One of the main questions I had when planning a trip around the world was how much it was going to cost. I knew I wanted to travel for around a year, and then spent hours trying to figure out how much money I would need.

Many articles I found online seemed to be about how to make your trip as cheap as possible. While that was helpful, I knew I didn’t want to try to travel the world on less than $10 a day.

I had already picked a few places to go to and spent a long time trying to make my itinerary work for as little money as possible. At the same time, I knew I wanted to visit expensive destinations like Easter Island, Patagonia and Galapagos Island. That meant that I would have to pay more for that than for a 1-year trip around South East Asia, for example.

In the end, I was gone for almost 13 months and paid 29,687.64€ ($32,350.63). As exchange rates fluctuate, all of the numbers are never going to be 100% accurate. But they give you an idea of how much you can expect to pay, and you’ll also get a good overview of how much different regions cost.

My itinerary

My Itinerary Around the World
Yes, I zigzagged a bit around South America. Also, I didn’t include my flight home for Christmas, or it would have looked too messy.

I left in early June 2017 and started my trip in the beautiful but weird country of Turkmenistan. For the first two months, I travelled along the Silk Road on an overland trip with a tour operator called Oasis Overland. In August, I arrived in Beijing. By then, I had already met Daniel and spontaneously decided to cancel all of my upcoming plans and travel with him to South East Asia instead.

I stayed in South East Asia for a bit more than a month before I flew down to Melbourne to visit a friend. From there, I went on a short tour through the Pacific, stopping in French Polynesia on my way to Easter Island. A friend joined me on Easter Island, and we travelled together through South and Central America.

Moorea, French Polynesia
Soaking up the sun in French Polynesia

Our first stop on the mainland was Santiago de Chile. We crossed towards Buenos Aires, went up to Brazil and the Pantanal, then down to Iguazu and made our way back through Argentina to the Atacama Desert. From there, we went into Bolivia and then slowly made our way north until we arrived in Lima.

Our arrival in Lima coincided with Christmas, and we both flew home to spend the holidays with our families.

In January, we returned to South America. First, we went to Patagonia and then eventually to Lima, from where we continued north. After all the zigzagging before, our path now became pretty straightforward. The only exception was a side-trip to Galapagos.

At the end of June 2018, we arrived in Cancun from where we flew home.

The total length of my trip was 384 days.

Cost by categories

As already mentioned above, I spent a total of 29,687.64€ ($32,350.63) for 384 days of travel. That averages 77.31€ ($84.24) a day. Here is what I spent this money on:

Category Cost
Flights 5,508.37€
Guided tours 9,930.55€
Local transport 2,537.00€
Accommodation 3,512.36€
Food and drinks 2,895.92€
Shopping 528.09€
Sightseeing 1,235.60€
Activities 1,331.04€
Tips 611.83€
Souvenirs & Postcards 331.25€
Medical 118.12€
Laundry 20.23€
ATM fees 114.58€
Insurances & all other costs 1,012.70€
Total 29,687.64€

Flights

Small plane, Pantanal, Brazil
Most of my planes were bigger than this one.

As you can see, I spent a total of 5,508.37€ ($6,002.47) on flights. This sum includes 18 flights. The biggest irony is that, since I spontaneously changed my plans, I didn’t even use three of them. I was supposed to fly from Beijing to Seoul, from Seoul to Kathmandu and then from Kathmandu to Melbourne. Instead, I joined Daniel on a trip through Southeast Asia and replaced all of the above with one flight from Thailand to Melbourne. The total cost of these three flights I didn’t use was 877.62€.

The most expensive flight here was, by far, the flight home for Christmas. It turns out that return flights from Lima to Germany are much more costly than return flights from Germany to Lima. Also, it didn’t help that we were flying home for the Christmas holidays when flight prices are at their highest. I paid 1,254.93€ for that flight, and sadly, that was the lowest price I ever saw on that route at that time.

Conclusion: If I had not booked flights that I didn’t end up using and if I hadn’t gone home for Christmas, I only would have paid 3,375.82‬€ ($3,799.62) for my flights.

