As I am penning this article on how much it costs to travel the world for one year, I am looking back at some of my past long travels with fulfilling experiences and how I was fortunate enough to support myself financially. And it wasn’t easy. It was a lot of trial and errors.
So, what does it cost to travel the world for one year ? For an average solo traveler it ranges from $15,000 to $20,000 in USD. As a general rule of thumb the range doubles for the couples, assuming it’s a truly budget travel.
However we do have one of our featured travelers on this article who has gone an entire year traveling the world for as little as $8900. Yes, it is entirely possible but it requires a certain style of travel that not everyone might be interested in.
I will discuss below breakdown of the travel cost to go around the world for one year, covering every aspect of the life during that time. I will also discuss some of the go-to saving strategies depending on how much savings you are starting from.
I will also be sharing real-time data from real people who have traveled around the world for one year and how much it costed them.
- 1 Meet World Travelers
- 2 Start Saving Today
- 2.1 One year before your world travel starts:
- 2.2 Strategy #1: Earning More
- 2.3 Strategy #2: Saving what you earn
- 2.4 Couple of Months before the trip:
- 2.5 Get you Vaccines
- 2.6 Get Insurance
- 2.7 Get No ATM Fee Debit Card
- 2.8 Get Travel Friendly Credit Card
- 2.9 Skip the Rental Car Insurance
- 2.10 Start Visa Processing:
- 3 Travel Cost Breakdown
- 4 Learn Tactics to Get Free or Cheap Flights and Accommodations.
Meet World Travelers
I see my younger friends talk about taking a year off to travel and the first thing they wonder about is what it takes in terms of actual cost to travel the world for one year. It’s time to share the secret sauce what worked for me and other real travelers to go on that one year sabbatical or gap year that you have always wanted to.
These world travelers have generously agreed to openly tell us their cost to travel the world for one year and tips for staying and traveling with in budget.
Dianna Marie Allen
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
I’m a graphic designer from St. Louis. I began slow traveling back in 2017 and have since visited 10 countries. I visited Sweden, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and England.This was all from 2017-present day, but I’ll focus on my year spent in southeast Asia.
How Much Did it Cost to Travel the World for a Year?
I actually tracked everything completely using Venture Cost! I believe the total adds up to around $10,000 for my 12 months spent in southeast Asia. But you can see the exact numbers on my profile: https://venturecost.com/@diannamallen And Blog: nouw.com/dianna
I study software engineering at college and I’m a ceramicist. I enjoy kayaking, hiking and photography.
How Much Does a Round the World Trip Cost?
I travelled to Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, Ecuador, Columbia, Thailand, Australia in 2016 and spent $17,000.
I’m a 21 year old social services student in England. I visited a few countries, but most recent is south east Asia . Thailand, Laos, Cambodia. England is my home country. I stayed in dorm rooms, could have saved by spending less on alcohol, cheap bus rides (whilst researching safe companies!), Street food!
How Much Does it Cost to Travel the World for a Year?
I spent around £1200 for 4 weeks.
I’m an engineering student who used to work as an Barista. I like being out in nature, good food, good coffee and adventure.
I visited the US, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Austria, Czech republic and Denmark. This was June 2015 – August 2016.
How much does it cost to travel around the world?
I budgeted for 15 000 NOK per month, including flights and travel. That is approx. what I ended up spending as well. More in some countries, less in others.
I used Airbnb a lot and made sure there always were a kitchen I could use since eating out is expensive in many parts of the world, so only did that if there were somewhere in particular I wanted to eat. Made lunch for me to bring with me. I often stayed a bit outside the city centre. Tried to find activities that didn’t cost too much or were free (museums, art exhibitions, parks etc.) and went hiking a lot. I also walked pretty much everywhere since you often find something fun on your way. Stayed were the locals lived and ate where they ate.
I traveled to: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala (In that order).
Travel Style: Budget travel mostly hitchhiking, buses (cheapest), couchsurfing, volunteering in hostels, dormitories, cooking my meals.
The Cost of Travelling the World for a Year:
Money spent: INR 575K (USD 8900 ) This is the closest number I could come to looking at my bank statements.
My blog: https://thesolespeaks.com/
Now that you have heard from the travelers themselves, let’s dig a bit deeper:
Everything boils down to destinations you pick and the style of travel you do. To keep the budget as low as possible, here is the recipe:
- Pick cheaper destinations such as South East Asia, Central America and South America
- Start you travel during off-season
- Do a slow travel and don’t compete with holiday or vacationers on flights and accommodation
- Stay at cheaper places
- Cook your own meals
- Do FREE activities
- Stay away from Alcohol
As a general rule of thumb, here are the least expensive to most expensive countries to travel to. Depending on where you stay, where you eat and what activities you do, you can make the cheapest country the most expensive for yourself.
- SouthEast Asia – Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, India, China etc.,
- Central America – Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador
- South America – Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia etc., + Mexico
- Eastern Eurpope
- Western Europe, US, Canada, Australia, NZ
- Pacific Islands
This list is based on my personal research when I had planned trips. I am sure there is someone who has spent less in Western Europe or US than I ever could, for example our featured Traveler Dianna, who spent barely $800 in Sweden for a month.
