Post updated: May 6, 2022
How much does it cost to travel the world for a year? We get asked this question all of the time. And not that long ago, I was asking the same question myself.
As we were preparing for our trip around the world, I scoured the internet searching for answers to this question and it seemed like everyone had a different answer.
The cost to travel the world for a year 100% depends on the way you travel. You can stay in nice hotels, eat out every meal, plan a lot of tours, and easily spend 6-figures on a trip around the world.
On the other hand, you can choose to hitchhike and couchsurf every day, and spend less than $10,000.
We traveled to 19 countries on our 12-month trip around the world. The majority of our trip was spent in more expensive countries, and our trip still cost us way less than you would expect.
We are pretty average spenders when it comes to traveling, and we like to keep our costs relatively low in order to experience as much as possible.
In this post, I am going to share how much you can expect to spend on a trip around the world. I will also share the numbers from our trip, so you can get an idea of the different costs associated with long-term travel.
How Much Does It Cost To Travel The World For A Year? The Total Cost of Our Trip
It cost the two of us $50,269.82 to travel the world for a year.
That boils down to $25,134 per person for the year.
Not too bad if you think that took us to 3 continents, 19 countries, and over 100 cities.
If you break that cost down a little bit further, we ended up spending $2,094.50 per person per month or just about $69 per person per day.
Suddenly, that five-figure number that seemed so large at first glance feels a lot more doable when you realize that it’s only about $70 per day.
There are a lot of different factors that affect how much you spend on your trip. Where you stay.
How often you travel between places. How often you eat out. The number of activities you plan. All of these factors together determine the cost of your trip.
I’ve separated all of our expenses below to help give you an idea of what we spent on accommodation, transportation, food, activities, and everything else.
This will help you get a good idea of the cost to travel the world for a year and what you can expect to spend.
Where did we visit?
Our trip began in Thailand and ended in England. When we set off, we didn’t have a plan except for a one-way ticket to Thailand and a few activities scheduled there.
The rest was left open for us to decide along the way. We ended up spending the first half of the year in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, and then the second half was spent in Europe.
I’ve included the list of countries that we visited below to give you a better breakdown of the places we were able to travel to on our budget.
- Southeast Asia – 4.5 months
- Australia – 1 month
- New Zealand – 1 month
- Europe – 5.5 months
Our total transportation costs were $12,467.46.
Transportation was the largest expense of our trip, which makes sense since we visited so many places. Since we were traveling non-stop, we mainly looked for the most convenient way to get around.
I have traveled before where I’ve looked for the cheapest way to get around (i.e. bus instead of a train), but we wanted to make sure we had time to see more places on this trip.
We rented cars the entire time we were in New Zealand and Australia, along with a few flights within Australia.
We later found out that most people rent campervans in these countries, which we would highly recommend doing since accommodation costs a lot in these countries. We could have saved a decent amount by doing this – next time!
In Southeast Asia, we rented scooters to get around the smaller towns. They were affordable and convenient and super fun!
We took buses, trains, flights, and mini-buses for all of the other long-distance trips.
In Europe, we took all sorts of transportation. We rented cars, took a lot of trains, hit up budget airlines for cheap flights, and even took boats down in Southern Italy.
If you want to save on transportation costs, spend more time in one place. The more time you spend in one place, the less it will cost to get around – lowering your total cost to travel the world. The more you move around, the higher your transportation costs.
- Make sure to get an international driver’s license if you plan to rent a scooter or a car. It is required in most countries.
Our total accommodation costs were $11,721.
For the majority of our trip, we had our own private Airbnb or hotel room. In Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, we had to spend some nights in a shared Airbnb, but with a private room.
We only spent one night in a hostel on our entire trip.
We did one work-exchange program with Workaway for 2-weeks in New Zealand. With a work exchange, you volunteer your time with a host to help out with a project in a foreign country, and in return, you receive free room and board.
This helped us to reduce our accommodation and food costs in New Zealand. Work exchange programs are a great opportunity to live in a foreign country for cheap.
In England and France, we stayed with friends for a total of 3-months. Our friends have a 2-bedroom flat in London, and we rented their spare bedroom for 500 pounds/month for 2.5 months.
This saved us a lot of money on accommodation for the months that we stayed there. In France, we stayed with the same friends for 10-days for free and our other friends for one week for free.
We could have easily spent less money if we had spent more time in Southeast Asia or stayed in places for longer periods of time, but we wanted to experience a lot of different places so we budgeted for higher accommodation costs.
Tips to Save on Accommodation During a Year Around the World:
- Stay with friends. If you know anyone in a foreign country, ask if you can stay with them. This is a great way to save on accommodation and hang out with friends at the same time!
- Stay longer in one place. If you want to save money on accommodation, I would suggest spending more time in one place, particularly on Airbnb. If you stay in an Airbnb for over 4 weeks, you will get discount pricing for a long stay.