If you’re planning a similar trip, you can save lots of money by watching flight prices and looking for different itineraries. One of my biggest problems was buying flights across the Pacific. I am proud that, after days of research, I managed to plan a trip from Melbourne to French Polynesia and from there on to Easter Island and Santiago de Chile. Each of those flights was around 400€, which is a reasonable price for a plane ticket in that region.

Tours

Samarkand
Uzbekistan has some of the most beautiful buildings that we saw on our tours.

As mentioned above, I spent a total of 9,930.55€ ($10,821.32) on guided tours. The biggest chunk of these expenses comes from my trip with Oasis Overland and also a tour with G Adventures in Nepal that I ended up not going on.  Since I cancelled almost at last minute, I ended up losing the cost of that tour (737.05€).

Regarding Oasis Overland, I did two tours with them. The first one lasted around two months and took me from Turkmenistan to Beijing. The second one was my trip through Southeast Asia, which lasted about a month and a half. Altogether, I paid 7,140.19€ for those.

7,000€ might seem like a lot of money. Keep in mind that it includes all of the accommodations as well as transport and some meals.

The remaining 2,053.31€ were spent on shorter tours during my travels. Most of those tours were just day trips, but it does include a four-day journey into the Amazon as well as a tour through the Pantanal. During that trip, we got to see lots of animals and had the chance to fly in a tiny plane and see the region from above. So it was totally worth it!

Local transport

Colectivo in Guatemala
Inside a colectivo in Guatemala

I spent a total of 2,537.00€ ($2,766.60) on public transport. That includes everything from a bullet train in China to colectivos in Guatemala. No expense really stands out here. Busses were the most expensive in Patagonia while I found them more affordable all over Asia and in Central Amerika.

In most parts of the world, you can save money by skipping tourist shuttles and using public transport. Check out our post on how to get around Costa Rica, from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to Tortuguero, as an example.

Accommodation

Aral Sea, Uzbekistan
Camping at the bottom of the Aral Sea

As already mentioned above, the Oasis Overland tours included all of my accommodation in Asia. In Australia, I stayed with a friend. Therefore, I didn’t have to pay for accommodation until I arrived in French Polynesia.

The whole Pacific area, including Easter Island, was one of the most expensive regions I visited. Patagonia also turned out to be quite expensive. Here, we paid easily twice as much compared to the rest of Argentina or Chile.

My friend and I mostly stayed in small guesthouses and hostels. With a few exceptions, we always had our own room, and we tried to get a private bathroom whenever possible. In total, I spent 3,512.36€ ($3,830.23) on lodging.

Foods and drinks

Street food, Bangkok, Thailand
Street food in Bangkok

Along the Silk Road, quite a few of my meals were included. As I joined a trip with an overland company, we would often camp in the wilderness and cook our meals in the evening. That kept costs low for Asia. In Southeast Asia, the tour included fewer meals, but the food turned out to be pretty cheap, so I didn’t pay much. In fact, I only paid 28,63€ for eating out during my 10-day stay in Vietnam.

Altogether, I spent 2,895.92€ ($3,158.00) on food and drinks, which comes down to an average of 7.45€ per day.

I can break those costs down a bit more as I documented the price of drinks and snacks separately. During 13 months, I spent 390.37€ on drinks, 253.99€ on snacks and 2,251.56€ on proper meals.

I didn’t eat all of my food in restaurants. If possible, I’d cook my own meals to keep costs low. Doing this saved a lot of money, especially in expensive regions like Easter Island, Patagonia and Galapagos.

Shopping

528.09€ ($575.88) might seem like a lot of money to spend on shopping. But this cost includes everything I needed to buy during my travels, including daily necessities like shampoo and toothpaste.

When I arrived back in South America after my Christmas break, my luggage didn’t come with me. Air France told me it was lost and they weren’t able to recover it. While I did get it back after three weeks, I had to buy clothes and a few other items in the meantime. These costs are included in shopping, too, just like the thick lama jacket I bought when it got cold in the Andes.

