The Cost of Travel

Contrary to popular belief, the most common question in the travelling world is not: “How do you crap in an Indian toilet?” nor is it, “Won’t you get lonely? Do you want a cuddle, Ant?”. It’s, “How much does travelling cost?“. As boringly simple, as that.

In fact I get asked it so much, I’ve considered having a t-shirt printed that states: “£1k a month + tickets + kit + insurance=RTW Trip. Sponsored by TrailofAnts.com” I can just nonchalantly point my chest and pull a face.

Cost of TravellingThat is, of course a completely blasé response. If say, you were travelling in India for a year it could cost slice that in three, but stumble into Japan and I figure you could double it, at least. Basically, the cost of travelling depends on how thrifty you are, and what you most enjoy doing with your time.

You could, God forbid, get a job while you’re away. Woah! Calm down, it was merely a suggestion. I’m sure of one thing, I’ve never heard of a traveller die from running out of money. But if they did, I’m pretty sure they’d die happy.

So, beneath this page is a log of the main costs of my trip. It doesn’t detail the beer I grabbed at the airport or the Big Mac I guiltily devoured. It’s purely items I think you’ll find useful, like the cost of a domestic flight or a stubborn visa, or particularly high priced accommodation.

It won’t answer every question but it will give you a good idea. All costs are in £GB — because I’m English and proud — a rough conversion to the US$ is to plus 50% i.e. £30=$45.

The main cost to consider when travelling is time, so arm yourself with an abundance of this, and you can achieve anything.

Cost of Travel

Key Costs of Travel

  • Cost of flight from London Heathrow to Moscow- £177
  • Cost of visa for Russia- £45 + approx £8 postage
  • Cost of trans-Mongolian train ticket from Moscow to Beijing via Ulaanbaatar- £325
  • Cost of visa for Mongolia- £40 + approx £10 postage
  • Cost of 12 months travel insurance (exc USA but inc my Digi SLR)- £250
  • Cost of Tibet Permit and Train Ticket- 450RMB (£30). Plus mystery tour- 200RMB (£13). Plus train from Chengdu to Lhasa- 700RMB (£46). All sorted in less than an half an hour from Sim’s Cozy Guesthouse, Chengdu i.e. don’t worry about it!
  • Cost of overland tour from Lhasa – Kathmandu – 1560RMB (approx £100). A five day tour through the mysterious Himalaya, a minivan bounced us around, and the price also included access to the unmissable, Everest Base Camp.
  • Cost of return flight from Chennai to Colombo (Sri Lanka)- Approx £80. Booked through Air India Express, couldn’t do it online as they don’t accept foreign credit cards so this includes a slight commission (nothing extortionate).
  • Cost of one month’s Royal Enfield rental in South India - IRS12,000 (£150). This was excluding the numerous costs of repairs, and excluding all the fuel (which was regularly stolen!). One of the best investments on The Trail so far.
  • Cost of a one way flight from Chennai to Singapore - £80. Tiger Airways, one of the cheaper airlines I’ve come across. No frills. No problems.
  • Cost of a new MacBook – £914. Ok, so not your usual backpacker accessory, but as I’m gone for a while, I need a tool to spin some reddies. Needless to say, the longer I stood in the shop talking to the sales guy, the more I spent!
  • Cost of new glasses – S$278 (£107). After the Enfield reduced my frames to a knot of scratched glass and chipped wire, I had to replace. And I had to buy designer. And I had to get some fancy lenses.
  • Cost of two month visa for Indonesia – S$75 (£28). Procured at the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore.
  • Cost of one way flight from Singapore to Padang (Sumatra) – S$98 (£38). Tiger. Grrrr.
  • Cost of a two day trek in Sumatra to view wild orangutan £TBC. I’d of paid double, no triple, no octuple as much as this. One of the most amazing things I’ve done on The Trail.
  • Cost of a one way flight from Medan to Jakarta – IDR 650k (£37). Mandala Airlines, great price, abysmal after sales service. Fat, ugly Lost and Found staff in Jakarta International and an international call centre who can’t speak English. Oh, that’s the jokers, did I mention the thief?
  • Cost of a replacement British Passport – IDR2.26m (£130). This went along with my wallet which contained my only cash cards and driving license. Were they insured? Apparently not. Was the passport insured? Marginally. Was I annoyed? You bet.
  • Cost of a one way flight from Jakarta to Bali – IDR 650k (£37). Sriwijaya Airlines. One of the 51 Indonesian airlines banned from flying to Europe. Which is fine, as I was flying to Bali. So there.
  • Cost of a one way flight from Bali to Singapore – S$48 £18. Jet Star whipped me over to Singapore to pick up a new passport and…
  • Cost of a one way flight from Singapore to Bali – IDR 789,000 £45. … Lion Air whipped me back again. Lion Air were memorable, if not for their in-flight prayer cards urging us to bless the plane, then for their slogan ‘We Make People Fly’. Gulp. Due to Indo’ visa fever, you need an onward flight to get in (though in practice, you don’t). I bought the cheapest Tiger ticket going, for £16.
  • Cost of a one month Indonesian visa on arrival – US$25 (£13). The Indonesian immigration system is more corrupt than a Coney Island freak. Smile. Pay. Scowl. Leave. I say this, not because of the cost, but because of a personal experience in the Jakarta HQ.
  • Cost of Australian Working Holiday Visa – AUS$195 (£98). This excluded a fee of IDR589,600 (£34) for a chest x-ray, required due to my visit to India.
  • Cost of a one way flight from Bali to Melbourne – £289.50. Qantas spirited me away from the sublime sunshine of Indonesia, to the winter chill of south Australia. Prices went through the roof and my tan fell through the grating.
  • Cost of room rent in Melbourne – AUS$200pw + Bills (approx AUS$70pm). If you’re sticking around for a while, a roof over your head is a good start. One of the best ways to find it, is through the Gumtree.
  • Cost of a Holden Rodeo (ute)
  • Cost of swimming with whale shark in Exmouth
  • Cost of New Zealand Two YearWorking Holiday Visa
  • Cost of associated medical for NZ Visa
  • Cost of flight from Perth to Wellington