Like 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!