Congratulations! If you are reading this post, you are probably about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, or are considering it.
First piece of advice: Do it.
If you have saved the money and can take the time, a round the world trip is something you will never regret. What you will learn about yourself and the world around you can not be quantified or purchased. Going through the saving, planning, and logistics is a lesson in economics and organization on its own. The actual travel bit… that’s a crash course in geography, global cultures, street smarts, human psychology and sociology.
First step is determining your budget. Take a look at how much money you have saved for the trip and how much you want to have left over afterwards. You will likely have quit your job or will be on a long sabbatical, so be sure to allow for a few months of job hunting comfortably after the trip. Budget items to factor in include:
- Housing – A bed in a dorm style hostel can be as low as $8 (Most of SE Asia, parts of South America) or as high as $50 (Scandinavia). Budget hotels can range from $40 (Asia) to $100+ (Scandinavia). If you are traveling with a friend, you can split the cost of a room. Keep in mind that Airbnbs are common, but not everywhere. Research first. hostels aren’t so bad these days mom!
- Food/Drinks– Meals can be as cheap as a 50 cents (parts of Asia, South America) or as expensive as $20 for a gas station hot dog (Scandinavia). Think about what is important to you… Do you love fine dining? Do you need to eat salads and vegetables (often more expensive)? Do you mind repetitive meals? If you typically enjoy a fairly healthy and diverse diet, don’t kid yourself into thinking you can live off of cheese sandwiches for months. Budget for what you will realistically eat. Regarding drinking, alcohol can be very expensive in parts of Europe and is extremely expensive in Scandinavia, so if you’re a regular or heavy drinker, keep this in mind. A draft beer in Norway is $14. A glass of Malbec in Buenos Aires is $5. PRO TIP: If you see locals buying wine/alcohol at Duty Free in your destination country airport, do the same. food tour in Hanoi
- Local Transportation – Research what your mode of transportation will be in each country. Some countries have excellent, cheap public transit. Other countries practically require you to rent a car to get around. Look up typical prices for busses, trains, rental cars, and flights and budget accordingly. Long range busses run from $20 (Asia, South America) to $100+ (Scandinavia). Rental cars range from 20$ per day to $100 per day. rental e-bike in Bagan, train in Hsipaw Burma
- Flights – Consider your major flights between continents and your small flights between countries. By using Google Flights and being fairly flexible, I was able to spend about $600-800 on all of my continental jump flights (of which I had 4). Flights to countries in the same continent range greatly. In Asia, flights are cheap ($30-$90). In Europe, it ranges from $50 to ~200. Add up the number of intercontinental and intracontinental flights you will be taking and budget appropriately. Try to buy major flights at least a few weeks in advance and smaller flights at least a week in advance.
- Travel Insurance – I used World Nomads, the Explorer option, and it cost me about $380 for 4 months of travel. I did not think I would use it but…. low and behold I spent a night in an Emergency Room. I suspect my $300 plan will save me from the 5,000 bill (once the Icelandic hospital sends it to me).
- Vaccines – Check out the CDC website for which vaccines are recommended for the countries you are traveling to. Most of them are very worth getting, though a few vaccines are for extremely rare diseases. Consult your doctor. In the Bay Area, I go to and use their travel services. They are excellent. trekking in Sapa Vietnam, led by guide Chan
- Activities – Think about what you want to do in each destination. What are they famous for and what do those sites cost? Consider entry costs to museums, shows, and cultural sites. If you are really into hiking, look into the cost of joining a trek or hiring a guide. Treks and guides can range from $20 per night to hundreds per night. Famous treks can be $500 (the Inca trek) to thousands (Kilimanjaro). Food tours, balloon tours, scuba diving, bungy jumping, safaris, sky diving and other activities all have a range of cost depending on the location. A $50 food tour may not seem like a big deal when creating your budget, but activities really add up. Think about it… You aren’t going to wake up and do nothing each day. You are probably going to be buying some kind of experience almost every day, so budget for it. diving in world renowned Raja Ampat ($1100 for 6 days at inclusive dive resort) safari in Namibia ($2200 for almost-all inclusive three weeks of traveling through South Africa Namibia, Botswana, Zambia with G Adventures) climbing the mountain is always worth the money, Lombok Indonesia
Budgets are highly personal. Some backpackers I met were living off of less than $40 a day, some double and some quadruple that.
To get an estimate of my daily budget, I used the following (made up) equation:
Total Trip Budget – Flights – Local Transportation = X
X / # projected days on trip = Daily average I can spend total
I kept this number in mind and if I went over one day I made sure I made up for it in subsequent days.
I hope this helps! Feel free to post any questions 🙂