How Much Does a Round the World Trip Cost?
We’ve written about planning and budgeting for your Round the World adventure – but there are a lot of things you can’t exactly budget for ahead of time. Your plans will change, and of course things don’t always go according to plan anyway! So how much did we actually end up spending to travel around the world for 6 months? How much does a Round the World trip cost? We kept track of all our spending during the trip on an iPad using Numbers to enter in our daily expenses. Using Vizable by Tableau, again on the iPad, we then charted and analyzed the data. The charts in this post also include the things we paid for before setting off – most of our airfare, and most of our AirBnB and hotel bookings.
Here’s what our spending looked like, broken down by category and showing both the total dollars spent and the percent of our overall expenses. All amounts are in US Dollars.
By far the biggest expense of the trip was transportation: $35,070 in total or 51% of our overall budget. The biggest single part of that (and the very first thing we booked) was airfare between countries, via AirTreks. This was $5551 per person or $22204 total for four of us, which included taxes and trip insurance. AirTreks was almost 2/3 of our transportation expenses, and almost 1/3 of the trip expenses overall.
The next biggest transportation expense was the unplanned flights we had to book last minute to get us from Delhi to Rome, and then back home to San Francisco. These were about $4000 total. Fortunately we were able to cover this; anything can happen on long term travel, and having some way to cover unexpected expenses can be vital.
Finally there were all the other flights, drivers, car rentals, trains etc which ranged in price from $806 for the four of us to fly round trip between Lima and Cusco, to $650 for a 30 day Indianrail pass, all the way to $0.63 for a bus ticket from Urubamba to Sillacancha in the Sacred Valley (2 Nuevo Sol for four of us). Most of the large items – planes, overnight trains, car rentals etc – we had planned and budgeted for ahead of time. Additional transportation related expenses during the trip were probably a few hundred – though I still have to go back and categorize those separately to be sure.
Accommodation was the next biggest expense, another $15,747 or 23% of the total budget. We booked most accommodation ahead of time via AirBnB, Expedia or other sites, and mostly paid ahead of time too, though we did have to pay some on-site – such as taxes in Italy (even for AirBnB-booked places). There were very few unplanned accommodation expenses overall, the main one that comes to mind was the unexpected overnight stay in Mombasa after our bus got stuck on the way from Nairobi. That bus trip was unplanned as well, but happily ended up being significantly cheaper than the train that we’d booked originally.
Day to Day Spending
Most accommodation and the expensive transportation costs were budgeted ahead of time. Our ‘discretionary’ spending largely went to activities and outings (‘Fun’ in our spreadsheet) and food – both restaurants/vendors and groceries. We tried to budget a certain amount per day, which varied depending on the country – we figured (correctly!) that India would be cheaper daily than New Zealand for example.
I’ve broken down our total spending on everything except accommodation and transportation by country. This doesn’t give a perfect picture of how expensive each country really is, since I filtered out all transportation expenses, even the little ones. We also stayed different lengths of time in each place. Still some trends are apparent – a month in India cost way less than a month in Italy, or even 3 weeks in New Zealand. Australia places so low because we were largely driving between Melbourne and Sydney (and eating peanut butter and jam sandwiches or tuna on crackers along the way). Kenya is low because we spent a week on the beach on the Mombasa coast, and Brazil because we didn’t do very expensive things (lots of beaches again and kids under 6 are free at most attractions).
We spent a total of $69,203, including travel, accommodation, meals, fun, gifts, laundry and everything else to travel around the world for 6 months. Overall our budgeting up-front was pretty good, though we did end up spending a bit more day-to-day than we’d anticipated ahead of time, and had some unexpected big expenses we had to cover.