Above are the 28 countries we visited on our trip. If you are confused as to why only 27 countries are mentioned on the chart, that is because I am treating the entire island of Ireland as one country, when actually it is two: the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the latter of which is part of the United Kingdom.
Please note that Germany will only be included on some of the graphs that follow. This is because we only spent one night in the country, the night before we flew from Frankfurt to Los Angeles. Because of this, many of our average cost calculations are skewed for Germany, and the country will only included in graphs where this is not the case.
This will probably be the most informative graph in all our posts, as it provides a direct comparison of how expensive each country we visited was. However, the comparisons aren’t one-to-one, as we used certain techniques to keep costs down in some countries (namely the US, Italy, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic) that we didn’t use in others. Because of this, the above chart, while ranking how much we spent per day in each country, is not the best for comparing the overall costs of these countries. That ranking would look something like this:
- Beyond expensive: Switzerland, UAE
- Next-most expensive of the expensive: Austria, the Netherlands, major cities in blue states in the US, Sydney Australia
- Middle of the expensive: non-Sydney Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, blue states in the US, Canada
- Least expensive of the expensive: France, Italy, Hong Kong, red states in the US
- Most expensive of the inexpensive: Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Malaysia
- Middle of the inexpensive: Poland, Slovakia, Thailand, Cambodia
- Least expensive of the inexpensive: Ukraine, Vietnam, India, Nepal
We should mention that these rankings are for travel expenses (food, lodging, transit), not entertainment. Certain countries have more to do than others, which means that even though a country is ranked cheaper than others you can easily end up spending more there. For our trip we did this in New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, India, and Ukraine, hence the cost-per-day for these countries is more than some countries that they are less expensive than.
Another aspect of entertainment expenses involves the cheaper countries, which sometimes price entertainment specifically for tourists, thus making them more expensive than everything else in the country. The greatest culprit we’ve experienced for this was Costa Rica, although Argentina was pretty bad too. On this trip, we found tourist-priced attractions at several inexpensive destinations, most notably Thailand, Cambodia, India, and Ukraine.
Lastly, I should also mention that Inna’s dive expenses are not included in the above chart. We will include those separately, as we view them as an expense the average traveler would not have (or at least not nearly as much). My snorkel expenses are included, though.
Here is another chart of the number of days we spent in each country; this one, however, is arranged by the country’s per day expense. As you can see, with the exception of New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, and the US/Canada, we spent very little time in the expensive countries we visited on our trip. At the same time, with the exception of Poland and maybe Hungary and Slovakia, we maximized our time in the inexpensive countries.
Most people who travel like Inna and I did do not spend nearly as much time in the Ireland or the US. People might visit Dublin but they tend to not visit the rest of Ireland unless they are on an Ireland-specific trip. Likewise, travelers like us usually save the US for a US-specific trip, opting to spend the Americas portion of their year-of-travel in cheaper countries like Peru and Colombia.
Conversely, despite their expense, many people who travel like Inna and I did do visit Australia and New Zealand. This is because these countries are so far from the rest of the world that it is difficult to get to them. Not only that, but both countries offer so much that you really need a long time there when you visit (to give an idea, we spent almost three weeks in each country and covered about half of New Zealand and barely even scratched the surface of Australia). Because Australia and New Zealand are so remote and require so much time, a year of travel is an ideal opportunity to visit them, an opportunity many travelers take advantage of.
For us, there were very specific reasons we spent so much time in each of these four countries, despite their expense. In doing so, we did have to cut other destinations we were interested in, the most significant one being Germany, Scandinavia, Greece, Morocco, South Korea, and Japan. But those are the trade-offs you make when planning a trip like this.
Looking on the bright side, you know what the above means? There’s still plenty of the world for us to see, enough for lots more traveling!
There are several things to note in this chart. One, we’ve finally come to three of the tactics we mentioned in our previous post, the tactics we used to keep costs down in the US, Italy, and the Czech Republic.
In the US, we did two things to keep our lodging costs down: one, we camped, using gear we already owned, and two, we stayed with friends and family whenever we could. By doing these things, we brought our average USA/Canada lodging cost down from $71 to $35. I know Inna and I have said it before, but we’d like to take another opportunity here to say camping is awesome and, even more than that, THANK YOU FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!!!!
Like the US, in Italy we also stayed with family, bringing our average lodging expensive down from $55 (shown in the graph above) to a super-low $21 per night. Once again: THANK YOU FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!!!!
We also camped in New Zealand, hoping to save money like we did in the US, but we were not successful. The reasons for this: we had to buy gear and we also didn’t camp as much as we thought we would, the latter because camping isn’t as enjoyable in New Zealand as it is in the US. Looking at the numbers, camping in New Zealand brought our average lodging cost down a pretty insignificant amount, from $49 to $47 per night.
