How much does it cost to travel the world for one year? Here’s my travel budget for 12 months of solo travel around the world.
For those of you who don’t know, I started my trip around in May 2016. I first traveled overland through Europe before heading to Asia for 8 months. The first year of my trip finally ended in Australia in May 2017. I’ve mostly traveled in budget destination like India and Indonesia, but the route has also included more expensive countries such as Taiwan and Brunei.
For a full summary of my route, see “365 Days on the Road – My Journey So Far”.
How much does it cost to solo travel for one year? Below is a detailed account of my travel budget for 12 months. I’ve split the expenses into different categories, summing up my total travel budget for one year of solo travel at the end of the post.
In case you’re wondering, I use an app called AndroMoney to keep track of all my travel expenses. I’ve described the way I’ve customized the app in another post called “8 Useful Android Apps for Long Term Travel (and What to Do With Them)”.
1. Food: 3726 € (331 €/month)
- Restaurants and street food: 3140 €
- Food from shops: 586 €
Plain and simple, food has been the biggest expense of my solo budget. This is also a category where I could easily save more money if I wanted. After all, I’ve spent over three thousand euros on restaurant food. I’ve only cooked two proper meals (microwave meals and instant noodles don’t count) for myself during this trip.
However, I don’t want to skimp too much with eating. I want to eat somewhat healthy, so I occasionally order extra salads with my meals. I also think that food is a distinct part of every country and region – when you try local dishes, you delve deeper into the culture.
2. Transport 3326 € (277 €/month)
- Flights 1740€
- Taxis 394€
- Train 382€
- Bus 373€
- Ships and boats 195€
- Local transport 140€
- Day trips 95€
- Scooter rental 7€
These subcategories of my 12 month travel budget require brief explaining. Flights, trains, buses and ships refer to journeys where I’ve moved from one destination to another. The other categories mean short trips where I haven’t switched my place of stay.
Traveling on buses and trains is usually cheaper than flying, but time constraints, comfort and scarcity of options have increased my flying.
The cost of transport has varied a lot each month. In August 2016, I spent less than 100 euros on moving around. I spent that month in India, where I only traveled overland on incredibly cheap buses and trains. On the other end, I spent 580 euros on flights alone in April 2017 when I flew within (and between) Indonesia and Australia.
3. Accommodation 3116€ (260€/month)
- Hotels 1970€
- Hostels 1123€
- airbnb 23€
Hotels might sound fancy, but in this case, they include all guesthouses and lodges where I’ve booked my own room. Likewise, hostels mean all places where I’ve shared a dorm.
When I was in India and Nepal, I mainly had my own room. After all, a room would usually cost something between 5-10 euros. Since then, however, I’ve started to enjoy the social elements of hostel life, and I’ve significantly reduced my hotel stays.
While I was in Europe, I mainly stayed for free with CouchSurfing hosts, but I did very little CouchSurfing Asia. Now I’m trying to do more CouchSurfing again, albeit it has been unexpectedly difficult to find hosts in Australia and Oceania. I’ve only spent one night with airbnb.
4. Entertainment 3301 € (275 €/month)
- Activities & services 2337 €
- Entrance fees 604 €
- Books 241 €
- Ice cream, pastries, chocolate etc. 71 €
- Drinks 29 €
- Useless items 19 €
When I started my trip, I spent a lot less on activities and entertainment. Then I thought: what’s the point? After all, I’m traveling to experience new things. Since then, I’ve had plenty of not-too-cheap courses and lessons, like a scuba diving course, surf lessons and Nepali language lessons. The activities also includes day tours like Chernobyl in Ukraine and Kakadu National Park in Northern Territory of Australia.
I’m including books on the list, since if I was back home, I’d mainly borrow books from the library. Now I’m spending lots of money on e-books, which I mainly buy legally. I don’t eat lots of candies or drink in bars. I’ve spent more money on ice cream than alcohol, and about half of the 30 euros I’ve spent on extra drinks have gone to tea and juices.
5. Travel fees 2252 € (126 €/month)
- Tours 850 €
- Visas 740 €
- Travel insurance 662 €
So far, I’ve only done one longer tour. Spending one week in Iran on a guided tour wasn’t too cheap, but it was also one of the highlights of my first year.
The huge sum I’ve spent on visas is the biggest surprise I found on this list. Finnish passport is one of the world’s most strongest passports for visa-free travel, so I’ve really had it easy. I can only imagine how hard it would be to travel with a less powerful passport!
As you can see, travel insurances can also get very expensive when you travel for more than a few months.
6. Items and accessories 1297 € (108 €/month)
- Clothes 586 €
- Technology 331 €
- Guide books 181 €
- Other accessories 199 €
The item category has plenty of variation from traveler to traveler. This is not my first long trip, so I already had a backpack and lots of other things ready. Still, I ended up buying many accessories like a silk sleeping bag (excellent choice), a mosquito net (good choice) and an ultralight hammock (never used) before my trip.
