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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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Tuesday 25th of May 2021

Hi, are these numbers still up-to-date? Thanks


Monday 9th of March 2020

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?

Alyson for World Travel Family

Monday 9th of March 2020

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.

Gary Johnson

Monday 13th of January 2020

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?

Thanks, Gary

Alyson for World Travel Family

Tuesday 14th of January 2020

We use World Nomads travel insurance. See here, they've been good for us and a lot of the time they were the only company we could use.


Sunday 29th of December 2019

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.

Alyson for World Travel Family

Sunday 29th of December 2019

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.


Wednesday 12th of December 2018

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

Alyson Long

Thursday 13th of December 2018

Remember this post is at least 5 years old Simon. Don't use it as an indicator of current prices.

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