How much money do you need to travel?

Foreign money on table

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Travel can cost as much or as little as you like. How much money you need (to budget) for your next trip largely depends on

  • how much comfort do you want
  • how much time you’ve got; and
  • where you are travelling.

You see, a two-week vacation at a luxury resort in the Caribbean can cost you as much as a few months exploring Asia with just your travel pack. Vice versa, a month of hiking in the Caribbean can cost you less than a month of taking public transport around the USA and Canada.

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Expense Categories

We travel the world independently and sustainably, and we are conscious of the way we spend our money. Value for money is important to us – not travelling the cheapest way possible.

Not surprisingly, we keep tabs on our spending, using these expense categories:

  • Transport and Travel
  • Accommodation and Utilities
  • Groceries and Dining
  • Experiences and Leisure Activities
  • Health and Hygiene
  • Clothing, Gifts and Donations
  • Travel Insurance, Bank fees and Government charges.

This helps us understand where our money goes and make purchasing decisions accordingly. It also enables us to share with you what it costs to explore the world – if your travel style is similar to ours.

If you’ve checked out our four-step guide to making your travel dreams come true, you know that we recommend anyone who’d like to travel to start with a travel budget.

Before we travel anywhere, we check how much we are likely to spend. Only this way, we know whether we can afford to travel to a destination and for how long, and avoid that dreaded bill-shock afterwards. To give you an example: Realising how expensive Belize is (and how cheap Mexico and Guatemala in comparison), we changed our travel plans in 2017, spending only a week in Belize and instead three and a half weeks in Mexico and four weeks in Guatemala.

Travel costs for the countries we visited

If you’re budgeting for your next trip, check out the list of countries we have visited since starting Minimalist Journeys. Click on your destination, and you will see how much you might spend exploring the country.

CountryMonth Trip StartedNumber of Days in CountryCosts Per Person Per Day (USD)
AlbaniaAugust 20191033.38
BarbadosApril 2017766.56
BelizeAugust 2017768.15
Bosnia and HerzegovinaJuly 20191829.13
CanadaNovember 20161772.30
CroatiaJune 20192554.59
CubaJune 20171647.30
CuraçaoMarch 20171061.92
DominicaMay 20172150.56
EstoniaMay 2019852.85
Ecuador (including Galapagos)January 20177655.11
GreeceOctober 20191381.31
GrenadaApril 2017948.48
GuatemalaAugust 20172839.62
IcelandOctober 20191376.68
IndonesiaSeptember 20235954.19
ItalySeptember 20191576.14
JamaicaJune 20171152.08
JapanFebruary 20238869.00
LatviaMay 2019751.77
LithuaniaMay 2019744.14
MexicoJuly 20172450.07
MontenegroJune 20191940.17
New Zealand (45% paid accommodation)March 202136548.33
New Zealand (79% paid accommodation)March 202036546.41
New Zealand Van lifeJanuary 201836554.86
NicaraguaSeptember 20171224.82
NorwayOctober 2019560.70
PortugalMarch 20191355.21
SerbiaAugust 20191927.54
SloveniaMay 2019857.06
SpainApril 20191258.44
St LuciaMay 20171147.21
St Vincent and the GrenadinesApril 20171465.40
Trinidad and TobagoApril 2017956.23
United States of AmericaOctober 201641103.51
Our cost of living were converted from the countries’ currencies to USD using the average interbank exchange rates valid at the time.

Withdrawing cash overseas can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be. We can show you how to avoid unnecessary fees and make your travel budget stretch further.

How do you determine which card is best for your overseas trip? Using the right one can save bank fees and make your travel budget stretch further.

Ever been caught out by the bad FX rates and exorbitant commissions charged by FX bureaus? These tips allow you to minimise these charges in future. We also recommend XE Money Transfer to keep more of your money when you complete a transfer.

If you can’t find your next travel destination, you may find the following resources useful:

We keep adding to our list as we continue to roam the world.

How to save money on transportation

Being flexible is what really pays when it comes to transportation and air travel in particular. Travel outside of peak season if you can. If you can't, fares might still be cheaper during certain times of the week and even hours of the day, so check websites like Skyscanner and Google Flights that allow you to see a whole month and all the options on any given date.

If there are several airports in the vicinity of your home (or in the vicinity of your destination) compare the prices between the different options. For example, flying to Mykonos and taking the ferry to Santorini might end up being way cheaper than flying from your home airport straight to Santorini.

