How Much Does it Cost to Go Traveling? (Cheapest possible backpacking budget)
I must have googled this 100 times before I first set off traveling way back in 2006 and only now, 15 years and every country in the world later, do I feeling truly qualified to answer it categorically. The answer to the question ‘How Much Does it Cost to Go Traveling?’ is reassuringly simple. Not as much as you think. As long as your willing to make a few sacrifices, that is.
So, how much for a 6-month trip traveling?!
I know, I know, you want cold hard figures. So I’m going to try to give a quantified answer in the most rudimentary way possible for one sample gap year trip.
$30 a day?
Let’s talk about the budget for a regular 6-month trip, leaving from Europe going to Southeast Asia for 4 months, Australia and Fiji for 1 month and the US for 1 month. The biggest cost on these types of trips is the airfare. That presents another question about whether to buy a Round-the-world (RTW) airfare ticket or not. We’ll deal with that another time. Other than the flight cost, you can squeeze by on an average of $30 or so IF you’re careful..
Wherever you go, it pays off to do some research. Usually, even major attractions offer discounts online! The budget tends to break down to something like this:
- Around the world (RTW) ticket $1000
- Travel insurance $200
- Visa fees $200
- Travel gear (backpack, torches etc) $200
- 180 Days budget X $30 $5400
TOTAL COST FOR A BUDGET 6 MONTH TRIP: $7,000USD
Let’s have a look at these individually.
Lots of companies (STA travel, virgin etc) offer very competitive RTW tickets. Prices normally start at around $700. They then increase as you add flights and continents to your itinerary. Generally speaking, a 5 flight 3 continent trip can be found for around $1000 if you search hard enough. You certainly should never pay more than $1500.
Personally, I love to be free when I travel so I don’t book RTW tickets. I prefer to spend a couple of hundred dollars extra each time BUT I can fly when I want. Or where I want.
I’m not going to endorse any travel insurance company that makes you pay hundreds of dollars up front. Rest assured quality cover is available for less than $300 for 6 months. I personally use THESE GUYS. Read my review here, I use them for my digital nomad insurance.
Depending on the countries you plan to go to a 6-month trip should cost between $100-$200 for visa fees.
If China or Vietnam is on your itinerary remember they don’t offer visas on arrival (i.e you can’t arrive at the border and get stamped in). So you have to arrange that in advance, although you can do this during your trip at a neighbouring country. For example, I got my Chinese visa in Bangkok, Thailand.
Check out my post on things to bring when you pack. You shouldn’t have any need to spend more than $200 on all your stuff though.
Your Daily Budget:
Here’s the big one. The one that the success of your entire trip hinges on. Asia requires around $20 a day and you live pretty well on that. As you move back to Western society, you have to watch your wallet a lot closer.
If you do that and maintain a frugal mindset (this means drinking local booze when available, like 4 litres of cask wine/goon in Australia for $8 a box or eating sub of the day instead of your meatball marinara) then $40 is just-about manageable.
So $7k for 6 months?
Ok, if you’re finishing you’re A-Levels, graduating from uni or simply taking a career break this is the answer you’ve been looking for.
If you’re happy to:
- Sleep in dorm-rooms in hostels
- Eat in supermarkets
- Steer clear of 1st world countries for the most part
- Don’t fly too much
You need about $7,000 USD for a 6 month break
Save up and set off. Happy travels guys!!
Remember, never travel without travel insurance! And never overpay for travel insurance!
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