Since we’ve been home, we’ve both been procrastinating on our wrap-up blog posts. Part of this is because “real life” matters have intruded into our lives. Who knew that finding an apartment was so complicated and time-consuming? Not I! So here we are, over three weeks later and I’m just now writing this. Sorry about that.
Now let’s get down to the numbers. In just shy of 10 months on the road, we spent $45,918.24. Here’s a list of our total costs by category, from most money spent to least money spent. All totals are for the both of us, and everything is in US dollars. (For exchange rates, we used the rates that we received from our ATM withdrawals.)
- RTW tickets (14 flights, two surface sectors): 5,982.40
- All other flights (13 legs each): 2,639.06
- Bus rides: 2,194.07
- Subway/monorail/tram/metro: 494.77
- Trains: 314.21
- Taxis: 302.40
- Car/scooter rentals and gas: 232.34
- Airport taxes: 85.40
- Bike rentals: 23.11
- Ferry/boat: 10.22
TOTAL TRANSPORT COSTS: 12,277.98
AFRICA TOUR: 8,154.93
- Whitewater rafting: 280.00
- Devil’s Pool: 120.00
- Annapurna trekking permits: 54.79
- Paragliding: 206.44
- Chitwan National Park: 120.00
- Day trip to Ko Phi Phi: 78.55
- Flight of the Gibbons: 125.68
- Easy Riders Dalat: 420.00
- Ha Long Bay Marguerite Junk: 102.40
- Kool Katz Surf Camp: 213.52
- Skydive video*: 129.71
- Milford Sound cruise: 149.03
- Routeburn permits: 122.78
- Penguins: 129.87
- Torres del Paine: 57.37
- Big Ice trek: 337.66
- Los Glaciares National Park: 38.96
- Salt flats tour: 338.00
- Floating islands day trip: 28.27
- Inca trail: 1,057.74
- Dune buggy and sandboarding: 31.80
- Muyuna Lodge: 1,217.78
TOTAL EXCURSIONS COST: 5,516.06
*Skydiving itself is not included because it was a gift.
- Africa (this is the food we had to pay for outside of our tour): 440.05
- Asia: 1,754.46 or 17.90/day
- Australia/New Zealand: 715.31 or 21.04/day (we mostly cooked)
- South America: 1,415.91 or 17.27/day
- Europe (includes Egypt): 944.42 or 28.62/day
TOTAL FOOD COSTS: 5,270.15
- Africa (outside of the tour): 321.50
- Asia: 753.89 or 7.70/night
- Australia/New Zealand: 1,033.45 or 30.40/night
- South America: 1,274.70 or 15.55/night
- Europe (includes Egypt): 1,230.54 or 37.29/night
TOTAL LODGING COSTS: 4,614.08
- Camera and accessories: 762.60
- Netbook: 378.00
- Clothing, packs, sleeping bags, etc.: 1,720.60
TOTAL GEAR COSTS: 2,861.20
- Travel/health insurance: 1,010.00
- Immunizations and meds (pre-trip): 894.08
TOTAL MEDICAL COSTS: 1,904.08
- Africa: 8.04
- Asia: 386.01
- Australia/New Zealand: 426.59
- South America: 93.47
- Europe (includes Egypt): 334.90
TOTAL SIGHTSEEING COSTS: 1,249.01
- Tickets to musicals: 190.64
- Movie tickets: 14.17
- Wimbledon: 59.26
- Mini golf: 14.29
- Poker tournament (Kevin): 7.14
- Fish massage: 5.00
- Cooking class: 24.00
- Bowling: 9.73
- Philharmonic (KL) tickets: 8.85
- Other: 12.18
TOTAL ENTERTAINMENT COSTS: 345.26
- Money stolen on Chobe River cruise: 110.00
- Qantas ticket change fee: 90.00
- Hard drive (bought in HK): 63.83
- Five-Euro note found in Singapore airport: -7.54
- Leftover Taiwanese bills (gave to Tina): 9.32
- Change for buses given to us by Wang family: -6.09
- Phone call in Thailand: .36
- Bribe to Cambodia border patrol: 3.02
- Printing/postage fee for Asia miles forms: 3.02
- Lost key fee: 4.45
- Money won at Sky City Casino: -10.71
- Supplies for Routeburn: 14.29
- Printing Andesmar tickets: .76
- Bag check at Machu Picchu: 1.06
- Money accidentally thrown out at Lima airport: 14.13
- Daily Mail and keychain at Wimbleon: .74
TOTAL MISCELLANEOUS COSTS: 290.64
POSTCARDS AND POSTAGE: 204.57
PERSONAL CARE: 113.56
SHIPPING BOXES: 73.86
ATM FEES: 70.31
(FORCED) DONATION: 4.88
GRAND TOTAL: $45,918.24
A few things haven’t been included in that total. They are: any gifts (cooking class in Chiang Mai, hotel in Chiang Mai, gorge swing, skydiving, train tickets to Xian, etc.), bills and change that we kept as souvenirs (one each from each country) and bills that we have left over that we haven’t changed back to US Dollars. We ended up with substantial amounts (over $10 worth, that is) of Yen, Euros and British Pounds that we still need to get exchanged. I should technically include our bill and coin collection under souvenirs, but I’m too lazy to count it up and add it in. Just as a guess, it probably cost us about $50.
