What Did it Cost to Travel the World for a Year?

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Now in year 5 of full time travel, I can’t believe we travelled so cheaply in year one. We had $30,000 to spend and we were trying to make it last as long as possible. That sum was for 4 people and you’ll see below how long it lasted and how much travel we got for our money. So how much money do you need to travel the world?

It depends on you, how will you travel? What are your priorities, what will you save on and splurge on? We can give you an idea below. How much does it cost to travel the world really has no answer.

If I say $50 per day some will find that high, some low, but I can tell you that $50 per day IS achievable in the low-cost parts of the world even for a family of 4. I know of families budgeting $40 per day.

These days we shoot for $100 per day. We’re spending more because we can, life is easier, but let’s look at that first year of world travel and how much it cost.

Cost to travel the world for a year. Cost of travelling the world. World Travel Family travel blog.

How Much Does it Cost to Travel the World for a Year?

I’ll just refresh your memories on where we went and what we did in our first travel year. Remember, we’re a family of four, our children were 7 and 9 and they eat more than me.

We’ve now been travelling the world for over 5 years, these costs are just for our first year of world travel.

Where Did We Go in One Year of Around the World Travel?

We left our home in Port Douglas Australia and took a budget flight to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

We spent around 6 weeks in KL and on Penang before flying to Bangkok ( my husband, Chef, wasn’t with us during this time, so things were a little cheaper).

When Chef joined us we took the train to Kanchanaburi before taking a mini bus back to BKK and catching the train to Laos.

We spent 6 weeks in Laos, from there we took the train back to Bangkok for a few days and the bus down to the south of Thailand.

We took the ferry to Ko Samui and from there to Ko Phangan.

Returning to the mainland 7 weeks later, we flew into Kuala Lumpur and took buses down to Malacca and Johor Baru for Legoland Malaysia.

We returned to KL and flew to London via Sri Lanka. Our flight allowed us a 1 month stop over in Sri Lanka.

By now it was November, we spent Christmas in the UK before taking a cruise trip to New York.

We took a road trip around the US and briefly into Canada, ending up in Florida.

We flew from Florida to El Salvador and took the bus into Guatemala.

7 weeks of Guatemala later we flew back to Florida, again via El Salvador.

A few more days in Florida and then another cruise ship to Barcelona via Madeira.

One week in Spain and then we flew to London, which is where we are now. ( were at the time of writing)

How Much Does it Cost To Travel The World With a Family? Slovenia
How much does it cost to travel the world with a family? It depends where you go? Beautiful, fascinating countries like Slovenia can be ultra cheap, Italy and Switzerland will cost you a lot.

Did We Have a Travel Budget?

No, not really, not since leaving Asia, we just tried to spend as little as possible. We estimated that S. E. Asia would cost us around $40 to $50/day and that was achievable. We never planned on coming to the Western Hemisphere, so it’s been a bonus, a far more costly one.

We started out trying to travel as cheaply as possible but we became extremely lax with the purse strings as time went on. What the heck, it was fun.

The cost of travelling the world evens out over time, some days, in London for example, are very expensive, we balanced those days out by travelling much longer and slower in lower-cost countries.

We have a no budget policy, budgets cramp your style.

Did We Have Any Free Travel?

We stayed with friends on Penang and for some of the time in the UK.

We had a couple of free hotel stays through collecting reward points.

We had free use of a family car in the UK.

We had 2 discounted hotel stays in Malaysia, all other hotels have been paid at normal rates, no blogger perks at all.

We’ve had a lot of free admissions to theme parks and other attractions because of our travel blog, remember, this was year 1, we were very new bloggers and still we got these perks. If you’d like to know more about starting a travel blog start here and explore our blogging section.

I’m not including the mortgage that we are still paying in Australia, our tenants are covering that cost.

I’m also not factoring lost earnings into our around the world trip cost. To us that is irrelevant.

How much to travel the world for a year?
How much to travel the world for a year depends on your style, this beautiful old-school guest house in Bangkok is one of our favourites and gives us a family room for about $40 per night. Bangkok is more expensive than many parts of Thailand, Chiang Mai or Kanchanaburi will cost you less, the islands will cost you more.

