I must have googled this 100 times before I first set off traveling in 2006 and only now, 4 years and 50 countries later, do I feeling truly qualified to answer it categorically. The answer is reassuringly simple – not as much as you think!
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.
Let’s talk about the budget for a regular 6 month trip, leaving from Europe going to South East 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, which presents another question about whether to buy a RTW ticket or not (we’ll deal with that another time), other than that you can squeeze by on less than $30 a day easily. The budget tends to break down to something like this:
- A round the world (RTW) ticket $1000
- Travel insurance $200
- Visa fees $200
- Travel gear (backpack, torches etc) $200
- 180 Days budget X $25 $4500
Let’s have a look at these individually. Airfare: Lots of companies (STA travel, virgin etc) offer very competitive RTW tickets, starting at around $700 increasing 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!
Travel insurance: I’m not going to endorse any specific travel insurance companies but rest assured quality cover is available for less than $200 so get your google on and you’ll be good to go in 15 minutes
Visa fees: Depending on the countries you plan to go to a 6 month trip should costs 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.
Travel gear: 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.
The 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, and rinsing the $1 burgers daily in McDonalds!) then $30 is manageable.
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:
You need about $6, 000 USD for a 6 month break
Naturally, it’s possible to travel for much less than this (and also for a lot more!) but you would have to forego continent hopping, stay clear of the expensive countries etc. But if you’re after a great trip, submerging yourself into the backpacking scene, then this is your ticket. Save up and set off – happy travels guys!!