One of the question that I get asked very often is “How can you afford to travel for so long?”. The short answer is budgeting, both in the lead up to my travels and also while travelling. I have been wanting to take an extended time off work to travel for about four years before I started my trip so I have been planning and saving for it. I’m also dipping into funds that I should save up for retirement but hey, there’s no time like the present. Why wait for retirement to do what you want to do?!
My travel style is “flashpacking” (aka flash backpacking). Where possible, I stay in hostels but in my own private room. I try to visit as many attractions as possible. Afterall, what’s the point of travelling if you are not going to see things in the area. As a foodie, I like eat out most meals and be able to taste local cuisine. I also like to socialise, usually over a drink or a couple of drinks. Of course there’s also the fun of trying local beverages such as local beers, wines, liqueurs and cocktails. Therefore, my budget reflects my travel style. It is not the tightest budget at all. I’ve talked to people who are travelling or have travelled for decades on a true backpacker’s budget that is less than half my budget.
For the Americas trip, I will try to stick to a budget of NZ$140 per day (around US$100 per day), all inclusive. Considering the high cost of living in Auckland, this is actually about the same amount I spend living in Auckland (equivalent rent, utilities, transport, insurances, food, drink, living costs etc)! To motivate myself to stick to the budget and to show that it can be done, I will be updating the budget/expenditure throughout the trip.
Final progress report (updated end of trip)
I managed to finish below budget! Over my trip of 223 days (almost 7 and a half months or 32 weeks), I spent on average NZ$129.77 (US91) per day, which is below my target budget of NZ$140 per day.
I was over budget at the start of the trip due to the cost of the initial flights, and also because I was in the more expensive countries of French Polynesia, Chile (including Easter Island) and Argentina. However, I managed to reach the target of NZ$140 per day at the end of my stay in Bolivia, where I spent less than NZ$50 on most days. The daily average trended lower to around the NZ$120 per day level throughout the rest of my time through South America, most of Central America and Mexico, eventhough there were a few spikes in spending as I had paid for some group tours. The daily average increased slightly when I was traveling through Guatemala and Belize, and also the end of my trip through Canada and USA.
A list of my expenditure can be found in the spreadsheet to give some idea of what I paid for activities, accommodation, transport, and general living expenses in terms of food and drinks in each city/country. The spreadsheet is embedded below or can be downloaded.
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What’s your travel budgeting tips? Share and comment below.