3 In How to Prepare for Long-Term World Travel/ Travel Spendings

How Much Does It Cost To Travel Abroad Long Term?

Top Highlights of our Travels Abroad

In 2017 my then boyfriend, and now soon-to-be husband, Sasha and I left our corporate careers in Seattle to travel abroad without a set date of returning. We ended up traveling for six months, visiting approximately 50 cities in ten countries, spending anywhere from 10 days to one month in each country. I documented a detailed account of our spending to keep us on track with our budget, as well as share the details with other travelers who might be interested to know how much it costs to travel long-term.

So, exactly how much money did we spend in six months of traveling abroad? 

How We Pack For Long-Term Travel Abroad

Sasha is two meters tall (6’7″), so his shoes alone take up nearly his entire suitcase! We did a lot of rolling for best compact storage.

Before I get into our spending analysis, I’d like to note a few things. Because we did this trip on a budget, I tracked every single transaction between the two of us (even as small as 50 cents). This meant either saving receipts until I documented them, or writing the cost in the notes section of my phone. In each country I had to do the conversion to calculate the prices into U.S. dollars. Yes, I realize that this is a dinosaur method. No, I haven’t found a good app for this yet that has all the features I want. (Please let me know if you have!) I used good ole-fashioned Excel to compute our expenses and created a category table for each country, which you will see below. To figure out the average per Diem spending in each category, I divided the total amount spent in each category by the number of days spent in that country.

Now that we are back in the states and use credit cards for everything, I used Mint to track our expenses, but Mint obviously cannot track cash, which is why I used excel for the international portion.

Sasha and I would consider ourselves to be mid-range travelers. This means that we prefer the comforts of an Airbnb over a shared hostel dorm, a rental car to have the freedom of exploration over taking public transportation (with the exception of staying in large cities where a vehicle is not necessary), and we are foodies, so the Eating Out category is almost always the highest. However, to save money, we cooked several meals at home since we always had a kitchen. This same trip could easily be recreated by a budget traveler and come out to half the cost of what we spent. It could also be recreated by a luxury traveler and be more than double what we spent. The point is, traveling abroad long term can be affordable and doable on any budget!

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How Much it Costs to Travel Abroad Long-Term
TRANSPORTATION: Includes rental cars, gas, Uber, public transportation, tolls and parking (and there are a LOT of tolls in Europe!)

Siena, Italy with a Classic Fiat 500

Next to a classic Fiat 500 in Siena, Italy

CELL PHONE: We selected the T-Mobile International Plus Plan, which gives us unlimited free texting and calls for $.20 per minute, including unlimited data in each country. The cost is $104 per month for the two of us. We figured this would be easier than getting a SIM card in each country, but it ended up being excessive, and the data was too slow. While it was nice to have Internet and be connected anywhere we had service from Ecuador to Russia, I would recommend simply getting a SIM card in each country once you arrive to the airport, as that is a much cheaper option. To figure out what portion of the cell phone category we spent in each country, I calculated the portion we paid while we were in that particular country.

ENTERTAINMENT/LEISURE: Includes museum admissions, jet ski rentals, bungee jumping, entrance fees, etc. Any expense for having fun!

Lake Garda Fernicular, Italy

Taking the funicular to the lookout point in Lake Garda, Italy

ACCOMMODATION: With the exception of a few hostels in South America and Mom and Pop hotels in Greece, we used Airbnb for our entire travels. With Airbnb filters, you can easily select the criteria you’d like in a home. We set our nightly accommodation budget not to exceed $50 USD (inclusive of taxes and service fees – be careful of those fees, they can add up!) and we miraculously were able to stay under this budget for every single night in every single country.

Hostel in Salento, Colombia

Our hostel in Salento, Colombia

In mainland Greece, we traveled quickly (only 2 – 3 days in each village) and because we had a rental car, we wanted the flexibility to be able to change our plans at the last minute (or go without a plan and wing it based on how we enjoyed the place.) Because of this, we used Booking.com to check the availability in a hotel sometimes as last-minute as 15 minutes prior to arriving. Once we saw that there were rooms available, we simply showed up and asked for a discounted price if we paid in cash (which was honored 100% of the time, because hoteliers don’t want to pay the fees through Booking.com.) Even though we visited in peak tourist season (July), we were able to find some great deals this way (still within our budget) and also had the freedom to add on nights if we wished. (This is usually easier than cancelling and expecting a refund, assuming they have the availability, which is always the toss-up.)

*Note about Booking.com* – we used a “refer a friend” once (I referred Sasha and he booked our next accommodation) and received $20 off our next stay. Also, many times on their site it will show a listing with the text, “hurry! Only two rooms left at this price!” or something to that nature. This is a sales ploy and is typically not true, because you will arrive to the hotel and find that nearly every room is available.

