This is for the meticulous record keepers and the travel curious.
31 May 2016 – Katy and I quit our jobs in Paris, moved out to the french country side and planned our escape to the other end of the world. With at least one big question on our mind: Do we have enough money to do this? I wanted to take up some digital space to write a bit about our finances for the year and some of our thinking there in. But before I do I’d like to put in a big asterisks.
*In recognition that money can be a juicy, personal, (nauseating?) topic I would like to warn you to be prepared for nitty, gritty, real-life, money details, pie charts, and bar graphs!
Some thoughts on Spending
Katy and I decided this year to spend money on experiences! We agreed early on that we wouldn’t let money get in the way of that pursuit. If this meant we had to fly home early so be it. Our plan was not to travel as long as possible, but to have a fulfilling year, chasing down whatever dreams we could make up for the next day.
We rarely got the best deal! In order to be taken seriously in Nepal and India, you have to learn to barter a bit. But we did not fight tooth and nail and sometimes knew we were paying more than the proper price. Again, we agreed that a couple rupees (1-2$) either way to us was not going to make a big difference, but to the locals it would. So we were happily swindled and often given exceptional service along the way.
There are as many ways to budget travel as there are stars in the sky. Please don’t take this to be your travel spending truth. While some travelers are officious about where to go and what to do, others are officious about how to travel on a budget. I would say to first find out why you want to travel and then see how financing that goal works best.
A Promise to Myself
Going off the advice of long time friends who are also longterm travelers, I made a deal with myself that I would journal everyday. Even if I was tired, hungry, grumpy, or violently ill, I promised myself that at a minimum I would write the date, the city I was in, and how much I spent that day. Then at the end of the month, we would tally it all up, convert from the local currency to one that makes sense to us, and finally we would look and see how much we had left to keep going.
We broke down our spending into super basic categories that you’ll see below: Food, Accommodation, In Country Transport, Activities, Other, and Visa fees. The sum total of all our expenses is listed, but we’ll go a bit further to look at how that breaks down day by day, simply dividing total spent by the number of days we visited the country and finally, we look at the basic cost of living in each country which will only include Food, Accommodation, and In Country Transportation.
Something to note, all the spending is for both Katy and I, so be sure to divide by two to get to per person costs. Oh and Katy’s computer is French so commas (,) take the place of periods(.) for numbers. Don’t let it throw you off too much ;).
How much did you spend this year?
Although we quit our jobs at the end of May last year and spent four months traveling in France and in the US, I’m opting to define our year of spending as beginning from our flight out of LAX and ending when we arrived back in San Diego nearly a year later.
Our year of Spending: 27 September 2016 – 24 August 2017, 331 days
||In Country Transport
How much did you spend in each country?
||Days In Country
How much is it to fly around the world?
Except for the last flight, the prices below are for both Katy and me.
|LAX – Kathmandu
|Cochin – Cape Town
|Johannesburg – Nairobi
|Nairobi – Cairo – Amman
|Tel Aviv – Paris
|Geneva – Atlanta
|Atlanta – Denver
|Denver – San Diego
|LAX – Geneva*
*To enter the US Katy was required to have a flight exiting North America
How much did you spend on Travel Insurance?
Yup. Katy sorted out a couples based travel insurance with a french agency. Lucky we never used it, but like the first aid kit in my backpack, I was happy to have it.
How much did you spend each day?
I thought it would be interesting to look at how much we spent each day and how that changed based on the country we were in, expecting to see that the average for a country like Nepal or India would be low where for a country like Israel or South Africa it would be high. But to normalize the data to account for the cost of pricey activities like, guided trekking in Nepal, SCUBA certification in India, renting a car for three weeks in South Africa, I also looked at the average spending on BASICS per day. Basics being defined as spending on food, accommodation, and in country transportation. The data isn’t perfect. It doesn’t account for free nights when we stayed with locals nor being treated to dinner, but I suppose all that does happen while traveling so perhaps there is some value in it just the same. Ultimately, I think we stayed in Nepal, India, South Africa, and Kenya long enough to get a good sense of basic traveling expenses, but the other countries should really be tossed out. You’ll see that in the second graph below.
Average spending per day per country
Average spending per day in countries we stayed in for 1 month or longer
* not including airfare
Get Out There, GO!
My treasure hunting Uncle Jeff once told me that you have to spend money to get it back. He thinks of it like an ebb and flow, a give and receive kind of thing. For my high school graduation he gave my twin brother and me five new one hundred dollar bills, but they had been stapled together! In his own gruff way, that was my uncle teaching his adolescent nephews to remember that money is just a tool. We are in control of it and not the other way around.
I wanted to share this information as a way to encourage the travel curious to feel more empowered to get out there. I get that some of these numbers appear big, but first recall this is the data for the two of us and it’s travel for nearly a year. What if you were only to travel for two weeks, a month?
||Proposed Travel Budget
||14 days x $73,66/2
||30 days x $73,66/2
||90 days x $73,66/2
Just add in the cost of the flight and go, go, go!