Cost of One Year of Travel With Kids Breakdown

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If you’ve read our previous post One Year of Travel, What Did it Cost? You’ll know that we worked out our average daily spend for one year to be just under $100 per day. That’s for a family of 4 people, 2 kids, 4 continents, 12 countries, and two cruises. This is a realistic figure and a lot lower than costs you’ll see elsewhere. This is how much it costs to travel the world with a family and keep prices low, but not as cheaply as possible. This was our first year of round the world travel. Our first year was funded on savings, now we earn as we travel as a digital nomad family.

What Does it Cost to Travel for One Year as a Family with kids

These days we’re supported by our earnings from this website, see how here. In this post we break down the cost of one year of travel to give you an idea of how much you’ll need to spend.

It’s been a blast and we’ve very happy with that spend, but where did the money go exactly?

When you read these sort of cost breakdown posts it’s important to remember that no two travellers, particularly not family travellers, and no two journeys are the same. Costs vary tremendously depending on where you are.

We spent 6 months in Asia in our first year on around $40- $50 per day, the remaining 6 months in the Western Hemisphere, and our cruises, must have come in at well in excess of $100. Our children were 6 and 8 when we left home, they always had been, and still are, legally homeschooled.

We’ve never kept particularly detailed records and we never set a daily or weekly budget. We do know what was in the bank and what’s left now. We haven’t kept to a daily spend since leaving Asia, we’ve just tried to spend as little as possible on the things that were unimportant to us (accommodation), found the best deals we could on flights, cruises and car hire and probably spent more than some on the things we enjoy (eating out, theme parks, wine and cocktails).

I should make this my catch phrase, it’s your trip, you need to enjoy it your way and don’t scrimp, it’s not a competition to see who can spend least.

Cost of One Year of Travel For a Family of Four

$30,000 was what we spent. Not per person, that’s a nonsense I’ve read elsewhere. We spent $30,000 for 4 people, 2 adults, 2 kids. More details on what we spent our $30,000 + on are below. We break costs down into the following categories:

  • Unexpected Extra Costs
  • Flight Costs ( including cruise ships in this section as major transport costs)
  • Car Hire Costs
  • Lodging Costs
  • Food and Drink Costs
  • Insurance
  • Pre-Trip Costs

Unexpected Extra Costs in a Year of Travel

Unexpected Extras:  cost $5,000 plus

what we spent on one year of travel
The electronic spaghetti means we don’t travel light and we spend a lot of cash.

That’s a lot more than expected!

Christmas happened and the kids had birthdays. Two cameras died and needed replacing and we found we needed a second laptop to stay sane. We bought several sets of speakers for the laptops so that we could watch movies comfortably, I had a new watch, we had to upgrade our wardrobes for winter and the kids wore out, and grew out of, their clothes. We also bought Boo his own tablet which broke within months and hasn’t been replaced.

Flight Costs For One Year of World Travel With Kids

Flights: cost $3,500

We flew from Penang to Bangkok, from southern Thailand to Kuala Lumpur, from Kuala Lumpur to London via Sri Lanka, from Florida to El Salvador and back, and from Madrid to London. All other travel has been overland or by cruise ship. Skyscanner has been our best friend in keeping prices down for the first year. I wrote a post about some tricks to use this flight comparison site like a pro.

Cruises: $3,600 excluding daily compulsory tips and other onboard costs such as alcoholic drinks

We cruised from Southampton to New York and from Florida to Barcelona via Madeira. See our cruising section for more information. That’s about 2 weeks of transport, bed, food and fun for that price. It’s a sweet deal.

Car Hire Costs Total for 1 Year of Family Travel

Car Hire: Cost $1,650

We hired a car for a month in the US to drive from New York to Canada and then down to Florida. We later hired a car for a few days in Florida to finish our journey to Key West. For more information on our road trip costs try Planning a USA Road Trip and What’s the Most Expensive Part of a US Road Trip.

In that first year we didn’t hire a car anywhere else but since then we’ve had a lot of good times hiring cars in Thailand.

Accommodation Costs, Hotels, Guest Houses, Hostels and Cruise Ships, for One Year of Travel

Accommodation Costs: Varies!

Our cheapest rooms were in Laos, where we stayed in comfort for $12/night and in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, where, for the same money, we got less luxurious rooms but a stunning location. In most of Asia rooms came in at well under $50 per night, we generally go for places with included breakfast.

Our most expensive accommodation was in New York, not far from Times Square, where we paid $150/ night. Everyone tells us that’s a great deal, but it seemed a lot to us at the time. In the USA we mostly paid under $50/night including breakfast and wifi.

Costs of Eating and Drinking While Travelling

Food and Drink: Cost around $700/month on food plus drinks.

Who knows! We once all ate for under $1 in Sri Lanka and we once blew over $100 on a beautiful meal on Key Largo, Florida. Both were great experiences. We love our food and price isn’t necessarily an indicator of how good the eating experience will be. Self-catering is horrible for us, no thanks!

If you spend most of your time in Southeast Asia you’ll be able to eat out on good local food for as little as $1 each. If you’re travelling in the more expensive parts of the world you’ll probably need to self-cater to keep costs down.

How Much Should Insurance Cost for a One Year Round the World Trip?

