The Total Bill

AddingItUpLike many others, money was my main concern when contemplating my around-the-world journey.  Making the trip a priority helped me focus on creating a new budget to save as well as adjusting my life to squeeze out extra money.  I regularly struggled with my “saving” will power and having the support of other travelers, friends and family to keep me moving forward definitely helped.  Now that my journey has concluded, I look back on my travel finances (both before and during the trip) and I am surprised.

I spent $10,133 before I embarked on my journey for my travel research activities, items I would use on my trip, and services that helped keep my life organized.  In an effort to research and plan my trip, I paid for books, videos, a frequent flyer advice membership, and enrollment in the Meet, Plan, Go Basic Training program.  Obviously, the costs for the gear I would travel with, my around-the-world airline ticket (that alone was about $4,500), immunizations, travel insurance, and advance entry visas were included in my pre-trip total.  A digital mail service, an airport lounge access membership, and a TripIt plan topped off my expenses prior to leaving home.
Here’s the real shocker – for my 10-months on the road, I only spent $13,656!  Below is a breakdown of each general area, what I budgeted per day, and what I actually spent per day:

  • Thailand:     Budgeted: $60  /  Actual Total: $58
  • India:     Budgeted: $65  / Actual Total: $78
  • London:     Budgeted: $175  /  Actual Total: $49  !!
  • Italy:     Budgeted: $150  /  Actual Total: $48
  • Spain:     Budgeted: $140  /  Actual Total: $63
  • Boston:     Budgeted: $125  /  Actual Total: $57
  • New York City:     Budgeted: $150  /  Actual Total: $38


While on the road, I was regularly adjusting priorities with cost being a major consideration.  Changing my travel plans after a month of being on the road was not only for my sanity, but I learned that moving to a new destination every few days/weeks was expensive (little costs add up quickly) and once I started staying in one destination for a month at a time, I was able to cut costs dramatically.  Being that I am an introverted-extrovert played another major part in keeping expenses low.  I limited being a ‘tourist’ to about three days a month; thus cutting back on my spending for tours/attraction entry fees and was content just ‘people watching’ in the local areas where I was staying.  Instead of eating at restaurants (or even finding street food), I bought the majority of my food at a local grocery store and cooked (I use that term loosely).  Instead of tracking down city events or bar hopping, I enjoyed the solitude of being on my computer.


Along the way, there were decisions that completely blew my budget in some places and unexpectedly saved in others.  I splurged in Cambodia for a week by staying in a nice hotel, getting an hour massage, sending laundry out to be cleaned, and chose a private tuk-tuk & guide for touring Angkor Wat.  In Nepal, I overspent by not checking costs before booking some sightseeing and could have been more diligent about negotiating.  Couchsurfing for a few nights in Venice, Italy and Bath, England helped me save.  In Spain, my room & board were covered by volunteering at Pueblo Ingles for a week and some of my expenses were shared when I traveled with my mother for two weeks in Madrid and Barcelona.  I was hosted in Connecticut for a few weeks by a new friend that I met on my travels (thanks, Jennifer!!) and cut costs in New York City by sharing a room with a few other ladies for a month.


It was interesting to learn that I spent more on pre-trip items that I thought and I was absolutely surprised by how little I spent during my trip. Blowing $23,789 for a life-changing, around-the-world journey was definitely money well spent!