One of the most discussed topics for a Round-the-World (RTW) trip is the budget. Everyone wants to know what it will cost to take the trip of a lifetime. We all want it to be very affordable, but deep down we know it will not come cheap. Back when we were into sailing, the number one question asked by people looking at going cruising was, “What does it cost?” The tongue-in-cheek answer to that question was known throughout cruising circles and was, “Whatever you have!” Budgets for cruising or RTW travel can be as cheap or expensive as you are willing to have it, depending on your lifestyle. Some people are perfectly happy eating ramen noodles, while others insist on caviar.
When doing research for our RTW trip, we were shocked at what other people were actually spending. Many families were spending close to or over $100,000 for their RTW trips, and that was for only one year. We saw other estimates say that the general consensus is $25,000 per person per year. Using those numbers a RTW trip for us, a family of three, would cost $75,000 a year. We didn’t like those numbers!
We decided to crunch our own numbers and figure out a way that we could travel on a RTW trip and to see all the places we have always dreamt of seeing, and to be able to afford it. And preferably without surviving on ramen noodles. The solution seemed rather simple; slow travel. The biggest costs with travel are transportation, lodging, and food. Through slow travel we would save money on all three. Instead of staying in hotels or youth hostels and to be constantly on the move, we decided that we would rent an apartment at each location and stay at least a month. Not only is the rent cheaper by staying a month, but we will also be able to prepare our own meals and save a fortune over eating out.
After researching the costs associated with apartment rentals, transportation, and food we calculated that we could travel RTW over two years for $100 a day, which is $36,500 annually, or about $33 per person per day. This is an average cost, as we know that some places will be more expensive than others. We also determined that it is cheaper to spread a RTW trip out over two years, or more, than to try to do it all within one year. The transportation costs will basically be the same if you travel RTW for 12 months or 24 months.
We have decided to start our RTW trip in Western Europe, an area renown for being expensive. While most RTW trippers usually start in cheaper countries, we feel this is a mistake. By starting in the more expensive countries first, we will strive harder to stay on budget and can use the cheaper countries to help balance out our 24-month average in case we go over budget in Europe.
As we travel, we will post each months expenses for everyone to see if a 2-year RTW trip for a family of 3 really can be done on $100 a day. We think it can, but only time will tell.
To see our actual expenses, check out our budget page by CLICKING HERE
Melissa Harris says
Thanks for making this post. We have been discussing this very thing and have said people are spending way to much money a day. Love to see that you are making it on your budget as we are looking to have a similar one for a family of four. Keep on posting, we are enjoying it.
How are you feeling you’re doing with rentals? Are you finding them clean? Comfortable? Safe neighborhood? One thing we learned from our trip to Paris was that renting “blind” so to speak didn’t work very well for us since we had to move apartments twice. We were lucky in that we were with an agency that had multiple apartments, although I’m sure we paid more because we used an agency. It’s risky landing somewhere without having a rental secured, but I don’t like that you don’t really know what you’re going to get! What do you think of your rentals thus far?
We have had good luck with our rentals, so far. The worst place we have stay at since arriving in Europe on December 1, 2012 has been a hotel room for one night in Montpellier, France. But it was only one night and at least it did not have any bed bugs! We have only dealt with the homeowners, and not agencies, and it has worked out really well.
After our small apartment in Paris we now know what size our personal space bubbles are and have been taking that into account when choosing housing. We can do really tiny in small doses, but not for a solid month!
We had to omit visiting Barcelona on this trip as we could not afford anything bigger than a tiny apartment in a sketchy area of town. Barcelona is surprisingly expensive! We had really hoped to see it, but we can always come back another time. It did give us a chance to see a part of Spain that we would not normally have visited and we get to wake up everyday to see sunshine and the Mediterranean. Life is good!
That’s another question… how do you know if the apartment you’re looking at is in a good or not so good neighborhood ?
Waking up to the Mediterranean sounds ideal!
Did I miss the post about Sydney teaching English in a classroom?
Reviews on the apartment help. Of course, none of our apartments and houses we have stayed in had any reviews. So we used Google Map and Google Street View to scope out the area and travel guides to map points of interest in relation to the location of the house or apartment. It is always a bit of a gamble renting unseen (other than photos) but so far we have been happy.
While in Arles, France, Sydney got invited to assist an English teacher at a public elementary school for an hour. She had a great time and came out all smiles!
Cheers for the post! Very impressed at the $100 a day effort…we’re keeping to the same budget but we’re only 2 people!
This is definitely a topic my husband and I keep reviewing over the course of our RTW trip. Using a mix of hostels and renting apartments from Airbnb (which all have been just brilliant) have helped keep the accommodation costs down.
We think we can get our average daily spend down further by being a bit more savvy with how we eat (e.g. eat dinner out twice a week and cook ourselves the rest of the week / eating more street food). Limiting our drinking of all the fabulous tequila and margaritas I’m sure would help also!
Looking forward to see how you go next month! Safe travels!
Heidi Wagoner says
Hi, we are a family of 4 living in Southern Spain the past 7 months for with the same budget as you. Let’s hope we can keep it up. It is funny as we were in Paris for Christmas as well. I see you were in Denia, if you make it down by Malaga or Almuñécar give us a shout. We’d love to meet up with you. It seems like we have similar agendas. 🙂 take care
Hannah @ Getting Stamped says
I would say you did a damn good job!! Your Europe stats are making me feel better about our budget when we get to Europe on our RTW!!
Rhonda @Laugh-Quotes says
You sure did better than we did, especially in our early months. It took us quite a while to transition for “tourist” thinking to “traveler” thinking.
Terry Stevenson says
Love your blog and ‘almost weekly newsletter’! As you have noted on Facebook, you will find Thailand very inexpensive so your daily average will come down. Top story on BBC news was the unrest in Bangkok. Stay safe and look forward to reading of your adventures. Is Sydney adding grasshoppers to her farm!!!?
Rebecca B says
I really appreciate how you have broken down your costs! We would love to do a 2 year round the world trip with our kids and concrete information like this is so helpful! We would love to see more information on how you find your mid-term rentals…everything I see online is geared towards vacation rentals and very expensive or longer term rentals (eg 6 months or more)
thanks and look forward to reading more!
Hi Rebecca, so glad to hear that you are also planning on doing a 2-year around the world trip and that you are finding our information helpful. To see the places we have stayed in, checkout our accommodations page where you can find the websites we use and the actual places we have booked. Most vacation rentals will happily rent to you for a month (or longer) at a much cheaper rate: https://travel-junkies.com/accommodations/
Also, if you haven’t already done so, check out our detailed budget page with pie charts and actual expenses here: https://travel-junkies.com/budget/
Hope this helps!