There were a few things that jumped out at me when I put this together.
1) Our transportation costs were over 25% of our total costs. Doesn’t that seem a bit high?
2) We spent more money on excursions than food. Doesn’t that also seem a bit high?
3) Total food and lodging for two people over 10 months cost us less than 10,000. That’s practically how much I paid in a year’s worth of just rent in Charlotte.
4) Compared to our cost of living for 10 months in Charlotte, we spent about the same amount of money traveling the world. Huh.
We also have a table of our average expenditure per day by country. The expenditures include food, lodging, transportation within the country, visa fees (if any), sightseeing, excursions, etc. The only things it doesn’t include are the cost of actually getting TO that country and any pre-trip expenditures (gear, immunizations, health insurance, etc.).
Average spent per day by country:
Hong Kong: 86.96
New Zealand: 119.79
*We had free housing for some or all of the time in this country.
Here are some thoughts about these numbers:
1. The first half, with the exception of Bolivia, is made up of all Asian countries. This is not only because food and lodging are cheap in Southeast Asia, but also because sightseeing is relatively inexpensive. It is much cheaper to get a ticket to the Angkor complex for three days than to see Machu Picchu in one day.
2. Bolivia comes out to a surprisingly low average, considering the cost factors in our visas ($135 each) and our four-day salt flats tour.
3. Japan and Spain are two countries I would have expected to come out with higher averages. Tokyo and Madrid aren’t cheap, but Japan and Spain came out under $90/day because we stayed in one city and in that one city, we didn’t do anything but eat and walk around. So that means all we had to pay for was food, lodging and some transportation.
4. Vietnam, Egypt and Peru are three countries that come in much higher than I expected, since all three are relatively cheap countries. But in this case, the cost of our excursions really brought the average up. In Vietnam it was the Easy Riders tour and Ha Long Bay. In Egypt, our sightseeing expenses added up to over $160 and our cruise came out to about $110/night. In Peru the Inca Trail and Muyuna Lodge were the biggest costs.
Where we saved money:
The number one way we saved money compared to other travelers was on alcohol. I had a few glasses of wine here and there, and Kevin didn’t drink at all. We also saved money on food. We had three meals that cost more than $40. We had eight meals that cost between $30 and $40. Over 90% of our meals cost less than $17. In countries where street food was delicious and cheap, we ate street food – that was a no-brainer for us (it helped that neither of us ever had food poisoning). Where eating out was expensive and not that different compared to home (Australia, New Zealand), we mostly bought groceries. In Argentina and Chile we did a little bit of both. It was too expensive to eat out all the time, but it would have been a shame not to eat out some of the time. We also saved money on lodging. We didn’t necessarily stay at THE cheapest place available, but we did stay at the cheapest place available at the lowest quality I could stand. In the more expensive countries, this meant staying in dorms. In the cheapest countries, we’d get our own room with attached bath – pure luxury!
Where we splurged:
If either one of us really wanted to do something, we did it. Sometime it was something small – like having Papa John’s for dinner (Kevin) or having two ice cream cones in one day (me). Other times it was something much bigger, like shelling out over $150 each to climb on a glacier (totally worth it) or spending $500 each to spend an hour with mountain gorillas (also totally worth it).
The bottom line is – your budget is your own. We talked to some people who thought we were traveling very cheaply and we also talked to some people who assumed we were living like kings when we told them how much we had spent. In the end, I think that both of us were satisfied with what we splurged on and what we saved on. Looking back on it, I can’t think of anything that I wish we had done that we didn’t do because of money, and I don’t regret spending money on the things we did do. I would call that a success.