What is the Cost Of A Trip Around The World?

by Dave on March 20, 2009 · 191 comments

Heli-hiking to Franz Joseph Glacier was worth it, even if it increased my overall cost of a trip around the world

Atop Franz Joseph Glacier, New Zealand

To help others get an idea for the cost of a trip around the world, I realized there was no better way than to track my actual expenses.

I tried to find a balance between providing current and useful data with not being too nerdy and spending all my time calculating exchange rates and accounting for every penny.

I rounded all expenses to the nearest $0.05 and after losing a little pocket exchange calculator in the beginning, I decided to use rough exchange rates to do the calculations in my head instead.

Methodology

To determine the cost of a trip around the world, I categorized my spending into six buckets:

  • Visas – solely the cost of visas, not inclusive of related administrative expenses
  • Lodging – hostels, cheap hotels
  • Transport – metros, trains, buses, taxis, rickshaws, ferries, boats
  • Food – meals, water, alcohol, snacks
  • Sightseeing – admission tickets, all-inclusive packages (rafting in Nepal, cruise in Egypt)
  • Miscellaneous – internet, phone, guidebooks, clothes, souvenirs, shipping (of souvenirs) home

Some activities included meals and/or lodging for a night or more, such as my treks in Nepal and India.  I did not attempt to separate those costs.

I also did not factor travel between most countries into my daily costs.  This would include international flights, though not the trains and buses I used between countries in Europe.

Cost of a Trip Around the World

Daily Expenses

  • French Polynesia – 5 days – $66 per day – $330 total
  • New Zealand -26 days – $116 per day – $3,005 total
  • Australia – 28 days – $98 per day – $2,743 total
  • Indonesia – 21 days – $55 per day – $1,151  total
  • Singapore – 4 days – $51 per day – $204  total
  • Hong Kong/Macau – 11 days – $65 per day – $711  total
  • China – 20 days – $55 per day – $1,095  total
  • Tibet – 0 days – $N/A per day – $150 total (cost of permit I never received, and loss of money on train ticket)
  • Nepal – 42 days – $54 per day – $2,275  total
  • India – 43 days – $51 per day – $2,179  total
  • Thailand – 68 days – $55 per day – $3,760  total
  • Cambodia – 18 days – $63 per day – $1,139  total
  • Laos – 18 days – $61 per day – $1,095  total
  • South Africa – 55 days – $77 per day – $4,223  total
  • Botswana – 7 days – $110 per day – $771  total
  • Egypt – 11 days – $90 per day – $992  total
  • Europe (Belgium, Holland, France, Switzerland, Spain) – 27 days – $81 per day – $2,176  total
  • Colombia – 49 days – $44 per day – $2,163  total

Total for Daily Spending = $30,162

Inter-country Flights

  • $2,000 – Air Tahiti flights – Washington, DC to Auckland, via French Polynesia (Tahiti).  Jetstar flights – Christchurch to Brisbane, Melbourne to Bali*
  • $127 – Jetstar Asia flight from Singapore to Hong Kong
  • $476 – Air China flight from Chengdu to Kathmandu, via Lhasa, Tibet
  • $247 – THAI Air flight from New Delhi to Bangkok
  • $124 – Laos Airlines flight from Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai
  • $673 – Air Qatar flight from Bangkok to Cape Town*
  • $593 – Air Egypt flight from Johannesburg to Cairo
  • $122 – Jetairfly.com flight from Cairo to Brussels
  • $505 – Iberia flight from Madrid to Bogota

Total for Inter-country Flights = $4,867

* Flights purchased through AirTreks.com

____________________
Cost of my 15-month trip around the world = $35,029**

Fulfilling a personal dream = priceless!

____________________

For further details, you can review my online spreadsheet.

** This figure does not include pre/post-trip expenses like storage, health insurance, immunizations, etc.  Check out my pre-trip plan for an idea of those expenses.

PS – Through online advertising, Dares, donations, and gifts, I was able to travel longer than I otherwise would’ve been able to on my own.  Thank you to everyone who contributed, whether it was offering a donation or simply reading this blog!

About the Author:

is the author of 1721 posts on Go Backpacking.

Dave is Editor and Founder of Go Backpacking and Medellin Living, and the Co-founder of Travel Blog Success. Follow him on Twitter @rtwdave or Google+

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Whether you treat blogging as a hobby, or dream of building a location independent business, you'll learn what's required to create a name for yourself in the online travel world.