Sightseeing

Machu Picchu, Peru

In total, I spent 1,235.605€ ($1,347.42) on entrance tickets. That’s an average of almost 100€ per month.

Some countries were very cheap; others were more expensive. Often, foreigners pay more for entrance tickets compared to locals, especially in countries that are very cheap to visit. I think it’s fair as it brings in enough money for restoring and protecting the sights, but also allows locals to visit the highlights of their country without paying a fortune.

While on the road, I didn’t pay much attention to the price of entrance tickets. I decided that if I had come that far, I didn’t want to skip any attractions just because I wanted to save a few dollars. Who knew when I’d ever come back?

In this category, I only included entrance tickets. Guided tours are mentioned in the “tours” category above, and activities will come below.

Activities

Underwater Moai, Diving Easter Island, Rapa Nui, Chile

In 13 months of travelling, I spent 1,331.04€ ($1,461.81) on activities. For me, activities include everything from boat rides to wine tasting and cooking classes. They also include scuba diving – learning how to dive in Koh Phangan and then going for a dive in Tahiti and on Easter Island were the most costly expenses in this category.

Besides that, I noticed that I spent most of that money on boat rides, for example at Iguazu Falls, on Galapagos etc. I get seasick very quickly, but I guess I just never learn.

Tips

I spent 611.83€ ($671.94) on tips. That might seem like a lot, but keep in mind that I travelled for 13 months and often used local guides.

I spent the most significant chunk of this money on tips for my fantastic guides along the Silk Road. But I also like to leave a tip for day tours and even half-day tours, especially when someone went out of their way to make my stay special.

When budgeting for your trip, don’t underestimate that cost. You don’t want to be the jerk who sneaks off at the end of the tour without leaving even a small tip.

Souvenirs and Postcards

Magnet collection

My total cost for souvenirs and postcards was 331.25€ ($363.80).

I like to collect a magnet from every country I visit. By now, I have so many that I barely have space for them anymore! Fortunately, we have a metal cooker hood where I stick them. That way, whenever I cook dinner, I get a reminder of my trips and smile.

Besides magnet, I bought lots of postcards and stamps along the way. I like sending postcards to my family and friends as a way of sharing my travels with them. My goal was to send a card from every country to my parents, and I succeeded. The cost adds up, but I think it’s worth it.

Medical

This one was pretty cheap. I spent a total of 118.12€ ($129.73) on medical items. This cost does not include insurance, as I have a separate category for that.

I was lucky during my trip and never got so sick that I would have needed a doctor or even a hospital. But I did get the occasional stomach flu, and I had problems with sun allergy at the beginning, so I bought a few over-the-counter drugs along the way.

None of the drugs were expensive by themselves, but the cost adds up. Also, when my luggage got lost after I returned to Peru, I lost some medical supplies. I had most of them with me, but my pill was in my big backpack, so I had to stock up on it in Chile. If you’ve ever had to buy the pill, you will know that it’s quite expensive, making it my biggest expense in this category.

Laundry

As you can see, I barely spent any money on doing laundry: 20.23€ ($22.22). Laundry is already pretty cheap in most countries, but I washed my clothes myself most of the time. That way, I didn’t have to worry about finding an affordable laundry service or running out of clothes.

I always carry a tiny laundry line with me, which is very helpful for drying clothes. Plus, as I mostly travelled through warm countries, the clothes dried within a few hours.

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When the weather is this warm, clothes dry quickly.

ATM Fees

In more than a year of travel, I paid 114.58€ ($125.84) in ATM fees. My bank doesn’t charge any fees for withdrawing money abroad, but ATMs often do. When I went to an ATM, I tried to get as much money in local currency in one go as I could – but not too much so that I wouldn’t be stuck with lots of local money in the end. That sometimes worked very well. At other times I was left with too much money that I then had to exchange at the border.

If your bank charges money every time you use an ATM, you will pay more fees than I did. Plan accordingly when making your own budget.

Insurance and all other costs

Woman riding a horse in Kyrgyzstan
If you want to go horse riding, make sure it’s covered by your insurance.

