After 344 days of travel (229 of which we have blogged about; yes we are behind), our year of travel is complete. Here’s what we did:
In total, Inna and I visited twenty-eight countries across four continents, with every single place interesting and exciting in its own way. And now that we’re done, we get to move onto the next stage in our life, as well as continue blogging trough India/Nepal and Central/Eastern Europe, and we’ll write a couple (probably a lot) of posts highlighting the trip as a whole. For this post however, we’ll continue our series on how we did this.
In Part I of this series, we discussed our travel strategies, namely how we can afford to travel and also how we travel affordably. In Part II, we broke down our western world (ie expensive destinations) expenses. In this post and the next one (there’s too much info to fit it all into one), we’ll break down our entire budget, and then, for our final post, we’ll provide some lessons learned, and also explain ways to do what we did for even less money than we spent.
To begin, we’ll start at the top. Our budget for our year of travel was $50000. Several things led us to this number: one, researching other couples who traveled for a year, we found that the year generally costs between $40000 and $50000; two, we had this much available to spend; and three, when we initally budgeted our year of travel, it came to around this amount. To be fair, on point number three we really could have budgeted our trip to any amount; its just a matter of where we go and how much we spend there. But based on what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it, $50000 seemed right.
As mentioned before, we traveled for 344 days, just short of one full year. We stopped early for the simple reason that we ran out of budget. Our total money spent: $49,912. Now, lets break that down. First, by region.
We visited seven regions of the world on our trip: the US/Canada, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Oceania. For purposes of this post, we will include Hong Kong (technically in East Asia) with Oceania.
Lastly, before we begin, please note that all expenses mentioned in this post are for two people (Inna and myself) unless otherwise noted.
Alright, lets begin! First up: a chart of the days we spent in each region we visited. This should provide added information for the graphs that follow.
As you can see, we spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia and Eastern/Central Europe; this quite simply is because they were cheap! India/Nepal was also cheap, but we were limited by our visas here (also, we could only take so much of this place, something that actually wasn’t true anywhere else we visited, except maybe the United Arab Emirates). Finally, we only spent one night in the UAE as we did a long layover on our way from India to Ukraine. Other than that layover, we did not visit the Middle East at all on this trip.
For our first expense breakdown, lets look at the cost per day for each region we visited.
Oceania! So expensive. We knew Oceania would be a lot but we didn’t think it would be that much. We know why this happened though, the expense that put Oceania over the top: our New Zealand roadtrip. As we mentioned in Part I of this series, we don’t rent cars when we travel, but we did here and it cost us (no regrets though, because driving through New Zealand was amazing!).
The above graph also shows why we only spent a long layover in Dubai, and not more time there. That place was expensive!
The prices of each region relative to each other are pretty accurate in this chart, with two exceptions: USA/Canada and Eastern/Central Europe. We used several strategies to lower our costs in these regions of the world, strategies that resulted in them appearing less expensive than they actually were. We will discuss these strategies in our next post.
Next, lets break down some of the specific expenses we had per region.
This graph shows a major reason why Dubai was so expensive: we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. We would not have stayed here had we visited for more than a night (although, the city didn’t really have many options less expensive than this place).
As for the rest of the chart, please note once again that USA/Canada and Eastern/Central Europe appear cheaper relative to other regions due to strategies that we will discuss later.
Finally, check out how inexpensive Southeast Asia and India/Nepal were. Not only were those regions that cheap, but we stayed at hotels instead of Airbnbs and hostels here (a couple places we stayed at were even borderline resorts). In fact, other than one night in the US, one night in France, and our Holiday Inn Express stay in Dubai, we didn’t stay at hotels anywhere other than in these regions.
Like lodging, food was significantly cheaper in Southeast Asia, India/Nepal, and Eastern/Central Europe. And this is even more amazing when we look at the next chart:
In Southeast Asia and India/Nepal, we dined out for every meal. We didn’t cook a single meal ourselves, one because we stayed at hotels that didn’t have kitchens, two because we didn’t trust purchasing raw food in these regions, and three, the restaurants were so cheap, and delicious!
Note that our Cook Vs Dine Out graph only covers lunch and dinner. With a few exceptions (New York bagels, Irish breakfasts, most of our stay in India) we dined in for every breakfast we had.