You will notice that our accommodation for some countries will be either $0.00 or extremely low (London, Greece, France and Russia). This is because we stayed with family or friends for either part of the time or the whole time. I will list this in the notes.

TOILETRIES: We tried to bring as much as we could with us from the states, but that can make your backpack get heavy quickly! Sasha and I use all natural and/or organic products such as deodorant, shampoo, soap, sunscreen, etc. This was generally very difficult to find in other countries (especially South America). In Europe they were available, but at a very high price. Inevitably we ran out of things like soap and toothpaste, so we had to brave not being familiar with a brand and trust its labeling.

**A word for my female readers**: the menstrual cup is the best toiletry investment I’ve ever made. It is far less wasteful than tampons and pads, and much less to carry! No more worrying about being on a bus in the middle of the Andes and having to run to the toilet to change it out. The cup can stay in for up to 12 hours. I use the Diva Cup.

*NOTE* In Europe and many other parts of the world, the term for natural is “biological“.

AIRFARE: Because airfare is not indicative of how much money we spent in each country itself, I will list it separately. Three flights were booked using Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card points miles including Denver to London, St. Petersburg to Athens, and Munich to Denver. The total amount we spent on airfare for our entire trip was $3,916.39. We flew a total of 22 flights, bringing the average cost per flight to $178.

*Countries are listed in alphabetical order, not in the order in which we visited them*

COLOMBIA

Massaged in a mud bath on the way to Santa Marta, Colombia

Getting massaged in a mud bath on the way to Santa Marta, Colombia


Time Spent in country: 22 days

CATEGORY TOTAL COST IN 22 DAYS AVERAGE PER DIEM
Transportation $795.02 $36.14
Cell Phone $73.84 $3.36
Clothing, Accessories & Gifts $8.00 $0.36
Eating Out $899.03 $40.87
Groceries $103.87 $4.72
Entertainment/Leisure $106.44 $4.84
Accommodation $289.10 $13.14
Toiletries $29.79 $1.35
COLOMBIA TOTALS (22 DAYS) $2,305.09 $104.78

CROATIA

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia


Time Spent in Country: 10 days

CATEGORY TOTAL COST IN 10 DAYS AVERAGE PER DIEM
Transportation $357.23 $35.72
Cell Phone $33.59 $3.36
Clothing, Accessories & Gifts $5.90 $0.59
Eating Out $1,473.63 $147.36
Groceries $200.30 $20.03
Entertainment/Leisure $47.35 $4.74
Accommodation $382.90 $38.29
Toiletries $406.91 $40.69
CROATIA TOTALS (10 DAYS) $3,116.04 $311.60

ECUADOR

Pailon Del Diablo Waterfall, Ecuador

The famous Pailon Del Diablo waterfall

Time Spent in Country: 16 days

CATEGORY TOTAL COST IN 16 DAYS AVERAGE PER DIEM
Transportation $571.87 $35.74
Cell Phone $55.12 $3.45
Clothing, Accessories & Gifts $112.00 $7.00
Eating Out $697.46 $43.59
Groceries $30.51 $1.91
Entertainment/Leisure $222.00 $13.88
Accommodation $502.99 $31.44
Toiletries $0.00 $0.00
ECUADOR TOTALS (16 DAYS) $3,828.27 $239.27

FRANCE

Calanque D'En Vau, France

Calanque D’En Vau, France


Time Spent in Country: 8 days

CATEGORY TOTAL COST IN 8 DAYS AVERAGE PER DIEM
Transportation $130.51 $16.31
Cell Phone $27.04 $3.38
Clothing, Accessories & Gifts $63.17 $7.89
Eating Out $273.39 $34.17
Groceries $110.26 $13.78
Entertainment/Leisure $67.26 $8.41
Accommodation **we stayed with Sasha’s friend for our entire stay** $0.00 $0.00
Toiletries $0.00 $0.00
Airfare $0.00 $0.00
FRANCE TOTALS (8 DAYS) $671.63 $83.94

GREECE

Proposal - Engaged in Chania, Crete, Greece

Venetian Tower, Chania, Crete, Greece

Time Spent in Country: 27 days

CATEGORY TOTAL COST IN 27 DAYS AVERAGE PER DIEM
Transportation $1,202.36 $44.53
Cell Phone $115.40 $4.27
Clothing, Accessories & Gifts $302.67 $11.21
Eating Out $1,453.68 $53.84
Groceries $129.12 $4.78
Entertainment/Leisure $201.78 $7.47
Accommodation **We had free accommodation from Sasha’s friend during our entire 11-night stay on Crete Island. On Mainland Greece, we paid for the rest of our accommodation** $475.84 $17.62
Toiletries $17.67 $0.65
GREECE TOTALS (27 DAYS) $4,358.15 $161.41

