How Much Does It Cost To Go Travelling?

by Ant Stone on August 27, 2009

in Costs,Features

If you haven’t asked it, answered it or dreamt about it, you’ve probably Googled, Binged or Yahooed it. “How much does it cost to go travelling?”, “How much does it cost to backpack around the world?” or, “How much does it cost to wash my knickers in Nepal?”

The way I solved the holy-question of how much it costs to go travelling, was to invent and integrate the Birds and the Bees; birds being the flights, and bees being the beer, Big Macs and beds. The bees are a simple representative each countries overall costs.

I’m assuming you won’t munch your way through a Big Mac or drink a beer every day, but the cost of these are relative to the cost of typical things you’ll buy throughout your vacation; a newspaper and a can of coke, or a brunch of spicy street food, and a bus ticket.

Background Research

To give a fair representation of costs, I’ve researched the same itinerary for a Londoner, New Yorker and Sydneysider. All three will leave their city on February 1st 2010, and they’ll all travel clockwise around the world.

At the appropriate point along their journey, they’ll spend 3 months in and around Bangkok, 1 month in the region of their counterparts’ cities and a month each in L.A. – therefore half of their journey will be in the Western world, and half in the budget haven, Asia.

Are you baffled? Stick with me.

The main split will not be our traveller’s nationalities, but the type of traveller they are. So I’ve broken it down into these three categories:

Typical Cost of Backpacking

Cost of Travelling Around the World

Rough Travelling Costs

The important thing to remember, is that no part of this study can be exact but it’s as close to the bone as I can get it. Consider it a best estimate of the cost of travelling.

There are endless variants; special deals on flights, insurance, scoring free accommodation, falling sick, travelling overland. I’ve also omitted the widely varying price of vaccinations (mostly free in the UK), and the cost of basic kit (some people already have this). All of these will affect the final cost, so this study should simply be an idea of the typical cost of backpacking.

How Much Does a Round the World Ticket Cost?

Around the World Flight TicketAll three of our travellers will need a series of flights. To obtain the average cost of a six month Round the World (RTW) ticket — that touches down in London, Bangkok, Sydney, Los Angeles, New York and return home — I went to STA Travel and two of the main alliances; OneWorld and Star Alliance.

The New Yorker grabbed himself a round fare of £1986, the Londoner £1906 and the Sydneysider £2031. For the purposes of fair competition, all were done under the guise of a 27 year old traveller — and surprisingly, STA Travel failed to secure any one of the three.


Buy now

Is it Better to Buy Single Flights?

The True Cost of TravelAs a seasoned traveller, my opinion has always been that it’s cheaper to book single tickets, even if you do them all before you leave. For this study I spent a few hours at Momondo, Expedia and Sky Scanner punching in the various itineraries. This proved me right.

The New Yorker would pay £1459 (a saving of £527 on the RTW), the Londoner £1477 (saving £429) and the Sydneysider £1495 (saving £536).

How much is Travel Insurance?

Cost of Going BackpackingI also ensured they’re all insured. I chose two of the most popular budget backpacker insurance companies, with the guideline that the insurance company should be able to cover all three of the backpackers with relatively cheap travel insurance. STA Travel and World Nomads both fulfilled this, though their main competitors appeared to be local to each country.

It’s also important to know, that even though I provide and promote a World Nomads promotional code, TRLANT that delivers a 7% discount, I did not apply this to these three theoretical travellers.

Unsurprisingly, World Nomads secured all three potential customers on the price of their travel insurance; New Yorker (£157), Londoner (£191) and Sydneysider (£220).

Alarmingly, if all three had taken their policies out with STA; the Sydneysider would have paid almost three times (£658) the cost for the New Yorker (£237) or Londoner (£223).

How Much Should I Allow For a Daily Travel Budget?

Holiday BudgetThis is where it gets tricky, the typical daily spend is based on the aforementioned Three Bee’s; beer, Big Macs and beds. They’d all be spending c.90 days in Bangkok, plus 30 days in Sydney, L.A., New York and London (excluding their home city’s).

To research this crucial fragment, I spent forty days and nights on HostelWorld.com researching the typical cost of a dorm room in each of the cities for the Thrifty and Casual traveller. Then I dug a little deeper to secure the average price of a single room in a hostel for our Flash traveller.

Cost of Vacation

So we know how many Big Mac’s, how many beers, what style of bed and for how long each of our intrepid nomads are going to be in each city. Their nationality only changes things slightly — for instance, none of the three will pay the rates of their home city.

For example, a Thrifty Londoner would need approx 30 dorm room nights in Sydney, LA, NYC and 90 dorm room nights in Bangkok. Plus for every night he’ll need one Big Mac and one beer. This would cost a total of £2964 for the whole trip, which equates to £16.47 per day.

What Should I Budget for Travelling?

Approximate Cost of TravelingI realise that travel isn’t merely about survival. There’s a need to integrate with a region; the temptation to splurge shouldn’t be thwarted. So, here are some typical things to do in each of the five cities, along with the typical cost to do it. You’ll see that I’ve only chosen one high-priced activity — more on that later.

