How Much Does it Cost to Travel Around the World (November 2011)

November we fell in love. Not with each other (already there), but with Chiang Mai, Thailand. We arrived here in the middle of October and spent a hectic few weeks launching our first book, Dream Save Do. In November we were able to settle in a bit more and explore this amazing city. During the month we went rock climbing, white water rafting, had a few massages, rented motorbikes to explore outside the city, and dined out for 3 meals a day…every day.

While we are here to work on our next book, we are also getting out to enjoy the area and all it has to offer. It is nice to able to do all this well under our budget. Especially since we vowed during our time here we would not spend any money from our travel funds. We have to earn whatever we spend adding even more excitement when we see the final figures.

It was a wonderful month, made all the better as we look at the total spending for the month of $1,356. This is half what we spent in October and well under our expenses during our time in Europe. Our accommodation expenses are fixed for our time here at $600/month so our big savings areas are food and alcohol. In fact, it was great to see our spending on wine/beer drop so much as we were starting to fear it would become our 2nd highest all time expense on this trip…not a good sign. The food here is simply amazing and if you steer clear of the “faraang” (foriegners) restaurants you can typically eat for $5 or less. If you eat at the market stalls then you can chop that in half.

Let’s Get to the Numbers

  • Total spending to date through November 2011: $28,512
  • Total spending for November 2011: $1,356
  • Daily average for November 2011: $45.21
  • Overall daily average (14 months on the road): $66.93

Expense Breakdown:

Nov 2011 - Expenses by category


Lessons Learned:

  • Eat where the locals eat - we have talked about the value of eating in markets. In addition to this one of our biggest savings has been avoiding restaurants aimed at tourists. These are easy to spot as they are located near the main sights, typically have some form of blinking neon lights, and will be filled with people who look and talk just like you. By wandering outside the core tourist zones you will need to step outside your comfort zone a bit, but you will find new culinary experiences for a fraction of the price. In Asia this will save you at least 60% (and often closer to 80%) on the bill.
  • Buy fruits and veggies at the market – like local restaurants, the local markets are a treasure trove of tastes and smells you may have never experienced. It is also home to the cheapest prices for fruits and vegetables. We love to buy fresh fruits and can also buy better tasting items, for less than half the price, by buying direct from the markets. We’ve saved a ton of money during our time here by only shopping for our fruits in the local markets. Now, the only time we go into a “super” market is to explore what all they have but never to buy.


  1. Wow..that’s amazing! I’ve heard there are a lot of retired folks in CM because it is so cheap. Wish it were cheap here in Canada..I just blew my paycheck on Xmas gifts for the kids (they get harder to buy for as they get older!). Either way, I hope to save some funds so one day we can take the kids to Thailand..sounds like CM would be a good place to check out :)

    • Hey Joanna,
      This is truly a wonderful place to be. For the money I am not sure we could imagine a better place to spend 6 months. The food is amazing, people are friendly, and there is simply so much to see and do. I would highly recommend adding it to your list of places to spend a week or 2. We could imagine spending more time here in the future and coming back to enjoy a year here learning the language.

  2. I’m lookinf forward to visiting Thailand in 2013. I’ll be stepping out on my journey then. The place you are staying looks like a wonderful place to stay. How are you enjoying the accomodations?

    • Hi Paula,
      Very exciting to have a date set for your adventure. That is half the battle now you get to enjoy all the fun of preparation which I absolutely loved.

      The accommodations here are wonderful. You have a wide selection from $5/night up to $100+. We happened to work out a deal for $20/night to stay in a guest house’s (essentially a boutique hotel) suite for 6 months which includes breakfast every day. But there are places you can find for less than half that if you stay outside the city center. You have a lot of options that can fit any budget and travel style.

  3. I love that your place includes breakfast. What type of breakfast do you get? I think Thailand gets a bad rap sometimes and it is wonderful to hear the truth from people who are actually there! So good to hear that the food is amazing and how inexpensive it is. Also I was wondering if you were able to pay for it with your new income…or income (not sure if it is new or not)? Did you go over or under budget in that regard? Thanks!

    • Hey Paz,
      The breakfast here is great. We have a choice of grandola/yogurt, eggs/bacon/toast, rice soup, or fruit along with coffee. It is a great addition to our place.

      For the budget we are doing great and are earning more than we are spending. We had a great push with the release of the first book and are excited now that we have our second released and are working on the 3rd. The business side is coming along great.

  4. Loree Hollander says:

    Thanks for all of the great information. SO generous of you guys. Question: My husband and I are following in yours and others’ footsteps; saved a lot, and heading out of the U.S. in May. Our first stop will be Indonesia, and then we plan to head to CM to work on writing and business. It sounds like you have a good deal on accommodation where you are, but we are hoping to spend less per month, like 350 or so. Did you look at anything in that price category? It looks like Shannon (A Little Adrift) had a house for about 320 per month, but I am not sure if that is typical (?) We don’t need a kitchen.. do you have any recommendations regarding where to look? We plan to be based in CM 6-12 months, with all of the requisite visa runs of course. Thanks in advance for any info. Cheers,

    • Hi Loree,
      Congratulation on taking the leap and following your dream. Enjoy the last few months there with friends and eat as much good Mexican food as you can. It is hard to find when you are gone.

      Accommodation prices in Chiang Mai, like everywhere, depend on your location. For us, the most important thing was to be centrally located so we could easily walk to everything. Plus, we liked having a place that included breakfast so we could get up early, eat, and then head off to write. We made the decision on our place ($600/month) because of this and we loved the staff when we met them.

      However, it would not be a problem at all to find cheaper accommodations either by going outside the city center or at least further from where we are. Shannon’s place is a great example of the variety of options. We also know people who have rented a place for 12 months about 5km outside the city and have an entire 2-bedroom home for ~$400/month. The good news is there are a ton of options to choose from.

      When you get here, rent a place for a week and look around. My suggestion is to make a list of what is really important and what you’re willing to give up and that will make the process much easier.

      Good luck and enjoy the goodbye process.

      • Warren,
        The advice is much appreciated, that’s exactly what we’ll do. I really appreciate the tip about the Mexican food. ;-D

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