When I first announced to my family that I was embarking on a round the world trip, they took one look at my bank account and assumed they’d have to bail me out somewhere around Thailand. The general consensus was that I should wait, save more money and try it again next year.
Yes. You do need to have some money saved to travel. But as life goes on and money gets saved (and allocated), then time becomes the scarce commodity. So I say, do it now with what you have.
Ask yourself a few questions:
What are my fixed monthly expenses? And how many can I get out of? If you aren’t paying rent or a mortgage then this is probably the best time in your life to travel.
When you sit down and calculate what you spend in your everyday life (rent, groceries, entertainment, transportation) it can be surprising to learn that it costs the same (and often way less) to live day to day in a far away place. Bottom line: if you have enough saved to live in America you have enough saved to live in most other places for the same amount of time.
Start with a budget. Let’s say you have $5000. Congratulations. You can backpack in Southeast Asia for at least four months including the cost of your plane ticket.
Here’s a quick formula to get you started.
Travel Budget – (plane ticket + emergency buffer) / Daily Budget* = Length of Trip
$5000 – ($800 + $400)/ $30 = Four month trip in South East Asia!
$5000 – ($600 +$400)/$60 = Two month trip in Western Europe!
Keep in mind that your budget for traveling in a more expensive place like Europe is seriously impacted by the speed of your trip. As a general rule the more time you spend per place the less you spend per day. Settle in one place and really get to know it, have a better experience and spend less money.
Of course this is just one factor that can swing your budget. Keep reading for more…
*Use this resource (My Funky Travel) to estimate daily backpacking costs by region and country.