About the money

(This article is part of a series called:  Checking in at 12 months.)

How much does it cost to travel the world?  How do you budget for such a mammoth journey?  We are asked these questions often and there is no easy response.  In reality, we don’t have a budget, we simply have a travel fund from which we draw.  When the money is gone, our travels will be over.  With that in mind, we try to choose how to spend our money wisely being frugal where we can without sacrificing on the experience.

Somewhat surprisingly, at least to me, the last six months which were spent in Western Europe have cost less than our first six months in South America.  This does not mean it is cheaper to travel in Europe than in South America.  To the contrary, if we don’t include the cost of our Antarctica Cruise, we spent almost the same amount in South America as we did in Europe, but don’t forget we had free room and board for about 6 weeks total (Italy and Germany), five weeks of free accommodation (England), and 4 weeks of frugal living when we walked the Camino de Santiago.  This went a long way towards keeping our costs down while in Europe.

We did, however, incur some unplanned expenses when we decided at the last minute to offer a two-week, all expenses paid trip to Europe to both of our kids.  Of course they accepted and it became one of the highlights of the summer.  It sure made my 50th birthday memorable.  Spending three weeks in Ireland also drained our account at an alarming rate, and it didn’t help that we went during peak season in August.  Even so, I love the way we meandered through Ireland and don’t regret any of the costs incurred.  The way I see it, the costs of Ireland were somewhat offset by the frugality of the Camino de Santiago.  It all evens out in the end.

Neither of us is willing to sacrifice experience for the sake of saving a buck.  We are both of the same minds that we don’t just want to pass through a place, we really want to see it and experience it.  So, if that means spending 15 pounds to enter Westminster Abbey, well, we may not like it, but we’ll pay it.  Again, the cost of activities has been almost equal to the cost of our living expenses (accommodation, food, drink, transportation).

After a year of travel, we have made a huge dent in our travel fund, much deeper than I expected.  If we want to eke out another 6-12 months of travel, we must focus on cheap countries and avoid the expensive ones.  It is with a little sadness that we’ve decided not to go to Australia and New Zealand this time around, and we’ve also cut Kenya (Kilimanjaro and Safari) from our plans.  Those places will have to wait for a while.  Instead, we will head south to Egypt which we hope will be cheap given the current lull in tourists since the revolution in 2011, and we will definitely go to Thailand and neighbouring countries.

We’re fairly confident our budget will last for at least the next six months especially if we stick to those cheaper countries.  One thing is for certain, we’re not going home quite yet!


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