Haha I’m trying to spice up my post titles a little. Anywho, today I was thinking about the budget this year long trip of mine is going to take and doing a little research.
My initial impression of travel insurance for that length of time is it could easily be over $1000 US. Same for a Global Eurorail Pass, which I think is going to make the most sense for me given the number of countries I want to visit (6+) in the amount of time I want to do it (1-2 months). From previous experience, I am expecting immunizations to run me $200-300 US.
Airfare is a difficult thing to predict because it fluctuates so much. I am trying to limit my airfare as much as I can because overland travel tends to be much more environmentally friendly (smaller carbon footprint), especially mass transit such as buses and trains. Given that, I still have to fly for some portions of the trip such as U.S. to london, europe/africa to asia, australia/new zealand to U.S. and possibly some other portions as well. The airfare alone could easily reach $6,000-7,000 U.S., but my goal is to get it down to about $4,000 U.S. by being flexible with the travel dates and airports and using the points I’ve accumulated on my travel credit card (so far about $500) to pay for some of the airfare. For other travel costs, buses, ferries and the occasional tuk-tuk or taxi, I’ll try to keep it under $1,000.
Realistically, given how I travel, I think I could average $10/night, but for budgeting purposes I’m estimating that accommodations are going to average $15 U.S./night. Obviously Europe and Australia can be quite expensive, but I have several friends in those areas that have offered me a couch or guest bedroom. Asia and Latin America will be much cheaper. I know from experience that most Central American hostels will run me about $5 US/night. Everything I’ve read about the areas of Southeast Asia that I’m planning on visiting has led me to believe it will be similar. Some parts of South America will be more expensive, but I will compensate for that by trying to spend more time in less expensive areas.
Food is a great area to keep costs down in because you can generally find street vendors all over the world…except for the U.S. The awesome things about street food are that it tends to be typical to the region and very, very cheap. When in doubt, just follow the locals. They usually have a good handle on which vendors are the tastiest. Also, many hostels have kitchens. Meet a few fellow travelers in your hostel and cook a delicious dinner for just a couple bucks each! Buy cereal or bread and jam or whatever you like to eat for breakfast if you are staying in one place for several days. When buying fruit or veggies, I try to follow the peace corps rule of “boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it”. Not gonna lie though, I don’t always follow it and when I don’t I usually pay for it. Anyway. Back to the budget. So yea, food is a bit difficult to predict, but I’m going to say $20/day. Hopefully, I’ll be able to come in much lower than that, buuuttt I’d rather over-budget than under-budget.
Last category is activities! When I’m traveling, I like to focus on more authentic experiences and less touristy things. Fortunately, that also translates into less expensive activities. I will splurge on certain activities, like scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef off Australia and the Meso-American Barrier Reef off Central America, but for the most part I just love walking around soaking up the culture, meeting the people, listening to the sounds, inhaling the aromas, etc. Also, I’ll go online before I leave to find out what activities have free days…For example, the Louvre has free admission the first sunday of every month. So most days I won’t spend anything on activities, but when I do, it tends to be a splurge. I’ll estimate an average of $10 U.S./day.
For those of you keeping track, I’m estimating $45/day for food, activities and accommodations…but secretly hoping it comes out closer to $30/day. So probably looking at somewhere between $10, 950 and $16, 425 for 365 days plus about $6,000 for transportation, $300 for immunizations and $1,000 for travel insurance.
I look at those numbers and die a little inside. My initial thoughts are “How the hell am I going to save that money in a year???” and “Am I really going to blow all this money on a vacation?” The truth is though, this is not a vacation as anyone who has traveled long term before can attest. It is a life-affirming, soul-searching, truly wonderful way of thriving instead of just surviving, which is what I feel like I’m currently doing. This kind of living is not something most people can do, or even want to do when it comes right down to it. I know so many people who, when I tell them what I’m doing, say “Oh, it must be so nice to be able to do that” “I don’t have the time/money to do that” or “someday I’ll do that” but the truth is, they only like the idea of going on a trip like this. If you really want to go on a year long adventure, you will feel deep in your soul that you have to, and you will make it happen no matter what. At the end of the day, you are the only one holding yourself back. It doesn’t matter if your family/friends tell you you’re crazy or that it’s irresponsible. What’s right for you might not be right for others and that’s ok. Everyone has a different path in life. This is mine.