Now that you’ve evaluated your travel style, you have an idea where you want to go and what you want to do. It’s now time to start thinking about your world-trip costs and deciding on a daily travel budget to save for. A daily budget is both a maximum and an average. Some days you’ll spend more, some less. In the end it would be nice if your average is less so you can travel longer, have a little more flexibility, or just have a bigger cushion for when you return.
Based on preliminary research of costs, we decided that a $100 per day travel budget, or $36,000 for the year, would allow us to travel without having to stay in hostel dorms and eat instant soup for a year. We knew we wanted to travel slowly, spending up to a month in each country, stay in apartments or guesthouses, eat at restaurants a few times a week, and do some sightseeing. We don’t care much for expensive fine dining, adventure sports, shopping, or spa days, but we also wanted the flexibility to indulge if we felt the urge. Fifty dollars per day didn’t seem like enough, and $150 meant having to wait a lot longer to leave (having put off our trip several times, we were ready to go as soon as we had enough).
Some suggestions for developing your daily budget:
Research daily cost estimates for each country or region
Begin by knowing what to expect along your itinerary. Rolf Potts’s book Vagabonding, a great general resource for long-term travel as a lifestyle, provides cost ranges for different world regions and breaks them down according to travel style. Lonely Planet‘s website offers regional and specific country estimates, and Travel Independent has information geared specifically toward budget travelers. Most travel guidebooks at your local library provide information about daily travel costs.
Copy what other people have done
A lot of travelers, both solo and couples, have shared their travel budgets online. For example, Shannon at A Little Adrift traveled for a year solo for just under $18,000 including flights, while Akila and Patrick, the folks at The Road Forks spent $66,000 (they originally budgeted $72,000) for just over a year of travel. For a comprehensive analysis, check out BootsnAll‘s article comparing 11 different RTW budgets. Jodi at Legal Nomads provides excellent budgeting advice (scroll down to find her long list of links to other bloggers’ budgets).
Do some preliminary accommodation price checks
The price of your bed will be one of the biggest factors determining your budget. You can easily eat up a $100 per day budget just on hotel costs alone in Western Europe. It’s a good idea to get real-time prices since they change depending on season, holidays, economy, or simple inflation. Websites like AirBnB, Hostelworld, Trip Advisor, and Kayak can give you an idea of what to expect price-wise. Knowing what the roof over your head will cost you is a good place to start.
Pick a number and start saving
When it comes down to it, as Rolf Potts suggests, just choose a departure date, save as much as you can, and plan to travel as long as you can with that amount. While we had a goal in mind, we knew we would leave anyway whether we had saved that exact amount or not. If it will take you four years to save $50,000 and you want to leave in two years, save $25,000 and develop a daily budget around that. People have traveled around the world for less. It will drive you crazy trying to come up with a perfect formula.
In this series, Traveling on a Budget, I’ll explore the various factors we evaluated when developing our $100 a day budget. Next I’ll show you more specifically how to find accommodation that fits your travel style and budget.
Have you traveled on a specific daily travel budget? How did you decide how much to save for travel?