Tag Archives: budget travel

So how much does it REALLY cost to travel around the world?

Planning a big trip? Probably you’ve noticed that there’s A LOT of planning to do. Choosing your destinations, scheduling the travel time table, getting vaccinations, buying some gear, saving money for travel… Wait, how much money do you actually need?

When me and my significant other were planning our 10-months trip around the world, that was one of the big unknowns – how much are we going to spend? The ultimate answer depends, as you may guess, on your travel style, the activities you undertake and – not to forget – your destinations. Because, and it will probably not be a shock to you, while some countries are cheap, others are expensive.

Singapore can be a budget destination, too ;-)

Singapore can be a budget destination, too 😉

Being a total nerd and a statistics geek, I’ve meticulously kept a note of our spending. It wasn’t too difficult in this day and age – all I had to do was use the bank card to draw cash everywhere we went. Back home I could look up the numbers by logging in to my bank account and now I can report them here. Beware that these are just a rough reference and I can not be held accountable for any budget mishaps you may have using my notes as a guideline.

Rather than specifying the costs per country, I’ve split it into regions – this way the duration of travel per destination (region) is longer and more statistically valid, and rounded the numbers. All the numbers are for a couple travelling together – which means that if you’re on your own you may end up spending more or less, depending on whether you will pay for a separate room (which we did) or find the cheapest bunk bed (which we didn’t). The numbers include all the visa costs, internal and connecting flights, food, lodging, transport, and everything else you may think of. All the costs are given in Euro’s and although we’ve travelled some 5 years ago the numbers are probably largely valid as inflation was mild in these years due to the financial crisis.

  1. Pre-travel
    Costs – 9000 Euro
    Including Round The World tickets (about three-quarters of the sum) gear, vaccinations, insurance etc.
  2. Europe and the Middle East
    Countries – England, Ukraine, Israel, Jordan
    Duration – 3 weeks
    Costs – 60 Euro per day
    Notes – staying with family in Israel saves quite a bit
  3. Indian subcontinent
    Countries – India and Nepal
    Duration – 3 months
    Costs – 60 Euro per day
    Notes – some splashing in Nepal on an upbeat lodge in Chitwan and gift shopping in Kathmandu. Also includes more than 300 Euro in visa costs, and a flight from Kathmandu to Delhi to avoid a couple of days of bus/train travel.
  4. South-East Asia
    Countries – Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore
    Duration – 3 months
    Costs – 70 Euro per day
    Notes – includes two weeks of non-stop diving on Kho Phi Phi and flights from Hanoi to Luang Prabang and from Phuket to Singapore.
  5. Oceania
    Countries – New Zealand, French Polynesia, Easter Island (Rapa Nui)
    Duration – 3 months
    Costs – 90 Euro per day
    Notes – includes two months of car rental in New Zeland and three weeks on a remote atoll spending nothing (although the flight there cost 600 Euro).
  6. Peru (only stop in South America)
    Duration –  2 weeks
    Costs – 120 Euro per day
    Notes – includes a flight from Santiago to Lima, a lot of expensive activities like a flight over the Nazca Lines, and a lot of shopping for gifts and souvenirs as this was our final destination.
  7. Total budget
    Duration – 10 months
    Costs – 100 Euro per day
    Notes – includes EVERYTHING

As I reviewed the numbers I was quite surprised. How did we end up spending more per day in SE Asia than we’ve spent in Europe? And Peru was supposed to be a cheap country, wasn’t it? But there is a simple explanation – always look at the big picture. For example, India has cost us only about 30 Euro per day to stay in. But the visas were a 100 Euro per person, adding about 20% to the overall price tag of a month in India. Couchsurfing in Singapore made it one of the cheapest countries to stay in. We’ve had 3-course meals in Peru for 1 Euro, but bagging several (pricey) top attractions in a couple of weeks eats a big chunk of your budget, and we were quite travel-weary so weren’t minding spending a few extra coins to support the local economy by staying in better lodgings and buying an alpaca skin rug. All in all we’ve had a smashing 10 months trip for just 100 Euro per day for the two of us.

Can you do it cheaper? Sure! Buy a less extensive RTW ticket, for starters. Ours included some weird detours and a lot of stops, so we had a lot of mileage and airport taxes to pay. The cheapest round-the-world tickets cost only 1500 Euro! If you do buy an RTW ticket, don’t plan any land segments. We initially intended to travel from Thailand to Singapore and from Santiago to Lima over land and ended up buying plane tickets because we’ve seen enough dusty roads. Staying longer in a country (or even a region) helps bring down the costs, as the visa fees and cross-border travel costs are already included. But most importantly – think Zen! Its not the destination that matters, its what you will do there that will make the difference.

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Filed under Europe, Round-the-world trip, Travel

At the center of Europe

A while ago, I’ve written a post in my Europe by Region series about the areas of the former Austria-Hungarian Empire. And to be honest – I was never entirely happy with that post. Not with the definition of the region, nor with the content. So I’ve decided to revise the post, and re-brand these parts as Central Europe.

Where is Central Europe actually? In another post, I’ve defined Central Europe in a broad sense, as “members of the EU that have been behind the Iron Curtain“. This definition of Central Europe would make it too big of a “travel region”, spreading from the Baltic to the Adriatic and including a dozen of countries. Making a more limited definition of Central Europe would be easier by just saying what Central Europe is not. Since I’ve already defined the regions of the Russian Empire, the Balkans, the Alps and will write on the Baltic States, Central Europe is all that’s left in between – Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungaria and perhaps the non-Alpine parts of Austria and Germany, for good measure.

  • Why go there?
    This is the picture card Europe you’ve dreamed of visiting. Castles, cobbled streets, villages hidden in dark forests and beer- lots of beer. And Central Europe is, well, central, which means you can easily make your escape to another region or visit it en route elsewhere.
  • What’s it best for?
    Central Europe is popular for city trips (think Prague, Kraków and Berlin), but I think it is also the best budget option in Europe.
  • When is the best time to go?
    With a pleasant spring, a warm summer and a colourful autumn, any season is good to go. Wintertime is probably the best though – winters in Central Europe are snowy but not as cold as in the East and even hotspots like Prague and Vienna are virtually tourist-free. December with its Christmas markets is extra special.
  • How to get around?
    In a region where rail infrastructure is the densest in the world getting around by train is obviously easiest. The connections are excellent, distances are mild and the views are spectacular.
  • Why is it best to avoid?
    As I said, this is the mild, classic Europe. If you’re looking for more exotic parts, I’d suggest the Caucasus.
  • Where to go if you just have one week?
    Give Slovakia a try. It got a bit of a bad rep thanks to a horror film set in Slovakia, but don’t let a silly Hollywood movie discourage you! Bratislava, the capital, is a charm, the Tatra Mountains are great for easy hiking and skiing and the Slovakian countryside is as cheap as can be.

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Filed under Europe, Europe by region