Last Updated on September 14, 2020 by Jeremy
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We took a trip around the world for a grand total of 465 days in 2013-2014, visiting 40+ countries on five continents.
We were neither luxury travelers nor budget backpackers on this trip, and used points to pay for a number of our long-haul flights.
The total cost of this trip? $75,000 – or $80 per person, per day for the duration of the trip.
In this one we dive down into the numbers to show just where all that money went per country and per major spending category.
How We Evaluate Daily Spending
When we put our daily spending in our updates, we have a basic pattern that we adhere to. Our spending is broken up into six categories that are pretty self-explanatory:
- Sight Seeing
- Misc. Purchases (aka everything else)
Although these are pretty obvious categories, we have a few points we need to highlight on how we track our spending, including:
- In our spending spreadsheet, we do not include entry and exit spending in our transportation costs with only a few exceptions. This is to allow everyone to have an idea on what daily spending would be independent of the cost to get there as it can be quite large (for travelers flying in from halfway around the world) or very small (for travelers crossing the closest border). But if we do have internal flights within a country, it is featured and noted.
- When we received sponsorships or used points to reduce our spending in a category, we try to note it wherever possible.
In order to be completely transparent in this evaluation we've adjusted our charts to include what our spending would have been if we had paid for a sponsored activity out of pocket (or component costs if we would not have purchased pieces of the activity on our own). In the case of spending our points for premium hotels, we adjusted the charts to display what we would have spent in our normal accommodation choice.
Our charts are setup that our own personal spending is displayed in blue. If we have costs that needed to be added to compensate for sponsorships or points, we have added a secondary bar on top in orange.
Please keep in mind that all averages are for two!
I really liked how the accommodation results ended up as it certainly illustrates which countries are more expensive than others when it comes to being a middle-of-the-road traveling couple.
For most of these accommodation choices we stayed in private rooms at hostels, boutique hotels, Airbnb rentals, and only stayed in dorm rooms for roughly 10% of the time.
You may look at this and wonder a few things:
Is Germany really $90/night for a private room? No, it isn't. But we went during Oktoberfest and booked a room 6-months in advance. Had we waited we would have been paying $150/night or more!
How'd you score a $90/night room in Easter Island? Again, booking early really helped. There are one or two budget hotels on Easter Island, otherwise your options are camping (incredibly cheap) or staying at a more expensive place at double the price or more.
Why spend $150/night in Dubai? Okay, we probably could have found a room much cheaper here. We had 2 nights booked at the Hilton with our points, and decided to splurge for 2 more nights to enjoy Dubai in style with the money we were saving.
Is the Galapagos really only about $45/night? Actually, rooms in the Galapagos can be this cheap if you do enough research or show up and find something on the spot. We got lucky in that we split a 2-bedroom apartment with some friends and got to save a bit of money. Even if we had to book them all on our own, our spending would not have been that bad!
I could go on, but these are the most interesting for sure!
Like our accommodation chart, looking at the daily spending on food really shines some light on eating around the world. Now, if we had to pick one reason for why we travel, it would be because we love to eat.
We tried to eat out as much as possible, and probably only cooked 50 meals or less while on the road. From street food to some of the best restaurants in the city (read: $$$), we didn't bat an eye if it meant eating good food.
Spending $70/day for food in Paris meant a breakfast at a cafe or boulangerie, lunch at a modern bistro most likely with wine, and dinner at a seated restaurant with a few glasses of wine (or bottle) and possibly dessert.
Our $20/day for food in Nepal meant breakfast at our hotel (included), lunch at a Nepalese restaurant or street food, and dinner at a modern restaurant likely with non-traditional food and a beer- or two.
One outlier here was Germany for the very same reasons accommodations were out of line. We were there for Oktoberfest which meant inflated prices of everything. 10 Euros per stein at Oktoberfest plus beer halls for both lunch and dinner meant a lot of expensive meals and a lot of spending on beer.
But when you're there for Oktoberfest, how can you say no?
When it comes to transportation costs, this one is where it starts to become a bit relative depending on how you look at it. As the biggest spending comes from moving city to city, our daily average is really all over the place based on how many cities we visited in a country, where we went, and how many days we had before moving again.
Our transportation spending in places like Hungary, Germany, and Austria are all quite low because we only spent one city in the country before leaving to another (and therefore did not include the cost). Argentina and Chile are also lower because we crossed the border between those about 3 or 4 times.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, allocating these is tricky because not everyone would be on the same trip, and splitting it up 50/50 with another country is not an ideal way to do it, either.
What this does illustrate good spending data for is in countries where we spent several weeks or longer. Destinations like France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Oman, India, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Galapagos, Colombia, and Mexico are all great examples here.
Each of these had at least 3 or 4 transportation days and covered quite a large distance in the process! But to truly get an understanding on our spending for this one, we really recommend looking at our spending log in greater detail.
Sightseeing is one category where our spending was significantly altered through sponsorships. Most of these were premium activities; however, we would likely have purchased many of them had we not had the opportunity through our blog. The downside with these is that at a higher cost, our average daily spending for sightseeing would have increased substantially. Even just $150 in two weeks would increase our spending by over $10/day.
The one interesting thing about this category is that you can see the countries where we did absolutely no activities that required spending.
Our spending in Germany was very low because we were drinking at Oktoberfest so much. Albania, Macedonia, and the UAE had low spending as we spent most of our time exploring the cities rather than doing activities. Likewise, our spending was high in the Galapagos because we did day trips just about every day, and our average shot up a lot.
I'm only including this category to show something interesting- the outliers. Specifically Albania, UAE, Nepal, Bolivia, and the Galapagos.
These four countries had a ridiculously high misc. spending category due to a few simple reasons. Albania's spending was high by about $18/day as we only spent four days in the country and shipped a box home. UAE was high because we had to purchase a new camera to replace one that was not functioning properly (again, averaged out over only four days).
Nepal increased due to an expensive UPS box that we shipped home as well as a higher than average visa cost. The visa fees for Bolivia and park tickets to the Galapagos increased our daily spending quite a bit as well.
I really like this chart because it shows that although our misc. spending was always very low (mostly toiletries and clothes here or there), a few countries can really hit you in the wallet when it comes to replacing electronics or buying visas!
The Biggest Summary Out There
The following is the detailed cost break down for just about every country on our 465-day trip inclusive of all adjustments for sponsorships and points redemption and arranged from most expensive destination to cheapest.
Please note that our personal spending was lower than what is reported here as a result of those additions. If you would like to see our own out-of-pocket costs, or would like to see our daily summary from every country featured below, please visit our Spending Log spreadsheet.
The Countries Not Featured
If you've read Living the Dream since we started this trip, you may notice that there are a few countries that are not featured in this evaluation. They are Mauritius, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Costa Rica. The reason for this is because they were unusual spots for us that made it hard to evaluate our spending.
For Mauritius and Costa Rica, most of our stay was covered through sponsored travel such that any way of presenting spending averages would have been completely out of line. Rather than extrapolating our spending to come up with some numbers, we decided it would be easier to not include it in our evaluation.
On mainland Africa, we visited the four countries as a part of a guided camping tour where most of our costs were lumped together in the tour fee. We could have separated them into estimated categories, but no matter what we did it did not make sense.
When it comes to taking a long-term trip, we know we're in the middle range of spending among a sea of budget travelers. Keeping that in mind, what data did you find the most interesting from our trip? Comment below to let us know!
About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.