How Much Does it Cost to Travel Around the World – May 2012 summary

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. To follow along on our travels and receive guidance to follow your own dream, click here to get our weekly newsletter

Holy crap, we’ve been on the road for 20 months. I don’t know why, but there are just some moments that make us stop and shake our heads in surprise that we’ve been living this dream for over 1.5 years.

We spent all of May in China, enjoying a few thousand kilometers of train travel (seriously, we love the trains here) across the country and arriving in Beijing. During our trip north we found that the accommodation prices have steadily risen. While not high by the standard of Europe or America, we have seen a 50% increase in room costs from our first stop in the Yunnan province and Beijing. Here in Beijing we’re currently paying $36/night for a small apartment. It turns out that renting an apartment for 3 weeks enabled us to negotiate a lower price and save about $5/night over the local hostels. As we all know when traveling, every little bit helps.

In May we saw our expenses jump up from April, due primarily to our high priced train travel and getting our Russian visas. When we left from Chengdu to Beijing our goal was to get hard sleeper beds (which actually are much nicer and softer than the name implies). However, when we went to buy the tickets we discovered that not only is this a very popular route but it seems that travel agents buy up all the tickets in advance so you have to pay a premium. Instead, we ended up spending an additional $120 (which was almost double what we expected) to get the only available option for our 13 hour trip. Alas, when traveling in China it is always an experience of discovery and new lessons learned.

In news that makes us scream with delight, we were able to get our much anticipated and much worried over visas to visit Russia. The total was $286 for both visas, which is a steep price to pay for a 30 day visa, but given that it is a dream destination for us we decided we could not skip the opportunity.

Otherwise, our numbers continue to stay well under budget, which is good as we gear up for the most expensive part of this 18,000km over-land journey to Portugal. Follow along through our website to see how we progress while we keep track of our expenses here. It is sure to be an exciting experience each step of the way.

Let’s Get to the Numbers

  • Total spending to date (for entire trip) through May 2012: $38,836
  • Total spending for May 2012: $2,263
  • Daily average for May 2012: $73.01
  • Overall daily average (20 months on the road): $63.88

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 each month here.

Why did you spend so much in Thailand (or insert any other country here)? Don’t you know you way over-paid?

This is one of the most annoying questions we’ve received, and it also happens to be one of the most frequent we’ve fielded since publishing our first report. In fact, it has been shocking just how many people feel it is their duty to write in to tell us just how crazy we are for spending $20/night on a room when they were able to sleep for just $3/night and ate on less than a $1/day. Well, at the risk of sounding insensitive, who the hell cares???

Travel, like life, is not a competition. We all travel according to our own styles, plans, dreams, goals and desires. What works for one person will not fit everyone else. We publish our spending information here as a guide and try to be as transparent as possible to help others who may be exploring a trip of their own. However, if you love to camp or sleep in luxury hotels your costs are sure to be different, but at least you’ll have a baseline to start with through this information. We promise not to judge you regardless of your style or plans, but will instead be extremely excited that you got out there and followed your dream.