How Much does it Cost to Travel around the World? (Year 1 Summary)

England - hiking Mahlam coveWOW, I cannot believe it has been a year since we left on this great adventure. We have had some amazing experiences, explored areas we never imagined, and made new friends we will carry with us for a lifetime. The trip has taken us from the inexpensive and beautiful countries of South America, across the Atlantic on a ship and into the arms of Europe where our dollars do not go very far. Looking back we are surprised at how little this grand adventure cost us.

We ended the year spending less than $25,000 while not feeling like we have regrets for things that did not fit into our budget. In fact, we’d both agree that we did more in this year than we thought possible on our $100/day budget. Luckily, Europe has proven to be less damaging to our budget than we expected. When we initially left we were not planning to spend much time in Europe. The feeling was that while we would love to explore, the cost was going to be prohibitive. However, thanks to wonderful friends and some great housesitting opportunities, we were able to stay here in Europe for over 5 months and all for under our monthly budget.

Changing Emotions about Money

Since leaving I have dramatically changed how I think about our spending. In the early days of our trip I was obsessed with the budget. Every day I worried about how much we were spending and fretted over how much we had left in our savings. As we end the year I am surprised at how much more comfortable I have become with our spending. Of course there are days we go over and I have learned that this is ok. Rather than adding stress to our lives we have learned to live our lives and not let concerns of money rule our dream life. I had to learn that the goal is an average of $100/day not making sure that we don’t go over this each day. I am not perfect on this yet, but love that I find myself far less concerned with this now.

However, this post is about the money and what we spent to date on this journey. Given that this is both the end of the month (September) as well as the end of a full year on the road this post will be longer than usual and provide both the monthly summary as well as insights into a full year spending.

Monthly Summary: September 2011

Funny faces in FranceSeptember was a great month. We started off in France with great new friends we met in Ecuador who invited us for a fun week in their home. We ate VERY well and enjoyed exploring the area. Then we headed to Amsterdam for 2.5 weeks to house-sit on a houseboat. It is a wonderful city to explore and we had a blast wandering the city on foot (we were the odd ones not riding bikes) and trying out some “local experiences”.

For the entire month we paid for 1 month of accommodations when we splurged on a hotel in Amsterdam. Regardless, September turned out to be our second highest month so far. The primary reasons for this spike in spending were:

  • New shoes - As we prepare to head to Thailand we knew we needed to get some new sandals that would match the weather there and allow us to do more walking/hiking. As we learned the hard way from previous purchases, skimping on clothes and shoes has inevitably lead to discomfort and items that simply will not stand up to this type of travel. So, we wanted to get high quality shoes that we knew would hold up to our travels and also be very comfortable. We ended up both buying new Keens, which we love, but put a bit of a dent in our budget.
  • Day trip splurge  – we splurged 1 day while we were in France on a day-trip to Beaune. We visited the wineries, bought some great wine to share with our friends, and had a great dinner out. This 1 day turned out to cost almost $500 and well outside our  normal spending. However, we have learned that at times you need to splurge and enjoy your time on the road, but also be prepared to suck it up in other parts of your budget the rest of the month.
  • Cost of transportation in Europe – there is no beating around the bush here, travel in Europe is hard on the budget. A simple 2 hour train ride can cost well over $200 for the 2 of us. Luckily we were able to find some buses, but it still put a dent of over $500 in our monthly totals.
  • Getting memories – it was something we had planned for, but did not know where we would do it next. While in Amsterdam Betsy decided to get her nose re-pierced and her 2nd tattoo. She looks absolutely amazing (as usual in my opinion) but it seems they do not offer this artistic expression for free. This was a welcome $230 addition to our total.

The numbers for September 2011

  • Total spending for September 2011: $2,796
  • Daily average for September 2011: $93.20

Expense Breakdown: September 2011

New Lesson Learned:

  • Calculate all the costs – when comparing different forms of transportation, be sure to calculate all the costs. In Europe the trains are actually quite expensive. Typically you can find flights for less than half the price between 2 cities. However, be sure to include the cost of getting to/from each airport, baggage fees, etc into your calculations. Often times we found that when you added the cost of getting out to the airport it would add significantly to the overall price.

Yearly Summary: Year 1 (Oct 2010 – Sep 2011)

Our year was amazing and went very different than we expected. We spent 6 months in South America, rode on a ship from Antarctica to England, and then spent 5 months in Europe which we never thought we could even afford to see. When we first started planning this trip we thought a trip around the world for a year (which was our original plan) would cost us $75,000. There was so much conflicting information available that we simply threw a number out there and started saving.

Now that we have completed a full year we are hear to tell you that it is not only possible, but not difficult to travel around the world for less than half that amount. Plus, if you have been following our trip at Married with Luggage you know that we are not the type to sleep in shared dorms or to find the cheapest beds in a city by following the rats. We have learned some great lessons for saving money along the way and now we are happy to report our full year results.

Expense Breakdown: Year 1

The costs outlined below represent all the cash we paid out during the course of our year on the road. This includes our accommodation, food, travel expenses, insurance, etc.

  • Total spending for Year 1: $24,140
  • Overall daily average for Year 1: $66.14



Dine in or Dine out?

After our August expense summary one of our wonderful readers, Peter Carey, requested a break out of our spending on food between eating out and buying groceries to dine in. We love this view as it will show just how much we splurged at restaurants and cafes. After some work I have the answer. For the first 12 months of our trip, here are the results:

  • Dining out: 53% ($3,907)
  • Eating in: 47% ($3,475)
While I do not have specific data on the number of meals each represents, I can tell you we ate out FAR less then we dined in. This continues to prove that eating out is great, but it is far more expensive to do so.


The totals above do not include money we spent before we left the United States for our trip, clothing, gear, etc.  One key expense that is not included in this total is our trip to Antarctica, which was $10,900. We opted not to include this in our expense summaries, as we have mentioned many times before, for a couple reasons:

  1. We paid for the trip completely before we left, and used these summaries to track our cash spent during the trip.
  2. We paid for the trip out money we earned from side-jobs and viewed this part of our trip as a bonus.
  3. We wanted to use this monthly summary as a way for us to track our remaining travel budget

The good news is that even if we add in this splurge trip we are still nicely under budget.

Looking Forward to Year 2:

As we start Year 2 we are excited to be heading to Thailand, where we know our money will go further. We will continue to track our spending as we settle into Chiang Mai for a few months and explore the area around there. We decided we rather like this lifestyle so we are going to spend 6 months living only off what we make to determine it is is viable to make this a long-term lifestyle.

Last but not least, if you are curious as to how we amassed the cash for this trip along with a guide for how you can too, check our our book Dream Save Do: An Action Plan for Dreamers.