We use and recommend the following online travel agents and service providers for our transportation needs:

Airfares

To find good flight deals, we use one-stop travel sites or travel aggregators. Each shows the cheapest airfares on any given day, so you can choose to fly a day/week/month earlier or later, pending your flexibility.

If you find a good deal, book it there and then as prices change constantly. Ideally do your research with your browser in incognito mode, as cookies will show booking sites how keen you are to do a certain trip, which may affect the price quoted – that goes for all online travel bookings (not just flights). The best fares generally go first, so planning ahead is important when it comes to (air) transportation. The same is true if you want to use air points/miles, as there is only a very limited number of seats available for any given flight. We tend to not actually go through the flight aggregators, but book with the airline/s directly. The price is usually the same but we have a direct contract with the airline (rather than with the middleman) in case something goes wrong.

If you plan to travel across multiple continents, you may want to compare passes that offer several destinations as a package (such as around-the-world fares offered by One World or Star Alliance members) vs booking each leg of your trip individually. If you are travelling during peak season those multi-destination packages may be a better deal than booking each leg individually. You can do overland sections on around-the-world tickets too, which means you could supplement your around-the-world ticket with cheap flights, bus and train rides in between destinations.

Vehicle rental (including relocations)

Unless your trip takes you across oceans, another way to save on transport is to look for vehicle/motorhome relocations. There are websites in many countries offering massively discounted one-way rates (often including fuel and/or insurance) to those driving a vehicle/motorhome from A to B within a certain period. These deals are fairly last minute, and A and B are usually bigger transport hubs, but if that’s an option just search for vehicle/motorhome relocation at your destination.

Speaking of vehicles: If you are planning to hire a vehicle at your destination, it also pays to shop around. We use and recommend Discover Cars, an aggregator website that allows you to search across major car rental companies at once. And you don’t have to pay for the hire until you pick up the car.

Hitchhiking

A final option to save on transport costs is… to hitch a ride. While Paul and I did it safely in Dominica on a public holiday (when there was no other option), and we have taken plenty of people along in our campervan in New Zealand, there are many countries we wouldn’t feel safe hitchhiking. Judge for yourself where and when you can and can’t do it.

How to save money on accommodation

For accommodation, as with any other travel expenses, it’s worth shopping around. When we book accommodation somewhere, we tend to look across a number of booking platforms to find the best value for money option. Wherever you book, do make sure you read the fine print to make sure you compare apples with apples. For example, your stay may incur extra charges (like local tourist taxes or cleaning fees). Some booking platforms include them, while with others, you have to pay them to your host upon arrival.

Nightly rates are generally cheaper outside of peak season. If you can only travel in peak season, look for accommodation options that are a little further away from the main tourist attractions, yet have good connections by public transport.

We use and recommend the following booking platforms.

Tripadvisor logo
Trivago logo
Vrbo logo

How to save money on experiences

Free activities or experiences

Many activities (and some of our most treasured experiences) are free or cost very little. On our journeys, we have

  • Visited many museums free of charge (including the Colosseum and Forum in Rome which are free on the first Sunday of the month)
  • Joined Al Green’s Baptist Church Service in Memphis (rather than pay the exorbitant entry fees at nearby Graceland)
  • Attended free guided walking tours around the world (you pay a tip at the end based on your budget and how much you liked the tour)
  • Did countless self-guided walks and used public transport to get to know a city
  • Hiked in the Andes in Ecuador and climbed volcanoes in the Caribbean
  • Swam and snorkelled at countless beaches, using tree shade rather than paying for parasols; and
  • Attended free performances and danced with locals in Cuba.

Just search for free activities in your destination and chances are someone has made a nice list for you already.

Paid Experiences

Paying for experiences or activities can add up quickly, especially if you're travelling as a family. Make use of family passes (if available). Look out for special deals and discount coupons. If you travel in a group, it may also pay to book a private tour and share the cost. Shop around - here are some of the service providers we have used and can recommend:

Do you track your expenses when you travel?

Do you keep track of your spending when you travel? How much did it cost you to visit the countries on our list? What sites do you check out when planning your trip?

How much money do you need to travel?
Author: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulryken/" target="_blank">Paul Ryken</a>

Author: Paul Ryken

Paul Ryken is a goal-setter and goal achiever, never tell him he can't do anything. kinda guy..a grandfather, a husband, and a practicing minimalist who makes sustainable, ethical purchasing decisions. He lives a values-based, quality over quantity lifestyle. For fitness and mental health, he runs six days a week and is on a mission to complete a marathon on every continent before the age of 60. As a digital nomad with carry-on luggage only, he chooses experiences over material items. He primarily writes about sports, travel finances and technology.