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

October saw us in Belgium, Germany, and Thailand so our expenses were a bit all over the map…literally. We had a wonderful visit with friends before leaving Europe after 5 months and as a result were able to stay under budget during that time. However, it required a lot more work and a few house sitting opportunities to stay on track.

The single biggest expense this month was for the flights to Thailand. Given our flexibility we did a lot of research on the cheapest place to fly from in Europe. Turns out that flying from Dusseldorf was almost 50% less than the next closest option, so the research really paid off. Plus, now you all know if you ever need to fly to Thailand check out Germany as a great alternative. We spent less than $600 each on the direct flights to Bangkok, plus another $70 each to get to Chiang Mai, which still turned out to be a considerable chuck of our monthly budget. Regardless of these big one time expenses it is great to see that we still came in over $300 under budget.

We are now in Chiang Mai, Thailand and will be staying here for the next several months. We are so excited to have arrived just in time to launch our first book and have already started writing our second. We are looking forward to the opportunity to get to know a city and its people while we focus on turning this adventure into our lifestyle. It will also be very good for our budget  as we have found a wonderful place to rent in the city center for $600/month and we can eat for a fraction of the cost in Europe. Plus, since wine is priced out of our budget here our alcohol line item should drop considerably. We expect to be exploring the area a bit and have already ventured out for some white-water rafting. Look out next month for how we did on this new plan.

Let’s Get to the Numbers

  • Total spending to date through October 2011: $26,826
  • Total spending for October 2011: $2,686
  • Daily average for October 2011: $86.64
  • Overall daily average (13 months on the road): $67.74

Expense Breakdown:

October 2011 expense categories table

Oct 11 - Total spending to date

Lesson Learned:

  • Explore departure/arrival options – When we made the decision to come to Thailand we started with the idea that we could fly from anywhere in Europe. As a result we explored a lot of different options by comparing flights from different cities. While it took some time to explore all the alternatives we ended up saving over $1,000 which will keep us on the road another 10 days at our current budget and well worth the time. Wherever you’re travelling to and from, explore a range of options. In some cases you can even find cheap cruises from one port to another cheaper than what you can fly. So while saving money, you’re also adding a great new experience to your holiday. Be sure to check all the options and you’ll be surprised with what great deals you can find!

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.

How Much Does it Cost to Travel Around the World? (August 2011 tally)

August was another month without any accommodation expenses (whoohooo!). Thanks to a wonderful house-sitting opportunity in Brussels we spent the month exploring the city. Brussels is a wonderful city, full of great food, beer, and history. As a result we indulged a bit in our experience in the city. As you can see from the details below, we stayed well under budget but did splurge a bit on food and a Belgian ale or 2.

In addition, this month we really got into cooking. We tried a host of new recipes from Thailand, China, India, Italy, and points in between. It was fun to be able to go to the local grocery stores and wander up and down the aisles finding new things with each turn. One of the highlights was heading into the Asian market and buying our ingredients for Kung Pao Chicken. It turned out great and was a fun way to spend an hour exploring the shelves.  For one of our favorite recipes during our stay, check out this Puy Lentil Salad. This comes from Alison at the fun and informative website CheeseWeb. Alison and her husband, Andrew, also happen to be the couple we housesat for in Brussels. Making Alison’s recipe in her own home was a fun experience and one we’d love to do again.

Let’s Get to the Numbers

  • Total spending to date through August 2011: $21,344
  • Total spending for August 2011: $2,032
  • Daily average for August 2011: $65.56
  • Overall daily average (10 months on the road): $63.90

Expense Breakdown:

August 2011 - total expenses to date

Lessons Learned:

  • Shop in ethnic grocery stores – This month we focused a lot of attention on cooking at home. As a result, we explored cooking new types of food for the first time, including Indian and Chinese dishes. For a fun and cost saving approach, find ethnic grocery stores. They have a vast selection of new foods you may never have seen and typically at great prices.
  • Dine out at lunch instead of dinner – This is usually a cheaper option, and many restaurants have specials to lure in the business crowd. By eating out at lunch and cooking at home for dinner, you can still enjoy the food in a new country while managing your budget. Plus, the trips to the grocery store are an education in themselves (can you recite your grocery list in another language?).
  • House sit when you can – we have said it before, but it is something we feel so strongly about that we want to highlight it again.  House sitting, especially in expensive regions like Europe, can make it possible for you to stay in an area long enough to appreciate it. There is no way we could have stayed comfortably for a month in any European country without breaking the bank otherwise.