In almost every travel article about how much it costs to travel the world, you’ll read something along the lines of, “everyone’s travel costs are different, so I can’t give you an exact amount.” While this is largely true, it is also largely unhelpful, which prompted this post on how to find your estimate travel cost.
This will require a little bit of math, but if you’re at this article already then you’re seriously thinking about travel and want to find the information. The three main expenses while traveling are the same ones that exist at home; food, housing, and transportation.
To find out how much it costs to eat while you’re traveling, first map out the countries or regions you’d like to travel to. Europe is going to have more expensive meals than Asia and Africa, but this still varies by each country. To get a pulse on meal costs, try looking on TripAdvisor. Input each location and select the food category. Many of the restaurant options will display a price range.
Another option is to check out Numbeo, which will tell you all cost averages for a given country or city. Once you’ve determined the average cost per meal, (remember that breakfast, lunch and dinner cost varying amounts) add up the total food cost per day. Multiply that number by 30 to get a monthly average of what it will cost you to eat each month.
**Note: If you buy groceries instead of eating out, you can reduce this total substantially, no matter what country you’re in. Greg and I save over $300 a month by buying groceries and eating out less.
Finding a housing estimate takes a little more planning. One’s housing budget can be very low or very high depending on what your travel standards are. Are you pitching a tent every night? Your housing budget will only be the cost of the campground fee. Can you sleep in a hostel bunk bed everywhere you go? Expect to only pay between $5 and $30 per night. Renting a room on Airbnb? Costs vary substantially. House sitting? Maybe you can score a free stay.
Again, do your research. Pull up two or three website tabs of accommodation sites like hostelbookers.com, airbnb.com, or trustedhousesitters.com and type in the city or country you plan to visit. If you have the dates already, that’s even better and will give you a realistic snapshot of what you’ll pay per night. Once you know the average cost per night based on your housing style, again multiply by 30 or 31 to get a monthly estimate.
**Keep in mind that both hostels and Airbnb often offer substantial discounts if you stay multiple weeks or even a month. If you can travel slow, you’ll save more money. Also consider free stays by house-sitting, working at a hostel to stay for free, or couchsurfing for free nights.
Lastly, transportation. This by far takes the most research and has the most fluctuation. We’ve found that the best time to book transportation is 3 weeks in advance. At this time, the prices haven’t risen to meet travelers demand yet, and it still gives you flexibility in planning.
Sites like skyscanner.com, rome2rio.com, and skypicker.com are great for getting flight, bus and train estimates. Also check out out local companies in the country you’re traveling to because costs can be less through them. This post takes a more in-depth look at budget travel options as well.
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re staying on the same continent, expect to pay between $20 and $200 for flights, and $15 to $75 for busses to a new city/country. If you’re switching continents, expect costs to be a bit more. We typically budget $100 for two people per city transfer, though it usually comes in a bit under that.
Again, traveling slower minimizes the amount of times you have to pay transportation costs. Once you decide how often you’ll move around each month, multiply that number by the dollar amount of your transportation mode estimate.
The Last Step
Once you have your food, housing, and transportation monthly estimates figured out, add them all together and multiply that number by how long you plan to travel for. Congratulations! You now have a rough estimate of how much it costs to travel the world.
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