One year of world travel… 365 days away from home. That must cost a fortune… something only the rich can afford, right?
Definitely not! But how much money did I spend on my one year of travel? Let’s find out!
Where Did I Travel?
While a year is a very long time, it’s definitely not enough time to visit every country in the world. Rather, I visited 20 countries during my one year of travel.
Technically, my year of travel was spread across a year and a half. I returned home in-between trips for things like weddings, engagements, and the birth of my niece. My year of travel consisted of seven individual trips as follows.
- Italy and India for 2 months
- Bermuda for 1 month
- Central Europe for 1 month
- Colombia and Peru for 1 month
- Australia and New Zealand for 2.5 months
- Spain for 2 weeks
- Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Japan, and Taiwan for 4 months
That’s a total of 21 countries (if you count Vatican City), 59 notable cities, and over 8 full days traveling on planes.
How Much Did My Flights Cost?
If you know anything about travel, you’ll know that flights are pretty much always going to be your biggest expense. Because I flew back to the US frequently, I logged 51 flights which covered enough distance to fly around the world over four times!
The cost of my flights during my year of travel was $6,027. If you want to get technical, the total price of my flights was actually $7,822, but I saved nearly $2,000 by using my rewards travel points.
Let me just say here that I could have spent a whole lot less on flights if my trip was continuous. In other words, if I didn’t fly home until the end of my trip, I estimate I could have spent no more than half as much on flights.
My cheapest was a $28 Ryanair flight from Palermo to Rome, and my most expensive was $750 from Northwest Arkansas to Da Nang which took me through LAX and Hong Kong. On average, my flights cost me less than $225 per segment.
The Cost of One Year of World Travel
As you can see, flights were quite expensive, but what about everything else? There’s food, lodging, transportation, vaccines, entertainment, etc.
When you add everything up, my one year of travel cost $26,655.
Some of you will think this is an exorbitant amount of money, while others will be shocked it isn’t more.
I like to compare the cost of my one year of travel with my old budget when I was living in the United States. In Baltimore, my rent was $950/month, car insurance was $85/month, etc. When you add everything up, my yearly living expenses in the US was just over $25,000.
Here’s the interesting part: Technically, because I saved all that money on flights by using rewards points, I really only spent $24,860 on my year of travel.
My living expenses at home are ironically close to what I spent traveling the world for a year.
Coincidence? I think not.
In fact, I’d go so far to say as long term world travel can be significantly cheaper than living domestically.
Long Term Travel Can Be Cheaper Than Living at Home
During my year abroad, I participated in a little over a month’s worth of guided tours. These various guided tours cost me over $4,000. Because you pay a big premium to participate in guided tours, my daily expenses were nearly $150 during these tours.
Now if we exclude these expensive guided tours and all the flights, my average daily cost of traveling the world was $47.07.
In a few countries like India and Laos, I spent less than $30/day while in some European countries, my daily expenses were quickly approaching $100/day.
In any case, most people pay double or even triple this on a hotel room alone when they travel.
For me, my daily expenses are just that… they include lodging, food, sightseeing, transportation, and any other miscellaneous expenses along the way.
Budget Travel Is Key
By having a budget-conscious mindset, I was able to see the world on less than I would have spent back home.
How’s that possible?
Well, my biggest piece of advice is… you must not travel as if you’re a tourist, but rather a local. Instead of hiring a taxi cab, take public transportation. Instead of eating at restaurants every meal, shop at the supermarket and cook.
Not only will you save a bunch of money, but I’d argue that you get a much more authentic experience by doing these types of things. In no way does this detract from your travel experience.
I definitely made some expensive decisions during my travels. This includes the guided tours and visiting expensive countries like Australia and Japan.
Keeping in mind that I spent less than $30/day in some countries, you can easily travel the world for less than $15,000/year if you choose your destinations strategically.
My goal with this blog is to make you a smarter traveler. If that’s something you’re interested in, check out some of my best budget travel tips.
Now that you know world travel isn’t just for the rich, what’s your next destination gonna be?
Let me know in the comments below if you’re planning a trip around the world. I love meeting likeminded travelers and would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have. I know I certainly had a ton of questions when I set out to do this, so please don’t hesitate.