Start Saving Today
Let’s discuss some of the go to saving strategies that have proven to work, personally for as well as the travelers I have collected data from.
One year before your world travel starts:
Premise: You have decided to travel for a year and now you have to get money to travel and a bit extra for after you return.
Here is my formula:
The 3 months of re-establishment cost is for in case it takes you time to settle back in your home country and find a job. This little extra cushion will keep your mind at peace.
Now, let focus on how to get to that number you came up with in your formula.
Strategy #1: Earning More
Yes, let’s not lose focus on our earning potential and expansion that can bring more wealth and prosperity. Focusing on earning will lead to long term success, whether you are saving money for traveling or something else.
Here are some tips I have gathered from travelers alike on how to increase your earnings:
- Do you have driver’s license and a car ? Can you spend a few hours driving on weekends or evenings to through Lyft or Uber ?
- You love Yoga and practice regularly. How about working at your local fitness club for a free class and a few extra bucks in your pocket ?
- Invest in online business.
- Buy Gold bar at low cost and sell when the price goes up.
- Invest in Mutual Funds or ETFs and earn Dividends.
You get the point. Find ways to make more money and put the money to work by investing smart.
Strategy #2: Saving what you earn
Now that you have increased your earnings, here are some ways to control your temptations and start saving money towards that dream travel. There are over 20 tips on how to save money, take what works for you.
DON’T Skip this step: Write down in a notebook everything you spend and it’s a real eye-opener.
Tip #1: Are you considering stopping by at a coffee shop to buy a $4.00 latte
Convert the spending into actual experiences. That $4.00 is equivalent to
- A tuk-tuk ride or a Pad Thai in Bangkok
- Transportation and an Avocado shake in Palawan
- Two waffles in Belgium
Tip #2: Stay away from friends who give gifts and to reciprocate you have to gift them.
Tip #3: Sell that old dress or the shoe you are not wearing anymore on e-bay. Pretty much sell everything that you didn’t use in the past 6months to 1-year.
Tip #4: When you are tempted to eat out, ask yourself this questions: Can I make this at home?
Tip #5: Stop going to the malls to meet friends. Meet them outside at a park and go for a walk instead.
Tip #6: DON’T visit any store other than grocery store. All we are 3 healthy meals, 2-3 healthy snacks and plenty of water everyday. Everything else such as that $10 cheese cake is only adding to your waistline not the bottomline. If you are hungry when you are outside, find the nearest store and buy a banana instead.
Tip #7: Create a bank account specifically for travel purpose and set aside a few bucks out of every pay check.
Tip #8: Carry cash, that might actually help you realize you spending money on unnecessary things.
Tip #9: Get a budget app like Mint.I’s a lot easier to curb the spending when you’re recording it in an app. And can actually see how much those occasional lattes are adding up to. When you just have to THINK about it it’s so abstract that it’s hard for you to make a connection the actual effect it’s having. SEEING it is a whole different story.
Tip #10: Try an app like “The Albert app” that takes money out of your bank account randomly and you don’t even realize. A passive way to force yourself to save money. A great article is written on HuffPost on these Apps.
Tip #11: Disconnect Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and all online video streaming channels. And stop going to the movie theatre. Instead get a membership at your local library that has tons of online entertainment including movies.
Tip #12: Use Apps like Qapital or Acorn . There’s several ways to save with these apps but one super easy one is to rounding up purchases. And what more? The money you save is actually put to work. They invest on your behalf.
Tip #13: Cook at home 100%. No eating out.
Tip #14: Do you really need that $100 hair-cut ? How about that weekly Pedicure and Manicure visits ? Think for a minute about how far that $100 can get you through in Asia. You can spend a week for $100 in Cambodia all inclusive.
Tip #15: Shop at goodwill. You can find brand name clothes there for the low price.
Tip #16: Say NO to Alcohol and meat. They cost more than water and vegetables.
Tip #17: Take out a certain amount of cash for the week. When you run out, you have to wait ’till the next week… it helps to spend less on the unimportant.
Tip #18: How much are you spending on your phone bill ? If you live in US switch to a low cost carrier backed my T-Mobile like MintSIM.com (I Personally use this and love the service. It costs me $15 a month).
Tip #19: $5 currency note is rather rare in Singapore as compared to other notes like $2,$10. Each time I receive $5 note, I will keep it. And today I have nearly 500 pieces of $5. Gonna use it for my next flight tickets purchase. I do this as a daily small savings, says a fellow traveler.
Tip #20: How much are you paying for your gym membership ? Ditch the gym and get yourself a pair of running shoes. On weekends hit the trails for a hike as a workout.
Tip #21: Try kakebo method. Everyday you write down (pen+paper) your spendings, divided into 4 categories (general, leisure, culture, emergency). Every start of the month you write down your spending & saving plan and your goal for the month. It makes you more mindful of your spending. Even if you generally have no problems with spending / saving, kakebo helps you save even more. I was skeptical at first. I prefer to keep digital tracks, but boy writing does make you more mindful!