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Categories: Budgeting & Finances, Features, Planning, Post-trip
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191 Comments

segdordeviagens September 4, 2009 at 1:15 pm

How dare you not including Brazil in your journey plan? 49 days in Colombia and not even a weeknd in Brazil?
I’m sure you enjoyed the trip but I’m also sure that you’ve lost the opportunity of knowing the best part of this planet!

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segdordeviagens September 4, 2009 at 8:15 am

How dare you not including Brazil in your journey plan? 49 days in Colombia and not even a weeknd in Brazil?
I’m sure you enjoyed the trip but I’m also sure that you’ve lost the opportunity of knowing the best part of this planet!

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Dave September 5, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Yes, these numbers were exactly the kind of information I had a hard time finding before my trip. That’s why I ended up spending twice what I budgeted just about everywhere I went! Actually, since everyone’s travel style is different, this info is a guideline at best, but I bet that for some of the older backpackers (ahem early 30′s), this is a good representation. Or for flashpackers.

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Dave September 5, 2009 at 11:05 am

Yes, these numbers were exactly the kind of information I had a hard time finding before my trip. That’s why I ended up spending twice what I budgeted just about everywhere I went! Actually, since everyone’s travel style is different, this info is a guideline at best, but I bet that for some of the older backpackers (ahem early 30′s), this is a good representation. Or for flashpackers.

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Dave September 5, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Hey Andrei – thanks for the feedback and delving deeper in to the blog.

Before I left home, I would read travel blogs to get ideas for places to go. River tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos is a direct result of that reading. Even though I would’ve learned about it once in Thailand, it was still cool to have the activity in mind from the beginning, and then realize how far I’d come while floating down the river in the middle of SE Asia.

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Dave September 5, 2009 at 11:10 am

Hey Andrei – thanks for the feedback and delving deeper in to the blog.

Before I left home, I would read travel blogs to get ideas for places to go. River tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos is a direct result of that reading. Even though I would’ve learned about it once in Thailand, it was still cool to have the activity in mind from the beginning, and then realize how far I’d come while floating down the river in the middle of SE Asia.

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Dave September 5, 2009 at 4:12 pm

I know – ridiculous to skip Brazil right!!

I initially planned to do the whole South America circuit – Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia – but I spent more time in Asia then planned, and definitely more money in South Africa than expected. By the time I made it to South America, I really only had time for Colombia.

Brazil is #1 on my new list. I’d like to make it there in the next 1-2 years.

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Dave September 5, 2009 at 11:12 am

I know – ridiculous to skip Brazil right!!

I initially planned to do the whole South America circuit – Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia – but I spent more time in Asia then planned, and definitely more money in South Africa than expected. By the time I made it to South America, I really only had time for Colombia.

Brazil is #1 on my new list. I’d like to make it there in the next 1-2 years.

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Rhys September 22, 2009 at 8:55 am

Insanely jealous! I'm surprised how much Australia was, everybody says it's cheap. I suppose compared to UK it probably is.

Great post, retweeted :)

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Dave September 22, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Rhys – thanks for stopping by and retweeting.

Yea, I was in Australia when it was 1.1 Aussie dollar to 1 US dollar. Months later, Americans were almost getting 2 for 1 because of the economic crisis. I would've been living it up if my timing were different.

And yes, I was jealous of the British spending power over there!

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Veron September 24, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Hi Dave, it's my first time here and I'm glad this is the first article I got to read. I have always wanted to travel around the world but due to work commitments, was always limited to 1 or 2 cities at a time. Your post inspires me! To think I stumble upon it right after quitting my job! Is this fate or coincidence?

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Shawnosaurus September 24, 2009 at 12:57 pm

For anyone else that wants to see his per day data sorted from cheapest location to most expensive, I just saved you 2 minutes :)

$44 Colombia
$51 Singapore
$51 India
$54 Nepal
$55 Indonesia
$55 China
$55 Thailand
$61 Laos
$63 Cambodia
$65 Hong Kong/Macau
$66 French Polynesia
$77 South Africa
$81 Europe (Belgium, Holland, France, Switzerland, Spain)
$90 Egypt
$98 Australia
$110 Botswana
$116 New Zealand

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Dave September 24, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Hi Veron –

Thanks for checking out my site. If you're interested, I started blogging about my RTW in early 2007, so everything I did in the run up to it is documented for posterity (and to help others of course).

The Planning section at the top of my “best” page is a good place to start:

http://gobackpacking.com/best/

By the way, I loved the food available in Singapore. I couchsurfed for 4 nights there, and had a great time in your country. :)

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Dave September 24, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Thanks Shawn – cool idea.

