How Much Does A RTW Trip Cost – Revisited

After my previous post about how much a trip around the world would cost, I’ve come across more examples from the big wide world of interweb thanks partly to Chris and Jodi (from and Lisa.

I used to do a little statistics during my dark days as an engineer so I was curious to see if I could somehow “massage” the data points to figure out the average cost of a RTW trip.

Here are the data points I used:

How much has it cost others to do around the world trip?

$2333 pm/pp
22 countries in 15 months = $35000
Dave from estimated to plus/minus a penny or two:

$2200 pm/pp
26 countries in 13 months = $28600
Susan and Grace from our neck of the wood (Bay Area, California):

$1250 pm/pp
11 countries in 9 months = $11250
Chris and Jodi and their amazing, super cheap, RTW trip (could it be because preferred land transportation rather than flying?)

$2083 pm/pp
14 countries in 12 months = $25000
Gillian and Jason who took one giant step away to realizing their dream

$1818 pm/pp
16 countries in 11 months = $20000
Michael Tieso from the Art of Backpacking shared a snapshot of his jaunt around the world

$1250 pm/pp
11 countries in 12 months = $15000*
Jason and Sharon, again Bay Area represents!

$2000 pm/pp
Simon and Erin from Never Ending Voyage
12 countries in 12 months = $24000 (14584 GBP using 2010 conversion rate)

$1870 pm/pp
12 countries in 9 months = $16800
Christine Benson and her husband, Mike… another couple who decided to go for it.

-- amalthya

And after about 2 hours of fiddling around with Google Spreadsheet I discovered something that might seem obvious to a lot of people already: there’s is not any strong correlation between any variables. I knew this, but I just wanted to prove it in a more scientific way (that’s my excuse for wasting 2 hours of my life anyway).

How much would it cost to do a round-the-world trip?

It depends…

My Statistic Experiment

There just seems to be way too many variables involved in a trip like such as a RTW trip: where you sleep, what you eat, tours you take, how long you stay in a particularly cheap/expensive country… and not to mention that some people include pre-trip cost (vaccinations, equipment purchase) in their total cost, and some don’t.

However, 6 out of the 8 examples above show that on average you’ll need $2000 per person per month for a RTW trip. I guess that’s a good starting point if you’re looking for quickie estimate.

That of course assumes that you’re going to a large enough number of countries with varying cost of living in order for the law of average to work. If you stick to lower cost countries, such as Jason and Sharon did with their trip around Asia, you can get by with much less.

On a related note, This article and this list the various ways we save money for traveling.

Well, it was such a tremendous fun to read other people’s accounts of their around the world trips. And it was really inspiring to see the efforts put into keeping track and sharing it with everybody else who happens to be planning the same thing.

I’m in a continuous quest to find other examples… so let me know if you know any RTW cost examples. Including yours!

Valuable Resources

  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, for those who love anything weird and offbeat.
  • Resource Toolbox: How I find cheap flights, accommodations, and other travel hacks.

This site contains affiliate links that give me a tiny commission at no cost to you (say, if you buy items from the shop, for example). Thanks, guys!

44 Replies to “How Much Does A RTW Trip Cost – Revisited”

  1. Traveling solo it cost me $26,000 for 11 months or an average of $2,360 a month late 2010 to late 2011. I visited 22 countries the bulk of which were across the Middle East, Southeast Asia and South America. I economized as much as I could but I ate and drank well, indulged in many activities and 90% of the time my hotel room was a private room with a private bath…so, I could've shaved off at least 25% of this cost if I slept in shared Hostel rooms and even more if I was more careful about the cost of food…but I do agree with the $2000 per person/per month figure, it works really well.

  2. A liitle late to the party, but thought our two cents could help those setting out… We took a completely different approach to budgeting our trip. Rather than thinking of how much it would cost, we came at it from the perspective of how much we were willing to spend, then reversed engineered our trip from there. We used our current cost of living in NYC as a base in a addition to $10K for the actual traveling. The result? An initial itinerary of 9 destinations over six months.

