“How much does it cost to travel the world” is a question I’ve been asked a lot since starting my travel blog, and it’s one that has a thousand possible answers. The factors that contribute to the cost of a round the world trip are infinite, but I know you haven’t clicked on this post to talk ifs and hypotheticals – you want answers! So let’s try and get to the bottom of it…
The short answer:
Around £20,000. Based on personal experience travelling long term between cheap and expensive destinations, this is what I’d estimate the average person would need for a comfortable year long trip. I’m talking all flights included, staying in decent hostels, eating like a local, choosing the cheapest modes of transportation, ticking off all of your bucket list experiences and having enough left over for plenty of partying. Of course, you could burn through this in a month living it up in Dubai or Vegas, or live like a true nomad on less than half of this in rural India – this is a ‘middle of the road’ estimate!
The long answer:
Okay, like I mentioned earlier it’s not quite as simple as that. Travel planning is hard work – luckily I’m here to help you break down some of those costs!
1. How much will I spend on accommodation?
Assuming you’ll be staying in hostels – which why wouldn’t you be, they’re amazing – not as much as you might think! Dorm beds in India cost at little as £3-£4 a night, which means you could have a roof over your head for a whole month for under £100! In South East Asia and South America expect to pay about £10, whilst in the US and countries in Western Europe you’ll usually need to budget around £30-£40 a night. See what I mean about varying factors? It’s a no brainer that your money will stretch further in less economically developed countries, which is something you’ll have to consider.
You can get a bed at Tiki Tiki Beach Hostel in Koh Samui, Thailand from just £10.40 a night!
2. How much will I spend on transport?
Flights are always going to take a big chunk of your budget, and while there’s no getting around this, pre-booking and choosing round trip flights can save you a lot of money. Did you know that a lot of travel agents offer set around the world routes? With a bit of pre-planning you could cross six continents for under £3000, or take a grand tour of Asia or the Americas for around £1500.
Of course, the fewer flights you take, the cheaper this will be. When time is no constraint, make the most of sleeper buses and trains when possible – they’re really not that bad! I once saved myself hundreds by taking a 27 hour coach across Brazil instead of a two hour flight. Overnight buses and trains around South East Asia can carry you thousands of miles for under £10 per journey, whilst an Interrail pass can take you all around Europe starting from £200!
3. How much will I spend on food and drink?
One thing I cannot stress enough is the benefits of eating authentic, local cuisine wherever you are. I’m aiming this at the travellers who search for a English style pub to get a fry up every morning! Not only are you wasting a lot of money, you’re also missing out on one of the most important and enriching things about travel – incredible food! A full plate of pad thai on the streets of Bangkok will fill you up for less than £1 and possibly change your life (trust me, it’s that good). Eating less meat can also save you pennies, not to mention lowering your chances of catching the dreaded Delhi belly. In more expensive countries such as Australia where a meal out will cost you around £20 – £30, cooking in your hostel multiple times per day is usually advisable.
For reference, your weekly food budget for travelling Australia could start at around £50, assuming you’d be utilising a free hostel breakfast (which most offer) and cooking a lot of your own meals. Comparatively, £25 a week in India would be enough to include plenty of meals out.
Alcohol and nights out are bound to put a bigger strain on your budget. But don’t worry, there’s usually a hostel party going on somewhere with discount or bring-your-own drinks. I once stayed in a hostel in Hanoi that let guests help themselves to free beer for an hour every day – needless to say this was taken FULL advantage of. Whilst you can get a whole bucket of alcohol for under £5 in Thailand, a single Singapore Sling will cost you almost £25 – enough to make even Londoners eyes water! Wherever you are though, there are bargains to be found – and if you’re planning on being here for a good time and a long time, then it’s up to you to hunt them down!
4. How much will I spend on activities and excursions?
No one wants to be the person who went to Paris and had to admire the Eiffel Tower from a distance because they blew their budget! Travel is all about having unique experiences, so every penny spent in this department is worth it in my opinion. The good news is, some of the world’s biggest and best attractions are totally free – from temple hopping in Thailand to exploring Central Park. Take advantage of these and you won’t worry about splashing out on on more expensive activities. For instance, a scuba diving course in Indonesia costs around £300, excursions to Ha Long Bay start at about £40, and taking in the view from the top of the Empire State will set you back £30, so make sure you have plenty of your money set aside for this sort of thing.
5) How much will I spend on visas, passports and jabs?
I left the boring bit ‘til last, but there’s no avoiding it. A UK passport currently costs £75 if you don’t already have a valid one. Jabs can also be a big expense that people often don’t realise. Several can be given for free by your GP, but others you may need include; rabies (£120-£165), Japanese encephalitis (£180), yellow fever (£60) and hepatitis B (£50). OUCH!! This is without mentioning anti-malaria tablets, which start at around £20 for a week’s dosage. If you’re travelling across multiple continents, the chances are you’ll need some, if not all of these.
Visa prices differ from country to country, and you could get by without getting any at all – UK citizens can currently travel through most of Europe and South America visa free; bonus! Some of the most common tourist visa fees for UK citizens include; Thailand (£20), Vietnam (£33) and India (£100). These seem pretty reasonable when you consider them alongside some of the worlds most expensive visas – a single entry to Russia costs £185! (World cup goers are exempt.)
So, is it all worth it?
One word, YES! Honestly, what else in the world is more worthy of your hard earned cash? Whether you want to travel long term or short term it doesn’t matter, just get out there and enjoy the world – it’s waiting!
About the author:
Hope Warren is a travel writer, seasoned backpacker and pro-budgeter with a special place in her heart for East Asia. She is currently living in London where you might spot her scouring many a food market in search of the capital’s best burger. Read her blog, Hong Kong to Hanoi, or follow her on Instagram.