- We were able to negotiate monthly prices with Airbnb hosts and save a couple of hundred dollars per month by doing this. For example, we were going to spend one month in Bordeaux, France. We had a budget of $1,300 per month, so we reached out to a bunch of hosts and asked if they would be willing to work with us and try to meet our budget.
- Now, we weren’t reaching out to places that cost $5,000 per month, but usually to places that were listed at $1,500 – $1,600 per month. To our delight, most of them agreed to work with us on the price
Below, you will see our average cost per night in each country. Keep in mind that we stayed in Airbnbs most of the time, and in England, we stayed with friends for cheap. It usually costs a lot more to rent a place in England.
Our total food costs were around $6,013.64.
Food is one of our favorite parts of traveling. If we had an endless budget, we would definitely choose to eat out almost every meal.
Sadly, we don’t have an endless budget, so we cooked about 80% of the time and ate out the other 20% when we were in Europe and Oceania.
In Southeast Asia, we didn’t cook a single meal. We ate out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because it was so cheap! You can get a single meal for $1-$2 depending on the country.
Tips for Saving on Food:
- Cook your food. Most Airbnbs and hostels have some sort of a kitchen – take advantage of it! Choose a few special meals to eat out and save the rest for cooking. It reduces the cost of food by a lot.
Our total activities costs were around $3,027.10.
As far as activities go, we had to pick and choose what was worth it to us, and what was not. We tried to pick our top 3 things in each city that we absolutely had to do.
We always spent money on some sort of activity wherever we went, whether that was paying for a cooking class, going to an elephant sanctuary, visiting Hobbiton, snorkeling, or visiting a museum. Our thought was, we traveled all the way here to do this, so we might as well pay for it.
The majority of our other activities were free or really cheap. This included hiking, swimming in rivers, city sightseeing, scootering to different beaches, and more. We tried to find a lot of affordable activities, so we could travel to more places and have money for our bigger bucket list items – like snorkeling at The Great Barrier Reef.
If you have a few big bucket list items you want to check off, I would recommend choosing 2-3 of them and budgeting for them. You can choose to stay in cheaper accommodation like hostels or travel slower in order to make up for the cost of more expensive activities.
- Plan ahead for the bigger, more expensive activities. We got very lazy with planning and missed out on a couple of activities we wanted to do because we didn’t book far enough in advance – like Chernobyl in Ukraine.
Our total insurance costs were $2,981.
Travel insurance is something you have to budget for. I would not recommend traveling without it. At the end of the day, you never know.
Even if you are the healthiest person, some fluke accident or illness could happen, and you don’t want to have to cover thousands of dollars worth of medical care out of pocket.
Just budget for it and know that you will have the peace of mind that you are covered if anything happens.
We spent an average of $248/month on health insurance and it was worth it.
We opted for a more traditional international health insurance instead of travel insurance, which is why it was more expensive. We could have saved about $80 per month on insurance if we had bought travel insurance like World Nomads.
To help you find the best insurance for your trip, check out our post on the best long-term travel insurance.
- Did I mention you should get travel insurance before your trip?
All of our miscellaneous spending added up to $14,059.62 to travel the world for a year.
I wasn’t the most organized when it came to tracking our spending, so this includes all of our cash spending and “other” spending.
We spent a total of $8,503.73 in cash. We always had cash on hand just in case we couldn’t use our credit card. We had to use cash for most of our food and transportation in Southeast Asia.
We spent $5,555.89 on “other” costs. This includes $1,528 for vaccinations, $451 for our luggage and backpacks, $99.95 for a VPN, and other random expenses.
You will want to budget for pre-trip expenses like medicine, vaccinations, buying your luggage, and all of the other supplies you need for your trip.
I would also recommend keeping an emergency fund set aside just in case you go over your budget or need money for any surprise costs that arise.
Using Credit Card Points on Your Year Around the World
I want to mention that we had saved up around 300,000 worth of credit card points between 4 credit cards before we left.
This paid for a few of our flights and ended up saving us a few thousand dollars in transportation costs.
Recap: The Total Cost To Travel The World For A Year
Here’s the total breakdown of costs from our trip:
Accommodation – $11,721
Transportation – $12,467.46
Insurance – $2,981
Food – $6,013.64
Activities – $3,027.1
Miscellaneous – $5,555.89 (vaccines, luggage, clothes, etc.)
Cash – $8,503.73
What is the cost to travel the world for a year?
Based on our experience, the cost to travel the world is around $25,000 per person to travel the world for a year, give or take $5,000.
This is a great baseline budget to use as you plan your trip around the world.
Personally, I would not have wanted to spend less than that based on everything we were able to see and do. I like to feel comfortable when I travel, and with our budget, we definitely did.
There are always ways to travel cheaper if you are on a tight budget – this is just a good average cost to reference.
With that number in mind as your baseline, you can start to plan the places, activities, and type of accommodation you want and adjust your budget depending on your expectations and goals for your trip.