We did a poll on Art of Backpacking on how much people have spent one year around the world backpacking solo. We received the most votes on below $10,000. It’s possible but I’m not entirely convinced people voted accurately but it’s an interesting number to go by.
Slow Travel Saves Money
What does round the world mean to you? Does it mean going to every continent or just going to two or three? The faster you travel, the more places you go and the more you’ll spend. Is that what you want?
$800 barely gets me out of the South American continent by plane. Airplanes are one of the most expensive parts of traveling but it also gets you to places faster. If you’re only taking buses and trains, it’s a whole lot cheaper but it’s slow. I have no problem with traveling slow and often prefer it but I’ve met people that enjoy jumping city to city by plane. In the end it’s a personal preference but the numbers are there and slow travel will save you money. Since it’s for one year, there’s plenty of time.
Where To Go
It’s difficult to backpack Argentina for $830 a month. Meanwhile, $830 can go a long way in Bolivia and possibly over a month. I’ve been in South America for the last 8 months and its been tricky to budget. While Ecuador can be inexpensive, their neighbor Colombia is not. Uruguay is one of the most expensive countries to visit in South America and yet Paraguay is one of the cheapest. $830 for a month in Uruguay would be really difficult and especially since most accommodations seem to be going at $15+ for a dorm leaving you with only $12 more to spend before you’ve hit your daily budget to stay at the $10,000 a year mark.
Sacrificing What You Enjoy
There’s only so much saving I could possibly do before I start to sacrifice things I actually enjoy. I like a good beer and would happily pay more for a beer I couldn’t get anywhere else. I didn’t realize this when I budgeted my trip to account for things I love to do. I figured I could just live on water and save money. Eventually I got sick of being stingy and started to spend money on things I loved to do while still responsibly spending.
$10,000 for a year RTW possible?
Although below $10,000 won, I don’t think it’s possible to visit multiple continents and consistently travel while only spending $833 a month. If however the traveler stopped at each destination for a month where the dollar goes a long way, then yes it’s possible.
To make $10,000 for a year possible, I think you’d have to plan it out pretty well and avoid countries that may be too expensive, splurging, and definitely traveling slow. A sample itinerary might be Central America then fly to India then fly home.
A More Reasonable Number
There’s no magic number since it really depends on where you go and how you travel. I’ve seen a whole lot of articles on the internet on how much people have spent in a year. AOB has two of them (Cost Summary of 11 Months RTW and Figuring the Figures: Budgeting an RTW Trip). Through all the numbers that I’ve been seeing, my guess is $20,000 is a good number to go by for a true round-the-world solo backpacking trip. This is hitting multiple continents, staying at cheap accommodations around the world, airfare, and a few activities. Of course the number really depends on how long you stay at each destination. Stay for three months in Japan and watch that number go way higher.
What do you think? Could you travel around the world for only $10,000?