Local boat transport in Malawi
Travel Tips

How much does it cost to travel the world for one year?

I want to share with you my experience of how much does it cost to travel the world for one year. Since now many of us are dreaming about taking off, I think this is a great time to start planing this dream more precisely 🙂

After you read this post, you can also have a look at my previous article on how to save money! No excuses!

How much does it cost to travel the world for one year? – the short answer

To travel the world for 12 months will cost you around 20.000 Euro. This includes all the travel spendings during the journey and all the pre-travel costs.

How much does it cost to go travelling around the world for one year - diagram
The distribution of spendings during my 12 months of travelling
Cost of travel the world by country
The cost breakdown per country - pre-costs are here not included.

How much does it cost to travel the world for one year? – the long answer

It depends. You probably can spend millions of euros, or you can travel for half of what I spent. Many factors influence how much does it cost to travel the world for one year. Let us see them in the following:

1) The countries you want to visit

It will make a difference if you travel across Switzerland or Vietnam. This is obvious. However, some countries may seem to you to be super cheap, but they are not.

For example, I travelled for six months in Africa, and I realised that not every country is as cheap as I thought! So if you are thinking about specific countries you want to travel to, and want to plan your budget precisely, you should research this country separately.

Nonetheless, I can say in general, that the undeveloped countries are cheaper for globetrotters like us 🙂

2) The season of travel

Avoiding holidays, festivals, events and so on, will help you to keep your spendings low. This is a fact: travelling out of session is cheaper. You will find better and less expensive accommodation options, and besides that, you will not sit in overcrowded busses. Research the main events in the countries you want to visit, and avoid those times (except you want to visit the festivities itself!).

3) Your pace of travel

The slower you travel, the cheaper it will be. Slow travelling means avoiding planes, but instead taking a local bus. It means staying in places longer, paying long-term for accommodation, which is cheaper than paying per night. When you stay longer in one spot, you can find out where to buy inexpensive food,  or maybe even you can support some local company in exchange for food or accommodation. When you have more time, you can wait for better deals for your activities. And so on…

4) Your mode of transport

My general advice is: use the local transport. Forget all the organized buses and trips, which are made for backpackers and tourists. All of them are just super expensive in comparison to what you would pay for the same journey on a local bus.

Yes, it will take longer, and yes, it will be probably less comfortable (see for example the profile picture of this post: it was a local mode of transport on Lake Malawi!). However, you will save money and see the country from its real site! I met so many locals just by using local transport. Btw. my longest bus drive took 27 hours, and it was in Mozambique.

Though, sometimes it might be more convenient cheaper to rent or even to buy a car. This is why I decided to buy a campervan for travelling in Australia. I would never be able to see so much by using public transport. And I also reckon that in the end, it would cost me more money to pay for all the transport tickets and excursions if I wouldn’t have my own vehicle.

Local transport in Africa
Bus traveling in Africa
Inside of a local bus in Africa
Up to six people in a row - you are lucky if you get the spot next to the window!

5) Accommodation choices

How much does it cost to travel the world for one year, will be strongly dependent on your accommodation choices, since this will be the most significant part of your budget. Accommodation is something that you need. You can’t just cut those costs. 

Couchsurfing or camping will be the cheapest option. And then you have things like hostels, hotels, b&b, airbnb, motels…. Each country has its most economical options. Hostels are generally a good way to go. You will stay in a room with other people (in low session you will even have the whole place for your own), and you will meet other travellers.

However, hostels are not the best option everywhere! For instance, I have realised that in Africa, it was more often a way cheaper to go to a hotel. Same in some parts of Asia. Hotels and B&B are an excellent option for couples because they can split the room costs in two. 

My cheapest accommodation in a private room was in Laos, where I paid 3,5€ for a night in a charming bungalow. I never ‘treated’ myself with higher class accommodation, because I never needed it. I am usually fine with a simple and clean room and I do not need much luxury. 

Treehouse as an accommodation option
I stayed 3 weeks in a treehouse in Sri Lanka, paying 5 Euro per night - this was my luxury!

6) Food

Buy your food in a local store and cook it. This will be, in most cases, the cheapest option. However, in some parts of Asia, street food is so cheap that it is not even worth it to cook it on your own (when I can have a decent fresh-made meal for 2 dollars, I don’t bother to cook on my own!). And btw, I need to mention that: if you do not eat street food, then you shouldn’t call yourself a traveller, you should call yourself retarded 😀 

I rarely go to a typical, tourists restaurants, because those are mostly overpriced and overrated. I instead ask local people: ‘hey, where are you getting your lunch? Can I go with you?’ This is how you do it! Stomach problem? Never anything significant 🙂 

Two girls in a local restaurant in Africa
Making friends in a local restaurant in Mozambique
How much does it cost to travel the world for one year will depend on how much you spend on food
Simple, delicious, home-made street food in Africa just for 1 Euro (rice, beans and spinach).
Street Food in Malaysia
Squids and eggs from a local street food market in Malaysia just for 1,5 Euro.

