How Much Does it Cost to Travel Around the World? (2012 Year End Update)

This post includes both a year end review for 2013 as well as the monthly summary for December 2012. Each month we provide a monthly summary of our expenses during our trip around the world. We’ve documented every dollar, yuan, and bhat spent on our journey to show you how affordable around the world (RTW) travel can be by breaking down our expenses.

2012 Overview

December marks the end of an amazing year following our dream to travel the world. We started the year in Thailand, spending 3 months enjoying great food and launching Strip Off Your Fear. We then took off on our biggest adventure yet by traveling over-land/sea from Thailand to Portugal. During the 6 month journey we opened our eyes to new cultures and experiences we’d have never known possible. We crossed Russia on the Trans-Siberian, a dream come true and better than we hoped.

From Russia we headed into Europe for a 2 month exploration of new areas, connecting with friends old and new, and discovering new passions for Spain and Slovenia. Then we hopped on a ship for another trans-Atlantic sailing to bring us back to the US for a long-overdue visit with friends and family.

Our year was truly magical and represents exactly the type of life we dreamed about back in 2008 when we started planning our new lives. We were able to explore the world while writing to help others follow their dreams. A truly great year.

Financial Review of 2012

We were excited to see our December expenses come in quite similar for November. We once again had no accommodation expense thanks to a housesit we landed through (note, use the code “married” to save 25% on your membership). We spent a lot of time walking to help reduce costs as well as continue to focus on our health. While we kept our spending down, only $1,145 for the entire month, we did not skimp on enjoying our time in Austin and eating the foods we’d missed for all the years away.

We ended 2012 spending at total of $25,722 which is well below our initial target of $36,500/year. What is interesting about this figure is that it is just $102 more than we spent in 2011. We had initially thought our expenses for 2011 were an anomaly so it is nice to see the figures aligning well. For the year we were able to travel across Asia and Europe, stay in Europe for 2 months, and then the US for another 2 all for far less than we ever lived back in our “old lives” in Seattle.

Here are a few ways we were able to save money for the year:

  • Housesitting
  • Ate out at lunch instead of dinner
  • Discovered happy hours in locations
  • Said yes to offers from friends to stay with them
  • Ate locally and avoided “western” restaurants (aka more expensive)
  • Stayed in hostels, which were extremely nice in China and Russia
  • Booked travel in 2nd or 3rd class on the trains across China, Mongolia, and Russia

Looking Ahead to 2013

We are getting a bit antsy here in the US and looking forward to continuing our travels. We will be wrapping up our time in the US later this month and then heading off to Mexico. We plan to spend several month extending our Spanish, Betsy’s planning to learn guitar, we’ll be hiking as much as possible, and then we have our sights on writing a new book. Later in the year we’re going to Turkey to hike the Lycian Way (a 500km trek along the southern coast) with Sherry Ott of Ottsworld.

It is already shaping up to be a big year and we are beside ourselves with anticipation to watch it all unfold.

Let’s Get to The Numbers:

December 2012:

  • Total spending for December 2012: $1,145
  • Daily average for December 2012: $36.92

2012 Yearly Total:

  • 2012 Total: $25,722
  • 2012 Daily Average: $70.47
  • Total spending to date (for entire trip – Oct 2010 – December 2012): $55,425
  • Overall daily average (822 days on the road): $67.43

Expense Breakdown:


2012 Yearly

Annual expenses for 2012


Over the course of providing these monthly spending reports, we’ve received a lot of questions and requests for clarification on our spending and finances. In order to spread the answers to more of you we’ll start including one here each month.

How did you only spend $4 on water for the entire year?

We try our best to never buy water and avoid it whenever possible. We both carry water bottles and keep them full most of the time. We have a Steripen we use to sterilize the water most of the time. But once we got to Russia we drank water from the tap. In Mongolia, while sleeping with families in gers out in the desert or mountains, the water was always boiled first (sometimes with the flavor of mutton to add to the experience).

What are your plans for 2013? What are you most excited for in the new year? Let us know in the comments below.