In Eastern and Central Europe we saved money by staying in one location for extended periods of time. Specifically, Airbnb typically offers discounts if you stay a week or more, and even larger discounts if you stay four weeks or more. We took advantage of this in Kiev, Budapest, and Bled (and also Galway and Sydney, but nowhere else outside of Eastern and Central Europe), staying seven nights at each place and receiving anywhere from 10-20% off. But where we really took advantage of this was Prague. We spent four weeks here and received a whopping 50% off, bring our lodging expenses for the Czech Republic down from $47 to $25 per night.
Another item to note in the above chart is India, where despite only spending $42 per night, we actually could have spent less. The reasons for this were Mumbai, where for safety reasons we chose to stay in the center downtown’s tourist area, at a cost of $93 per night, and also Pushkar, which we visited during Holi. Holi is India’s equivalent to Carnival or Octoberfest, and Pushkar is one of the top destinations to experience it in. Because of this, hotel rates skyrocket for this event; ours increased from $20-something to $91 per night.
If we remove these lodgings from our India calculations, our average lodging cost decreases from $42 to $24 per night.
Now, lets look at food:
Accompanying the above chart is this one:
Here we see the final tactic we used to lower expenses: minimizing dining out. With the exception of France and Austria, Inna and I made efforts to cook approximately half our meals throughout the western world. As you can see, we came fairly close to this, with our actual percentage being higher in the more expensive countries.
In Switzerland however, we took this to the extreme. That country was so expensive, we tried to cook every meal we had there; we ended up cooking all but two. Of those two, one was McDonalds, where two burgers, one side of fries, and one drink put us back $22, and the other consisted of two pretzel sandwiches, a meal that wasn’t large enough to fill us but still cost $14.
Of course, we did spend money on chocolate in Switzerland, but we tried not to spend too much.
Another expense, similar to food but not as expensive (although it can be for some), is alcohol.
Of course Ireland wins this one, the best thing to do in that country is go to a pub and drink (Guinness for me, Jameson ginger ale and lime for Inna). Another reason we spent more on alcohol in Ireland (and also on our one day in Germany) is because for much of the trip Inna chose non-alcoholic drinks, but in Ireland she drank.
Other items to note on this chart: for me personally, the US is a major alcohol destination, as I firmly believe we have the best micro-brew scene in the world (driving across the country only confirmed this; the beer here is awesome!). However, we saved a significant amount on alcohol by buying a 24 pack of Sam Adams before we left; I had these when we camped, so we only bought alcohol in cities.
Our alcohol tab in Indonesia was surprisingly high, and this is mainly because a lot (but not all) of the drinks in Bali are overpriced. We also bought a round of overpriced but totally worth it drinks to celebrate our friends’ honeymoon; they just happened to be honeymooning on the same island we were on, and that was a cause for celebration!
It is difficult to tell from the above chart where we skimped on alcohol or where alcohol was so cheap that it simply looks like skimping. Basically, in Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, and Southeast Asia, alcohol was cheap. In Thailand we didn’t have much alcohol because their iced tea was better. In India and Nepal we didn’t have much alcohol because the quality was terrible. In Slovenia and the Czech Republic we didn’t have much alcohol because I had stomach issues for much of our stay. Everywhere else, we either have higher alcohol costs or we skimped.
Finally, here is our last chart in this post, on travel within regions, given by country:
Unlike in Part 3 of this series, this chart shows our average transit cost per day, not per trip. As a result, countries where most of the sights are in cities (Italy, India, Czech Republic, Hungary) have a lower average cost, as we would sometimes go days without paying for transit at all.
This chart confirms what we discussed regarding Southeast Asian transit in Part 3, that inter-regional travel costs were higher because of island travel in Indonesia and Malaysia. As the above chart shows, traveling within Indonesia and Malaysia was comparable in price to France and Switzerland, which may seem crazy until you consider we are comparing Southeast Asian plane, boat, and private driver fares to Western European metros and buses.
Another thing to note from this chart is that France is higher than it should be because we gave ourselves no down time here. In eight days we visited seven destinations (Paris, Versailles, Rennes, Mont St Michel, Bayeux, Omaha Beach, and back to Paris), meaning we traveled every single day we were here. And when you average costs by day, not taking a day off inflates the calculation a lot.
Outside of Indonesia, Malaysia, and France, I don’t think there are too many surprises in our transit chart. One thing that should be noted however, is that New Zealand’s roadtrip expenses were much more than the US/Canada roadtrip for the simple reason that we had to rent a car for the former but not the latter. Renting a car for our US roadtrip would have easily vaulted our US/Canada transit expense to second most expensive on this chart.
And with that, we come to the end of our by-country expense breakdown. This more than anything should help people interested in planning a trip like this. And even if you’re not, we hope you found it interesting at least! Up next, we’ll go over our entertainment and miscellaneous expenses, and also discuss how travelers interested in following in our footsteps can do so but also spend less.