In London they’ll spin round the London Eye (£17.50); in Bangkok they’ll see the Grand Palace (£5.40); in Sydney they’ll give in, and climb the Harbour Bridge (£132); in L.A. they’ll visit Universal Studios Hollywood (£42); and in New York, they’ll scurry up the Empire State Building (£12.26).

I’m making an educated guess here; over the course of six months the Thrifty traveller is going to do the equivalent of climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and everything else just twice. This doesn’t mean they’ll actually climb the bridge twice, merely that they’ll swallow the equivalent cost, twice. He might climb the bridge, and do a skydive or swim with whale sharks and take a helicopter flight in Manhattan.

So over six months, the Thrifty traveller will spend £418 on treats, which equates to an extra £2.32 per day. The Casual traveller will do this twice as often as the Thrifty and the Flash at least three times as much. So we arrive at £4.65 a day for Casual, while our Flash traveller racks up an extra £6.97 per day.


How Much do Travel Visas Cost?

Rough Cost of TravellingLet’s not forget visas. This one’s quite simple for our group of travellers. Only Australia will charge the New Yorker (£10) to enter, while Thailand will charge them all (£18) for a 30-day visa. The cost of exiting and re-entering Thailand (because you can’t usually stay for 90 days) should be considered to be covered by the bees.

So, How Much Does it Cost to Travel?

You will have noticed the alphabetic reference on the sections. If you take A (RTW ticket) or B (PAYG tickets); then add the relevant Thrifty, Casual and Flash equations of C,D, E and F you arrive at the following answer to the question of ‘how much does it cost to go backpacking?’ Remember however, that this should be viewed as an educated guess;

Cost of Around the World Ticket

Conclusion of ‘How Much Does it Cost to Travel?’

In conclusion to the above, I’m going to share some interesting points to emerge from my research.

Despite the fact that all three nationalities were departing on the same date — initially to different places — there was a difference of just £36 between the least and most expensive collection of PAYG flight tickets.

With regards to travel insurance, there is clearly a difference in approach to each nationality. Look at both national and international insurance companies. If you do decide to go with World Nomads, then you’re welcome to use the promotional code TRLANT to score a 6% discount.

The cost of a round the world ticket varies wildly, if you believe they’re worth the extra outlay it is definitely worth shopping around and bartering. The dates you fly affect the final price, and in my experience it isn’t an easy process, despite the agents providing various groovy tools.

As most readers will know I’ve been on the road for over two years, so this isn’t just armchair opinion. I collated all my costs after one year on the road in Asia in the post ‘One plus Two=Free‘, and the conclusion then was that it cost £16.60 per day. If I adapt this recent study by using purely the Bangkok rates, I come to a guesstimate of £17.53 per day so that’s within 6% and in my opinion, goes a long way to finally answering the question of “how much does it cost to travel?”.

And how much does it cost to wash your knickers in Nepal? Now you know how much it is to get there, why don’t you go and find out for yourself?


Travel Solo But Never Alone

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I’d like to thank the following websites for being so simply brilliant: for the price of beer and Big Macs; PintPrice.com and TheEconomist.com; for hostel beds HostelWorld.com; for fuss-free visa info ProjectVisa.com; for the PAYG flights Momondo.com, Expedia.com and SkyScanner.com; for the RTW tickets OneWorld, Star Alliance and STA Travel; and finally, for travel insurance World Nomads and STA Travel.

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{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacy August 27, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Thanks Ant…what a great informative article. I wish I had this before my trip. All the budgets I found then were for bare-bones travel of around $35USD/day which I think is impossible if you want to have any fun. So, I really couldn’t gauge what my ‘casual’ with a occassional splash of ‘flash’ travel (Hello, Dubai!) style would cost. I’d say your estimates are right on. (My actual costs were higher but it’s because I took some group tours. On non-tours days, I spent right between the budget and casual estimate.)

(I’ve added my website above but I haven’t updated since April. It’s been shelved since I’ve been back but I hope to dust it off soon.)

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[F]oxymoron August 28, 2009 at 4:12 am

Ant,

I’m clearly a “Flash PAYG” type of traveler… must be getting old man!

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Ant August 28, 2009 at 4:52 am

@Stacy: I think a lot of people underestimate the cost, as (especially online) it’s considered retro or cool to spend less.

This article is based on reality, and takes into account all the small things that speckle your day.

It is definitely possible to travel on $35USD, but over a period of time there’s bound to be spikes that will bring that up. For instance, a PAYG set of ticket would cost you c.£1477, which over a 6 month period would cost you £8.20 per day ($13.35USD). Over a 3 month period this would double.

@[F]ox: I think most people would pay YOU that rate just to travel and write about it, mate!

