What does it cost to travel around the world for one year on average? I am not considering the continuous cost you have at home (Insurance, mortgage, etc) and the around the world tickets, since those cost can differ depending on journey, personal situation, and preference.

I know that the question depends on many personal factors, but I just want to know if it is at all possible, or should you have inherited a fortune or won the lottery?

At what figure does it make sense to start planning such a journey?

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  • My "magic number" is 12000 €, including transport and travelling through 5 continents for a year. I've tried to lower this number but I haven't found how without dispense with some little luxuries I need :) – Ivan Dec 28 '11 at 20:31
  • This was flagged as a dupe of travel.stackexchange.com/questions/2796/… - but given this is focused on a $ amount, it's got some differences. However, others may disagree. – Mark Mayo Dec 28 '11 at 21:11
  • I have some buddies who did it for 6,000US each. It was a lot of camping and eating of rice. – Beaker Dec 29 '11 at 7:36
  • For information on around-the-world tickets check the question What should I know about Around The World flights? – Peter Hahndorf Dec 29 '11 at 12:57
  • A discussion at work today involved a co-worker who refused to believe you could do this on under NZ$100,000 a year. It's surprisingly hard to convince some people :/ – Mark Mayo Feb 2 '12 at 9:00

It very much depends on the countries you go to. Europe is EXPENSIVE. South America - not so much. North America - EXPENSIVE. Central Asia - not.

I spent 4 months in South America doing pretty much whatever looked fun, and eating well. I initially stayed in the cheapest hostels possible, but quickly realised there's a reason they're cheap - had some interesting ones, that's for sure! After that I'd pick the cheapest popular ones. However, if you do this, eat from the supermarket, take cheap buses, and all that, you can very easily do 20-25 Euros a Day. A bit harder in Chile, much easier in Bolivia.

This past summer I went from London to Mongolia overland. Western Europe hurt a little. The Baltics (Latvia, Lithuania) were great, then Estonia which uses the Euro pushed rates up a bit for food. Then I hit Finland, and goodness it was expensive - all the Nordic countries are.

Russia is more expensive than you'd think in the tourist cities - St Petersburg and Moscow. Once you're into Siberia, things are much better. And Central Asia - the 'stans, and Mongolia - accommodation is very good value, and so is food. Transport depends on your bargaining skills in Russian / local language ;) And eating from the markets can save you a lot!

Again on this trip, it varied. In Europe, you needed 20 Euros sometimes just for the hostel. In Uzbekistan, it was much better. My accommodation in Dushanbe, Tajikistan was one of the more expensive ones, but it meant I had wifi which I'd been missing for a couple of weeks.

Of the RTW travellers, I find a lot of them talk with glee about the cheap prices in India and SE Asia. Some are shocked by the prices in China being expensive in tourist spots - more so than Europe. And some are also surprised at how expensive Australia and NZ are (and so are the locals, I can tell you! ;)).

So it all depends on your style of travel. You could easily spend US$30,000 and have an absolute ball. You could also spend around 6 grand (500 a month) if you're really frugal and careful about what you do/eat, and where you go. You couldn't do that easily in Europe.

It's all part of the fun. If you come home early, it probably just means you spent it and had a great time. If you can eek out the cash, you'll have had more experiences, just not expensive ones ;)

  • Your comment on China was interesting. My experience is that even in the larger cities, as long as you get away from the large brand name hotels and posh presentation prices are good - probably 1/2 to 1/3 of NZ where I come from. In NZ dollars (about 0.9 of $US) in the last few years I've had reasonable hotel rooms for $30 in Qingdao, slightly but not much more in Beijing, hostel own room with en suite in Xian and Shanghai for maybe $35-$45 neatrish city centre. – Russell McMahon Dec 2 '13 at 3:47
  • ... Even Shenzhen 10 minutes from centre by subway (near Dongmen walking street) $NZ30/ night for room, double bed, proper bathroom , ... . Maybe 1*-2*?. Cheaper available but gets grotty. Hostel rooms near city centre probably cost more. If using an N-bed dorm then prices plummet. – Russell McMahon Dec 2 '13 at 3:48

As you said, the answer depends on many factors, but there are thousands of people on around the world trips right now, you don't need a fortune to do this.

From my own experience, if you assume you pay for all accommodation, transport and food yourself (no couch surfing, hitchhiking) your budget per day could be anywhere from 10 to 40 Euros depending on the country. You can imagine there are huge differences in costs between countries. So without knowing the route, it is hard to say.

Also, travelling with a friend or partner may save money, as in many places you pay the same for a double as for a single room and can also save money when eating out and sharing dishes. On the other hand you may spend much more eating out with your partner than you would eating by yourself.

The more I think about this the harder it is to answer, but I consider an average of 20 Euros a day a minimum if you want to enjoy yourself a bit.

If you hitchhike, couch surf and don't eat out you can get along with much less.

But my number is 20*365 = 7300 Euros minimum plus the plane ticket.