The remaining money that did not fall into any of the categories above is 1,012.70€ ($1,112.20). Getting insurance for 13 months of travel turned out to be surprisingly cheap, and I only paid 510€. My insurance included full medical cover, without any limitations. I was lucky to find a policy that also didn’t limit the kind of activities I could do, but it took me a lot of research to get this one.

Besides insurance, I included all visa fees as well as the cost of a few SIM cards that I bought along the way.

And last, I sent home a few items from Laos, which was another 60€ that I included here.

Cost by countries

When I searched for how much it would cost me to travel for a year, I was very interested in the categories that I listed above. But I was also just as interested in the cost by country. After all, that is very useful for choosing where to go. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to travel for almost 13 months if my trip had included all of Scandinavia and a few months in Australia.

Rano Raraku Quarry, Easter Island, Rapa Nui, Chile
Easter Island was one of the remotest and most exotic places I visited.

On the other hand, spending a few weeks in Uzbekistan was very helpful as this was one of the cheapest countries I’ve ever visited.

Since I went on a guided tour through pretty much all of Asia and stayed with a friend in Australia, I’m going to focus mostly on Latin America and French Polynesia.

Country Daily Cost (€) Daily Cost (USD$)
Argentina 71.24€/d $79.11/d
Belize 42.74€/d $47.46/d
Bolivia 43.20€/d $47.97/d
Brazil 84.30€/d $93.62/d
Chile 77.47€/d $86.03/d
Costa Rica 36.38€ /d $40.40/d
Colombia 55.70€/d $61.85/d
Ecuador 64.84€/d $72.00/d
El Salvador 31.68€/d $35.18/d
French Polynesia 58.75€/d $65.24/d
Guatemala 37.76€/d $41.93/d
Honduras 36.99€/d $41.08/d
Mexico 36.97€/d $41.06/d
Nicaragua 33.81€/d $37.55/d
Panama 37.01€/d $41.10/d
Paraguay 35.33€/d $39.23/d
Peru 43.56€/d $48.37/d
Uruguay 56.67€/d $62.93/d

As you can see, the daily averages vary from country to country. In most of Central America, I spent between 30€ and 40€ per day. French Polynesia was far more costly, which was to be expected. The Pacific is so expensive! And this did not even include the flights to get there.

Travelling through South America was more expensive than Central America. Some of these estimates are off thrown off by the places I visited. In Argentina and Chile, for example, I went to Patagonia. My average daily costs down there were 94.89€ ($105.38), which, as you can imagine, raised the total average for both of those countries. And we didn’t even stay in nice hotels. But Patagonia is very expensive, so budget accordingly if you want to go there.

Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, Argentina
Patagonia might have been expensive, but it was totally worth it.

In Ecuador, we went to the Galapagos Islands. Once again, this was far more expensive than travelling on the mainland. My daily average on Galapagos is 89.77€ ($99.69). While that might seem high-priced at first, that cost includes the flights to get there. Without the plane tickets, you’re looking at less than $60 a day.


If you read this post, then you’re most likely thinking about going on a trip around the world yourself. We hope that you find the above numbers helpful as a reference. Keep in mind that I did some expensive things along the way. But then again, you might want to do the same.

If you need numbers for Asia, by the way (maybe you’re joining a tour and want to know how much extra you should calculate with), drop us a message, and we’ll share all the details with you.

None of the above includes running costs I had at home. I had put some furniture into storage, which I had to pay for every month. Think carefully about what you can get rid of to eliminate as many costs as possible. This includes getting rid of any unnecessary cell phone plans that you won’t use anyway.

If you’ve been on a long trip, we’d love to hear your feedback and see how we compare.

And if you found this post useful, don’t forget to pin it!

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2 Comments

  1. Enjoyed this article!
    Here’s a tip that helps me out so much: a Schwab checking account. It has a better interest rate than a bank, and they reimburse any ATM fees you incur, anywhere in the world.

    • Ilona Reply

      Thank you for this comment! We have similar accounts here in Germany, but we don’t know much about the options available to Americans. So the Schwab checking account is very valuable advice for our readers!

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