Back in July 2016, and after 731 days of traveling, I decided to take an extended break. Below is a summary of all my expenses since the beginning of the trip until that moment.
All numbers are in US dollars.
|East and Southeast Asia||315||$13,637||$44|
|Flights Between Continents||$1,580|||
 I used travel miles for some of my longest flights although I did pay fees for each of them: LA → Lima ($8), Buenos Aires → LA ($88), LAX → AKL ($20). Flights I paid with cash: Perth → Singapore ($390), Bangkok → Muscat ($269), Dubai → Djibouti City ($290), Tehran → Kuala Lumpur ($268), Kuala Lumpur → Sydney ($248).
Below I break down the expenses by country grouped by continents.
|South America Totals||250||$14,965||$60|
|Bolivia||10||$657||$66||Includes $135 visa.|
|Argentina||74||$2,173||$30||Mostly didn't pay for accomodation. |
|Brazil||61||$4,275||$70||Includes $160 visa. Excludes Word Cup ticket.|
|Colombia||52||$3,763||$72||Stayed in Airbnb apartments. |
|Flights||$1,109||Buenos Aires → Rio, Buenos Aires → Salvador, Medellin → Santiago|
 I stayed most of the time with friends and relatives while in Argentina. I also didn’t sightsee that much when taking into account that I was there for almost 2.5 months.
 I stayed for over a month in Medellin, and almost exclusively in Airbnb apartments for around 50-60 USD/night.
Short trips to a country usually means higher than normal costs per day. This is because you tend to move faster (more transportation costs) and pack more activities in each day. An example of this is Bolivia. It is a cheap country in general, but tours and visa costs drove up the average over such a short period of time.
|Australia||23||$2,060||$90||Includes $15 visa.|
|Flights||$120||Christchurch → Sydney|
 In New Zealand I did a lot of multi-day hikes. And while the mountain huts I stayed in each night while hiking were not cheap, I assume overall it was cheaper per day than doing city traveling.
East And Southeast Asia
South East Asia was by far the cheapest region I visited, while also providing high standards for accommodation and food. If you want to make your money last, this is where you should go. In Cambodia for example, we stayed in a very nice hotel room, ate out every meal, hired private transport to tour Angkor Wat for three days, all for $31 per day per person. Same with Myanmar, where we traveled at a fast pace taking in a lot of sights for $26 per day.
|E And SE Asia Totals||315||$13,637||$43|
|Taiwan #1||61||$858||$14||Got free accommodation and didn't move around much for 61 days. |
|Taiwan #2||28||$1,191||$43||With Jenni, staying in private rooms. |
|Japan #2||65||$2,000||$31||With Jenni. Worked for accommodation. |
|Macau||13||$1,382||$106||Stayed in private rooms.|
|Singapore||42||$1,892||$44||Didn't sightsee much. Includes $192 F1 race ticket.|
|Malaysia||12||$625||$52||Includes $50 MotoGP ticket.|
|Myanmar||27||$701||$26||Traveled with Jenni.|
|Thailand||23||$704||$31||Traveled with Jenni.|
|Cambodia||15||$471||$31||Traveled with Jenni.|
 I was tired after Australia and hiking New Zealand for 10 weeks, so I took an extended break in Taipei. I was offered free accommodation by a relative.
 My second visit to Taiwan was an actual backpacking trip, and I toured around the entire island.
 My first visit to Japan was action-packed, as I moved a lot using my rail pass.
 I stayed mostly in Osaka during my second visit to Japan, working for accommodation, which is the biggest expense.
 Taipei → Osaka, Tokyo → HK, HK → Singapore, Singapore → Kuala Lumpur, Singapore → HK, HK → Osaka, Osaka → HK (didn’t take flight), Osaka → Taipei, Taipei → Yangon.