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Gillian August 31, 2009 at 5:45 am

I’m just putting a post together myself about the real cost of travel. Before we set out three months ago we did some similar (although not nearly as exhausting) search to determine daily costs. In the end, we decided that our average daily budget of $100 CAD would work over the whole year. We also had some ideas of what individual countries would cost. We’ve been over budget almost every day! What happened? I think a combination of underestimating the costs in South America and underestimating our style of travel. We’re adjusting…our spending and our expectations of staying in budget…but it would have been better to know ahead of time. Good work!!

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Ant August 31, 2009 at 10:56 am

Thanks for your comment Gillian – would that be $100 CAD (£56) between the two of you? The feedback I’m getting from this post is really interesting, and affirming.

There are so many variants involved, but in the end — like you’re discovering — you find your level. Safe travels, I’m still loving your website.

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Tom September 16, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Hey, thanks for that article, its nice that people actually put this stuff on the internet to help people out! i’m goin travellin for 5.5 months in hopefully march time. i want to go to thailand, through to bali, sydney (where i’ll be stayin with my sister) and gettin a hop on hop off bus to do the east coast of oz. i want to then go to fiji (only for like 10 days), then new zealand, then peru and then the USA.

I was wondering if you had any guess to the cost of that???? i want to have the money to do things like sky dive, bungee jump etc (so i spose i’m the flashy!) i’ve been trying to figure it all out myself for ages but nervousof not budgeting well!

Any help would be really appreciated Ant

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Ant September 17, 2009 at 4:48 am

Hi Tom. Thanks for your comment, it’s always great to hear such positive feedback. I wouldn’t necessarily say you’re automatically the Flash traveller. Staying with your sister in Sydney (a relatively expensive place for accommodating) will go some way to offsetting the cost of your sky dives and bungy jumps.

Without knowing how long you’re planning to be in each country; or your ticket plans; and presuming from your email address that you’re British; I can still take an educated guess that you’ll spend approximately £34-40 per day.

I hope that helps, perhaps you can come back in a years time and let us know how accurate I was?

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Jordan Ballantyne November 10, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Hi Guys,

i plan to go backpacking RTW for approx 6 months, im looking at places like Thailand (phi phi island), fiji, NZ, OZ land and then SE Asia. and Amsterdam to finish off.

the only problem i have is that i dont know how much i will require to take with me. i think i will need £6000. i intend to go “off the beaten track” for most of the trip and i will be living cheap whislt im away.

do you think this is enough? if not can you help me out?

Many Thanks
Jordan

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Ant November 11, 2009 at 3:03 am

Hi Jordan, welcome to the site and thanks for the comment.

I’m confident you have budgeted enough for your trip. I spent £1000 a month while travelling in Europe — and that included flights and accommodation. The fact that you’ll be in Asia and off the beaten track (which often means it will be cheaper) tells me that you’ll be cutting costs down considerably. You’ll be living on an average of £32.88 a day and that is a lot of money to spend in Asia every day.

The key destinations to watch your budget will be NZ and OZ, and I’m guessing Amsterdam is more of a weekender to finish off your budget. Which in itself, is quite a dangerous place to finish it off as you could end up so baked you’ll miss your onward flight as I almost did.

Let us know how you get on.

Ant

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Claire January 12, 2010 at 6:16 am

Thanks so much for the advice!! My boyfriend and I are leaving (from UK) for a RTW trip on the 29th Jan 10. We intend to spend 2 months in SE Asia (mainly thailand), 2 months in Oz (east coast), 1 month in NZ, 2 weeks in Fiji and 6 weeks in USA.

We have flights, insurance, a 10,000km greyhound bus pass for Oz, and a few other things already paid for. We will have approximately £9,000 between us for the 7 months and have relatives in Sydney and Brisbane we can stay with for a week or so each. We do not intend to work. How realistic is this?

Also do you have any tips on how to handle currancy? Travellers cheques? Cash? Credit/debit card?

Any other advice? What to bring etc?

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Ant January 12, 2010 at 4:50 pm

With the assurance of relatives in Sydney and Brisbane, and so much of your travel pre-paid for already I reckon you’re budgets (approx £21.23 per day) will be fine, Claire.

Travelling as a couple also helps to keep costs down, you can split the cost of taxis, food, and as you’re travelling with your boyfriend, you’ll find it easier to take a night off from the bright lights of city bars.

In terms of handling currency, I always use my credit card. I load it with credit so I don’t incur charges for not paying it off — which is highly likely if you find yourself in rural Asia or the Aussie outback, miles from a computer safe enough to do your internet banking. For obvious reasons, be aware of carrying too much cash. Other advice around this, is to email yourself critical phone numbers — like your bank or credit card providers international phone number. Should you lose your vital cards, it’s imperative that you shut them down asap to avoid them being compromised.

Aussie, NZ and the USA are all on par with UK prices these days. Especially when it comes to beer and food. Just bring a positive attitude, and make the most of every day. Come back and let us know how your trip (and your budget) goes. Also be aware of the 30-day Thailand visa, I believe you can nip in and out to renew the visa, so plan that in to your SE Asia leg.