How Much to Travel the World For a Year?

A more detailed break-down of our spending is in our One Year of Travel Cost Breakdown post, we give itemised information there on what travel around the world cost. But you can get the final figure here first.

All money we earned through the blog ( and spent) is included in this figure.  It worked out at $98 AU / day, that’s $92 US per day. As you’ll see in the cost breakdown above we had some big expenses including new laptops and cameras, the actual travel cost is much lower.

That’s roughly the same cost for us to live in Australia per day during our 1 year saving period, no frills, including mortgage. Our mortgage on our very large house is only $35/day, so don’t take that as an example of typical living costs in Australia.

So same same, but so much more!

I’m really pleased with that.

What do you think?

Which Countries are the Cheapest?

Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam are cheap.

Malaysia , India and Central America cost a little more.

Sri Lanka is as cheap as you make it, it can be ultra cheap but admission costs to attractions are incrdibly high, so if you see all of the historic sites it’s not cheap, skip them and it’s ultra cheap.

The USA is a touch more expensive than Central America

Western Europe, Singapore and Australia cost a lot.

Romania, Hungary, The Czech Republic and Slovenia are much cheaper than Western Europe.

To maximise your travel dollar obviously you need to spend more time in the cheap countries, less in the more expensive countries.

Keeping World Travel Costs Low

As well as spending more time in the cheaper countries, less in the more expensive, be mindful of the following.

  • Hostel dorms are cheap for singles, for families hostels are almost always more expensive. Private family rooms will cost more than a large shared dorm and you’ll be paying for 4 adult beds. There are rarely child reductions in hostels and cheap hotels and guest houses are usually cheaper.
  • Always hunt for 1 or 2 child stays free if using existing bedding deals. You can find these right up to age 11 or 12. If you’re happy to share a large bed with a child you’ll save a lot. Most of the big booking engines will search for these deals, this is why they ask for the ages of your children as part of their search criteria.
  • Hotels with a decent free breakfast can save you money on food.
  • Try to bargain over transport costs. We’ve often managed to get a child on a bus for free if they can sit on an adult lap.
  • To compare prices on a number of hotel booking sites at once, use Hotels Combined. We often find that Hotels.com have the best deals and if you use them you may get every 10th night free. We’re using them more and more, but Agoda is still our favourite for Asia.
  • In Asia you can still sometimes turn up in town and go knocking on doors to find the best deals. Always negotiate. This was how it was always done when we first started travelling but the internet has almost fully taken over.
  • Find the best flights, on the best days with Skyscanner (tricks for using Skyscanner here). Always check the airline’s own website too, sometimes, but only sometimes, they will have a better deal. Sign up for Skyscanner’s notifications on price fluctuations.
  • Where possible, take a sleeper bus or sleeper train or well-priced night flight, they’ll save you 1 night’s accommodation fee.

We have a cost comparison on what various travellers spent to travel the world for a year. You’ll see the huge variations. also have a post on European Road Trip Costs and on Costs of Staying in London while house sitting. We’re always adding posts on costs and ways of making travel cheaper or more affordable. If there’s any specific information you need just ask and we’ll do our best to get that information on the website. To see which countries we are able to give you information on, see our World Travel Destinations page. Looking to plan a family gap year? Check out our guide. We can help you with how much money you need to travel to those places.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

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.

28 thoughts on “What Did it Cost to Travel the World for a Year?”

  1. My wife and I spent $33k for 12 months and kept a very detailed budget. We traveled in 4 continents and through 30+ countries. We have a detailed budget overview

  2. I say if you want to do things right, a $500 per day for two people would be grand. So a 365 around the world should come in at a little under $200,000 USD. That’s about how much my friend ESTELLE told me she spent and she visited 32 countries. One full year. Stayed at amazing AIRBNB and travelled in style. Still, it was not an expernsive nor FIRST CLASS vacation but she was able to stay at places that were immaculately clean and very comfortable.