Insurance: We went week by week, month by month

I can’t give you a figure here, I’d have to check with Chef and, as usual, he’s in work. But I can tell you that we kept insurance costs down by buying insurance appropriate to where we were.

For instance, we didn’t buy coverage for the USA unless we were actually IN the USA. We bought insurance for altitude trekking only for those weeks we were at altitude. Insurance costs for the USA added around 20% to our bill, we went month by month on insurance to save money.

I’ll also tell you that we were very glad we had insurance when Chef needed emergency surgery in Thailand.

Pre-Trip Costs

We don’t include these in our daily spend of roughly $100 per day because, obviously, these costs were covered long before departure. You need to think about vaccinations, gear and maybe storage of possessions while you are away. We cut vaccination costs by only getting the ones we really need and buying them in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok as well as getting some free in London.

Gear costs for this kind of travel are negligible. All you really need is luggage and for us there were no storage expenses as what we didn’t sell, we stashed in our loft. You do not need special travel clothes, just take what you already own. Most of the family travel gear others list is nice to have, but far from essential.

What Does it Cost to Travel for One Year as a Family (1)

You may find our post on how to go about selling everything to travel the world useful. We raised a lot of cash that way and have never missed anything we sold.

So does that give you an idea? I think that $100/day figure is the important one, the average over the year. Sometimes you spend big, sometimes you spend almost nothing, it’s finding the balance to give you maximum travel for your buck that’s the important part. Travel your way, not anybody else’s way and do what makes you happy.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

19 thoughts on “Cost of One Year of Travel With Kids Breakdown”

  1. Hi I love your blog, it’s so fascinating and interesting. My family (husband myself and son) is planning on a 2 year trip starting next year. I was hoping if you could give us some tips, we’d be travelling with a toddler who will be 2 yo in Jan 2021, we thought it might be wise to travel while he’s still a baby, but we would really hope to go 4-5 years later when finance are more stable. If we do that he will be 5, which is time for school. I don’t really know if that will be ideal then. Any suggestions?

    • It depends on your reasons for doing it. If it’s for him and his education, go when he’s older. Even at 5 he won’t get much out of it in that way. If it’s for you, go whenever. But a 2 year old is hard work and just think about hygiene and safety. You’ll be spending a lot of time worrying and keeping his hands clean and generally keeping him safe, plus toddlers get their clothes dirty constantly, nappies, naps, special foods. You’ll have your hands very full. 5, not much different really. Older is easier.

  2. Hi Alyson,

    My wife and I are thinking of traveling the world with our two daughters and we appreciate your writings about it. How did you go about getting health insurance as you needed it?


  3. I am a single mom considering world schooling my children, did you run into any hiccups or scares during your travels? I am concerned about being a women with young boys.

    • My husband needed emergency surgery, totally out of the blue. That’s the sort of thing that would worry me in a one adult family. Otherwise, I just find that people of all nationalities, men, of course, tourists more than locals, tend to be intolerant or abusive of women alone. They are basically cowards if they see you with a man they wouldn’t dare be so foul, but a woman alone with kids is an easy target. As I mostly do travel with my husband, but often don’t, it’s very, very noticeable. A lot of men, particularly older men, like to pick on women.

  4. Thanks for the great post. We are looking into travelling as a family and your cost break down has been very useful. Cheers

  5. Hi Alyson,

    Just found your blog. I’ve been thinking of taking my family on a “Round The World” trip in 2021 (3 years from now) and your $100 a day budget has helped give an estimate of how much I’ll need to save up. Are there any other tips and/or advise you can give that would be helpful. My 2 boys are now 6&8.. so they will be 9&11 by the time we do our trip around the world.



    • Hi Frank, honestly, our entire website is dedicated to your question. Have a hunt around and if you think I’ve missed anything specific, ask. Best of luck and cheers. Ours were 6 and 8 when we left, a little older is, I think, better educationally and practically, but not if they’ve been in school. School somehow resets kids brains and a lot of people have problems with their own kids wanting to not be there, to be back with the pack. Just something to be aware of.

      • Alyson,
        Are you saying kids that are in formal school (not home school) have a hard time accepting the travel and want to be back with their peers? our kids are 3-5 now and we are thinking about doing this when they 6-8.

        • I have no real idea as my kids were never institutionalised, but I’ve come accross a lot of parents who say their kids want to be around other kids constantly. I think it may be in part that the parents aren’t used to being around their kids constantly too. Something just doesn’t work as well for school kids as for non school kids and it could be the perceived need to be in a pack. But I’m sure you’ll also find parents who’ll say their kids loved being out of school and never wanted to go back. You’ll also find those who lie. Who say on return that their kids couldn’t wait to be back in school when actually it was the last thing the children wanted. I also know, for a fact, that school and teachers change your kids, they bring them around to a school way of thinking. This is abhorrent to me. It’s hard to say. But I don’t know which post you’re referring to as this post is about money.

  6. Hi Alyson,
    Have been loving reading your posts they have been super helpful for us planning our trip! I am wondering if you would be willing to share what Insurance company you used and how you managed to pay month by month?

    Thank you so much!

  7. Just found your website and want to say a big thank you! Just starting to plan an Asian adventure with my family (husband and 3 kids) and so good to read useful and helpful tips, especially as we start to save up! Thanks again.


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