travel-around-the-world-cost

From Sydney to Santiago: How Much Does It Cost to Travel Around the World?

“Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real.”

Jules Verne wrote these words in his famous book, “Around the World in 80 Days.”

He had a point. Many people dream of taking one long trip around the world. But only a handful of people take action to turn that dream into reality.

But when it comes to finances, who can make this fantasy real?

You, that’s who! Because it’s probably not as expensive as you think.

I managed to travel for 12 months across four continents on just 17,000 USD. Then again, not everyone is prepared to spend a year slumming it in abject poverty like me.

So how much should one save to travel the world?

Want to See It All? Here’s How Much It Costs to Travel Around the World

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1. What’s the real cost of a round the world trip?

The short answer is… there’s no real answer. Ultimately, the final sum is entirely dependent on how and where you travel. Nevertheless, here’s a rough estimate for a 12-month trip.

  • 17,000 USD or more for a backpacker staying in dormitory hostels, traveling rough, eating the cheapest food and spending much of their time in the developing world.
  • 35,000 USD or more for a mid-range traveler frequenting simple hotels, occasionally eating at nice restaurants, taking domestic flights once in a while and visiting an even mix of countries.
  • 150,000 USD or more for a glamorous globetrotter sleeping in plush hotels, ordering wine at gourmet restaurants and going developed countries with high cost of living.

Quite the discrepancy, isn’t it?

My meager 17,000 USD saw me spending the majority of my time in India, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Constant penny pinching meant Western Europe and North America were little more than a fleeting visit.

2. How much does it cost to fly around the world?

The single greatest financial outlay is the airfare. You’ll be circumnavigating the entire globe, after all.

Major airline networks Star Alliance and One World each offer a special air pass dubbed the Round the World Ticket.

These coveted airfares allow travelers to travel across the planet, providing the route is linear and adheres to a determined number of flights and miles.

Both conglomerates have their advantages, and the fare is notoriously complicated. Get in touch with a specialist travel agent such as AirTreks to determine the best deal. Expected to pay between 2,000 and 6,000 USD, depending on the selected route.

Experienced travel agents are also able to put together crafty multi-stop fares for simple routes such as Los Angeles-Sydney-Hong Kong-London-Los Angeles.

travel-around-the-world-cost

Students might find better rates through agencies such as STA, at times as low as 1,500 USD.

Some savvy travelers prefer to purchase a series of one-way tickets as they go, taking advantage of free stopovers to explore exciting destinations along the way. This strategy can end up being surprisingly cheap and allow more freedom and flexibility.

However, be sure to keep a buffer in your budget as airfares fluctuate tremendously. Also, know that many nations won’t allow entry without an onward ticket.

3. What are the hidden extra costs of a round the world trip?

Airfares and everyday expenses aren’t the only things to factor into your budget.

Like with buying a house or planning a wedding, there are always tiny details and costs you should consider.

Travel insurance

If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

travel-around-the-world-cost

A 12-month trip with extended time in North America, where healthcare costs are astronomical, could easily set you back 1,000 USD if something goes wrong. Better to pay for insurance upfront than a hefty hospital bill halfway through your trip!

Shop around for the best deals in your country and make sure you understand the fine print. World Nomads has a solid international reputation.

Travel vaccinations

Travel vaccinations cost a pretty penny, up to 500 USD for the whole smorgasbord of antibody creating agents.

It’s possible to find them for significantly less upon arrival at cheap destinations. Just ensure the clinic is legitimate and the shots have time to take effect.

Travel documents

Don’t have a passport yet? That’ll be another 100 to 300 USD, depending on where you’re from.

Visas can also be a significant expense for travelers visiting multiple exotic destinations.

4. How can I save money while traveling the world?

Backpackers and mid-range travelers alike are always looking for ways to save a penny or two.

Create a budget

Work out roughly how much you should be spending in each location. Then stick to your budget!

It’s helpful to keep track of your weekly expenditures with an app.

Learn the language

Sly business operators jump at the chance to overcharge naïve tourists. Speaking even a rudimentary level of the local language can pay serious dividends, because you appear more in tune with the region and less prone to scams.

travel-around-the-world-cost

FluentU is perfect for round the world travelers due to its offline functionality and vast range of languages. With only one account, you can access all nine of FluentU’s languages!