    The reality is that we have now been to 12 cities in 9 counties over three and a half months, with two months and a few more destinations to go. We are currently a thousand dollars over budget, but we are planning to come home a week or two early to get things back on track.

    From our experiences so far, we would easily say to skip Europe if you want to keep your costs down. Other than that, the world is your oyster…

  3. I have never done a round the world trip, due to university, but I have done several 3 month trips, and of course many shorter two week trips. In most of asia staying at the cheepest places and not going during tourist season as well as eating like the locals cost me an average of 13$ a day, not including plane ticket. This includes the occasional splurges.

    In Europe it is a bit more difficult, but with couchsurfing and hitchhiking and not missing out on anything, my travel copanion and I spent less than 10 euros per day.

    I would think based on these not including the flight, 15$ per day is more than doable. Plus many days you spend less and can save that extra money for the "splurges". Couchsurfing is a wonderful way to travel if your goal is meeting people, understanding cultures, etc and not just visitng sites. I havr done it in most countries in Europe and am planning it for my upcoming middle eastern trip.

    Therefore, my opinion based on just what I have done… 450$ a month, so I would round up to 500$ per month. That would be the base and then its always fun to bring some extra spending money for when you want to buy the comfortable "alladin" traveling pants, the headscarf, the scuba diving trip, the camel ride through the desert 🙂

    good luck everyone!

    I'm doing a 6 month trip around south america in January '12 and am hoping this budget will continue 🙂

  4. I'm amazed when I see estimates that high. I only spend $1000/mo on living expenses here in the US in an urban area, and spending more than that while traveling overseas seems ridiculous, especially given the lower cost of living in much of the rest of the world.

    1. It seems that the number does vary a lot – I've seen numbers as high as $3k/month and as low as under $1k/month, which makes sense since the variables that make up the cost of travel vary so much.

      We're hoping that by couchsurfing and doing some sort of work exchange on the road we can bring our cost lower than the average, so we'll see.

  5. Great article. You can do it for even less if you do a lot of WWOOFing or trade services for lodging. I have often traded marketing and web advice for free housing in hostels, and this summer I'll be spending two months in France for under $1000, including my airfare, through a combination of bartering and staying with friends.

  6. I'm so happy that I found your website! I'm in the beginning planning stages of a RTW trip (and I'm planning on working/volunteering for a large chunk of my time abroad), and this is the first I've found estimates that are anywhere near within my budget. I keep seeing sites that claim you can't do it for under $4000-5000pm/pp, and that seemed rather absurd to me.

    I'll definitely be following you two as you head out on your journey!

    1. Hi Kat, glad to be of help. If you read the comments on this section a lot of people seem to think that $2000 pp/pm seems high. So if you're budgeting around $2000 pp/pm it's definitely more than do-able!! Planning a RTW trip can be overwhelming… if you have any questions about anything, let us know and I can either answer them or direct you to other RTWers who would be able to. Cheers!

  7. I know I'm coming to the party SUPER late, we did it for $2419 pp/pm in 2008/1009. We splurged on our flights ($6,000 each for the 6 continent oneworld ticket). And on the Gorillas ($500 each). Jon when skydiving, diving, and bungee jumping. We stayed in doubles, not dorms… And we went to 30 countries in 12 months. We could have done it for WAY less if we weren't so type A go, go, go.

    I include three detailed breakdowns on our travel blog, Search for expenses. The new theme doesn't work that well with the posts, so highlight above the tables to see the goods in the top row! (One day I will get around to fixing them!)

  8. I traveled with my hubby for 20 months through NZ, Asia and South America (18 countries including destinations like Galapagos and Easter Island) and it cost us $19,600 per head and this includes about $4600 for flights. The rest is lodging, food, ground transport, sightseeing, souvenirs etc. Travel insurance and gear not included – we didn’t really buy any gear prior to the trip and as far as insurance goes we got sponsored 🙂

    Two of those 20 months we stayed with our families in Europe and didn’t really have many expenses at that time. So we can say that we were on the road for 18 months, which cost us on average $1088 per person per month including flights.