I only stayed in private hotel rooms while in the Middle East.
|Middle East Totals||59||$4,119||$70|
|Oman||14||$1,307||$93||Includes $52 visa.|
|United Arab Emirates||15||$989||$66|
|Qatar||3||$116||$39||Includes $27 visa. Stayed with couchsurfing host.|
|Iran||24||$1,220||$51||Includes $99 visa.|
|Flights||$387||Dubai → Doha (RT), Dubai → Kuwait City (RT), Dubai → Masshad|
Africa is much more expensive than I expected, especially hotel rooms and car rentals. They also rip you off with visa fees.
|Djibouti||3||$352||$117||Includes $60 visa.|
|Somaliland/Somalia||5||$338||$68||Includes $60 visa and $60 arrival tax.|
|Eritrea||7||$1,296||$185||Joined a tour group for entire stay.|
|Flights||$706||Djibouti → Hargeisa, Hargeisa → Asmara|
Impressions Of Each Country
Below are my impressions on how affordable each country is, in these categories:
A dorm bed in a 4-bed to 6-bed dorm.
Very Cheap: less than $7, Cheap: $7-10, Moderate: $10-18, Expensive: more than $18
A meal at a decent and cheap place.
Very Cheap: less than $3, Cheap: around $3-5, Moderate: $5-8, Expensive: more than $8
Costs of tours and entrance fees to places.
Local and long distance buses and trains, or cost to rent a car.
|Venezuela||Very Cheap||Very Cheap||Cheap||Very Cheap|
|United Arab Emirates||Moderate||Moderate||Expensive||Moderate|
* I joined a tour group for Eritrea, so I’m not sure how much each category costs, but at $185/day it is a very expensive country.
My Traveling Style
During the first year and a half, I mostly stayed in hostel dorm rooms. Occasionally I’d get tired of them and stay in a private room or apartment for a few days. While staying in hostels, I tend to pick rooms with fewer beds (4 to 6). I also usually pick one of the best reviewed hostels in the area, going for quality over price. During the three months I traveled with Jenni, we almost always stayed in private rooms. Once I got to the Middle East and Africa, I stayed exclusively in private rooms by myself, although many of these places didn’t have hostels anyway.
I’m not very particular about food, but I also rarely cooked. I tended to eat outside, but usually not in expensive places. Sometimes I would just buy a few snacks from the supermarket or convenience store and call it a meal. Food was never a priority and I probably saved a lot of money that way.
When it comes to attractions though, I don’t skimp. If there’s something I want to do, I’ll pay for it unless it’s clearly a ripoff. Having said that, I was usually not interested in the typical tourists traps. For example, I didn’t go to the top of Tokyo Skytree or Burj Khalifa in Dubai. But I would splurge and stay in a temple in Mount Koya, Japan for example.
I didn’t drink alcohol every night. I might have a beer with my meal, but drinking was more of a social thing that I did when I met other people. I could easily go a week or two without drinking.
I always bought sim cards and internet data for my phone in each country. For better or worse, I do consider the phone an important tool for traveling, especially Google Maps to help me navigate around places.
How I Kept Track of Expenses
I used Google Keep on my phone to keep track of each expense. I like it because you can use it even when you don’t have wi-fi or a data connection. Instead of using it after each time I spent money, I would record it only once a day or every other day. Once in a while I would not remember the exact amount of a particular expense that happened two days before, so I would just use the best estimate I could come up with.
Every 2 or 3 weeks I would migrate those numbers to a Google Sheets spreadsheet. I would create a tab for each country, and enter each expense to get a running total for each country. I then converted everything to US dollar. A separate tab has a running total for all countries combined.
There are probably phone apps or easier ways to do this, but this is what worked for me.
Before I left for this trip, I estimated that I’d need $60/day and that’s exactly how much I have spent after 731 days. This happened without me trying to stick to a budget while traveling.
You could do a similar trip on a lower budget, by skipping the expensive countries like Australia and New Zealand, and expensive continents like Africa. On the other hand, if you go to every single “must-see” attraction in each city, your expenses would be way higher.
In the end, I think 22,000 USD per year is money very well spent for the places I have seen, the people I have met, and the memories I have collected. They will last me a lifetime.