I can’t lie. I was putting off crunching the numbers for this post for a long time.
So, let’s get right to it!
Before we even left home, about $9477 had already gone into the trip (flights, insurance, Eurail passes, gear etc).
And then we come to the actual costs incurred on the trip:
For a little over a month in Asia, we spent about $3034, averaging $82 a day. I’d consider that a mid-level comfortable budget – we certainly didn’t deny ourselves anything (especially when it came to food and drink – it was our honeymoon, after all) but we didn’t stay in ritzy places or do anything super extravagant. We travelled by land – buses, trains – and took some taxis as well as hiring scooters. See also: individual country spending breakdowns for Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
For three months in Europe (with a week in the UK) we spent about $10,959 for a daily average of $117. I would consider this a comfortable backpacking budget. We were more conscious of our spending, but we ate well, slept reasonably comfortably, and spent probably about $1000, off the top of my head, on experiences (renting a BMW, canyoning, etc). We splurged more on food in Italy and Greece than in other places, and volunteered for food and board for a few weeks. Generally, we found hostels not good value as a couple and only ended up staying in dorms a handful of times – cheap hotels were our usual MO and we couchsurfed a few times.
Alas, I don’t have exact data on our US spending as our iPhone crapped out right before the end of our trip. I do remember that we been averaging about $110 a day, so I’ll go with that and extrapolate that for the whole six weeks. That brings us to roughly $4840. Except for a few pricey nights on the east coast (Boston, WTF?), we mainly stayed in $40-50 motels or with incredibly generous and welcoming blog friends. We ate a TON of (good, cheap) Mexican food, BBQ, and at tiny diners. Can I just say: North America is the only region where even we had to admit portion defeat? Thank you for providing such excellent value for money. I would call this a frugal mid-level budget; we travelled in relative luxury, an American sedan (practically a truck by NZ standards) , splurged on Disneyland and hiring a motorbike.
I also need to add on a few more transport costs to that: $751 on internal flights abroad (Hanoi-Bangkok, Edinburgh-Brussels, Rome-Paris) and $1968 for our one-way car rental in the US.
If we exclude the personal shopping we did in the US (which I didn’t really track closely and isn’t really relevant to this tally), that adds up to just over:
I should note, of course, that this would be a little higher, as exchange rates in real life are rarely as favourable as those listed on xe.com, but it’s not a biggie. The NZ dollar was strong last year – one reason we travelled in 2013 – but it’ll never stand up to the USD, euro or the pound.
Could you do it for less? Of course. Especially if you come from a country with a stronger currency (which I’m guessing is the majority of you). This was about extracting maximum enjoyment, not spending as little as possible. Otherwise we could have chosen to visit only cheap countries, camp (which I did consider, but campgrounds tend to be so out of the way and – like hostels – aren’t necessarily all that cheap), subsist only on bread and fruit, travelled more slowly (thus lowering our daily averages, though perhaps not our overall spend) and so on. I decided reasonably early on in the trip that I’d rather hustle harder to earn more and enjoy our travels than to focus on saving every dollar possible in order to make what we had last.
So this is about in line with what I’d expected, even if it is a slightly painful sum to swallow. If you exclude our initial outlay – flights, insurance, gear, etc – our daily costs on the road are essentially on par with what we’d spend just living our normal lives in NZ (and could even be lower if we stuck to cheap countries and splurged less). There’s only one thing I have any regrets about, and it’s paying to go on the London Eye. Aside from that, I feel it was all money well spent.