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jj January 25, 2010 at 6:53 am

hi ant i am going to thailand for 1 year how much do you think it will coast me

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Ant January 25, 2010 at 1:00 pm

That is the most subjective comment imaginable, JJ. Have you even read the article?

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al wilson January 30, 2010 at 8:37 am

hey there ant, love your article (always wondered about my knickers in nepal).
what’s your opinion on tour buses in NZ? i plan on doing SE Asia and South America by travelling independently, but i feel as if getting a tour in nz ia good because a) it could save costs, and b) it might be easier to meet people on a tour in a more developed country.
any thoughts? would love to hear your advice! take care x

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Kate January 30, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Hi Ant, Just wanted to say thanks for writing such a well thought out post and I think you’re great for replying to everyone also!

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Ant February 1, 2010 at 9:44 am

Hey Al, welcome to TrailofAnts.com. I think you’re absolutely right about your assumptions on saving money, and making friends. NZ is a farely remote country, so unless you’re looking to have escape people and stretch your arms on the summit of a lonely mountain, I’d recommend taking a tour. Perhaps use the big cities as stepping stones along your way, I know from my experience here in Wellington that there are plenty of places to meet people, and it’s a great city to put the brakes on and recharge the batteries (literally!) Let me know what you decide.

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Ant February 1, 2010 at 9:46 am

Kia ora, Kate. You’re most welcome. My philosophy with travel extends to the site, it’s not just about the content, it’s about the people. I hope to hear from you again sometime soon.

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Nic February 10, 2010 at 7:49 am

Hi Ant,
Your info above is great. My partner and I are currently planing a long trip and are in a debate about our daily budget.
We plan to go the India 3mths, China 2mths, Mongolia 3wks, SE Asia 2mths – As much as possible of this overland and then will fly from KL to South America and will spend 3-4mths there. Mostly overland here as well. Maybe a few cheap flights thrown in.
We have our flights to India from Aus and will purchase our insurance before we go. I would say we are between thrifty to casual, we stay in budget accomodation when travelling however do like to to be able to do or buy things if we feel like it.
I realise it would be a guess but would you be able to give us an idea of our daily budget? We are looking at aprox $50Aus each per day.
Thanks for this great forum!! Just what I needed.

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Ant February 12, 2010 at 4:41 am

I think you’ve budgeted pretty good there, Nic. From my experience in India, China and Mongolia you’ll actually find it really easy to stay on, if not under your budget. It’s sometimes quite hard to spend money, as although there are undoubtedly a lot of tourists, there isn’t an in-your-face tourist industry. The attraction is the country, not the country’s man-made attractions.

There are very few things that will cost you lots of money. Even when you take into account a week tour of the Gobi, you’re food and accommodation is often accounted for so you can simply split the cost up by the number of days and I bet it’s not far from $50/day target. Sightseeing in India is cheap, as is travel. The only big expense I incurred was renting a Royal Enfield for a month, which was a £100!

I don’t think hostels even exist in India, so accommodation is more expensive, but watch you’re not ripped off – easily resolved if you are. China has hostels in the main cities, outside these basic accommodation is super cheap, and Ulaanbaator has some great hostels, offering a plethora of value for money tours. I recommend Idri’s Guesthouse. It’s both cozy and friendly.

SE Asia is often the acid test for a travellers budget. Do you like to drink, take drugs and dissolve your travels into a semi-vacation? Well, your budget will take the impact. It’s hard to not to arrive in the party hotspots from India or China and not want a massive release, a few nights hitting the parties is well worth it – just remember to leave, and your budget will survive!

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Nic February 17, 2010 at 8:44 am

Thanks Ant really appreciate it. Do you remember which tour company you went with to see the Gobi? Is it easy just to book this over there?

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Ant February 17, 2010 at 4:49 pm

I booked it through the hostel (which is Idre’s with an E, not Idri’s as I said originally). I think it was actually his own tour company. I went with a lady guide, called Tiggy (warn any single males — she’s quite amorous, but in a friendly way!) It’s really easy to book tours — as with much of the travel world, they make just as much profit off their tour side of things, as they do their accommodation.

Obviously you can shop around (although I remember the owner, Idre didn’t like this at all and he actually kicked out a couple who booked elsewhere — though he didn’t directly say it). Don’t let that scare you though, there’s very little between them all and reputation is everything in a small town like UB.

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Daisy February 25, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Hi Ant

My bf and I are planning a round the world trip leaving mid August. We were planning to go to Candada and some of the US (Grand Canyon, Yosemite, a few days in Vegas) etc. In total, this was going to be for 6 weeks and we estimated 6k including car hire, buses private rooms/motels, and food. Do you think this sounds right?

We then plan to go to SA for around 3 months and estimate this will cost about £3500 in total.

We then will go to NZ for a month – hoping it won’t cost more than 2k in total including campervan hire. Prior to travelling NZ, we will take a flight to Fiji and stay there for 10 days-2 weeks. I’m thinking it will cost about £500 to stay there.

Our final stop will be to Singapore/Bangkok and we will travel Asia for one/two months spending no more than 2k.

Do you think this all sounds about right??

