Two-Year Travel Budget Our Costs Revealed by JetSettingFools.com

Two-Year Travel Budget: Our Costs Revealed

When we reveal that we’ve been traveling full-time for two years, it piques people’s interest. After we indulge them with details of all the places we’ve been, they muster up the courage to ask, “How can you afford it?” As Americans who are well-past our 20s, but still have a long road ahead until joining the 55+ crowd, we understand the inquiry. Attempting to compute a two-year travel budget can be mind-boggling. We can almost see the wheels turning in their heads as they try to sort out whether we are super-rich, trust fund babies or freeloading, homeless hippies. We are neither, but our standard answer – “we saved” – does little to convince them.

However, simply saving money isn’t the entire answer. We can’t afford to travel only because we saved; we can afford to travel because of how we spend while we travel. We are extremely budget conscious and keep track of every cent we spend. People assume this detracts from our travels, but traveling on a budget doesn’t equate to foregoing experiences or comforts; it just means adjusting previous habits to only spending money on the truly worthy. Sure, we don’t tick off every single item on the typical tourist’s must-do checklist and we aren’t staying in luxury hotels, but those aren’t the experiences or comforts we seek when we travel. We look for a balance – and the longer we travel, the better we are at finding it.

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In our first year, we set a budget goal of spending an average of $100 a day on daily expenditures (lodging, food, drinks, local transportation and entertainment) for both of us combined. At the end of our first year, we came in under budget with a daily expenditures average of $89 a day. In our second year of traveling we cut that amount in half.

Skeptical? We aren’t shy. We’re sharing the details of our two-year travel budget spreadsheets to show just how much we spent on each category, including our cost-saving measures and tips on how to stretch any travel budget.

Things to Note:

  • The amount spent and daily averages are the total costs for two adults combined.
  • Our Year 1, ‘Round the World trip was 388 days. Year 2 was a Leap Year and, thus, 366 days.
  • Our Two-Year Travel Budget does not include costs associated with running our travel blog, insurance, ATM fees or the drastically reduced amount we pay for flights. So, keep in mind that while these are our daily living costs accrued during travel, they are not all-encompassing of the cost of travel.
  • Our Two-Year Travel Budget is not broken down by country.
  • Year 1 Countries Visited: Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, French Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Mauritius, South Africa, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Switzerland, Slovenia, Hungary, Ireland, England
  • Year 2 Countries Visited: United States, Australia, Croatia, Italy, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Netherlands, Iceland, Costa Rica
  • For more detailed information, go to Our Travels page.

Two-Year Travel Budget Breakdown

What we’ve spent to travel twice around the globe to 28 countries in 754 days.

Lodging – Total: $19,883.75 | $26.25/daily average

  • Year 1: $16,113/year | $41.50/daily average
  • Year 2: $3,770/year | $10.25/daily average
Two-Year Travel Budget Housesitting Dog in the Netherlands

Housesitting with Berus in the Netherlands

In our first year of travel, we circled the globe heading west. Our longest stay in one place was 32 days, but on average we only spent 8.5 days in each city. We used Airbnb as our go-to source for accommodations, which is less expensive than hotels, but overall, lodging still ranked as our biggest expense in our first year of travel. (Use this link to join Airbnb and save money on your first stay!)

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In our second year of travel, we became a bit savvier. We slowed our travel immensely. More importantly, we were introduced to housesitting through Trusted Housesitters. In exchange for looking after homes and pets, we got a free place to stay. In the past year, we’ve spent 32 weeks housesitting – that’s 225 days of free accommodations (and some pretty awesome pups to look after!).

Housesitting has been our biggest cost-saving measure in our travels.

In addition, during our whirlwind tour of seven states in the U.S., we were hosted by family and friends (and occasionally slept in airports), which accounted for another 52 days of cost-free lodging. In between our housesits, we still use Airbnb, which is much more cost effective than staying in hotels.

Bonus for the Budget: Traveling as a couple greatly reduces our lodging fees. It should also be noted that accommodations cost less when traveling in the off- or shoulder-season, which just so happens to be our preferred time to visit places.

