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

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 help you see how affordable RTW travel by showing you how we break down our expenses. For more stories into how we saved for this adventure and actionable steps you can take to save for your own dream, click here to get our book Dream Save Do.

We’ve been looking forward to June for months as it marked the start of our Trans-Mongolian rail adventure. We spent the first few weeks in Beijing gathering our Russian visa and enjoying more of the sights. Then, on the morning of June 18th we boarded our the train for our 30 hour journey to Ulan Bator. The train tickets were by far the most expensive in our travels so far ($485 for second class), but absolutely worth every penny. We loved watching as the landscape changed as we entered the Gobi Desert and continued north to the capital. It was enough to bring tears to our eyes as we realized we are now in the land of Genghis Khan.

One thing we have discovered, and you will notice on the daily average by country chart, Mongolia is not cheap to visit. In terms of food and lodging it is certainly a cheaper place to visit, however the challenge is being able to see it by yourself. For us, virtually everything we do here in Mongolia is, in some way, through a 3rd party (driver or tour). For most of our trip we have avoided this, but for Mongolia it turns out to be the best way to see the country in a way we could not if we were on our own. In the future we may know enough to venture out on our own, but for now we feel we’ve done a great job now of balancing cost and experience and are loving the result.

June reflected an increase over the previous months in China, due heavily to the train ticket (described earlier) and the higher costs for a tour we took when we arrived in Mongolia. We did a great job continuing to control our food budget by eating where the locals eat and continuing to eat only 2 meals a day. Plus, thanks to very cheap beer (and not a reduction in consumption) our alcohol expenses have dropped as well. This is good news now as we’ll make up for it when we get to Europe in August.

We are looking forward to another 2 weeks here in Mongolia before heading up to Mother Russia to continue on the Trans-Siberian Railway. July is going to be expensive, but given this is our big splurge for 2012 we are looking forward to the experience. This 18,000km over-land journey to Portugal is getting better every day.

Let’s Get to the Numbers

  • Total spending to date (for entire trip) through June 2012: $41,329
  • Total spending for June 2012: $2,493
  • Daily average for June 2012: $83.09
  • Overall daily average (21 months on the road): $64.78

Expense Breakdown:

 Frequently Asked Questions:

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 are you handling your retirement accounts/finances? (thanks to Karen O for this months question)

Well before we made the decision to leave on this adventure, we worked with a financial advisor to create “buckets” for our money (retirement, emergency fund, opportunity fund, etc). Each was funded according to an agreed to priority before we ever paid ourselves. This eliminated temptation as we never even saw the money in our checking account. We folded the emergency fund and retirement fund together once we took off on this trip and this is completely untouched and not part of our trip finances.

When we were saving we created a “re-entry fund” which was to be used when we returned. Now that we’re turning this into a full-time lifestyle with no plan to return we need determine which bucket we want to put this money. Otherwise, we treat our retirement funds exactly the same as before. This money is a complete safety net for us for when we get older, regardless of where we live. Though it’s clear any retirement funds will go much further living our twilight years outside the US or Europe.