Many thanks for your help!
Daisy

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Daisy February 25, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Hi Ant

I also forgot to say that the flight centre are quoting £2100 each for all those flights (except we have to make our own way from Vancouver to LA). Apparently this is a very good deal.

Taking off North America, they say it will cost £1700 each.

thanks
Daisy

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Ant March 1, 2010 at 8:19 am

£6k for 6 weeks in North America will give you a lot of freedom to explore, Daisy. Have you considered combining the car hire and private rooms, and renting a campervan? It could be the best of both worlds.

£3500 for 3 months in South Africa is reeling it back in, but you’ll still be able to live comfortably on that budget.

£2 for 1 month in NZ is a fair budget too. The campervan option is a great way to go, but beware of rising petrol prices (not far behind the UK).

You’ll get a lot for your £2k for a month in Singapore, Bangkok and the surrounding areas. They offer great value for money. Singapore is often highlighted as an expensive city, but in reality you can find really cheap eats which will offset the price of accommodation, plus there aren’t a great deal of expensive tourist attractions.

All in all, I think you have an above average budget so you’ll be afforded the freedom of choices wherever you go. The important thing is to keep an ear out for things you really want to do in certain places (swimming with sharks in South Africa, bungy jumping in New Zealand etc) and use these as stepping stones along your journey.

It’s worth knowing that since I left England in June 2007, I haven’t spent anywhere near as much as you’re planning to do. Granted, much of my journey was in Asia and living in a tent in the Australian outback, but the point is — you can expand or retract your journey to suit your daily budget, and without compromising impact.

Be sure to let us know how it went…

Cheers,
Ant

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Gav March 16, 2010 at 8:30 am

Hey Ant,
Superb and well-researched article, thanks!

Seeing as you keep answering questions, I thought I’d give it a shot…

I’m in Oz and have $5k Aussie (Let’s call it GBP 2.5k) to spend. I need to leave the country for a bit to get some visa shenanigans sorted (I’m English). What would be a realistic destination do you think and for how long?

How about South America? I speak Spanish and would love to see it. So flights are from $1500 return – 2 months out there on $3k? Should be do-able, eh? Those flights are to BA, I’ve lived in Brasil for a year, so don’t need to go there again, but I’d love to go to Bolivia, Peru, Colombia… It’s a case of internal flights driving up the price then I suppose.

Or do you think SE Asia?

Cheers,

Gav

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Ant March 16, 2010 at 10:16 am

I’m a huge fan of Indonesia, so that would be my knee jerk reaction, Gav. South America is high up on the list, especially after researching Peru for a recent article.

Your budget sounds spot on, regardless. With £2500 you could just about get away with flights home, and drift around Europe for two months. So quite honestly, the world is your oyster.

Shanghai is hosting the World Expo in May this year so might make an interesting side show, as well as the World Cup in South Africa.

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Wherever you decide, please consider insuring yourself with World Nomads using the promotional code TRLANT. Not only will it save you 6% on your policy, it will also help keep this site live and me answering the questions : )
.-= Ant´s last blog ..This Small and Lonely Planet =-.

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Stuart March 23, 2010 at 10:58 am

Hi Ant,

I’m definitely going travelling in Sept 2011 (long way off I know) but its when the Rugby World Cup starts in NZ! I’m starting in Auckland where I plan to live and work for approx. 4 months and I’m going to go through Bunac.org because they can help sort out all the paperwork and guarentee you a job (also includes accommodation for a 3 day stopover in Hong Kong). This costs about £900 and I plan to explore the North Island from here. Then when I’m finished there I will go round South Island in a Camper Van and then go to Sydney for 2 weeks and Queensland for 2 weeks. After that I’ll hit SE Asia and I really want to see Shanghai and Tokyo too.

So call that NZ 5 months (4 months with work and proper accommodation), OZ 1 month, SE Asia 2 months, China and Japan 1 month, then fly home. I’m an outdoors junkie and will definitely be doing bungee jumps and all that sort of thing, but I’ll also trek and climb mountains (cheaper parts of trip) and I’m not too fussy about accommodation. I was thinking that in total it would cost me about £7k bearing in mind that I’ll be working quite a bit in NZ. Can you let me know what you think to this estimate?

Cheers,
Stuart

btw, this site is freakin’ awesome!

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Ant March 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Hi Stuart,

Your saviour will be SE Asia and China. New Zealand is on par with Aussie in terms of cost (maybe beer is everso slightly cheaper).

The big hit will be the price of fuel when you tour by campervan, so consider advertising, or looking for a carshare to split the costs. That is a really common amongst backpackers Down Under. You don’t have to be going the whole route, maybe just from hub to hub to give the driver a place to find new van-mates. I hear good things about http://www.spaceshipsrentals.co.nz/, they’re not what you’d call a traditional campervan (i.e. VW), but they’re compact and cost efficient.

