Travel budget: small expenses and big savings

“How much does your trip cost?” “How do you finance it? What is your budget limit?” Here are the most common questions we are asked while traveling – with, depending on the culture, the fateful question of “why aren’t you still married? (but that’s another topic, right?). At first, we were a little annoyed to hear them; yet these questions clearly deserve to be asked…

Travel budget: stop preconceived ideas!

We wanted to start this post by fighting some preconceived ideas, about the travel budget:

  • Traveling around the world is doable for any budget: no, you don’t need to have €20,000 of savings to travel! You can quite easily travel on a small budget, using alternatives to very expensive air tickets and pricey hotels.
  • Getting paid to travel is a utopia: sorry to make you stop dreaming, but we really want to warn you against these scams that promise to pay you while making you travel to heavenly destinations. It’s a utopia.
  • Earning money while traveling is possible, under certain conditions: and pay attention to the country’s regulations regarding working/volunteering on the spot!

Our savings before leaving

Before we left, we were already rather economical (no credit, savings) and minimalists in our way of life. For example, we have always preferred to buy second-hand furniture or multimedia equipment, or new clothes when we really needed them… Otherwise, we always try to repair our drilled clothes and small objects that we would tend to throw immediatly away, and above all we don’t hesitate to recuperate and reuse everything that can be.
To give you a more precise idea, before our adventure, we spent half as much as the average of the French:
  • in terms of food (organic and local, in addition!) thanks to the farmer fruit and vegetable provisioning – and our willingness to cook all meals, from breakfast to dinner
  • thanks to the savings made on the electricity bill: switching off water heater during a long absence, heating in winter only if necessary, etc..

And then, as we are used to say, it’s all a matter of priorities in life: we have made the trip our own! And to make the pleasure of traveling last longer, we also looked for other economic tips such as signing up for an account in a bank with no fees. If you want to finance a long trip and start saving money, it’s advisable to create a table of daily expenses in order to quickly identify the most expensive cost items and those that can be reduced. It’s very visual, and it allows you to quickly adjust your future expenses!

Our initial expenses

Despite our desire to reduce costs as much as possible, some expenses have become incompressible… Before leaving, we spent about 1200€/person as detailed below:

Most of them are of course optional, but we have decided to protect ourselves as much as possible – as we explain in this post.

Some (expensive) treatments required to be retrieved such as mosquito nets, bandages, chlorinated tablets or anti-malaria treatment…

During the entire duration of our trip, we are covered by a “World Tour” type travel insurance covering medical expenses, repatriation if necessary and civil liability (if you commit damage). We agree: 400 to 500€/person, it’s a big amount of money… but an expense that proved to be essential, when Margaux had her accident in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

(price in 2016 for 2)

In the first year of our trip, we chose to register on the workaway website to contact potential hosts and carry out volunteer missions abroad – few hours of work in exchange of accommodation and meals.

While we did not regret this choice at the beginning, with no less than 7 missions carried out throughout Europe and Turkey, we decided not to renew our subscription after. This choice was motivated by the unreasonable increase of the site’s prices and the possibility of finding reliable contacts free of charge via other platforms

These expenses do not take into account the cost of the equipment, clothes and bags we took: we already had with us most of the items (clothes, equipment) and our friends/families gifted us the remaining part (thanks again to them!).

Do we earn money while traveling?

Ah! That famous question of “do you earn money while traveling?”… It has often been asked to us, proof that money is a major concern!…
First of all, we wanted to point out that we left with our savings, without financial support or sponsorship. We’ve always been careful to not be remunerated by advertisements on our site, by any brands or tourism agencies (in accordance with our Code of Ethics). Why? Because it would be completely senseless and paradoxical to earn money easily thanks to companies that do not have the same ethics as us, and at the same time to advocate an alternative way of traveling that goes against the capitalist system…
 
Since November 2019, and for the first time in 3 years of traveling, Julien earns some money by giving online French courses (via  italki) and by taking few projects as Web Assistant / Webmaster for a French start-up. This allows us to cover the few expenses we have (mainly in terms of health insurance, visas, food and sometimes entrance fees).

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Our expenses by country

Before taking a closer look at our travel budget, we wanted to remind you that with our alternative way to travel; we are achieving significant saving, such as on: 
  • Transport budget. By leaving France without a plane and by hitchhiking, we saved a lot of money. In reality, our only transport expenses are for buses, metros, ferries in large cities where it’s very difficult to stop a car…
  • Accommodation budget. When we don’t sleep under the stars or in our tent, we are almost always accommodated by locals. In almost 2 years of adventure, we had to pay about ten times for accommodation (often a double room in a hotel, which was cheaper than two beds in a dormitory in an inn).

On the other hand, we didn’t want to be looking at the expenses in terms of health, leisure and food (preferably healthy and of quality) which we cook for ourselves and our hosts in gratitude for their hospitality. Besides, we never refuse to buy ourselves a little drink or two from time to time.!…
Finally, the average budget reports in this post are based on our own experience, at a specific time. They necessarily vary from one person to another, depending on their needs and desires, exchange rates and so on… In our case, we have chosen to alternate free accommodation with volunteering missions to allow us to rest between two days of hitchhiking, but also to visit a little bit the country in which we are and to immerse ourselves in its culture. It’s therefore quite possible to travel without spending almost nothing by hitchhiking, volunteering and dumpster diving for food, for example.
 
 

* price / day / person

EUROPE

Experience from 20th October 2016 – to 16th December 2016

Experience from 16th December 2016 – to 16th January 2017

Experiences from 16th January to 17th February 2017 and from 15th March to 31st March 2017

Experience from 17th February – to 22nd February 2017

Experience from 22th February – to 15th March 2017

Experience from 31st March – to 23rd April 2017

Experience from 23rd April – to 03rd May 2017

Experience from 03rd May – to 19th May 2017

Experience from 19th May to 01st August 2017

Experience from 01st August – to 14th Septembre 2017

Experience from 14th September – to 19th November 2017

CAUCASUS & MIDDLE EAST

Experience from 19th November – to 23rd November 2017, from 01st February – to 14th February 2018 and from 08th March – to 17th March 2018

 

Experience from 14th February – to 08th March 2018

Experience from 17th March – to 16th May 2018

ASIA

Experience from 20th May – to 20th June 2018

Experience from 20th June – to 11th October 2018, and from 26th October to 28th October 2018

Experience from 11th October – to 26th October 2018

 

Experience from 28th October – to 28th December 2018

Experience from 12th January 2019 – to 01st February 2019

Experience from 28th December 2018 – to 12 January 2019, and from 01st February to 03rd March 2019

Experience from 03rd March 2019 – to  20th March 2019

Experience from 20th March – to 01st April 2019

Experience from 01st April – to 31st May 2019

Experience from 27th April – to 29th April 2019

Experience from 20th June – to 27th December 2019

How to avoid money issues and bank fees?

* Post written according to our personal experience *

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