 

Food – Total: $14,639.55 | $19.50/daily average

  • Year 1: $8,302/year | $21/daily average
  • Year 2: $6,337/year | $17/daily average
Two-Year Travel Budget Hot Dogs Reykjavik Iceland JetSettingFools.com

Hot dogs: The iconic and budget meal of Iceland

We pride ourselves on being able to eat fairly well for cheap – it helps that I (Sarah) like to cook and is another reason why choosing Airbnb apartments with kitchens over hotel rooms works in our favor. Often, the experience of shopping for local products at the market and cooking at home far exceeds that of going to a restaurant for the same meal. Cost of food varies by country; therefore, in more expensive countries, like French Polynesia and New Zealand, we ate at home more and when in more affordable countries, like Cambodia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, we were able to splurge without really splurging.

We’ve become accustomed to packing picnic lunches on-the-go when exploring cities, often finding more picturesque spots to dine than could be found at expensive cafes. When we do eat out, it is either local fast-food (I can’t even begin to count the number of kebabs we’ve consumed in the last two years!) or a local specialty (whether it be a specific menu item or place). Very rarely do we eat “Western” food while traveling because it tends to cost more and we prefer to save those cravings for when we actually visit home.

Bonus for the Budget: Slower travel lends itself to spending less on food. Not only could we purchase items in bulk for less, we had time on our side to research meal deals and spread out our dining out experiences.

 

Drinks – Total: $8,220.50 | $11.90/daily average

  • Year 1: $4,840/year | $12.50/daily average
  • Year 2: $3,380/year | $9.25/daily average
Two-Year Travel Budget Beers in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzgovina JetSettingFools.com

Inexpensive beers with a view in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

The amount we spend on drinks is something to be less boastful about, yet not something we anticipate changing. It’s only by some miracle that this amount decreased in Year 2, because we certainly didn’t make a conscious effort to cut back. It definitely doesn’t help that we enjoy craft beer, which is always more expensive (yet, only so by small change in countries like Slovenia and Croatia). Our one saving grace is that we don’t have the same picky palate when it comes to wine – as long as it isn’t from a carton, we usually find it enjoyable.

Just as is the case with food, the cost of alcoholic beverages fluctuates by country. In Iceland and Australia, where a pint of beer can be upwards of $10, we had to limit our intake. In Vietnam, where a glass of “fresh beer” only costs a quarter, we sometimes lost count of how many we had consumed.

Bonus for the Budget: In many places around the world, especially in Europe, there are few or no restrictions on public alcohol consumption. Therefore, we could pick up an inexpensive bottle of wine or a few beers from the grocery store and enjoy them in parks, squares or seaside, which saved us from paying the upcharge at a bar.

Local Transportation – Total: $4,475.15 | $5.90/daily average

  • Year 1: $3,067/year | $7.90/daily average
  • Year 2: $1,407/year | $3.75/daily average
Two-Year Travel Budget local transportation by Bus in Costa Rica JetSettingFools.com

In Costa Rica, school buses provide local transportation

We don’t drive when we travel, which can often be a savings for the budget. To get around we rely on trains, buses, bicycles and our own two feet. As two fairly fit adults, we actually enjoy getting acquainted with a city by walking.

Bonus for the Budget: By traveling slower, we aren’t as rushed to see all the sights in a short time and are, therefore, more willing to walk further between sights. We can also adjust our schedule to avoid peak-travel fares.

 

Entertainment – Total: $2,359 | $3.10/daily average

  • Year 1: $1,633/year | $4/daily average
  • Year 2: $725/year | $2/daily average
Two-Year Travel Budget Entertainment by Boat Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Setting sail in Hobart, Tasmania for a full day of entertainment

Oh my. Well, being easily entertained certainly bodes well for us! Whether it’s allowing hours to drift by while people-watching and sipping on a $1 coffee at a café or being absolutely mesmerized by the changing tides, we knew from the get-go that paying for entertainment wasn’t going to be what crushed our budget. We are admittedly not ‘museum people’ and, to be honest, many high-priced sights just aren’t all that interesting to us (like The Sagrada Familia and its $20 entry fee).

We aren’t averse to paying for tours, activities and entry fees and will do so when it is something at the top of our list. We’ve opened our wallet for sporting events, boat rides and viewpoints more than once. However, we are usually entertained at a fraction of the price by extensively researching alternative options, discovering local discounts and figuring out do-it-yourself routes. A wine tour to a well-known estate in Santiago, Chile cost about $100. Instead, we took the public bus to a smaller winery and had a private tour and tasting for less than $15.