I currently live in Wellington, and I don’t splash out much and my outgoings (including rent and bills) are in the region of NZ$300 (£140) a week. Over 5 months that would be £2,800 and that’s without a bungy jump every Monday, or an evening Zorb! Bear in mind, my rent is cheaper on average than your hostel will be. Japan is another thorn in your budget, but because Japan is so notoriously expensive, it means hundreds of people want to prove the theory wrong — simply Google for budget advice in Japan. The sheer number of expats living there longterm, means there’s a wealth of resource (pun intended).

Having a job before you arrive in NZ is crucial. I know this. And be prepared for wages to be bitterly low for a western country. The minimum wage in New Zealand is $12.50 (£5.87). Considering a beer is $7 (£3.29), that’s a pretty crap deal.

Sydney and Queensland prices are going to be on par with NZ, if not a little higher. I’d say in a month, you’ll be looking at £700 easy.

So let’s catch up — £100 in HK, £2800 in NZ, £700 in Aussie, guesstimate £900 in Japan and China, SE Asia for 2 months £700 plus a flight home (presuming you’re English), £650. Plus 10% for safety sake.

Tip tap tap… £6435. And that’s before you earn some Kiwi dollar. Based on very little info, by my estimates, you’ll be alright Stuart, with room to flutter a bit more, as reward for your hard work in NZ.

Cheers,
Ant

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Andy March 24, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Hi Ant,

First things first, great article! Definitely the best I’ve read so far. I have been thinking of travelling for a while now but I think its going to cost me in the region of £6000-£9000 for 6 months and was wondering what people did to raise that type of cash? In order for me to raise that type of cash, I would be looking at saving for around 2 years and I don’t exactly have a bad paid job. I was wondering how students taking gap years etc afford to go travelling so quickly after/before graduating. Do they take out a loan and pay it off when they come back?

Cheers!

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Ant March 25, 2010 at 4:04 am

Great question, Andy. There is no broad answer.

For me, I saved a little each month for seven years. I knew I’d travel one day, so it was pretty painless. Personally, I’m a habitual saver. I hate spending money on crap, but I don’t always like it that I’m that way!

The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to go through your finances with a fine tooth comb. Establish how much it will cost you to go travelling (i.e. read the article above, and do some expansive, destination specific research of your own). Then look at your material possessions and see how much capital is tied up in those.

Some people leave with very, very little. Far less than the ‘Thrifty’ example above. They work their way around, or continue to work online. Some just run up a fat load of debt, and grind away at paying it back when they return home. It’s important to find your level when travelling. If you’re living on £2 a day but miserable as hell, then it’s worth being honest with yourself and planning a trip for £10 a day (or whatever). Five times the cost, ten times the smiles.

A great website for ideas, especially for Brit’s, is moneysavingexpert.com. If you aim to apply a couple of his tips a week, you’ll be staggered how far your finances can go.

Also, £6000-9000 is a lot of cash for six months (unless you’re solely in western countries?

Good luck, Andy…
Ant
.-= Ant´s last blog ..On the Fringe of Wellington Society =-.

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Andy March 25, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Thanks Ant, much appreciated! I was thinking of doing LA, NYC, Bangkok and X (not yet decided). I wanted to do things like watch the Nicks, experience the night life once a week (maybe twice), if in Australia go scuba diving that sort of stuff. Ideally I would be working some of the time doing contract IT work but I think I would be extremely lucky to find any at all, so would need enough money to keep me going without work. the dream would be to go travelling for a year but saving up that kind of money for when I would be looking to go would be impossible!

Thanks again,

Andy

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Michelle June 4, 2010 at 10:18 am

Hey Ant,

My partner and I live in NZ and are planning to travel to either south east asia or south america for a few weeks (3ish) and then land in Canada where we’ll work/live for around 6 months. We have family in Canada too so can stay for free before/after working. We will try to travel to some of America whilst living in Canada too. After Canada, we hope to see some of Russia, Europe and Egypt. I realise you don’t normally work in NZD but do you have any ideas on what we should budget each? We’re thinking of doing the 3 weeks before Canada, a few weekends etc while in Canada and then around 3 months afterward (1 russia, 1.5 europe, and .5 egypt).

Any ideas would be much appreciated :)
Michelle

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Ant June 6, 2010 at 7:22 am

Hi Michelle,

Without flights, and without knowing you or your travel style, or European destinations; I’d take a stab and say you’ll need to budget approx £4000 (NZ$8,600).

That’s erring on the ‘Flash’ side of things.

Please come back and let us all know how realistic that worked out.

Cheers,
Ant

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Adam June 7, 2010 at 4:48 am

Ant.

Superb Work!!

My girlfriend and i are planning a 8.5 month trip leaving from London in April 2011.
The plan is to spend about 6 weeks in Eastern Europe (avoiding countries that use the Euro the best we can) most of which will be camping. (we have all the kit) before heading back to London and continuing on.
We then plan to spend 2 weeks in Perth, 4 weeks in New Zealand and finish with 5.5 months in SE Asia, including Indonesia and the Phillipines.

We have budgeted around £15,000 for the 2 of us but stress that we would be looking to stay in private rooms throughout the trip – basic is fine and happy with shared bathroom.