Tip #22: Get a roommate if you live alone. Rent is one of the large monthly expenses in most countries.
Tip #23: Sell your car and take public transportation or get an inexpensive bike to ride around. Yes, the helmet too.
Now that you have started making money, saved by living a barefoot life and putting that money to work by investing, let’s prepare for that trip ahead.
PIN this image to Pinterest!
Couple of Months before the trip:
Do you have own a house ? Or you live in an apartment at a rent controlled zone and if you give up your apartment now, you can’t get the same rent back ?
- Put your house on Airbnb
- Sub-lease or Sub-let it
When I prepared for a long trip like this, I sold everything I can on e-bay and reduced down to a backpack in a matter 2 months.
However, there were some valuables that I wanted to keep for myself when I returned back to D.C. So, I rented a small storage space and dumped things there for less than $100 a month instead of paying rent while I was give.
Get you Vaccines
Depending on where you are traveling to, it might be worth it to get vaccines at travel clinics even if they cost a bit. Check travel.gov and CDC.gov for specific travel and health warnings.
Yes, you need travel insurance. I highly recommend it. I remember falling off the bike at Bali. My toe nail peeled off and I had to rush to a doctor. Knowing I am a tourist, he charged a hefty amount. Thanks to my travel insurance, I got the money reimbursed. I highly recommend WorldNomads for your travel insurance. A hassle free network.
Get No ATM Fee Debit Card
Travelers cheque are old school. So, ditch those. Ask around in your home country for a bank that will refund ATM fees.
I use Charles Schwabs Debit Cards when I travel internationally. They actually refund all the ATMs fees by the end of the month.
- It’s zero balance account. So, unless I am traveling I don’t leave any money in that account.
- No yearly / monthly maintenance fee
- I transfer money as needed before the trips and only use this card for ATM withdrawals internationally.
Get Travel Friendly Credit Card
It’s a no brainer these days. You need a credit that all of the below:
- No international transaction fees
- Earn rewards for every dollar you spend during the travels
- CAR INSURANCE protection
Skip the Rental Car Insurance
This credit card insurance actually and really works. Here is a great example. I have a Chase Sapphire credit card.
- I booked rental car in Portugal using the Chase Sapphire Credit Card
- Declined the insurance car rental company offered
- Happily drove around until I got into a small accident that made a huge dent in the car. Nothing happened to us thankfully.
- As soon as I reached the room, I created a claim with Chase and uploaded every document I had available at that time:
- Rental agreement
- Multiple photos of the car after the accident clearly showing the damage
- Returned the car after the trip got over at the rental car. They inspected for the damage and charged us $2500 on the spot.
- I collected the receipt and the damage report and uploaded them at Chase website.
- A month later, $2480 were refunded back to my credit card.
Not bad huh? I was super happy to have taken this route. What’s really important to note here is the fact that it was such a hassle free handling in my scenario. I never had to get on a call with them.
So, do yourself a favor and get a really great credit card that covers for auto, flight delays, lost luggages and emergency situations.
Start Visa Processing:
What passport do you have ?
- Japan, Singapore and South Korea: Wow!! 189 countries without visa.
- Germany: A great number of 188 countries with this passport.
- Sweden, Italy, Finland, France, Denmark: These passport holders can visit 187 countries without visa.
- Luxembourg and Spain: These countries’ passport go deep into 186 countries without visa.
- UK and Switzerland, Portugal, Norway, Netherlands: Wow, a whooping 185 countries without visa.
- Ireland, Greece, Canada, USA and Belgium: Your passport can take you to 184 countries without prior visa approval.
- Czech Republic: Do you have Czech Republic passport ? If so, you can enter 183 countries without visa.
- Malta: Have you heard about the tiny nation of Malta ? A passport from Malta lets travelers enter 182 countries around the globe without visa.
- New Zealand: Passport holders from New Zealand can enter 181 countries without a visa.
- Australia: Passport holders from Australia can also enter 181 countries without a visa.
- India: 60 countries without visa.
If you would like to lookup your country, check out the the source for this data.
Now that we have this information handy, do you really have Visa Fee ?
Well, I am still on India passport (by choice) and I do have to pay visa fee to most countries. So, take that into consideration when you are picking the countries for one year of travel around the world.
Some passports such as Indian passport, also have restrictions on how many days one can stay in each country. Hope this changes soon. But, given the current situation, a meticulous planning is required.
In the next series of the articles, we will dig deeper into each travel expenses you can potentially encounter and how to be smart about saving money along the way. Continue reading Part 2 that covers the following.
After reading this article, you might wonder, can I go for 6 months instead ? Perhaps 3 months ?
So, How much does it cost to go traveling for 6 months ? The entire article is written with the intention to show you that you too can save money and pick destinations within your reach. So, for a 6 month or a 3 month travel, I use a very high level math.
Travel Cost Breakdown
I will discuss in detail on how to save money on these categories along with the tips passed on by the above mentioned, experienced travelers.
- Local Transportation
- Food and Drinks
- Free and Cheap Activities
- Laundry on the go
- Replacing clothes / shoes / Toiletries