    We pretty much always stayed in double rooms (we stayed in dorms maybe 10 times during those 18 months), ate 3 time a day (but almost always at local restaurant and avoided tourist restaurants), we cooked and camped in more expensive places (Argentina and Chile) etc. So it was budget traveling but very far from extreme. Let me know if you would like more details 🙂

    1. I just read a comment by LeslieTrabvel. She suggest that to travel for under $14000 a year you need to skip lots of things. I don't agree. We did things like scuba diving and snorkeling, we did language classes in South America we went to Easter Island and Galapagos etc. But to do that we sacrificed by taking cheaper accommodation, eating at cheap places and traveling by cheap local transport. Because the thing is that cheaper doesn't necessary means worse. If you choose wisely where you stay or eat you can save lots of money and still have some comfort 🙂 E.g. we were in Rajastan in India for about 3 weeks and it was so hot over there (like 48-52 C every day, I'm serious). So we stayed at AC rooms all this time. But we still managed to spend no more than $15 a day pp (on average). This is because we ate where locals ate and traveled using cheaper transport options.

      So it all can be done, but you just have to make some small compromises.

      Good luck with you trip!

  9. We spent about $100 day total for the two of us for a total of about $36,000 (or $50/day, $1500/month, $18,000/year per person). We traveled for twelve months and visited 16 countries (plus a few others that we technically went to but were there for just a couple of days) in Central and South America, south and east Africa, and SE Asia. We flew a moderate amount (between continents obviously; only once in Africa; about 8 times in S. America, and about 8 times in SE Asia). We stayed in a combination of guesthouses, hotels, and hostels, but almost always had private rooms with private bathrooms. Our big splurges were a Galapagos cruise on a nice boat, trekking with gorillas in Uganda, microlight flights over Victoria Falls, and scuba certification and subsequent dives.

    1. Thanks for the additional info. Can I ask if the extra splurges were included (some people don't count those because they're not 'required' type of cost) in the cost? if so, good news for us! yay… we're thinking of doing the Galapagos and the gorilla treks and weren't sure if it's going to break our budget.

    2. $36,000 is our total cost, including our splurges. For us, the Galapagos and gorillas were worth being frugal in other spots. Though gorilla trekking has a set rate that's not open for negotiation, you can really get a pretty good deal on the Galapagos by waiting until you get to Quito and booking a last minute spot on a boat. We still spent a lot on the Galapagos, don't get me wrong, but we opted for a first-class catamaran and by taking the unsold room on a boat leaving right away, we paid less than half of what everyone else on our boat paid.

      With the gorillas, we actually went trekking with Jeff's parents, who generously paid for us and for his sister to join us. We did, however, include the cost in the $36,000 figure, even though we didn't actually pay for it.

      On our blog, there's a RTW page with a budget summary for the whole trip and detailed budgets for S. America and Africa.

  10. Check out Shannon's numbers from A Little Adrift:

    11 months for about $18,000 (she traveled solo).

    This was one of the first blogs I found with a budget breakdown when I started thinking of doing this and Shannon was nice enough to share with me her ultra-super-cool budget worksheet that is set up to do all the math for you – even currency conversions!

  11. You've really done your homework! To go RTW for a year for under $14,000, you'd really have to skip out on a lot of cool experiences (like scuba diving, snorkeling trips, flights to cover long distances in a short time, etc). The norm seems to be $20- $25K for a year.

    You may decide to splurge occasionally on accommodation or activities; there were times on our year-long trip where we got burned out and wanted to treat ourselves for a few days. It's hard not to become obsessed with cost and super frugal during a RTW trip, but you don't want to feel like you're missing out on anything later because you were too cheap. Here's our final RTW blog entry that shows how much we spent, per day, in each country:

    Have fun on your adventure!

  12. Thanks for the information. People ususally don´t dare to make a trip around the world because they think it could be too much expensive. Your article proves they're wrong. Making a RWT is possible as long as you know how to spend your money.