We were thinking £50 per day for Europe between us. £32 for Asia and £55 for Oz/NZ which leaves about £5,000 for main flights and non essentials.

Do these figures seem about right? I would consider ourselves between Casual and Flash travellers as we want our privacy with accomodation but will eat very cheaply, travel cheaply and dont really drink.

Many thanks in advance for you time and thoughts.

Adam

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Ant June 9, 2010 at 8:29 am

I think you’re pretty much on the money there Adam (pun intended).

Two weeks in Perth? That could be more than enough, consider sweeping south to the Margaret River or stop by Walpole and the surrounding region. Alternatively, explore north around the Geraldton region. I’ve written quite a bit about travelling in Western Australia on my blog and it’s full of quirky tidbits for travellers.

The fact that you don’t drink much will help you in Australia and NZ, but you won’t save much in the Asian countries if you substitute for soft drinks.

Cheers,
Ant

FAVOUR: Please note, I don’t get paid for any of the work here at Trail of Ants, I do it because I have interesting ideas to share. If you like this article, or any others, please consider sharing it on Facebook or Twitter with the button at the top. That’s reward enough for me… thanks in advance.

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Melanie July 13, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Hi Ant,
What a great helpful site! Wondered if you could help me?! …..
Im going to oz for 8 weeks from oct-dec, i have my flight booked to brisbane and home & from brisbane to townsville as will be staying with a friend for the first week there. Am trying to work out how much i will need to take, i want to see as much of the country as possible but still want to enjoy each stop, thinking maybe 4-5 stops.
I will be staying in hostels mainly (dorm shares), considering camping but dont know how sensible that is. I want to do some stuff (all the big ones, great barrier reef etc!) I was wondering if you could give me any idea on the cost i may be looking at?

Thankyou :) Mel

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Ant July 14, 2010 at 5:40 am

Travelling in Australia is pretty much the same as the UK these days, so if you’re travelling around a lot expect to pay for it — but trust me when I say, it’s worth it.

If you’re two or more people, camping is well worth it. I’d recommend picking up the Camps Wide 5 book (it costs around A$50 but will pay for itself in a couple of nights of free camping).

Although it’s possible to camp solo, I found most of the free campsites weren’t very social which can lead to a lonely series of nights.

In a word: 2 months in Aus, doing anything and everything, you’re looking at up to £3k in total (ex. flights), give or take £500.

Be sure to drop a ‘like’ on the Facebook page, and if you’re hunting for travel insurance, consider using my World Nomads Promo Code (affiliate link).

Drop back in and let me know how accurate this was, and above all — have a great time down under.

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carol July 15, 2010 at 1:05 am

Im going to Beijing China in october , what will be the cost per day , only visiting great wall and forbiiden city

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carol July 15, 2010 at 1:08 am

RE: to my first question, im traveling to Beijing China for alittle over a week, what would my cost per day be?, im hotel is paid for at an amazing 150.usd a week!!

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Ant July 15, 2010 at 5:07 am

Firstly, what a shame to only be visiting two of the dozens of great sites Beijing has to offer! But if you’re going to see just two, I think they would be The Two;

Secondly: this post is designed for you to work out the costs depending on your travel style; so please reference the post when asking for my estimates!

In Beijing, I’d guesstimate a budget of around £15 per day. This would allow a satisfying budget, and it’s easily inflated or deflated depending on where you eat. Suffice to say, some of China’s best eateries are its cheapest.

Have a great trip.

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Jools Stone July 29, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Hi Ant,
Generous as always, both with your brilliantly researched post and your comment replies and advice. I’m obviously at the super-fussy end of the scale then, budgeting for about 90 euros a day for my 3 week inter rail trip through the Balkans later this year, but I plan to combine stays in private single rooms with the odd sleeper supplement. Does this sound realistic to you or am I over budgeting?
Cheers
Jools

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Ant July 29, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Thanks for the kind words Jools, that’s great feedback and much appreciated.

To give you some comparison, your budget is over twice what I lived on in Western Europe in 2003. Take into account inflation, and the fact that East has pretty much met West in the finance stakes and you’re onto a winner with that daily budget.

I’d definitely consider Couch Surfing in that region though, unless you’re preparing for some quality Me Time. There are plenty of great hostels where travellers meet, but if you mean later this year (as in the northern winter) then you might find it a wee bit quiet.

My verdict? Realistic budget, and an awesome trip ahead of you. Looking forward to reading your blog posts in and around the region.

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Scott Horton August 5, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Hi Ant, as a compete novice in terms of travelling I have recently been researching online and found your article hugely informative and helpful. Me and one friend are interested in travelling for around 5 months from September 2011 with Bankok, Sydney, New Zealand and Fiji likely destinations. How would you suggest booking flights in order to save money whilst being flexible with flight dates? Also roughly how much would these flights cost? I reaslise this post is totally vague but after reading your article I assumed if anyone has the answers you do! :)

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Ant August 6, 2010 at 6:20 am

Well, sadly Scott I don’t unfortunately. Suffice to say, New Zealand and Australia are a long way from anywhere — so, generally speaking flights in and away from these destinations can be expensive (unless you’re travelling between the two).