I should note that Colombia is the cheapest because I stopped traveling at that point and got into routines – renting an apartment vs hostel, eating at the apartment vs restaurants. Also, that was a point at which the dollar to Colombian peso exchange was very much in my favor. A few months later, the US dollar had lost about 20% of its value against the peso, so things became more expensive.

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Robert Fitzsimmons October 20, 2009 at 9:47 am

Hey Dave just came across this, very handy and I just wrote a similar breakdown for my costs in Australia so far on my blog (scheduled to publish this upcoming Monday) I got the costs right down with sharing a house (and food), Australia is extremely expensive I'm finding so far.

I'm surprised you clocked up such a cost in Thailand though, I found it a lot cheaper then $55 a day.

Stumbled this post for reference in the future :)

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MsWandaLust October 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Dave – As I am sitting in my cubicle only beginning to ponder my RTW adventure with a planned departure of April 2010 your spreadsheet gave me such peace of mind. I have many of the same items on my list and these are such great starting points for how to get them on THE LIST.

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Dave October 21, 2009 at 1:23 am

Yep, I was in Australia when it was 1.1 Aussie Dollars to the US. If my timing were later, I'd hit with a much more favorable exchange due to the recession.

Yes, when I went to cheaper countries, my spending was still high because I compensated – private rooms, nice meals (I rarely cooked for myself), plenty of sights and drinking. I had a great time. Oh, and a ton of money spent on internet access since my netbook was a glorified word processor.

Thanks for the stumble!

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Dave October 21, 2009 at 1:30 am

Thanks so much for the feedback! It is funny to hear that it is reassuring people because I still feel a bit self-conscious about the amount of money I spent. :)

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Miami Hotels November 1, 2009 at 7:08 am

My wife and I are backpackers and we'd like to travel a lot and we found LastMinuteTravel.com wich gave us a wide range of options on travelling. I find it the best when it comes to travel guide.

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Miami Hotels November 1, 2009 at 7:14 am

My wife and I are backpackers and we love to travel a lot . the best site we found on how to have the best time was LastMinuteTravel.com. I Highly recommend this site. It knows where the best clubs are on every country we went to.

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Gail Gillespie November 19, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Hi Dave

Interesting comparisons there.I am rather disappointed that my own country New Zealand was the most expensive…tho' not too surprised.Interesting that Botswana came in 2nd worst. I would have expected it to be cheaper.

No doubt in the last little while the volatile exchange rather had an effect. If you came to NZ now you would probably have had considerably cheaper holiday.

You have had an amazing experience.

I was surprised Hong Kong was not much different to Cambodia….my experience would have had Hong Kong – last month…. quite a bit more expensive than Cambodia…. 3 years ago.

When people look at this list they do need to take into consideration the exchange rates with their own currency! I suspect from New Zealand the same experience might have had very different results for this reason.

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Friedel December 15, 2009 at 12:18 am

Having just got back from a trip around the world by bicycle, this strikes me as so expensive! My husband and I spend about $50,000 for a 3 Year trip, including all the extras like flights, vaccinations, replacement gear etc. Okay, it's a different style of travel but far more economical and very interesting if you want to meet the local people. More people should try it! You can always combine it with a little backpacking.

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Dave December 15, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Hi Friedel,

Thanks for stopping by Go Backpacking, and congrats on your RTW bike trip. I have a lot of respect for those who are willing to travel long distances on a bike (I met a few in China on there way to Nepal). I'm just starting to get into short bike trips when I travel (not multi day….yet).

A lot of people have found my expenses high, however I didn't hold back much. This was my dream trip, and that meant if I felt like taking a helicopter up Franz Joseph Glacier, I did so. Foie gras ravioli in a Laos restaurant? Yes please. Heck, a week in Switzerland alone was a splurge, but I'd been wanting to go for years. I spent more time then planned in South Africa, and the exchange rate in NZ and Australia when I was there was akin to spending US dollars.

If anything, I'm only going to spend more as I get older, and appreciate a comfy bed and privacy more. I'd still be taking my backpack though!

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Laurie January 9, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Hi Dave! Your trip looks incredible. My husband and I just finished a year long trip. We decided to set up a website to help other people figure out travel costs by country. I was wondering if we could use some of your data since you've done such a great, detailed job of keeping track of costs. The website is http://www.budgetyourtrip.com. We could enter the data if you don't have time.

Thanks!

