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!

      Reply
  5. Alexa

    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!

    Reply
    • Mark Johnston

      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.

      Reply

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