  13. Thanks for bringing all those examples and resources together! More of us should do posts like these — pulling the results of our research together to make it easier for those who follow us 🙂

  14. this is really interesting , love this article. All those figures seem crazy high to me tho, iv been traveling for nearly 5 years and $1000 per month is nearly always achievable even in Japan, LA etc

    Ur blog is designed brilliantly by the way 🙂

    1. Thanks for coming by. We love your blog too. You've been to a lot of places we're planning to go next year and we're learning a lot. I think the longer you go on the road, the more you learn on how to scrape by with less.

  15. thanks for the info and especially the follow up article. talk about "going the extra mile". I am just starting my saving, but already thinking it will be an absolute must to stop for a while and work in come capacity. thanks again.

  16. Another awesome article guys – Shawna and I were initially trying to do our trip on $3,000/month combined, but that seems to be on the low end of things….time to save a little more money!!!

  17. Thanks for this summary – wow, $2000/month per person seems like a lot! We have a rough budget of $100/day for the 2 of us (approx $1500/month) for our upcoming RTW, it'll be interesting to see whether we can stick to that or not.

    We may need to revise that number after seeing these figures, especially as we'll blow our entire budget in our first 3 months in North America if we're not careful.

    1. Hi Kieron, the figure quoted is an average. So even if it cost you more than $1500/pm here in the states hopefully you'll recoup the diff in a cheaper location. Gotta love the law of average. Can't wait to follow you guys on your adventure here in the states. Hopefully you have Yosemite in your itinerary — it's my favorite place in the world 🙂

  18. Well done on putting that all together and thanks for including us (you also made Simon's day with the comment about our site design =) ).

    The costs of our first RTW trip that you mention above did include pre trip expenses, quite a few expensive countries, lots of activities and a fair amount of flying. As we are now travelling permanently we are going slower (renting an apartment for a month ocasionally) and in South America we are spending about $1000 a month per person.

    1. Glad to hear (from you, Michael, and Ayngelina) that SA is relatively cheap. That's the last region in our itinerary… I wonder if that's a good thing or a bad thing to leave the cheap(er) region last. And gosh, how lucky are you to do on a RTW twice!

  19. Thanks for the mention. Yeah, it really does depend on the country visited. In China I spend less than $700 a month, usually $400. Most places I was spending $1000, $1500 until I got to Australia then the flight to South America was a lot. Most of SA is cheap but Argentina did cost me a lot more than expected.

  20. Hey just to weigh in here. Central America was 1000 a month for me – that was very comfortable. South America is 1000-1500 depending on the country as Colombia and Chile are more expensive than the rest.

  21. We found that we couldn't find much budget data when we were looking for it 2 years ago. That's why I decided to be so transparent about it all. I tried to include how we traveled as well as where we traveled to because, as you found, there is great variety that depends on these factors. I don't think your time was wasted…in the end your estimate of around $2000 per month is a pretty good place to start. As always it's best to save as much as you can and spend as little as you can!

    1. Hi Gillian, yes, it's still somewhat tough to find budget data even now. I know they're there, it's just harder to find so that's why I thought it's a good idea to consolidate it all in one place for others to see.

  22. We did an around the world trip last year, and I can confirm that those numbers are fairly accurate. Of course, anywhere from $12,000 to $35,000 for a year is a pretty big range. I think the most important factor that determines your budget is the locations that you visit. We did ours for about $25,000, but we spent time in West Africa (surprisingly expensive), Europe, the Middle East (also somewhat expensive), as well as other cheap places like India & Nepal. It really depends on where you're going and your style of travel. On our site, we actually wrote an entire article about all of the variables that determine and affect your travel budget. We're always looking to add more details to it, so let me know if you think of anything else and we'll stick it in.

    I love your blog and I'm jealous of your upcoming trip!

    1. We are starting our “Once Around” the world tour in August…we are a mature couple from the USA and plan on taking 18-24 months to complete…very comprehensive travel schedule but I think it is really doable…if it take longer, that is ok too…we are retired and in great health. Your comments and travel is inspiring and if you have any suggestions/recommendations I would love to hear from you.

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