7) Activities and entertainment

The costs to travel the world for one year will be strongly dependent on what activities you will undertake and how often you will do it. Theoretically, you could cut those costs completely, because you can always find some free activities and excursions. Just google: ‘free activities in city XY’ or ‘free walking tours in XY’, and so on. 

However, sometimes you will decide to do something in a group, or sometimes you will have to hire a guide or pay for an entrance. Finally, this is why you travel: to see, to visit, to discover. So treat yourself from time to time! Nevertheless, I tell you something: I have never paid a full price for any tour or excursion – I always waited for a discount or used my bargain skills 🙂

What I noticed is that many travelers spend a lot of money on partying. I know that this is cool from time to time, but if you go out every day, you will have to go back home after a few weeks instead of traveling the world for a year.

Meeting local kids in Africa
My friend Ali and I coudn't afford the entrance to Serengeti Park in Tanzania, so we decided to rent the bikes and drive around the villages - this is where we met those Masaai kids!

8) Other spendings and fees

Keep in mind that there will always be some extra costs during your journey around the world: Visas, souvenirs, laundry, clothes, and so on.

According to Visas: some countries have better passports for traveling. For example, with my polish passport, I had to pay the entry to every African country that I have visited, while my other European mates didn’t. In total, I spent on visas around 500€.

Pre-Travel costs

You need to calculate pre-travel costs into your travel budget, because those might make up a significant amount!

a) Vaccinations

You should start taking care of your vaccinations quite early. I would say about one year before you plan to travel the world. Some shots need to be done 2 or 3 times, and you will need months of gap between the doses. I spent around 400€ on vaccinations.

Unfortunately, you will have to pay for everything privately because your standard insurance doesn’t cover it. However, be smart and do not go to a first travel medicine centre but instead inform yourself about different options and pricing. I did my vaccinations in Vienna, in a government-owned vaccination centre, and their prices were about 30 per cent cheaper than at a private medical centre (however, the service and the waiting time was not the best).

You can also buy some vaccine and let someone (for example your doctor friend) vaccinate you! This would be a way cheaper! Another suggestion I can make is to check the prices in other countries (for instance your neighbour country or maybe the first country you want to visit…). I realised that Austria was one of the most expensive places to vaccinate, and for example, Spain or Poland, or Asian countries are significantly cheaper.

b) Travel insurance

Travel insurance is a must-have. If you can’t afford it, it means you are not ready to travel yet, and you should better save some more money.

During my first year, I used Allianz (STA-Travel) and paid 936 EUR for a pretty good one-year insurance package. During the early months of traveling, I went to a doctor a few times, and I always sent my bills to them, and they processed my cases fast. Those bills were between 20 and 50€ each. 

Everything changed when I had an accident while surfing and got rip inflammation (super painful for two months!) and had to go to a hospital. The hospital charged me quite a significant amount just for a short visit; I think it was about 300€. I sent this case to Allianz, and this is where my positive opinion about them changed. They started to make so many troubles, not answering my emails and calls. Finally, they told me they would only accept original bills. However, I am not stupid, and I will not send those documents from overseas, because, from my experience, many letters and parcels get just lost. So now, I can’t wait to come to Vienna (for a visit) and bring these documents personally to their office. 

Now I switched to TrueTraveller. I paid 999€ for one year cover, including protection for my camera and my MacBook.

Let me know if you would be interested in more details on how to find suitable travel insurance!

c) Gear

Do not forget to add gear into your calculation. Maybe you will need a backpack, a light jacket, or perhaps you want to buy a proper camera for your unforgettable journey? (Btw.: I will soon share with you my tips on how to take better pictures :))

Some extra tips

Avoid scams

When you get to a new country, always inform yourself asap (from a local person) about what is the typical price for a bus, for dinner, for a hotel, etc. It is because in many counties people will use the fact that you are a tourist and that you have no idea about the pricing. This happens especially at the airports when you just land and try to get a taxi or a bus to your first hotel. But this also happens in other locations across the world. 

Even in official places, people tried to take advantage of me being a tourist. Few times people wanted to sell me something showing me an ‘official’ ticket – but I have been smart to inform myself before: ‘sorry sir, this is fake. I know that the price was 3, not 10 – this local lady just showed me her ticket’. In Sri Lanka, for instance, there is even an official FB group called Sri Lanka Scams, where you can look up for examples of tourists scams.

Another super popular scam happens at the borders, when you cross them by foot and need to exchange money! Since in many countries the currency is so small (for instance 1€ might be something like 1000 in local currency), the scammers will just try to give you 1000 instead of 10000! Watch out! 

Use a budget tracking app

Using an app for tracking your travel expenses is a great way to go! There are different options for that. I used Trail Wallet App.

Now, since you know how much does it cost to travel the world for one year, you can start to save money! Check my post with tips on how to save money here.

If you are looking for some travel ideas during the international travel ban, have a look at my post-lockdown travel tips and trends here.

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