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I was hesitant to write a post about this, a budget is such a personal thing. However, when I first started researching for our RTW trip, I obsessed over other people’s budgets. It was the biggest question I had when we first came up with the idea. How much does it cost to travel the world for a year with kids? Would we be able to afford it?
As we get closer to our launch day, cost becomes more of a reality. In fact, I was asked about our budget twice yesterday, and am sure MANY other people are wondering but won’t ask. What surprised me was the realization that most people were grossly over-estimating what our year will cost. It’s what finally pushed me to sit down and write it all out.
I hope other families will be able to use this as a resource and a starting point. Ya never know, it might be that final bit that pushes someone to think “hey, we can do this too”!
If you’re reading this and thinking this budget is too high, check out Ryan’s unconventional tips to travel the world on a budget.
I started with a generic search of RTW budgets. Most of what I found pertained to solo or couple travel, but at least it gave me a starting point. The general range seemed to be about $10,000-$40,000 (CAD) per person for a year. $10K seemed absurdly low, and $40K was a bit on the high side for me, so I set a goal right in the middle and then tried to figure out if it was realistic!
Then, I looked at our route (you can find it HERE!). I wrote out the countries we plan to visit and the approximate number of weeks in each country. I searched an approximate price-range for accommodation and tripled that amount to give me an estimated daily budget. Our accommodation will cost an average of $70/night (CAD). This multiplied by 3 gives $210 CAD per day of in country expenses. This is obviously not completely accurate, but it seems to be a reasonable place to start. If I was only traveling to a few countries I’d research the cost of food, transportation, entertainment, etc, for a more accurate number. However, that’s too much work for a whole year and 20+ countries!
Once I had an idea of in-country costs, the next thing to figure out was major transportation. Flights are one of the major expenses so I wanted an accurate idea of flight costs. Since we have a decent idea of our route, I was able to use Google Flights. Google Flights doesn’t have every airline out there, but it has enough for a general overview. When I’m actually booking flights I’ll often start here and then move to Momondo, Skyscanner or AirFare Watchdog (usually all of them), but for the purpose of a general budget Google Flights is quick and easy!
For all other major transportation I use Seat 61 and Rome 2 Rio. Both of these are wonderful websites that offer a wealth of information on travel within or between countries, including approximate pricing. We plan to use solely public transit (other than possibly a rental car in Jordan and Israel), so our transportation costs will be kept to a minimum.
I’m guessing we’ll spend approximately $20K on flights. This includes $1000/person for each of our “Major” flights (Home – Asia, Asia – Africa, Africa – S. America, S. America – Home) and a few thousand dollars for smaller flights within and between countries.
So far we’ve spent $5118 on flights. This includes flights from home to Tashkent (via China), and from Jordan to Egypt and within Egypt.
There are a few larger activities that I want to make room for in the budget. This doesn’t necessarily mean I want to go over budget for them, just ensure that we cut our expenses elsewhere to make up for it. I like to call this “Splurge and Save”. We save as much as possible on a day-to-day basis to give us the opportunity to splurge on some big ticket activities we really want to experience. For this trip, these are:
This can vary so much from family to family depending on gear requirements, vaccination beliefs, where you’re traveling, etc. Our major pre-trip expenses related mostly to Randy’s new found videography hobby, as well as my new camera, lenses and new computers for both of us. I won’t include any of that here because those were our splurges as opposed to really necessary pre-trip costs. This can be a large number, and needs to be taken into consideration when considering long-term travel.
We’ve had many travel vaccinations over the years, so the only “poke” we got for this trip was Japanese Encephalitis. I’m also lucky to have great extended benefits through work (one of the benefits of owning my own company!) so the cost for us was quite minimal. It’s only costing about $150 total, but if you need multiple vaccinations and don’t have great coverage, this could run well into the thousands. The total value of all the vaccinations needed for our family of 4 for this trip, is likely $6-7K CAD.
I always travel with a whole pharmacy worth of medication! I like to have these with me when we leave, and my insurance covers the cost so it makes sense. Many of these medications can be purchased over the counter for much cheaper in most of the world if you don’t have good coverage. The total (Canadian) value of my medical kit is about $1000.
I’ve got a post coming with exactly what we’re bringing in my medical kit, what we had for vaccinations, and how we’re planning on keeping ourselves healthy on the road, so stay tuned!
The only 2 Visas we had to get prior to traveling were for China and Uzbekistan. Combined they were $1100 CAD (including shipping). The rest of our Visas will cost about another $1800 while we’re on the road.
This was a large expense, and made even worse because of my obsession to pack in carry-on only. I laboured over every single thing we purchased, and so far am happy with everything (although I haven’t used any of it yet!!) This is what we bought specifically for the trip, not including our blog/vlog specific electronic purchases:
I’ve got a series of packing posts (and YouTube videos) coming in the next few weeks before we leave where I’ll go over exactly what we’re bringing with us.
I didn’t really want to add up our pre-trip expenses, because truthfully I don’t want to know what we’ve actually spent!! Looking at the items that would be relatively standard for any traveling family, we’re at approximately $3500. This could run anywhere from $2000 to $10,000 depending on what you already own, and what vaccinations and Visas are needed.
We have a daily budget of $200-250 CAD.
Plus about $20,000 for flights.
For a total of $93,000 – $111,250.
I actually think we should be able to do it for a bit less than this. Ideally we’ll spend between $80-100K, but I want to ensure we have enough saved up just incase we end up needing it.
I’ll be recording what we actually spend as we go, so keep an eye out for future updates!
How much do you think it’ll cost to travel the world for a year as a family?
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