    • Yeah, that’s a ridiculously high figure. You can do what you describe above on under half that with a few smarts. But it’s up to you, spend what you want to spend. We’ve been travelling full time for 6 years and still don’t spend that much. Even Tibet, which is a top dollar destination, was only about $150 each per day. Only place you’s need that much..maybe Singapore, where we payed $600 just for the hotel, and Bhutan.

  3. This is great, especially considering you’ve visited such a variety of places and you’re a whole family. I think I’d be happy to be spending $50-100 per person, per day, as that’s cheaper than what I spend in New Zealand anyway.

    • $100/day, for us would be $146,000 Izy. That would be an extremely expensive year! You really could live like kings on that sort of budget, which for us, absolutely honestly, would spoil it. We love backpacking, we enjoy the lifestyle. Sure, it’s fun to splurge now and then, it makes a change, we’re not strangers to $600/night hotels, but that’s not what this last year has been about. We’re all about the places we visit, not luxury accommodation

  4. I think you’ve done awfully well. I can’t believe that you’ve only been travelling for a year. I would have taken you all for experienced travelling professionals, and that goes for the children too!
    I like the way that you have evolved too from travelling to a tight budget to enjoying the moment and working where necessary, in order to continue taking advantage of those moments!

  5. Best fresh produce? Well, anywhere, if you sought it out. In the US we struggled to find non-junk food easily and at our budget point, but it was there, we visited some incredible farmers markets. Even in quite “nice” restaurants in the states we found a lot of fried and battered foods, but things like fried conch were delicious and new to us. Asian food is undoubtedly lighter and where I become “lighter” too, if you look for the right food in the right places. You could stuff your face with Mc Donalds there just as easily. I’m back to being a lard arse again now, since we left Sri Lanka the weight has been going back on. Food in the UK is wonderful, amazing quality, expensive by some standards but cheaper than Australia in supermarkets and farmers markets. We don’t eat out in restaurants here much, too expensive, same as Oz. The food Chef is turning out in London hotels is sensational, a lot of traditional British ingredients and dishes, but massively expensive. Spain was great, incredible fresh sea food, lovingly prepared, way better than anything chef could ever get his hands on back in Oz, not cheap. We found Central American food pretty boring and the supermarket was limited, the fresh produce market in Antigua was pretty good, I’m missing eating mountains of avocados and limes. A free breakfast is always going to be crappy in a budget hotel in the States or anywhere else. I don’t think we had breakfast included anywhere else we stayed, one place in Thailand, white toast and jam, hostels are normally toast and jam too, anywhere in the world. We normally go out for breakfast. I’d prefer a British hotel breakfast to a US one, less carbs, more veggies, but I’m not a fan of sausages and bacon, I stay veggie with those. Depends what you’re into really Thursday. My favourite places for food are all in Asia, I like big flavours, lots of chili, lots of veggies, no carbs.
    Or were you asking me about costs? Sorry for rambling, it’s 3am, I’m pooped!

  6. Yes, Australia is VERY expensive. We live in a suburb of Brisbane and pay just under $50 per day rent, which is a very good deal. The average rental here is probably more like $60 and over per day. A question: can you make a comparison on the quality of food you have experienced? e.g. freshness, preparation, etc. I know you mentioned the free breakfasts in the US were not particularly brilliant. Was Asian cuisine the best? How did US and UK food compare? Love the blog and thanks for sharing so much of your life with us. Congrats on one year!!

  7. We found Spain expensive Heidi. As you know , we like to eat out, meals were coming in not far off $60 so we were forced into self catering, we only ate out twice. We hate that, we want to be out, not stuck in a flat. The apartment, the cheapest we could find , was pretty pricey too, can’t remember now how much, $60 ish? You won’t know what to do with all the extra cash in Thailand!

  8. That’s exactly what we spend living in Spain as a home base and exploring Europe. We hope to stick to that budget as we move on over and explore SE Asia next! Thanks for sharing Alyson.