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Dave January 10, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Hi Laurie,

That's a great idea for a website, and I hope you can make it work. You're welcome to enter my cost data (I have my hands full with online activities at the moment).

I'll add a link to your site at http://gobackpacking.com/links

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Michael Tieso January 17, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Hey Dave,

Interesting budget. I tried to calculate my expenses but ended up too caught up traveling. I just know how much total I've spent so far. It seems like you've spent quite a bit in some countries. What are up to these days now?

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Dave January 17, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Thanks for the recent comments on Go Backpacking.

Since returning to the States in July '09, I've been working hard to build this travel blog, and a new one I'm going to announce next week. In between, I'm applying for online editorial positions with travel sites in NYC.

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Michael Tieso January 17, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Ah thats awesome. Good to hear that you're keeping yourself going :)

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keananO January 19, 2010 at 5:07 am

Hey guys, I'm freaking a little bit about my trips travel expenses as I'm not going for a package ticket, I'm booking my flights as I go. I'm not a seasoned traveller but I'm not paying four grand for a ticket when I think I can do better than that.
I'm going to SE Asia, Europe and South America at the end, one year all up but I don't want to get stuck somewhere…. am I crazy to do it this way? i don't think I am but it's good to hear from travellers who know the deal.

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Dave January 19, 2010 at 7:58 pm

There's no need to worry. Did you see all the flights I listed out? They were almost all bought by me, individually, over the internet while traveling in a foreign country. Super easy. Whether you can beat the cost of RTW tickets is a good question. I think I beat it because I lasted longer than 12 months, and hit South America, Africa, and Nepal – all out of the way places which can really increase those RTW ticket fares.

A site I used often to check routes flown by discount airlines is http://www.airninja.com

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aliciav January 25, 2010 at 1:54 pm

VERY HELPFUL! I am starting to plan my travels, i hope to be gone for about a year. this is going to be very helpful to make sure i dont forget anything!

thanks!

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Dave January 25, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Alicia – I'm glad you found the cost info useful. Let me know if you have any questions as you continue planning. :)

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Rene January 25, 2010 at 8:45 pm

I have a general question, did you all go on your Around the world trip with somebody else / a few friends etc… or simply alone…?
I want to do a trip, but it would be only myself, so I am curious if that's “common” or not…..I know everybody should do what he wants but I still would like to know…

Also, would you consider a trip like that dangerous? That maybe sounds like a weird question, since I know that of course a trip like that is an adventure and isn't easy all the time etc..and I know there are bad people everywhere, but in many countries you will surely draw attention to your site, simply because people can tell you are from somewhere else, know you unfamiliar with the area, think you have sooo much money etc…

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Dave January 26, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Hi Rene, thanks for stopping by.

I went solo on my trip around the world, and yes, it's quite common. Probably a little more so for men then women. I noticed women are more likely to travel with a friend or group then guys.

But once you hit the road, everyone – women, men, couples, and friends will usually connect with other travelers along the way, and share in little 1…2…3… or more week adventures together. This often happens if your itineraries in the same region are the same, and you're getting along well.

There are potential dangers with any form of travel, whether on a group tour or traveling alone, in Westernized countries, or the poorest on our planet. Practicing common sense precautions such as you would while visiting or living in any large city is often the best approach. Fear of dangers shouldn't stop you from making your grand adventure a reality.

Figure out your personal concerns, then post questions like these on message boards, such as the ones on Bootsnall.com or on blogs by solo female travelers to get feedback on their experiences. Women do have it a bit tougher, especially in places like India where the men can be very gropey, but again, there are thousands of travelers making their way through most popular countries at any given time. :)

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gdpandme April 1, 2010 at 11:24 am

Awesome post. Great information. Thank you so much.

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flighttickets April 20, 2010 at 12:58 am

Congrats Dave for your great trip and its very interesting reading your journey and details about expenses and all…..

Flight Tickets

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parnika May 8, 2010 at 6:56 am

hey how did u go to every place i mean wat travels did u select for ur pakage??

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Dave May 8, 2010 at 11:19 am

I worked for 5 years at home in the USA, saving money so that I could travel wherever I wanted. I organized all the travel myself.

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nadiajoz May 11, 2010 at 6:25 am

Hey congrats i could really understand how you are feeling at this point of time om achieving your dream..traveling all around the world is an experience in itself, and it is true that here price doesn't matter..im sure that your $35,029 is nothing in front of your achievement

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Dave May 17, 2010 at 1:18 pm

I saved up for 5 years to be able to afford to travel on my own. I didn't use package tours except for a few safaris and a Nile cruise in Egypt.

