With 151 days, 15 hours, and 15 minutes of travel from the minute the first plane departed until walking into the door upon return, I collected a lot of numbers during my trip. From the amount of money spent, to miles traveled and everything in between (Part 1), I kept track of it all.
The types of data collected can be separated into two categories: financial related, and not. Part 1 into this series featured the final numbers of all things non-currency related as measured by the RTW Tally. This entry, however, gets to the bottom of just how expensive long term travel in Asia really is. The numbers, are a bit surprising.
For 152 days of travel, I spent a grand total of $16,635.37 from pre-trip spending and all on the road expenses until I stepped foot in the door home. This number appears high, however looking at the breakdown of costs shows more to the story than just one number can elaborate. So before you comment below about how I overspent, read on!
A Lesson in Over-Spending
To begin, a simple breakdown of spending is necessary. My major expenses were calculated by looking back at three unique criteria:
1) Pre-Trip Spending – $3,852.68
2) Cash Removed From Checking Account – $8,940.38
3) Credit Card Charges – $3,842.31
These expenses are rather high, and there are a number of reasons that were factored into the increased spending that should be isolated and discussed:
1) Deciding to come home produced the single biggest expense of the entire trip – $1,349.40 for a one way ticket from Singapore to Dayton, Ohio via Tokyo and Newark. When factoring in that my one way ticket to Tokyo from home at the beginning of my trip was $725.00, the grand total open-jaw ticket price was $2,074.40. Sadly, airfare prices were peaked during my travel, and a round-trip ticket in the same style of the route I did now costs the same as the one way trip home. Overspending: $725.
2) A luxury trip for two, instead of normal backpacking, upped the entire spending by quite a bit when my fiancee visited for the last two weeks in Thailand. Not only did we stay in nice resorts ($75-$120/night), but I paid for all of her expenses as well, apart from airline ticket. That means transportation expenses, site seeing, meals, everything doubled. You could say that instead of 152 days of travel, I actually paid for 167 days of travel, and 30 of them were luxury. For two weeks of travel for two, I spent approximately $3,000. Compared to the rest of the trip, which was done in relatively budget standards, I can easily say that this is more than a 50% increase in spending due to being luxury. Overspending: $1,000
3) Souvenir shopping overload became apparent when I realized I was going to come home. If I wasn’t thinking of moving in with my fiancee, or job interviews, I would not have bought a $250 custom and shipped suit in Vietnam, or most of the expensive souvenirs from Thailand ($120 hammock), Cambodia ($40 paintings), Singapore ($60 painted crystal ball). So with the knowledge that I didn’t have to be thrifty, well, I wasn’t thrifty, and bought whatever I wanted. Overspending: $470
I could go on and list every single item that I splurged on with the knowledge of coming home, but the preceding three are most definitely the largest, and illustrate a good point. In knowing that I did not have to maintain my budget to within original specifications, I spent well over $2,195 in excess. Am I upset about this? No, but it inflates my spending account big time for future planners.
Without nitpicking every detail of overspending, that $16,635.37 looks a lot more appealing at a modest $14,440.37. This value can be dissected even further.
$16,635.37 over 167 equivalent days factors out to $99.61/day.
$14,440.37 over 167 equivalent days factors out to $86.47/day.
Lets say that you are a seasoned traveler already, and already have every item you need before heading out on the road. Assume you already have things like electronics, gear, vaccinations, and only need things associated with the same exact trip I took like plane tickets, hotel reservations, the Japan Rail Pass, etc. The pre-trip spending of $3,852.68 decreases a further $1,175.22 that I personally had to spend extra. That is to say, it is possible that some people could have spent over a thousand dollars less for the same itinerary, or:
$13,265.15 over 167 equivalent days factors out to $79.43/day.
Regardless of how you want to look at it, a daily cost of $80-$100/day for 5 1/2 months in Asia, of which four weeks were in Japan and one month was living luxury in Thailand, the cost breakdown is not that bad. Would I have made my original 10-14 month goal at this spending pace? Hardly, unless you include earnings from the blog as potential spending streams. But if I were to have spent less based on the previously outlined omissions, my spending budget would likely be near $9,000, or another 5 months on the road. Of course, new destinations always means new spending patterns, so I could be way off, but knowing that over ten months of travel, for one, can be had for under $25,000 without living like a bum makes me quite happy.
As it seems like Part 2 of this post got a bit carried away analyzing over spending figures, I am omitting a country-to-country break down of spending for Part 3 of this series. Head on over there to check out the detailed spending on each country while on the road! Of course, be sure to not miss the RTW Tally interpretation in Part 1 as well!