ITALY

Tuscany, Italy
Time Spent in Country: 32 days

CATEGORY TOTAL COST IN 32 DAYS AVERAGE PER DIEM
Transportation $2,052.51 $64.14
Cell Phone $110.00 $3.44
Clothing, Accessories & Gifts $105.22 $3.29
Eating Out $1,821.66 $56.93
Groceries $648.65 $20.27
Entertainment/Leisure $570.66 $17.83
Accommodation $1,386.55 $43.33
Toiletries $39.08 $1.22
ITALY TOTALS (32 DAYS) $6,826.90 $213.34

LONDON

Old School Double-Decker Bus in London, UK

An old-school double-decker bus. The newer ones are much more modern.

Time Spent in City: 8 days

CATEGORY TOTAL COST IN 8 DAYS AVERAGE PER DIEM
Transportation $96.98 $12.12
Cell Phone $27.04 $3.38
Clothing, Accessories & Gifts $0.00 $0.00
Eating Out $456.28 $57.04
Groceries $109.17 $13.65
Entertainment/Leisure $33.80 $4.23
Accommodation **We stayed with Sasha’s friend for our entire stay** $0.00 $0.00
Toiletries $0.00 $0.00
Airfare $0.00 $0.00
LONDON TOTALS (8 DAYS) $723.27 $90.41

RUSSIA

Kremlin - Red Square, Moscow, Russia

Time Spent in Country: 30 days

**Note about Russian Visas**
If you are visiting Russia and are you are not a Russian citizen, you will need a Visa. I obtained a re-entry Visa, valid for three years, which cost $390 (this is included in the Transportation category below.) You may also get a Visa for only a one-time entry, which was significantly cheaper. However, since my Fiance’s family is from there, we figured we would likely visit again sometime in the next three years. I obtained my Visa two months before departing the country.

CATEGORY TOTAL COST IN 30 DAYS AVERAGE PER DIEM
Transportation $428.21 $14.27
Cell Phone $130.00 $4.33
Clothing, Accessories & Gifts $59.31 $1.98
Eating Out $953.24 $31.77
Groceries $274.29 $9.14
Entertainment/Leisure $549.21 $18.31
Accommodation **We stayed with Sasha’s family in St. Petersburg & Moscow. The only accommodation we paid for was our five nights in Kazan and chipping in for the electric bill for our 2.5 weeks in St. Petersburg** $208.72 $6.96
Toiletries $17.23 $0.57
RUSSIA TOTALS (30 DAYS) $3,188.12 $106.27

U.S. NATIONAL PARKS (UTAH)

Dead Horse State Park Sunset, Moab, Utah, USA

Dead Horse State Park, Moab, Utah, USA

Time Spent in City: 5 days

CATEGORY TOTAL COST IN 5 DAYS AVERAGE PER DIEM
Transportation $63.08 $12.62
Cell Phone $16.64 $3.33
Clothing, Accessories & Gifts $0.00 $0.00
Eating Out $331.20 $66.24
Groceries $0.00 $0.00
Entertainment/Leisure $230.00 $46.00
Accommodation $159.58 $31.92
Toiletries $0.00 $0.00
Airfare $0.00 $0.00
UTAH TOTALS (5 DAYS) $800.50 $160.10

Hopefully this helps you gain a better understanding of what it takes to be able to travel long term, and how much it costs to travel abroad long term. If you have specific questions about saving, budgeting or documenting expenses, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below!

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How Much it Costs to Travel Abroad Long-Term

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    CareerBreakAdventures
    May 29, 2018 at 6:42 am

    The app we use to record travel expenses is called Trail Wallet. It works well and is way easier to use than keeping receipts or taking notes. It doesn’t do currency conversion but we also use XE to convert and then enter into Trail Wallet. We keep separate accounts (double entry) for each country with associated categories and then another another recordation for our trip as a whole. I have read somewhere that this software has a built in currency converter so you can enter in your local currency and it will record in your home value. I haven’t been able to find it though and suspect it is for the computer software and not phone app.

    • Reply
      culturalfoodies
      May 29, 2018 at 7:00 am

      This is brilliant!! Thank you so much for this recommendation! I will try this on our next trip abroad in September! 🙂

  • Reply
    Natasha
    June 26, 2018 at 12:09 am

    You guys went to some pretty amazing places! Wanting so badly to go to Ecuador and Croatia <3 So nice to meet another Hawaii blogger!

    xoxo Tasha
    http://aglobalstroll.com

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