My RTW Budget

A few days ago, I shared with you my itinerary for our upcoming round the world trip. To summarize: it involves long train rides and intense treks through multiple countries over several months. As you may have guessed, a trip of this size isn’t free… and it isn’t cheap.

Luckily we do have a few things going for us:

  • For the most part, we are traveling through Asia which is relatively cheap
  • We are traveling as a pair (sometimes more) so we can share on accommodations, food, etc.
  • We are planning on budget travel – hostels, overnight trains, street food.

Hopefully not THIS budget (My actual bathroom in Belize)


More THIS kind of Budget. (Also from Belize)

Still, it’s going to cost money and we had no idea how much. In all honesty, this trip has grown from its original plans. We started with a trip of about 2 months which soon grew to 2.5 then 3. Our budget grew with it – $5k? $10K? $30K. We had no idea.

A word on budgeting

Many travelers to South East Asia will be shocked by how much money we budgeted for this trip. I know, I know – “I can live off of $5 a day in Asia” “Hostels are only $2″ “Food is free” “I actually got paid to travel”

I get it.

But – here’s the thing. Sometimes, time is the most valuable resource you have. Obviously money is important. But for me, time is the number one priority. Sometimes that means spending more money. That’s not to say we won’t be taking the slow train. That can be half the fun. It just means that sometimes we will have the splurge on a flight.

Also, knowing that we might have to travel fast means we might not always get as many days to just hang out. Sadly this is unavoidable. However, we want to avoid travel burnout as much as possible. The best way to do this is to make sure you have some extra cash to treat yourself to a night in a hotel room or an evening out to a nice meal. It really helps. So, its something I wanted to include in our budget.

My final point on budgeting is this: A budget should be padded. A lot. It doesn’t mean you will spend it all. It would be awesome to come back with half my budget still in tact. However, I would like to know that I have save up more than enough money in case I need it.

Alright, enough disclaimers.

The Budget

Eventually we decided that we should estimate about $100 a day for our trip.

The trip is about 165 days x $100 is $16,500. Throw in insurance, supplies, international air and we arrived at the nice round number of $20,000.

Happy with this number, I then realized I would actually have to come up with an extra $20K. It was no easy task.

I may not be made of money, but at least my hat is

So how did I do it?

Tracking my saving

The first thing I did was set up a separate bank account for my trip. I didn’t want to be robbing Peter to save Paul. I made a decision that my existing savings shouldn’t be touched. I needed to save money specifically for this trip. That way I would still have my savings when I got back and I wouldn’t feel guilty about spending my money on the trip.

The next step was to make an incredibly OCD spreadsheet which I keep open on my computer at all times. It has tabs tracking my saving progress, outlining my goals, and monitering my ‘income sources.’

Each month I carefully track my savings amount against my goal amount and figure out how much more I still need to save.

As you can see from the chart above, as of July 1 I had saved up $17,622. Which is 88% of the way there! Don’t worry. I’ll be back with a post soon about how I saved (almost) $20,000 in 9  months.

How did you save for your RTW trip? What budget did you set?

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8 Responses to My RTW Budget

  1. memographer says:

    Liz, I have felt so busy just by reading what you have on your list. Ahhh! Good luck!

  2. I am really impressed that you managed to save $20k on top of your regular savings account for this trip… and in just 9 months! Tony and I have been saving for about 3 years for our 12-18 month trip, with the goal of socking away 60k (I would like to have a 10k buffer for when we get back). In the past few months we have already started to pay out costs for our trip (like plane tickets, rail passes, etc.,), so we never saw our balance actually hit that magical number, BUT when you take into account what we have spent and the last bits of money that we should have trickling in before we leave, we did reach our goal!

  3. Kieron says:

    Wow, you saved up so much money in such little time – very impressive!

    Amy & I probably saved up around the same amount each and lasted 5 months on the road (and that was through the USA and Western Europe). $100/day is a good figure.

    Have the best time! :)

  4. jan says:

    I am very impressed with your budgeting and saving, just shows what can happen when we set our minds to it. Happy travels.

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