Finalizing My RTW Budget

While I’ve alluded to various aspects of my budget during my RTW planning, like what I’ll spend on flights and how I’ll save, it occurred to me that I’ve never broken down my full plan. And it’s best to stay accountable, no? So read on for how I’ll travel all year with less than $25,000.

I’ve broken down my monthly spending into major categories: Transporation (estimated with Skyscanner and Rome2Rio); Accommodations (estimated with Hostelworld and Airbnb); Dining (estimated with Numbeo and various guidebooks); and Entertainment (estimated with various guidebooks, like Lonely Planet). Shopping & Contingency is calculated as roughly 5% of the rest of the month’s budget to cover visas, souvenirs, replacing toiletries, etc.

PRE-TRIP COSTS
$2,500

This includes my travel gear, medical costs, insurance, and phone plan. I’ve kept this number down by choosing a basic insurance package instead of one that covers riskier activities I’m unlikely to embark upon anyway, and by being more selective about my immunizations.

JULY
Iceland, Spain, France
$2,600

Transporation: $400
Accommodations: $1,275
Dining: $400
Entertainment: $375
Shopping & Contingency: $150

Taking a budget airline to Reykjavik, and using frequent flier miles for my second flight ensure my upfront transportation costs are low. My accommodation costs are high in part because I plan to rent an apartment in Spain for three weeks, but I can bring them down if I manage to find Couchsurfing hosts in Iceland and France.

AUGUST
Italy, Montenegro, Croatia
$1,700

Transportation: $250
Accommodations: $675
Dining: $400
Entertainment: $225
Shopping & Contingency: $100

Switching to overland transportation only brings my travel costs down. And again, Couchsurfing for part of my trip may lower the price of accommodation, but I want to make sure I don’t rely on that savings. I should always have enough money to walk out and find a different place to stay if I need to.

SEPTEMBER
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece
$1,550

Transportation: $300
Accommodations: $550
Dining: $350
Entertainment: $200
Shopping & Contingency: $100

Costs in general start to come down as I move from Western to Eastern Europe, and will fall even further once I get to Asia. I’ve heard advice from some not to frontload RTW budgets like this, but planning my route has been a balancing game. I may be visiting more expensive destinations first, but this also ensures that I’ll experience better weather and that I’ll be able to ease into long-term travel before reaching higher stress destinations like New Delhi and Bangkok.

OCTOBER
Turkey
$1,700

Transportation: $150
Accommodations: $500
Dining: $300
Entertainment: $200
Shopping & Contingency: $400

October is when I have to pay the annual fees on my frequent flier credit cards – no way around that one. But staying in Istanbul for the full month keeps my others costs so low, it will balance out. Plus, those cards will help me save about $2,000 on airfare over the course of the year. Well worth the cost.

NOVEMBER
India, Nepal
$2,025

Transportation: $425
Accommodations: $50
Dining: $150
Entertainment: $75
Shopping & Contingency: $175
Guided Tour: $1100

My guided trek in Nepal will make it one of the more expensive destinations on my list, but once again, it’s balanced out by its proximity to one of the cheapest – India.

DECEMBER
Thailand, Laos
$1,050

Transportation: $125
Accommodations: $250
Dining: $200
Entertainment: $325
Shopping & Contingency: $100

With my itinerary firmly planted in Asia, day to day expenses plummet, raised only by a few indulgences like cooking classes and day tours.

Prague Skyline 2

In the past, I’ve spent about $100 a day on guided tours. Traveling independently, my expenses will average only $50 a day.

JANUARY
Vietnam, Cambodia
$925

Transportation: $250
Accommodations: $225
Dining: $175
Entertainment: $125
Shopping & Contingency: $100

Vietnam is perhaps the least expensive country in the world to travel in, so it should be no surprise that this is the least expensive month of my trip.

FEBRUARY
Indonesia
$1,175

Transportation: $350
Accommodations: $350
Dining: $175
Entertainment: $175
Shopping & Contingency: $75

I understand Bali is rather lacking in public transit options, and I don’t think I’m a good enough driver to tackle the task in a foreign country, so even though I’m staying put for the month, I need to budget more money towards transportation to cover exploring the island by taxi.

MARCH
Japan, Uruguay
$1,775

Transportation: $675
Accommodations: $425
Dining: $400
Entertainment: $125
Shopping & Contingency: $250

Transportation this month is high, but not for the reason you’re thinking. I’m using frequent flier miles to cover my flight into South America. The bulk of that $675 is actually going to a Japan Rail Pass. It’s not much more expensive than a single round-trip ticket and will grant me more flexibility. My most likely avenue for bringing costs down here will once again be Couchsurfing.

APRIL
Argentina
$1,400

Transportation: $50
Accommodations: $525
Dining: $425
Entertainment: $275
Shopping & Contingency: $100

Once again, slowing down and staying in one spot for the month gets my transportation costs to rock bottom, balancing out the slightly higher expense of renting an apartment to myself. These bits of personal space will be critical to me as an introvert.

MAY
Argentina, Peru
$2,175

Transportation: $25
Accommodations: $225
Dining: $275
Entertainment: $275
Shopping & Contingency: $100
Guided Tour: $1,200

Flying in South America is extremely expensive, so I’ll be hoarding my frequent flier miles for most of the trip, making transportation at the tail end of things practically free. And a good thing too, since Peru is where I’ll take my second guided tour.

JUNE
Costa Rica, Mexico
$1,225

Transportation: $250
Accommodations: $300
Dining: $325
Entertainment: $250
Shopping & Contingency: $50

This final month of my trip is probably the best example of my average budget – transportation costs are offset by frequent flier miles, accommodations are a balance of inexpensive hostel dorms and slightly pricier private rooms, and I’m not going to let traveling on a shoestring prevent me from the occasional splurge day.

TOTALS
Pre-Trip Costs: $2,500 (12%)
Transportation: $3,250 (15%)
Accommodations: $5,350 (25%)
Dining: $3,575 (18%)
Entertainment: $2,550 (12%)
Shopping & Contingency: $1,550 (7%)
Guided Tours: $2,300 (11%)

GRAND TOTAL: $21,075

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