  9. Sorry I didn’t answer your other question, no we’ve never collected airline points. We found flight with various cheap airlines at incredible prices, I think being tied to one of the big guys could be false economy. We’ve actually never collected airline points, it’s not how we roll. And it was much cheaper than being in Australia had the two lifestyles been the same ie. eating out constantly, having fun all the time not just on high days and holidays. Australia is very expensive, I hear New Zealand is worse, so good luck with that!

  10. Great post, I’ve been working on my husband to embark on our long travelling adventure, it’s comforting to read it is possible without being ‘rich’.

  11. That’s pretty amazing budgeting! Did you figure out the difference in per day costs between the SE Asia part of the trip and the rest of the trip? I’m guessing the first months brought the average down significantly. Right now we’re in saving mode with the plan to head out for a year once we’ve saved up one year’s income. We want to spend quite a bit of time in Australia and New Zealand, so it won’t be cheap, but it’s great to see that you can live on approximately the same income as at home while you’re on the road. We’re also putting every single purchase, right down to a cup of coffee, on a points collecting credit card and the plan is to have enough airline points to cover our flights on our year off. Are you collecting any sort of points or do you find it more cost effective to just fly with the budget airlines as you go?

    • No, you’d have to break it down into chunks and every day was very different. In the States motels averaged say $50, car hire maybe $30 plus petrol, plus food. Food was cheap. All this is on the posts about road tripping, with costs. Guatemala was cheaper outside Antigua, but nowhere near as cheap as Asia. I don’t think our budgeting was particularly outstanding, we lived well, ate well, drank well, we never stopped ourselves spending on those things. I think we’re just good at finding good deals on the big stuff, hotels, flights, car hire. I think anyone could do this on $100 a day, easily. I’m surprised we didn’t spend more because it never seemed like we were going without anything, quite the opposite, infact.

  12. We still owe a lot more on our mortgage than the trip cost Lisa, over 4 times as much. That wouldn’t work for us. But our renters are more than covering it and we’ve over paying substantially on it too,

  13. What a fun year! I too have enjoyed following along 🙂

    One option I have never hear RTW families discuss is using all the RTW trip savings to pay off your house, then renting, and utilizing the rental income as pure profit each month.

    Instead of selling our house in the US before we moved to Oz 4 years ago (we did sell our cars and all our belongings) we used our hard earned savings to pay the house off. We’ve rented it out for the last 5 years (including a year before we left while we lived with my sister) and have made so much more money that way, versus that savings sitting in a high interest account (like ~17% per year instead of 4% most Aussie term deposits pay). From the rental income we’ve pocketed ~ $1500/mo for the last five years (90K) for doing nothing…plus we still own the house, and can sell it whenever we want/if we need.

    I realize it’s not an option for everyone, depending on how much you owe or how long you’ve owned it, etc– but I want to put that idea out there to traveling families. Instead of selling the house and stockpiling the money as a budget for a big trip, we paid it off and have utilized the steady monthly income.


  14. With the mortgage at only $35, day its not to hard Sharon, that’s on a half a million dollar house. My husband is giving me these figures, I’m not sure I believe him, I reckon electricity, particularly with the pool pump would be more, but he says we only paid $1,500/year, only $4 or $5 a day. We rarely use aircon.

    • Well, $35/day is about $1000 a month…. Perhaps they simply don’t owe that much on their home loan. Or maybe it’s $35/day after their tenants pay rent. Either way, that’s pretty good! Including ALL our expenses we spend about $115/day living in Perth (very expensive city), but we have subsidized rent by the Defense Force…so that helps in a massive way! We are a family of 3, soon to be 4.

  15. I am more shocked that you can live on that on aus! Our daily spend at home is twice that with basically no extras and we just rent a two bedroom apartment for a family of four. The joys of a big city I guess.

  16. Wow you done great. I guessed $200 per day going off how I travel, less abit as we don’t do budget. What sort of accommadation did you stay in S E Asia to also eat on 40/50 per day? Well done all the same I have enjoyed watching you guys. Cheers.

    • If you look in our cheap family accommodation section Regan you’ll see a lot of the places we stayed with photos and prices. We eat well, extremely well, it’s one of the reasons we do this, we also drink.


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