The million dollar question… Is it costing me a million dollars to travel around the world?!?! Short answer… NO!… Not even close! ...

A year traveling for how much?!?!?!

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The million dollar question… Is it costing me a million dollars to travel around the world?!?!

Short answer… NO!… Not even close!

I can’t even believe that it’s been a year already! It has been so much fun!!!! I am truly living my dream!

I meet so many travelers on a daily basis and I am used to the question “Where are you from?” followed by “Where is that?” then we start talking and many of them go on and say “If you don't mind me asking, how much does it cost?” and I always ask them to guess.

I’ve been keeping track of every single penny I’ve spent so I could manage my budget appropriately and not run out of funds mid trip (plus, I just love excel spread sheets!)

Traveling long term and not working meant that I had to be careful, that I always had to know more or less how much I was spending but also know that at times spending a little bit more of my budget was also ok (spa day in Bali was so good!)

It is very important to note that this has not been a luxurious trip but neither has it been a trip where I have been starving or I have not gone somewhere I wanted to go because of my budget. Traveling on a budget to me has meant to do things on my own instead of with a guided tour, to travel a little bit slowly by public transport, using busses instead of flying, eating street food instead of fine dining in a restaurant, staying in shared bedrooms in hostel instead of a private room. In all honesty there isn’t much I would change about my trip or the decisions I have made (well, there is that one night in Petra… huuuuuge mistake!) and if I had to change things I would probably have stayed longer in South Korea, Poland, and Russia.

So… budget budget budget! How much did I really spent in the last year traveling through 30 countries, 124 cities,  taking 25 flights, and endless numbers of busses?





Accommodation - $3,660






As I said before I stayed mostly in hostels but I also was lucky enough to have 63 nights staying with friends and couchsurfing(12 nights). I first tried couch surfing in Sri Lanka, and then in Iran, Turkey, and Petra but I decided not to use that platform because as a woman traveling on my own I didn’t find it to be very safe. Couch surfing has become way too big so I now use it to meet locals and hang out with them while I am in different cities but for $10-$15 per night I would rather stay at a hostel.

Some countries are so affordable that it is more convenient to get your own private room. For example in Bali I paid $12 a night for a private room, then I went to Gili Air and because I knew how hot it was going to be and how uncomfortable I am with heat I decided to pay $26 a night for a private room with bathroom and A/C! (Check out the bottom of the blog for a list of all my hostels with the rating I gave them.)

Many times I get traveling partners and we share private rooms! My faves have been Felix and Kam! Sometime you just get lucky picking strangers on the streets and asking them to join you!

(Ps: You can't even get a studio in a shitty area in SF per month with $3,660!)



Food- $2,950







I am a big foodie and love love love to eat!
Being a vegetarian is probably not ideal because I feel like I miss out on a lot of the traditional food in so many countries. Although I don’t eat meat and it is at times a little challenging to find variety for vegetarians but I always manage to eat something.
Being a vegetarian saves a lot of money on food because produce is much cheaper than meat! So… there’s another reason to go veg!
Many backpackers cook at hostels but in a year I have cooked… TWICE! haha Back home I cooked every sunday after work for the whole week, I cooked all from scratch and mostly vegan, using so many vegetables, nuts, grains, and beans but while on the go it is almost impossible to cook because many hostels don’t even have salt or oil so forget about it, I eat out all the time! If the hostel doesn’t have free breakfast I do make sure to buy some fruit and peanut butter, and I always always always have nuts, dates, and figs with me to snack when I get hungry. Easting out also gets old so many nights I find myself with huge platters of fruit or raw vegetables and hummus! Yum!


Transport- $2,710



This is exclusive of all my flights and speed train in Japan but inclusive of every single metro, tram, local bus, long distance bus, ferry, cable car, bike rental, and what not.
Most of the time I used public transportation and if I absolutely had to use a taxi I mainly shared it with somebody (that even included me knocking on a stranger's door in China and asking him if he would share the taxi to the airport with me!)

And that Taxi ride  from the airport in Iran?!?! maybe one of my best memories of my whole trip! The taxi driver with his beaten car took me to my hostel at 2am and on the way he feed me lettuce, nuts, and what not!




Flights- $3,080


Before my trip I had my daily budget and flight budget separate just to make things easier and clearer. I had set aside $5k for flights but turned out to be way less. The good thing about being flexible about my flying schedule is that I can wait for cheap flights and then buy depending on price. Air Asia was a life saver and their deals were really good flying out of KL so it was a smart move to base myself there and fly in and out to different countries.
Also, air miles come in handy for long haul flights where one can get business class tickets for next to nothing... I especially liked flying business for $19.70 from SF to Melbourne!


Visas- $306


Well, visas are a pain in the butt most of the time. For my first year luckily I only needed six. 

Australian visa was super easy to get online from the US, no need to send passport in or anything but it is rather expensive compared to many other countries.

China visa was also easy to obtain but had to drive to the city, wait in line for hours, drop off the papers, and then in a week or so I had to go back and pick it up.

