Planning this trip has been one of the more difficult things for me to do budget-wise.  Having never traveled this extensively at one time, it has been tricky to estimate what costs we will incur along the way.  Some expenses like airline tickets and hotel costs can be found online, but with our itinerary still mostly undetermined, even those costs must be estimated.  I have broken our costs down into several high-level categories:

  • Daily Expenses: $18,000
    • This is the biggest “single item” in this breakdown, but it is certainly not a single item.  It is composed of all our accommodation, food, sightseeing and intra-city ground transportation (taxis, buses, etc).  With a trip of about 180 days, this works out to a nice, clean $100/day for the two of us.  This number will vary in each country (maybe twice this is Australia and less than half in Nepal), but this is our target average for the trip.
  • Airline Tickets: $9,000
    • The next biggest item, this is the estimated expense for all of our international air travel.  I arrived at this number by finding a number of one-way flights using to get us around the world and back home while going through the countries we’d like to visit.  We decided to go the do-it-yourself one-way ticket route rather than the RTW ticket route because of the added flexibility it gives us.  However, it does leave our likely second-largest expense as a wildcard since we will not know our exact expenses until we buy the tickets.  Hopefully, we can keep our flight expenses down to allow us more money for other activities on the trip.  (FYI, we came in about $100 under budget for the first leg of our trip to Sydney).
  • Insurance: $5,000
    • Insurance will likely prove to be an expensive item on our trip making up approximately 13% of the total cost.  This number includes our US medical, international medical and travel insurance.  We are going to purchase very high deductible (essentially catastrophic) insurance for the United States while we are away in case we develop any serious problems abroad and must come home for treatment.  This is obviously a very unlikely outcome, but we want to be sure we aren’t completely bankrupted by an unexpected illness.  We are also going to purchase more comprehensive (and less expensive) insurance that covers us while we are abroad in case we have any minor medical or dental issues and must see a local doctor.  Lastly, we will purchase travel insurance that covers our more adventurous outings like scuba diving in Australia or hiking to Everest base camp.  The travel insurance will also cover our more expensive accessories (laptop, camera, etc.) in case of theft or damage.  I will do more in-depth blog posts on this when we purchase each of these policies.
  • Adventures: $3,000
    • This number will probably grow as we progress through the trip.  This is the money we’ve budgeted for our more wild adventures like white water rafting in New Zealand, scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef and hiking the Himalayan mountains.  These are the adventures we need that extra insurance for!
  • Other Travel: $2,500
    • This travel cost represents domestic travel.  Air, boat, bus — whatever.  This is what I anticipate spending to get around once we’re in-country.  This number and the international air travel expense are very related.  Traveling smartly and flexibly will reduce both these expenses.
  • Gifts/Souvenirs: $2,000
    • There’s no way we could go completely around the world and not purchase mementos along the way.  It’s a certain expense so we decided we should budget for it.

This puts the total cost of our trip at a whopping $39,500 —  or a little over $200/day for a 6-month adventure.  Based on my readings of other backpacker travel blogs and their accounting, this number is likely a little on the high side, and we will likely end up spending less than this in the end.  I’d definitely prefer that to the alternative of spending much more than what we anticipate!  This budget is certainly a living document, and we will have to adapt to new situations as they arise, but since resources are most certainly not unlimited, we will be bound by the amount of money we have.  I will keep a running budget of expenses for each country to see how well we are staying within this budget and post my findings on this blog.