Every once in a while a friend will get up the nerve to ask “How much did your trip actually cost?“. It’s a totally fair question and we were certainly wondering the same thing before we started! “Could we afford it?” “How much should we expect to spend in each country? And on what?” “Could we save somewhere along the way?” Reading other travel blogs that broke down their monetary details, rare birds indeed, was incredibly helpful. Hopefully our Money posts are equally useful. A few comments from soon-to-be fellow travelers telling us our blog helped them budget their own trip makes us hopeful we’re on the right track!
THE SHORT VERSION:
Here’s the high-level overview of the Big Trip’s costs. From gearing up to travel shots to paying for our furnace that broke six weeks into our trip….it’s all here! This covers 17 months total (1 pre-trip, 15 trip, 1 re-entry).
|Gearing-Up / pre-trip expenses||$ 4,961.78|
|The Trip||$ 64,703.98|
|Non-trip expenses incurred while traveling||$ 5,000.00|
|Grand Total||$ 80,529.42|
Let’s break that down more into the nitty-gritty details….
GETTING READY TO GO
Now, obviously, we didn’t just up and leave. We had to do a lot of prep, including purchasing backpacks, cameras and a goodly amount of other gear before we left. Here are the big expenses we incurred preparing for the trip.
Transportation – Essentially just the cost of our flight from Seattle to Atlanta to say goodbye to family. Thanks to Linda for giving us airline passes so it was super duper cheap!
Housing/Food/Etc – If you’re planning a trip, you need to account for your living expenses until they are dropped or covered by someone else. We had house payments and what have you, but it didn’t seem necessary to include those costs in our tally.
Entertainment – We loaded up on some two-person games before we left and this might have been one of our smartest moves. If you’re curious, we brought Rivals for Catan (our favorite – we now have both expansions as well), Carcassonne (great if you want to bring pieces to allow more folks to play), San Juan (quick and light), one called Cold War (which we dumped after playing twice) and Race for the Galaxy. Putting the games into ziploc bags with only the parts we actually needed (no Carcassonne scoreboard when we could keep track on paper) and all our games took up a surprisingly small amount of space. We also brought a deck of regular playing cards, but only pulled them out once – in the mountains of Mongolia!
Gear – The fun stuff! This is clothes, shoes, backpacks, cameras and most everything else we brought with us. The gear amount was probably a bit higher than this – I looked back at our records through a couple of months before we left, but we probably bought a few things that are not captured here.
Medical – This includes our travel insurance of $2,111 for 18 months of coverage. We purchased 12 months of insurance before we left and then added another six months of coverage during the trip. It also includes the cost of our vaccines, trip to the travel doctor (about $600) and all the “just in case” medicines that the travel doc sent with us (about $300). The rest includes all the random stuff we stocked up on …hello Ibuprofen.
Other/Misc – Passport photos, International driver’s licenses (which we never used/needed), background checks for Trusted Housesitters, etc. Not exactly gear, so they get their own category.
COST OF THE TRIP ITSELF
Honestly, I think we did great! We started the trip with a budget in mind of $200/day for the two of us, including all airfare, but we came in a lot lower (only $148.13/day) AND we extended our trip five months longer than originally planned. Well played, No Map Required. Well played.
|International Travel*||$ 9,798.24|
|Nights on Trip|| 436
Transportation – This covers all in-country “domestic” travel once in a new country.
International Travel – i.e. whatever transport we took over a border — sometimes very expensive flights and other times cheap bus rides. We broke these out due to some very expensive inter-continental flights which would have really skewed the in-country Transportation costs.
Entertainment – This includes our African safari (about $8K), Mongolian horse trek (about $7K), snorkel safari in Bali (about $2K), Bolivian salt flats tour (about $500) and all the other side trips where we paid someone to show us around, as well as classes we took or attractions we paid to see. The African safari and Mongolian horse trek certainly took up the majority of our entertainment dollars and, oh, they were SO worth it!
NON-TRIP COSTS WHILE WE WERE AWAY
No fancy spreadsheet for this one. Just noting that we definitely had expenses related to our at-home lives while we were on the road. We rented out our house in Seattle while we were gone and, unfortunately, our furnace went out the month we left! Luckily we had a fund set up for just such a thing – can’t mess with Murphy’s Law, after all. Aside from that, we covered our property manager, professional organization fees, on-going fees for house maintenance, the occasional holiday gift to send to our nieces and nephews…you get the idea of what kind of stuff we’re talking about. All told our home-related expenses while not-at-home ran about $5,000-5,500.
Nothing says “welcome home” like taking back your mortgage! Yep, there were quite a few re-entry expenses which hit us in the first month (restarting car insurance, paying utilities, repairs on the house after renters vacated, etc) which are listed here. Happily they declined significantly from there. If you’re planning your own trip, we HIGHLY recommend keeping a “re-entry” fund to cover you until you have money coming in again.
|Holiday Gifts||$ 26.01|
|International Travel||$ 256.20|
Transportation – Getting our car back and doing some maintenance to get it ready to drive once again. Thank you to our multiple friends who took turns owning our car while we were gone and had it all ready for us the day we returned.
Housing – Includes some maintenance and new paint, insurance, mortgage, etc.
Entertainment – Time to see friends; reunion time!
Gear – “Gear” now means “cottony soft clothes!” One of the best things when we got home was getting new clothes NOT made of quick-dry fabrics or wool. Also includes haircuts, shoes and phones.
And that’s it! Yes, it’s a big number, but outside of college it’s the best money we’ve ever spent. Before the trip I considered going back to school for another degree. Aaron thought about taking on an unpaid internship. We thought about buying another house as an investment or remodeling the kitchen. So many options considered before choosing a trip around the world. Sure, not everyone would do the same thing and that’s just fine. For us, this was exactly what we wanted and needed.
Feel free to check out each country’s Money post for individual breakdowns and we’re happy to answer questions if you’d like to comment here or shoot us an email.
We have one final Money post in the works to discuss how we saved for the trip and made it a reality. Little preview: it can be done!!!