Myanmar visa is usually done online but guess what? Not for El Salvador! Luckily it only took a little bit of begging and a couple of hours at the visa processing office in Kuala Lumpur to get it stamped on my passport.

Sri Lanka… All these people want is your money so you go online, fill out a form, within a couple of hours you have your e-visa in your inbox! 

Iran & Armenia- These were the easiest of all, I showed up at the airport and got it on arrival!

For most countries in Europe I didn’t need a visa and for those that I needed one (Looking at you Serbia, Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine!) it was way too much trouble (and money) to be bothered to go through the process! 

From now on in my travels I pretty much need a visa for every single African country… wish me luck!


Sightseeing- $2,425





This is another big chunk of the budget.. but also the most fun! A lot of traveling has to do with sightseeing: paying entrance fees, tours, river/boat cruises, cooking classes, bike rentals, diving etc. 
(*This doesn't actually include the bridge climb in Sydney, which a friend paid for.)

Some of the fun things I did:
- Whale watching in Sydney (used Groupon)
- Scuba dived in Gili Air in Indonesia, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and El Nino, Philippines.
- Took a Balinese cooking lesson.
- Went to Cape Tribulation, where the great barrier reef meets the oldest jungle in the world.
- "Hiked" the yellow mountains in China.
- Saw the Terra-cotta warriors in Xi'an.
- Had an amazing time watching real pandas being pandas in Chengdu.
- Spent 2 nights in mosquito infested jungle in the middle of nowhere in Borneo.
- Rented e-bikes in Bagan and rode around the many temples (and fell off the bike... twice, once it even ended up in the bushes! haha)
- Discovered beautiful Iran and got my heart stolen by its people!
- I walked the streets where Jesus walked in Jerusalem!
- Got to pick roses in Bulgaria during the rose festival.
... and a thousand more things for less than $2500! ... What a steal!

Miscelaneous- $820


This category included a whole lot of stuff: razors, shampoo, sim  cards, laundry, tip for staff, souvenirs, clothes, toilet fees, and anything that didn’t fit in other categories.

~Self Care~
Pampering- $195



This is pretty much massages! (and bathing in tubs of flowers, of course!)
Because it’s nice to take care of myself every now and then!

Going out $130


Once a friend told me that a mutual “friend” said I was the most boring person to be around! haha  But I am so very proud of it! I do not need to go out and party for people to enjoy my company (Plus, isn’t hard core partying for your early twenties anyway?) nor do I have to drink and party only for people to like me. So, this $130 reflects my lack of love towards alcohol and partying! (Side note: I can also go out, dance my booty off and still don't break the bank!)
Not drinking is probably the best thing one can do to save money while traveling. 
I did not stop drinking for this trip, it just happened that I didn’t drink before!
 Sometimes I can have a cocktail (especially a margarita or a mojito) or a glass of wine but I don’t enjoy alcohol, I do not enjoy the effect of alcohol so I simply don’t drink; I would much rather have an ice cream or chocolate!

Entertainment- $18

This is kind of a weird category, it’s only those times I went to the movies or to the escape room but weren’t sight seeing nor miscellaneous! 

So.... Grand Totalless than $16,500...(or $16,403.93 to be exact!)

This is exclusive of Insurance for a full year with premium and my iPhone and camera insured which came down to around $1500 covered worldwide except the US and El Salvador.
Back in SF (well, in Marin!) all my monthly expenses came down to $1750 just in rent (living in a tiny studio in the suburbs), bills, groceries, and car related stuff not including shopping, going out for $50 tacos and margaritas, pretty much that was for breathing near San Francisco!

 Traveling has come down to $1,375 ($1,500 adding insurance) per month all inclusive while having the best time of my life.
Not too bad, right? Or at least I think so! haha

The overall total could have come down a lot if I had volunteered at hostels in exchange of accommodation but why work for a bed that's $10 and clean bathrooms? No thanks!
Also, I moved quite often making the transportation costs a little higher than somebody who stays for several weeks in the same place.
Every traveler is different, you create the trip that you want for yourself. I wanted a trip to see the world, to relax, to not have to worry about work or about anybody or anything! It was all about Andrea time... and that's what I got!


I think I am not ready to go back to regular life so I am for sure set to travel until the end of this year and then I'll figure it out... like I always do!


Budget break down by country:

Every single hostel I've stayed and its rating!



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1 comment:

  1. I love love love this article! nicely written and the details are incredible!!! I am glad my friend Abner Flores led me here! I just came back from two years around the world. As I read this I feel like I am reading an article that I wrote. We did a lot of the same stuff. I also kept spreadsheets on every expense, incredible! I lost everything though when I was robbed of all of my electronics in Cambodia :(. but whatever, just one bad day out of hundreds of great ones! I had a blast! traveling two years cost me a grand total of US$39,000! I only came back because I have to make more money before I go back out again ;). Thanks for all the info! I wish you the best in your continued journey around the world. Maybe we will meet someday and share some stories. Catalina (www.cataintheworld.com)

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