It’s a popular dream: to quit your day job to travel the world. No responsibilities, no schedules.
But, of course, nothing in life is free. How much exactly would it cost to travel the world?
Many factors influence the answer to this: how long you want to stay abroad; which countries do you want to see; what types of accommodation are you willing to stay in.
Perhaps the easiest way to figure out your budget is to work backwards and figure out how much it will cost per day.
Several popular travel blogs, such as A Little Adrift, Never Ending Footsteps, and Earth Trekkers, agree that a baseline of $20,000 per person for a year is doable. That’s a little over $50 per day.
Here’s how you can find out your magic number.
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Budget per day
If you’ve ever been on vacation before, the idea of spending just $50 a day probably seems completely out of reach. Especially since that includes accommodation.
But traveling for a year does not mean that every day is spent in luxury; you won’t be eating every meal in restaurants, going on excursion after excursion. Of course, there’s room in the budget for those treats once in a while, like when you live at home.
Traveling the world gives you time to slow down and immerse yourself in local life.
Hostels (some with private rooms, even), some hotels, and Airbnbs offer long-term stays that often average just tens of dollars a day, especially in smaller towns outside major cities and in cheaper countries. More on that below.
Staying in a place with a kitchen is also a must to keep food costs down.
And, depending on where you’re staying, taking public transportation instead of renting a car will also help your budget.
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The countries you visit matter
If you’re trying to stick to a budget, the easiest way to reduce your costs is to prioritize travel to countries that are more affordable. Switzerland is notoriously one of the most expensive countries to visit, while Thailand, for example, is known for offering accommodation and meals for just a handful of dollars.
And speaking of dollars, another factor to consider is the country’s currency and the exchange rate.
For example, traveling to Europe has always been more expensive because the euro beats the dollar. But the two are currently on par now due to inflation, which means that travel to many European cities right now is at a relative discount.
But, aiming for a budget of 50 dollars per day will not be as achievable in Europe as staying in countries in Asia, Africa or South America. Australia and New Zealand are also more expensive options.
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What else affects the budget
The two biggest expenses to consider are flights and accommodation.
In the shared budgets of two of the travel bloggers mentioned above, the average cost of all their flights was about 18% of their overall costs. If you’ve ever flown domestically in America, that low price might seem unbelievable.
But domestic travel between countries in Europe or Asia is incredibly cheaper than domestic travel in America. You can often get flights for less than $100, especially if your timeline or destination is flexible.
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Your accommodation will also take up a large percentage of your budget. If you are willing to stay or two or three star accommodations, you can stay within a budget of $50 a day.
Another tip: The more often you move to a new place, the higher your daily costs will be to keep up with your flight, train or taxi journey. Slowing down will help reduce expenses.
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Splurging on your trip
If European countries are on your must-see list, travel blogging experts say you can expect your daily budget to at least double, possibly triple.
That would mean you’re looking at a cost of at least $40,000 per person to travel for a year.
Opting for four or five star hotels will also increase your price. Some high-end hotels can cost you hundreds of dollars just for one night.
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To combat this, consider splitting your time between some expensive and cheaper countries. After all, you are traveling to see the world, which means a mix of cultures and continents.
You can also consider splurging on a night or two now and then at high-end hotels and opting for more modest accommodations in between.
Either way, simplifying your budget by thinking about your average per day can be a useful tactic when you start planning the trip of a lifetime.