Traveling the World on a Budget for 6 Months or More
Ditch your desk for a new destination.
July 10, 2018 5 min read
You see it on social media all the time. An accountant takes 6 months off to backpack around Europe. A student figures out how to travel the world for a year. But is taking an extended leave of absence to cross items off your bucket list financially feasible? Take a look at your budget and savings along with some money-saving travel strategies to find out if you can really afford to see the world.
The cost of traveling the world for a year
First things first: let’s talk about how much it costs to ditch your 9-to-5 and travel the world for an extended amount of time. There are a lot of factors that contribute to the cost of long-term travel, like which countries you’re visiting and whether you’re hitting up hotels, hostels or vacation rentals.
You’ll want to consider all the unexpected costs of traveling around the world for your budget. There are obvious costs, like flights and lodging, but you don’t want to forget some of the little expenses that can add up. Check out this comprehensive list that includes even the smallest stuff, like the cost of vaccines, before you go.
All that being said, it seems like a lot of travelers can travel the world for a year for just around $20,000, or about $50 per day.1 You can expect a similar cost, about $50 per person per day, if you’re traveling as a couple or traveling the world for a shorter amount of time, like 6 months.2
How to save up for traveling around the world on a budget
Now that you have a number in your head, you can create a savings strategy to make sure you have the funds you need. Luckily, the formula is pretty simple. Let’s say you’re looking into traveling around the world for a year, and you want to start your adventure a year from today. Just take that $20,000 and divide it by 12 months to set your monthly savings goal. You’ll need to save a bit more than $1,600 each month to make that happen. Or, if you’re looking to travel for 6 months, you’ll need about $10,000, which means you’ll need to save just over $800 a month for a year to achieve your goal.3
Does that seem a bit ambitious? Keep in mind that you may already have savings you can use and that you may make some money from selling a few of your possessions you won’t need while you explore the globe for a year. You can also move your departure date back if you feel that isn’t a realistic savings goal, or you can plan to work remotely while you’re abroad to earn extra cash.
Once you’ve set your savings goal, create a savings account just for your travel fund, so you won’t be tempted to spend that money on other things. Also consider setting up an automatic savings plan to guarantee you set aside enough money every month to grow your travel fund.
Tips on cheap ways to travel the world
Once you’ve saved up and hit the road, there are a lot of ways you can stay on top of your spending to travel the world on a budget. One of the most important things you can do is avoid being too close to tourist destinations. It’s great to visit those iconic landmarks, but be sure to avoid restaurants and lodging nearby where prices are hiked up. Staying outside of the city you’re visiting and eating where the locals do will save you money over time.4 But keep an eye on bus stops and other hubs for public transportation. If you’re too far from these locations, you could end up blowing your budget on taxis and ride shares.
Speaking of food, cutting back on dining out can help a lot, especially since you could potentially end up eating out for every meal. Instead, try booking accommodations with kitchens, or at least a refrigerator and a hot plate. That way, you can go to the local grocery store and eat at your home away from home. Bonus: You can learn some local recipes in the process.5
You can also save money by looking for free activities. It only takes a quick search to find free museums or self-guided walking tours in your destination. But if you exhaust the free options, you can look into a city tourism card for big cities like Paris and Dubai. Buying these cards can give you free or discounted access to top attractions and maybe even a price break at restaurants and on public transportation.5
These are just a few ways to achieve world travel on a budget, but with this new know-how about saving money for long-term travel, you might be ready to fulfill your dream of seeing the world for 6 months, a year or more. So start saving, and let the countdown to your departure begin!