A RTW ticket can offer peace of mind as you will put the money up front, but generally they’re less flexible. Plus your preferred destinations follow the Classic RTW ticket hotspots, so you could score a bargain.

Paying as you go is more flexible, and as you can see from my post it’s up to 25% cheaper too. The downside is you have to go through the rigmarole of booking flights every time you want to leave (unless you take the train or bus etc.)

Have a look in my post above for a rough idea of costs. September 2011 is a long way off right now, so it’s impossible to say what will happen.

NOTE: I’m getting quite a few email inquiries about stuff that is quite clearly answered in this post. Please folks, let’s not waste each other’s time — read the post, before you ask a question.

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Rachel August 29, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Hi Ant,

Great article, I have been looking for something as comprehensive as this to help plan my trip.

Me and my friend are leaving from London to go travelling in Feb 2011 for 6 months. We are planning to cover SE Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam) for 3 months then 1 month on Australia’s gold coast, 3 weeks in NZ and 3 weeks in San Fransisco before returning to London.

We are looking to do quite a few trips and excursions but will stay in budget accomodation as much as possible. We have around £6500-7000 each (this will include flights, insurance etc). Do you think this will be enough money to see us through?

Thanks for your help!

Rachel

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Ant August 29, 2010 at 6:06 pm

@Rachel: Your scenario is almost the exact same as my article; therefore your budget should reflect the ‘budget’ option, meaning you’ll come home with change. Have a great trip, and be sure to come back and let me know how it went.

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Charli October 25, 2010 at 6:43 am

Hi Ant,
A great article many thanks for making it available and for getting me excited about going travelling :) I have the opportunity to go away for 4-5 weeks in July/August 2011 and have about £3k to spend all together (to include flights as well) I am just after your advice on where the best places would be to explore? I have just started looking and really don’t know where to start. Any ideas would be great. Thanks again :) Charli

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Ant Stone October 25, 2010 at 9:30 pm

HI Charli, welcome to the site. Great question, if only because it allows me to think of all the great places in the world.

To be honest, you have a big enough budget to explore anywhere in the world on an above-average budget.

If it were me, I’d be considering a couple of ideas: perhaps hiring a car or a campervan and taking a sweeping road trip. Maybe across Europe, or the USA, or even Australia (the latter will cost you about 1/3 of your budget).

I’d be tempted by the African plains. Around July/August is a great time to head to the Serengeti to catch the wildebeest migrating north to the Masai Mara, past plenty of hungry crocodiles.

Or perhaps I’d look to myself, and consider my passions. I love writing and photography, so I’d be looking for places which inspire me the most to feed my passion for the long winters ahead.

I’d avoid places I could do on a smaller budget, £3k is a good amount and you should spend it as if you might never have that amount again — i.e. wisely, with a splash of frivolity.

Come back and let me know what you decide.

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Tammy November 12, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Hi Ant

Iv been litteraly googling every day this question!!

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Tammy November 12, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Hi Ant

Iv been litteraly googling every day this question!! Im trying to be extra organised as I am travelling on my own. Your page is very informative I just needed a bit of reassurance

Im going to Thailand on 29th December for two months and then flying to Sydney on 3rd March 2011. I have already paid for my return flights to bangkok and sydney and also insurance, working holiday visa and all costs neccesary before I leave. I have saved up £6000, my plan is to spend 2000 in Thailand then have 4000 for Australia, I imagine I will be fall into the ‘casual bracket’ as I want to travel around both countrys and do some organised trips. I plan to try only work for half my stay in Australia. Do you think I have budgeted enough money?

Also is it easy to travel around without having a specific plan, I didnt want to make it rigid because by travelling on my own I expect I will meet people and want to be free drop plans and go with the flow. Thanks for your help

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Ant Stone November 15, 2010 at 11:54 am

Hi Tammy,

Thanks for your comments; to answer your question. £2000 for two months in Thailand is really high for budget travel in the region. Thailand is more expensive than some countries, but £1000 a month is on par with mainland Europe. You’re better off moving £1000 over to your Aussie budget.

Then you’d have £7000 for ten months, which is a good budget for someone who wants to travel around Australia. You have to allow for petrol, or tours. Neither are cheap in Australia. However, as you’re hoping to work, you’ll have two benefits: you’ll be earning more money, and you’ll be spending less (because you’ll be in one place for a while).

In terms of travelling without a specific plan, not a problem. I dare say most of the travel blogs you read are written by travellers who do just that. If you were living at home, could you plan a year ahead? I thought not. Things change so often when you’re travelling, and different things can play a factor: from politics and weather, to love and romance.

You’ll be fine. Come back and let me know how you get on.

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Tammy November 13, 2010 at 9:13 am

Oh sorry forgot to say im planning on travelling for a year. but thats not set in stone

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