Okay, sorry for the delay in our writing; we’ve been busy adjusting to our life back in the states. But, I hope you are now ready for the extremely exciting and much anticipated budget post.
When we were researching our trip one thing that we could not find was any type of good world travel budget. We found a few calculators that ran simulations, but they really didn’t contain a lot of information about how they came up with their figures. I thought that it would be helpful for future travelers to see what we paid for the countries we visited. So, for every day of our travel I made a point of writing down exactly how much we spent and inputting all of our costs into an excel spreadsheet. I really recommend this even if you are not planning to share the information at a later date. It really helped us when we were budgeting in country and it also came in handy when we couldn’t understand what we were spending our money on. We also would do a daily check of our wallets and reconcile that with what we spent the previous day. So, when we noticed money missing in Cambodia it was really easy to see exactly how much was taken. Anyway here is a rundown of some of the figures, and here is the complete spreadsheet if you want to check out the data in more detail.
I broke out the daily cost spreadsheet into six categories (room, food, transport, entertainment, internet, and miscellaneous costs) but for this post I am lumping entertainment, internet, and miscellaneous into one category since their cost were smaller and they fit better together than separated. All of the costs reported are for two people and in US dollars, unless noted.
Most of the time we stayed at hostels, think very cheap hotels. We usually stayed in a double room with a private bathroom. However, on a few occasions (when private rooms were too expensive) we stayed in dorm rooms or with families.
So, for the 282 days of travel we spent a total of $4,221.94 on rooms. That is an average of $15.69 per day. Russia was our most expensive country at $28.66 per day, and Mongolia was our cheapest at $8.76 per day. This was mostly due to the 12 day tour where we stayed with local families every night. Staying in the Mongolian capital was much more expensive.
We mostly ate out, not at fancy restaurants but small local places. If we stayed at a hostel that had a kitchen we would try to cook a few of our own meals to help keep us on budget.
We definitely did not eat at the fine dining establishments so our costs stayed pretty low. In total, we spent $3,323.54 on our meals with an average of $12.36 per day. Argentina was by far the most expensive at a whopping $19.28 per day and Mongolia cost us only a measly $7.29 per day. Just as a reminder, these figures are all for two people, not per person.
Transport consisted of busses, planes, trains, taxis, tuk tuks, boats, mopeds, and pretty much anything you can think of that would get us around. What this category doesn’t include is our transcontinental flights.
In South America we took busses for our long haul travel while in Asia we traveled on a combo of trains and busses. We only took two in country plane trips on our whole journey (one in Argentina and one in China). In South America we spent $20 per day on transportation. South America is huge and we spent hours and hours on those busses. In Russia we spent a lot on our Trans-Mongolian rail trip, about $600 per person. But since we did the trip DIY, we saved a ton of cash; train tickets through an agency cost at least $800 per person.
The miscellaneous category includes anything else that is not included from the above categories, basically everything from our Internet cafe visits to visa fees. In total, we spent $2185.56 in miscellaneous items with an average of $8.12 per day. The majority of the expenses seem to be associated with visa fees. Here’s a list of visa fees we incurred (again these are for two people).
Russia: $129, $48 (invitation letter)
I split out our tours from our normal costs. I figured that this would give future travelers a better representation of our daily expenses, and they would be able to adjust their budgets by how many tours they were expecting to take.
Here are some of our more memorable tours:
- Photographing Blue Footed Boobies in Ecuador: $110
- Hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu in Peru: $1,039.33
- Exploring Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia: $242.50
- Visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina: $108.81
- Exploring the Angkor Wat ruins in Cambodia: $242.50
- Motorbiking through the Central Highlands in Vietnam: $391.29
- Inner Tubing in Vang Vieng Laos: $21.39
- Visiting the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand: $142.86
- Hiking the Great Wall of China: $60
- Living with the Nomads in Mongolia: $306.80
The Final Breakdown
We originally estimated spending between $60-80 per day. We knew certain countries like Argentina, China, and Russia would be more expensive. We ended up paying an average of $70.83 per day. Here’s our daily costs per country.
- Ecuador: $43.56
- Peru: $55.79
- Bolivia: $81.67
- Argentina: $80.71
- Thailand: $41.71
- Cambodia: $50.20
- Vietnam: $32.20
- Laos: $42.80
- China: $62.67
- Mongolia: $44.57
- Russia: $128.49 (A lot of this cost is due to our train travel and short amount of time that we spent in the country)
We really kept our costs down by not taking very many flights. Here’s a breakdown of our international flight costs (for two people).
Seattle, USA – Quito, Ecuador = $1,166
Buenos Aires, Argentina – Seattle, USA = $1,166
Seattle, USA – Bangkok, Thailand = $1,446
Bangkok, Thailand – Hong Kong, China = $337
St. Petersburg, Russia – Seattle, USA = $1,200
At the end of the day, our total payout for the trip ended up being about $25,260. For two people traveling over nine months, I think that is a pretty good deal.