For a full list of the things I packed on my RTW trip, see: “What Did I Pack for a Round the World Trip? – The Complete List of 106 Items”
The money I’ve spent on clothes has slowly piled up, although I have bought a few more expensive shoes and other gear. All the guide books are Lonely Planet e-books for my Kindle.
7. Health 491 € (41 €/month)
- Vaccinations and malaria medicine 356 €
- Personal hygiene etc. 79 €
- Medicine and other health stuff 56 €
When it comes to money, trip preparations are an interesting phase. You keep spending and spending, although you’re not moving anywhere. Vaccinations and two weeks worth of malaria medicine cost a lot. Since then, all other health stuff have been much cheaper – especially after arriving in Asia. Darn, those pharmacies can be super cheap!
8. Services and everything else 671 € (56 €/month)
- ATM fees 303 €
- Carbon offset 184 €
- Laundry 102 €
- Haircuts 23 €
- CouchSurfing verification 18 €
- Postcards 16 €
- Tailor 10 €
- Misc. 15 €
Besides all the obvious expenses, you always end up paying for this and that. I’ve had a tailor fix my clothes twice, and I send occasional postcards for my grandparents and a few other people. ATM fees for taking money abroad can be quite expensive in the long run.
I also like to pay offsets the CO2 emissions of my flying. I’ve found calculating the exact emissions for my short one way flights quite challenging, so I keep things simple and pay 10 percent of my ticket prices for different organizations that offset flights. The organizations I donate for are Atmosfair and Finnish environment organization Maan ystävät.
My Total Travel Budget for 12 Months of Solo Travel
Summing all that together, here’s how much the first year of my trip around the world has cost me:
- Food: 3726 € (20.2 %)
- Transport: 3326 € (18.1 %)
- Accommodation: 3316 € (18.0 %)
- Entertainment: 3301 € (18.0 %)
- Travel fees: 2252 € (12.3 %)
- Accessories: 1297 € (7.1 %)
- Health: 491 € (2.7 %)
- Services and everything else: 671 € (3.7%)
Total: 18,380 euros (20,582 dollars)
There you have it: my travel budget for 12 months of traveling the world is 18,380 euros. That’s a solo budget of 1532 euros per month. In reality, though, the sum is still a bit higher: I’ve used the conversion rates offered by my accounting app, but banks usually give worse rates on foreign currencies.
These are not all my expenses from last year. I didn’t include the costs of my smartphone (195 €) and laptop (449 €) in the calculations, since they are things I would have bought anyway, travel or no travel. I’ve also excluded other costs that are not related to my trip. These include Christmas gifts for my family, the domain of my blog and a few other things.
I’ve also left out all other donations except carbon offsets from my calculations. Still, I do encourage all travelers to give some of their money to charities. If you can afford to travel, you can also afford to support those in need, right?
How Much Does It Cost To Travel the World for One Year?
Is my travel budget for 12 months much or little? I’d say that my solo travel budget is not that massive – after, all, many people spend the same amount on living each year without going anywhere. Still, I’m not strictly a budget traveller. I pay for courses, eat in restaurants and enjoy life. I’d never book a flight on business class, but there’s still plenty of things where I could save more money.
The cost of travelling the world for one year depends a lot on the destinations and way of travel. If you’re planning a long journey and want to know how much it costs to travel the world for one year, I’d say that 15,000 euros a year is still a realistic cost for 12 months of travelling the world. Of course, there are people who spend less than a thousand euros each month – I even know people who’ve lived for less than 500!
In any case, it’s better to be a bit pessimistic with your travel budget estimations, so the sudden lack of funds won’t mess your plans.
How Can I Afford to Travel?
When I was planning my trip, I’d always look for the budget posts on other travel blogs. Seeing the sum would always lead me to another question: where does the money come from?
Most of my money has come from work. I worked as a journalist for two years, saving as much money as I could. I lived in the smallest rooms and apartments and kept my expenses at minimum. I also sold most of belongings and had some other income, but roughly 85 % of my travel budget has come from my salary. I mainly travel with my savings, and I’ve done little work during my trip.
Further reading: “How to Save Money to Travel Around the World?”
Still, spending 18 thousand euros for twelve months of travel is a lot. Especially if you consider that I’ve planned to travel the world for two years. How can I afford to travel like this for another year?
Well, the answer is simple: I can’t.
Budgeting the Rest of My Journey
For the first year of my trip around the world, I thought very little about money. This was a very conscious decision. I still wasn’t spending extravagantly, but I didn’t have a strict budget, either.
Calling this post “My Travel Budget for 12 Months of Solo Travel” is a bit misleading, as I never had a preset budget that I tried to follow. I did have a rough idea that I’d try to live on a travel budget of 800 euros a month. In reality, I’ve usually spent 1.5 times as much. Being an optimist can get you through many situations, but it’s doesn’t work against finances.
Still, I have enough money to keep me going until the end of the calendar year. What happens after that? I don’t know. A few weeks ago, I started to think about heading home for Christmas. Now I’m also considering if I could do volunteering in Africa next year to keep my trip going.
How long will I keep on traveling? I really don’t know, yet I’m not worried about it. We’ll see what happens!