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Sophie May 23, 2010 at 10:03 am

Hey Dave, I'm planning a big trip like this also. $35,000 in 15 months is a great effort!! Maybe I'm a bit self-indulgent but I can't believe you're self-conscious about that amount, or that people think you can do it cheaper – that was around what I had worked out for my trip, going to similar sorts of places, and splurging when I want to, really good to see somebody who's already done it and survived! Thanks :)

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Sophie May 23, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Hey Dave, I'm planning a big trip like this also. $35,000 in 15 months is a great effort!! Maybe I'm a bit self-indulgent but I can't believe you're self-conscious about that amount, or that people think you can do it cheaper – that was around what I had worked out for my trip, going to similar sorts of places, and splurging when I want to, really good to see somebody who's already done it and survived! Thanks :)

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Nick Orsini June 1, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Dave,

Your trip is amazing and, of course, inspiring. I would like to do a much smaller rtw trip (3-6 months) but am very much so a people person. I think i would really love to have a wingman with me when I make my trip. I see the benefits of going it alone and meeting hundreds of different people along the way, but what would you recommend? Do I search for a travel partner or is it more qualitative to go solo and experience different places with new faces.

Also, I don't believe I have any friends who are spontaneous enough or financially secure enough to partake in a rtw trip, so can you recommend a website where I can connect with potential travelers that would be interested in planning a trip together? Possibly recent college grads like myself..

Thanks Dave, and congrats again.

Nick

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Dave June 2, 2010 at 2:01 am

Hey Nick, thanks for checking out Go Backpacking. Great to hear you're planning a long term backpacking trip!

It is incredibly easy to meet people while traveling, and it's almost the norm, even for the shyest among us, to travel for a week, a month or more when we run into people we like along the way. I found that a mix of traveling with others, and then on my own, was the perfect solution. Traveling with other people can be incredibly intense because you're together 24/7 a lot of the time. I learned the hard way that traveling with best friends from college wasn't as great as I expected. Everyone had different priorities, and that they didn't want to do what I did started to get on my nerves. After two weeks, all 5 of us had split up and gone our own directions.

I'd recommend http://travbuddy.com where you can post where you plan to travel and connect with others. I did this for my Nepal trek and it worked great. Also, check out the forums at http://bootsnall.com and Lonely Planet which usually have a subforum just for people trying to find travel partners.

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DaveB July 30, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Congrats on your trip, and fulfilling a lifetime dream.
I can say though, that the budget was just huge.
I have been travelling for 13 years, and what you spent on that trip would keep me going for 6 years more !

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Athens Flights August 2, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Finding travel advice on the Web can feel a little like buying a car. First, you settle on the make and brand. Then you decide on the details and fittings you want. Last, you go hell-for-leather for the best deal. A search for “get travel advice” on Google throws back 80 million results; the market is packed with brands to get you what you need. So to help winnow down the choices, following are a few of the better sites that I've used to eke out pre-trip advice, including suggestions for a trip to Quebec next month where I'll literally only have a half day to explore. Note that I don't really go into too much detail about social-networking sites like Facebook, Bebo, and Twitter, where the efficacy of your search for advice can depend on the breadth of your network, plus your own engagement and activity within those networks. If you have lots of well-traveled friends, tap into their font of travel wisdom. If not—or in addition—the below resources might help you get the info you need without too much extra legwork.

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Easyjet August 2, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I too agree that it is necessary to get travel advice from a trustworthy source. This will definitely be of great help to anyone who wants a joyful journey.

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Ken August 10, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Dave, is this your pre-trip budget plan? Because I just don't see how you're spending so much in some of those countries.

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Dave August 11, 2010 at 12:47 am

Ken – no, that was my actual spending. All I can say is that “to each their own” when traveling. I ate in restaurants (2-3x/day) almost 100% of the time, rarely cooking for myself or self-catering as they say. I think I also averaged in the cost of the 2 new cameras I bought when others broke, and all the time spent in internet cafes uploading photos/writing for the blog. I spent a lot on souvenirs — about $300 on a single thangka (Tibetan painting) in Nepal, for example.

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CKCybers Website Designer August 16, 2010 at 9:20 am

i am from indonesia and looking for traveling with backpacking way to singapore…
can you give me the detail… ??
thanks

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Robert L September 19, 2010 at 7:39 am

How many days did you spend on researching and preparing booking all those detail tickets before starting the trip? It was really nice, buget but complete the tour with highlights and happy memories,,,makes people admiring.

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