Money & Costs

Note: See our Post-Trip Update at the bottom of this page for details on specific country costs, and to read about what we learned along the way.

A common reaction we got from people when they first heard of our world travel plans was, "isn't that going to be expensive?!"  Actually, it's really not as expensive as many would think.  A world trip can be done on pretty much any budget, depending on what level of comfort you're accustomed to and what you're willing to pay.  We're not quite 20-year-old college students on a shoestring budget willing to post up in the cheapest of hostel dormitories, but we're not high-flying jet-setters either (nor would we want to be even if we were loaded beyond belief).  Our budget will allow us to stay in middle-range accommodations (mostly small hotels, homestays, and self-catering apartments), eat at moderate restaurants (when we're not saving money by cooking for ourselves), and still have some daily money left over for fun stuff like museums and river rafting.  In most countries, our internal transportation will be by bus and train, with the occasional car rental or short flight thrown in.  Time will certainly be on our side, so it's okay if it takes a little longer to get where we'll be going.  The journey is the reward, as they say.

"People cannot discover new lands until they have the courage to lose sight of the shore."

- André Gide

One of the great benefits of visiting developing countries is the buying power of the mighty U.S. Dollar in these places -- for what it will cost us to stay one day in Europe, we could live comfortably for several days in Southeast Asia.  This is a big reason why so much of our trip will be spent in developing countries.  Not to mention that developing countries and their citizens are typically much more interesting than us boring westerners!

We'll spare you the grimy details of our total trip costs, but here are a few specifics in case you're curious:

Round-the-world Tickets:                              $5494 ($2747 per person)
Travel Medical Insurance:                              $1224 ($612 per person)
Inoculations (see Health page):                   $650  ($325 per person)
Packs, gear, etc:                                         ~$1500 (could've spent much less!)

For most countries, we've planned on an average budget of around $80 per day for the two of us, including lodging, all meals, and miscellaneous daily expenditures.  Obviously, some places (like Europe and Botswana) will cost more.

Actual on-the-road travel costs will, of course, vary from country to country; we hope to include some of these region-specific details in our Travel Journal as we go.  

Post-Trip Update: Well, our budget worked pretty well for most of the trip.  Having a daily budget set for each country in advance really helped us stay on-target.  Every day, we would record all expenses and then compare the daily totals to our target budget.  When we went over budget, we would try to make up for it by spending less the next day.  The net-net:  we went over budget for the year by several thousand dollars.  This was due to the occasional "splurge" that we couldn't resist.  And that extra money was well-spent -- having a comfy hotel room and a nice meal every once in a while helped keep our morale up.  It's hard to travel for a year straight on a total shoestring budget!  Although we saw plenty of younger folks in their early twenties doing it just fine.  It's all a matter of what you're accustomed to and willing to put up with to save a buck, really.

The only country which really surprised us from a cost perspective was Egypt -- food and lodging costs are low, but they really get you with all those admission fees to the monuments and museums.  Bring extra money if you visit!

We thought we would use a lot of traveler's checks on the road.  We were wrong.  We used them only because we had them.  We used our ATM cards to get cash out of bank ATMs throughout the world.  The only places where finding an ATM was difficult were Vietnam (outside of Hanoi and Saigon), Laos and Cambodia.  With tourism on the rise in Vietnam, though, we expect that situation to change quickly.  Traveler's checks are good for emergencies (and when the ATM networks are down, which happens sometimes), but we didn't ever *really* need them.

Below are actual daily costs for each country.  All costs are adjusted to U.S. dollars and include lodging, food, and all other daily costs for two people.  Transportation (which we budgeted for separately) is not included.

Country Daily Avg $ Country Daily Avg $
Morocco $  72  Spain $121 
Czech Republic (Prague) $114  Switzerland $  57 **
Greece (Athens & Santorini) $176 * Greece (islands, other north) $113
Turkey $  81  Egypt $146
South Africa (leg 1) $120 * Botswana & Zimbabwe (all inclusive camping safari) $211
South Africa (leg 2) $114 * Mauritius $117
Malaysia $  82 Thailand $84
Cambodia $102 * Vietnam $107 *
Laos $  53 Singapore $120
Indonesia $  75 *

* These countries could have been done cheaper, but we went for quality and comfort
   over low cost.
** We were hosted by the Berz family in Switzerland, which cut our costs considerably. 
   Had we been on our own, Switzerland would have drained our pocketbook quickly -- 
   it's a very expensive country!!

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