FluentU takes authentic videos, such as news programs and music videos, and turns them into fun language learning experiences.

To expedite the learning process, hone your language skills along the way, especially in regions with a universal tongue such as Latin America.

It may be challenging on a global trip, but try to learn more than a few basic phrases. After all, interacting with the locals is the most rewarding aspect of international travel.

Choose cheap accommodation

Backpackers can save cash by staying in hostels or local guesthouses.

Mid-range travelers should keep an eye out for specials on online reservation sites such as Booking.com. Or call your preferred hotel directly to negotiate a better rate.

Outdoor enthusiasts might consider bringing camping gear to get better acquainted with the world’s most spectacular national parks.

Find low-cost transportation

Rail and bus passes offer excellent value in Western Europe, North America and Australia.

Low-cost airlines can be even cheaper on occasion, so always compare the prices between these flights and rail/bus passes. In Europe, easyJet and Ryanair are two well-established options, while Southeast Asia is home to the massive Air Asia network.

Opt to take long-distance journeys overnight to save on accommodation.

Cook your own food

Budget travelers typically cook for themselves in expensive countries and stick to street food in cheaper locales.

Those with a more generous budget should browse online reviews to see which restaurants are worthy of a splurge. Remember, anything within 300 feet (100 meters) of a major landmark is almost certainly an overpriced tourist trap.

Work while traveling

Got a job you can take on the road? Then pack your laptop and freelance your way around the world. An established digital nomad has the luxury of being able to travel indefinitely, oftentimes in relative opulence.

Backpackers are often happy to pick up bar work or help out at a hostel.

5. How do I choose my destinations?

Tightfisted globetrotters should dedicate most of their trip to the developing world where travel costs are considerably less.

Regardless of your budget, choose a logical route that entails minimal backtracking. This saves both time and money.

Although it may be tempting, avoid cramming in too many destinations. Rushing around is excruciatingly stressful on an extended trip. Slow travel is key.

6. What’s the average daily expenditure of each region?

The cost of travel can vary significantly between countries. Therefore, the following figures represent an average among all nations in each region.

Western Europe

  • Shoestring: 75 USD
  • Mid-range: 75-250 USD
  • High end: 250 USD or more

Service industry costs are high. Rail passes are excellent value for those under 27.

Eastern and Central Europe

  • Shoestring: 45 USD
  • Mid-range: 45-150 USD
  • High end: 150 USD or more

Beer is amazingly cheap. Oneway fares often trump rail passes.

Australia and New Zealand

  • Shoestring: 100 USD
  • Mid-range: 100-250 USD
  • High end: 250 USD or more

Many backpackers team up to rent or buy a van and work along the way. Service industry costs are high.

Africa

  • Shoestring: 75 USD
  • Mid-range: 75-250 USD
  • High end: 250 USD or more

Africa is much more expensive to travel than people expect. Book safari tours locally for a better rate.

Latin America

  • Shoestring: 40 USD
  • Mid-range: 40-90 USD
  • High end: 90 USD or more

Costs vary tremendously between countries. Cama (lie-flat) buses are comfortable and reasonably priced.

USA and Canada

  • Shoestring: 70 USD
  • Mid-range: 70-200 USD
  • High end: 200 USD or more

Greyhound is cheap but rather unglamorous. Consider combining travel with flights and/or the Amtrak rail network.

Asia and the Middle East

  • Shoestring: 30 USD
  • Mid-range: 30-100 USD
  • High end: 100 USD or more

Parts of Asia are ridiculously cheap, so feel free to splurge on food and accommodation once in a while.

 

If you’ve made it this far, you might be thinking round the world travel isn’t so unaffordable after all.

If you’re still not convinced, think about it this way. How much are your living expenses each year at home?

Depending on where you’re from, I’d hazard a guess they would be more than 17,000 USD. Therefore, for many of our dear readers, it’s cheaper to hit the road than stay at home.

Not to mention, you’ll gain memories to last a lifetime.

 


Harry is a South American-based freelance writer who covers travel, the arts, and culture, among many other things.

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