It’s no secret that traveling can be incredibly expensive. Particularly if your idea of traveling is staying in the nicest hotels, taking your meals at the best local restaurants, and hitting up every top attraction on Trip Advisor. But that isn’t what traveling has to be. Nor is it possible without a deep wallet.
Everybody travels differently, and the standard of comfortable, or even acceptable, living varies incredibly. We’ve met couples who have spent over $15,000 in 5 weeks (almost 5 months of our own budget)! Conversely, we observed some savvy travelers in Pamplona that figured out for $6.00 you can spend the hottest hours of the day sleeping in a park by a pool, with full access to a health center, locker rooms, and a restaurant. That leaves you the best hours of the day, and a good chunk of change in your pocket to enjoy it. With some creativity, and varying degrees of comfort, there are countless ways to save money or cushion your budget after a particularly expensive night at the bar.
Having read the travelers’ gospel, Nomad Matt’s “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day or Less”, we decided that a good baseline to aim for as a duo would be $100 a day. With some excel wizardry, and a little bit of dedication, we tracked our expenses to the penny for our entire trip!
While reviewing these numbers, some of them can be a real eye-opener! Christmas and New Years in Australia, traveling costs in Japan, and even how cheap we could live in “expensive” European countries. But on average, we were able to stay close to our goal, averaging about $112 per day over 1 years time! Some of the items that put us over our budget were worth the extra cost, and given the chance, we would spend it again! Great white shark diving and paragliding in New Zealand, camping in the Red Center of Australia, attending Oktoberfest in Germany – these are experiences that made our trip and we were glad to spend a few extra $$ to do! Really, that’s the whole balancing act – deciding what is worth the money, and what is worth the savings. For us, our comfort took a back seat (literally, we lived in our car) to authentic and unique experiences. We were willing to live with cheaper accommodations and food so that we could explore more interesting attractions or places. But this is a personal choice, and one that requires deep reflection as you are planning for a trip, and while traveling.
In the link below, you can find some helpful tips and tricks that we learned while traveling that will definitely help you stick to a budget and give you a better traveling experience (we hope!).
Now that we are home, our trip is usually a hot topic of conversation. Many people ask us “how did you budget for this?” and “where did you get the money?” What we find most interesting about this year abroad is that it really didn’t cost any more than 1 year living in the USA. Matt and I are both good savers, and we were always looking for ways to save money even before we knew about taking this trip. So when this dream started to look more a like reality, we were already sitting on a small savings. In the 2-3 years leading up to our trip, we were closely watching paychecks, trimming unnecessary expenses and spent many nights “partying” on the couch with some Netflix. We cut out cable, ate out much less, and spent less on entertainment items that we didn’t really need. All of this together allowed us to save about 1 year worth of salary to put towards our trip. And in the end, that’s how much we ended up spending! So, for almost the same costs as living in Nashville, TN for 1 year, we were able to live in 26 countries across the world AND have the adventure of a lifetime! Now that seems like an expense worth paying for!