Traveling from one region to another were some of the largest expenses in our year of travel. This is especially true because we made two more of these trips than we needed to. To explain: we traveled from Los Angeles east to New Zealand, then turned west and went back to Los Angeles. We didn’t go the shorter route, traveling around the world in the east or west direction, because it didn’t work with the seasons. To put it simply, we traveled to avoid winter and monsoon season.
Despite this, I think we did pretty well on our trip. We did especially well from East Asia to Oceania and Southeast Asia to India, those flights (Hong Kong to Sydney and Phuket to Kochi, both on AirAsia) were dirt cheap. We were also very happy with the deals we found from Western Europe to East Asia (Amsterdam to Hong Kong on Air China), Nepal to Eastern Europe (Kathmandu to Odessa with a long layover in Dubai, all on FlyDubai), and Central Europe to North America (Frankfurt to Los Angeles on WOWair). The only flights we feel we overpaid for were North America to Western Europe (Toronto to Paris on Air Canada) and Oceania to Southeast Asia (Cairns to Bali on Jetstar), the former because we bought our tickets too early and the latter because we just couldn’t find any cheap flights out of Cairns.
All told, we spent about $1000 extra to avoid winter and monsoon season. Considering we visited New England, non-Mediterranean Europe, and southern New Zealand (cold winters!), as well as India and Southeast Asia (monsoons!) we definitely think this expense was worth it.
This graph was really difficult to make and should probably be taken less definitively than the others in this post. What I tried to do was average the cost of moving around within each region, for example from city to city or destination to destination. But how do you average Paris-to-Versailles with Bologna-to-Dublin? How to you average a car rental for a day, or driving an entire roadtrip? How do you average a metro pass used for a week with another one used just once? Anyways, I did my best (don’t ask for the formula), and the result is given above.
As you can see, traveling within Oceania was very expensive. This has a lot to do with our roadtrip but it wasn’t only that. Another reason traveling in this area was so expensive was because the budget airlines are more expensive here (they are roughly on par with budget airlines in the US). Also, people (ourselves included before we started planning this trip) don’t realize just how spread out Oceania. For example, Australia and New Zealand may seem close, and compared to the rest of the world they are, but the shortest flight between these countries is three hours! That’s the same as London to Kiev, almost the entire width of Europe! It’s also the same as Melbourne to Cairns, both of which are within Australia, and that route isn’t even along Australia’s longest dimension (that would be Sydney to Broome, a distance roughly equal to Los Angeles to Pittsburgh).
Other than Oceania, Southeast Asia was surprisingly pricy on this metric, at least compared to how inexpensive it is everywhere else. The reason for this was Malaysia and Indonesia, in which city-to-city transit was always by plane or boat, as buses/trains don’t work when you are going from island to island.
Another reason transit in Southeast Asia was so expensive was because other than Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, there was almost no public transportation. Traveling anywhere meant taxis, tuk tuks, or private drivers, something that was very cheap considering what you got, but still expensive compared to a metro or bus. We should note that a lot of travelers avoid taxi/tuk tuk/private driver expenses by renting motorbikes, but neither Inna nor I know how to ride one and when I tried I drove straight into a wall. We decided to go with taxis and private drivers after that.
India also required taxis, tuk tuks, or private drivers to see the sights, but they were cheaper than in Southeast Asia. And don’t even think about renting a motorbike in India; with the craziness that is India driving, you’re pretty much guaranteed to crash and die.
Finally, our transit expenses in the UAE consist only of metro and monorail transit within Dubai. If we would have traveled to another UAE city (Abu Dhabi, for example), our transit expense would have skyrocketed (yet another reason we only spent one day here).
Alright, hopefully you’re enjoying this post, but it’s starting to get long and here seems like a good spot for a break. As I’m sure you’ve see so far, despite the island and private driver situation in Southeast Asia, that region along with India/Nepal and Eastern/Central Europe were instrumental in making our trip affordable. Also instrumental was camping in the US and spending only one day in the UAE. Oceania was the opposite of instrumental, while Western Europe and the non-camping portions of the US and Canada (specifically the mid-Atlantic and New England) were mostly between these two extremes, but probably closer to Oceania than Southeast Asia, India/Nepal, or Eastern/Central Europe.