Bonus for the Budget: Creating our own self-guided walking tours, taking advantage of free city events and simply enjoying the outdoors work great for our budget. We also look for coupons in city guide books and online to help with the bottom line.

Miscellaneous – Total: $1,664.55 | $2.20/daily average

  • Year 1: $450/year | $1.15/daily average
  • Year 2: $1,214/year | $3.25/daily average
Two-Year Travel Budget Shopping in Croatia JetSettingFools.com

Shopping for deals in Croatia…well, maybe Kris was just browsing

This is our catch-all category where we toss all the costs that don’t fit elsewhere. In Year 1, it accounted for things like toilet fees and laundry services. The amount inflated in our second year of travel due to the necessity of replacing worn out clothing, restocking toiletries and upgrading other travel gear. During our time in the States, we slipped back into old spending habits and some of our purchases made on a whim translated in no other way than as miscellaneous costs. Also added to Year 2 is $250 for wifi that was essential while in Australia.

Bonus for the Budget: While we did have to replace clothing items, shopping at thrift stores aided in keeping the cost of clothes to a minimum. The latest fashions and brand-name toiletries are a thing of the past!

 

Two-Year Travel Budget Daily Expenditure Totals:

  • Total: $51,242 | $68/per day average
  • Year 1: $34,407 | $89/per day average
  • Year 2: $16,835 | $46/per day average

 

We could have easily spent more – and we could have just as easily spent less. We made sacrifices while we were saving; and we continue to make sacrifices as we travel. There isn’t a magic dollar amount that is perfect for full-time travel, but we feel the experiences we’ve had are well-worth the amount we’ve spent. And, as we enter our third year of full-time travel, we are establishing a small income to further our time abroad!

Want more budget info? Click the links to read our previous budget posts:

 

We want to know: Do you keep track of your travel budget? How much are you comfortable spending on travel? Would you expect to spend more or less than what we have spent? Tell us in the comments!

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2-Year Travel Budget Our Costs Revealed by JetSettingFools.com

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10 thoughts on “Two-Year Travel Budget: Our Costs Revealed

  1. Jeff

    thanks great info… Trying to get my head around some of the numbers. How much did you budget for insurance, especially health insurance, in the above (or is that what the alcool budget is about)?

    • Ha! The insurance we purchased was actually less than our alochol budget. 😉 For the first year, we bought a policy with World Nomads to cover travel insurance, including emergency medical abroad. It cost $1800 for both of us for one year. Then we upgraded to GeoBlue for about 6 months – and that cost about $300/month. After we did some math, we reverted back to the World Nomads policy, but the price had increased to $2100 for both of us for one year. Hope that helps with your travel budget planning!

  2. This is really fascinating. We don’t keep that good of track of our expenses, but maybe we should! It shocks me to imagine spending 8,000 in a year on booze lol, but I could see that happening to me! It adds up! Or worse, we probably spend that much or more on lattes while in the states!! EEEK!
    Thanks for sharing guys! Shows people it is possible to do this on a tight budget but still have an absolute ball!

    🙂

    • Thanks Amy! We’ve surprised ourselves at how far we can stretch our budget and still experience the world! The amount we spend on adult beverages ($8,000 is for 2 years, so $4k a year for two people) is a little tough to swallow – but the tasty wines from around the world aren’t! And you’re right, in The States, we used to spend that amount on lattes! Cheers!!

  3. I love the comparison between year one and year two! What a difference house sitting vs accommodation costs makes! I feel like my drink expenses would have been even higher!

  4. Anonymous

    I am enjoying your adventure…Budget was very interesting…I do think everybody needs to buddy travel…it is safer and easier than solo traveling

  5. Nam

    Wow – thanks for sharing the numbers with us – I am amazed at how little you manage to spend 🙂
    House sitting has been on my thinking about list, but being a single girl in early twenties doesn’t really recommend me to house owners 🙂

    • Hi Nam! Thanks for the comment. Housesitting is an interesting way to travel. Even as a couple in our 30s/40s, we applied for many housesitting assignments before we got our first one. Happy Travels to You! 😉

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