How much does a Round the World trip cost?

People often wonder how much it costs to take a Round the World Trip and how someone can afford to do so. The truth is that there is no set answer as the cost of a Round the World trip really depends on a lot of factors. These include:

  • how long you plan to travel (6 months, 1 year?),
  • where you plan to travel (which countries and how many countries?),
  • how many people are traveling with you and their ages,
  • your mode of traveling (trains vs. planes), and
  • the style you want to travel in (camping vs. luxury hotels).

For example, we’re planning a 6 month trip across 5 continents and 10 countries. While we wanted to go to Costa Rica, the airfare was too expensive, so we added Borneo (Malaysia) instead. South East Asia and South America will cost less then Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Our plan is to aim for a middle of the road style and to visit a combination of less expensive and more expensive countries. There are four of us in our family and our girls will be 5 and 8 at the start of our trip. Some attractions and restaurants have reduced prices for kids, so we will save some money that way. We also plan to take at least 6 overnight trains, which will help us save on accommodation and travel costs. We plan to stay in Airbnbs for the most part. This gives us the option of cooking, particularly in the more expensive countries and gives us more space.

Isn’t Traveling with Kids Expensive? Daily Life is Expensive!

The reality for families that live in cities is that traveling can cost the same as or less than staying at home (depending where home is). That certainly is the case for us, as our budget for traveling is the same as living in Cupertino, California for 6 months.

Once you add up rent or mortgages, pre-school or after school activities, car payments (whether you lease or own), food, utilities, clothing, etc., etc., you realize just how much daily life costs. We decided to cut back on expensive summer camps and activities. What we would have paid for preschool, camps, gymnastics, and dance class we put into the trip fund.

How we plan to fund our Round the World Trip

We are in a unique situation, in that we sold our house in Canada and plan to use the money from the sale to help fund our trip. Since we live in Silicon Valley now, what we made from the sale of our house in Canada is no where near what we need for even a down payment on a house here, so we put the money towards a trip of a lifetime instead. As mentioned above, we also redirected funds that would have gone into camps and activities to our trip. We also held a garage sale and sold things online, to add to our income. While the latter didn’t necessarily generate a lot of income, it was enough to cover fun activities in a couple of countries.

Our landlady has agreed to let us sublet the house, so we won’t have to worry about paying rent in California, and paying for accommodations on our trip. Given how expensive rent is in Silicon Valley, we anticipate spending a lot less on accommodations while we travel. We also plan on renting our house furnished, so can charge more than what we are paying in rent. The extra income will go towards our trip. Finally, we plan on trying to rent out our electric car while we’re gone to provide another source of income.

Some people choose to work while traveling, however; we are not planning on doing this, as the main purpose of the trip is to explore the world as a family. If you plan on doing online work while you travel, just make sure where you’re staying has a fast and reliable internet connection.

Finding Discounts

When you have more than the standard 1-2 weeks to travel, you find ways of lowering travel expenses, such as taking an overnight train between locations. This saves on both airfare and hotel and, as mentioned, is definitely something we plan on doing. Hotels and other accommodations usually offer lower prices the longer you stay. We plan on taking advantage of these savings in a couple of countries.

There are many web-sites and services available to help you take advantage of cost savings, whether for airfare (Airtreks, Skyscanner), car rentals (VroomVroomVroom), or accommodations (couch surfing, house sitting). Airbnb, HomeAway and hostels can also be less expensive than hotels. I’ve used all of these services, in an effort to keep our costs down, except couch surfing and house sitting.

Adjusting Expectations

Another way to keep travel costs down is to just accept that you are not going to see and do everything in a particular country, even if you do take longer to travel. In fact, the longer you travel, the more you need to pace yourself, to avoid traveling and sightseeing fatigue. This is especially true when traveling with children.

For us, this means no jetting between Sydney and Cairns in Australia, as we’ve just accepted that we are not going to see the Great Barrier Reef this time around. We are also planning on going to Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa, instead of the more well known Kruger National Park because it will save us more in terms of money and travel time to go to Addo.

These are some of the ways we saved/budgeted and found discounts for our trip. If you have other ways, please leave them in the comment box below.


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