How Much Does it Cost to Travel Around the World? (January 2013)

Each month we provide a monthly summary of our expenses as we travel around the world. We’ve documented every dollar, yuan, and bhat spent on our journey to help you see how affordable RTW travel by showing you how we break down our expenses.

Colorado train ride

January was filled with travel as we began the month in the United States and ended in on the beach in Mexico. We left Austin and headed to Colorado where we enjoyed a few days in Boulder and had a great meet-up with ~50 readers. Then we rode the rails west to Grand Junction to spend a couple weeks with Warren’s family. Then it was off to California to enjoy time with friends and readers before flying down to the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

We wrapped up 3+ months back in the US visiting friends and family, and now we’re back out exploring more of the world. We loved catching up with all our connections and hearing about all that has been going on in our absence the last few year. However, our feet were getting itchy and ready for new experiences and more challenges out in the world.

January in Review

In just one month we took as many flights (3) as we have in our entire previous 27 months on the road, as our expense summary below reflects. January was also an opportunity to stock up on some items which are easier to find in the US. We replaced a few pieces of clothing, loaded up on some personal care products that would be harder to get in Mexico, and sadly had to replace my iPod. After 6+ years it finally died so we had to dip in a bit to ensure I was able to continue listening to my Coffee Break Spanish & This American Life podcasts. Some things we’re just not ready to give up.

Overall, given that we took 3 flights and 2 train trips the expenses for the month were quite reasonable. We once again saved significantly by staying with friends and family for the majority of the month. In addition, we were able to cut expenses by:

  •  Taking advantage of a kind offer from a friend to use her “buddy passes” to fly to Mexico for a fraction of full fare
  • Cooked meals for friends and family in lieu of eating out
  • Leveraged credit card points (which we’ve been accumulating during our first 2+ years of travel) to pay for one of our flights in the US

Let’s Get to The Numbers:

  • Total spending for January 2013: $2,268
  • Daily average for January 2013: $73.17
  • Total spending to date (for entire trip) through January 2013: $57,693
  • Overall daily average (853 days on the road): $67.64

Expense Breakdown:

January expenses by category

Jan 2013 - expense table


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.

Do you take language classes in each region you go? How much do you spend to learn languages?

This is a great question we have received dozens of times over the last few years. We have gone deeper in some languages (Spanish, Thai, Mandarin) when we are able to stay longer in the area. However, for most locations/countries we focus on learning 10 phrases which we’ve found helps us bridge the gap a bit in most situations. People love knowing you are trying.

For Spanish, we just started our first ever language class. When we initially left we knew that we both wanted to become conversational in the language. We have used a number of resources to learn the basics, but now we feel a few weeks of classes will expand our knowledge significantly. The courses will cost $190/week for 2 hours per day. In addition, we will continue to practice every day (cada dia) with the locals, watch films in Spanish, and continue to listen to Spanish lessons to ensure our investment pays off.

Hope you see the cost to travel around the world may not be as much as you thought.  For step-by-step advice to save for your own adventure (whatever that may entail), pick up a copy of our book Dream Save Do. It is an Action Plan for Dreamers, just like you. Click here to learn more.