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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 trip around the world, 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 with kids? Would we be able to afford it?
As our launch day approached, cost became more of a reality. I was asked about our budget multiple times, and am sure MANY other people were wondering but wouldn’t ask. What surprised me was the realization that most people were grossly over-estimating what it would cost to travel around the world. It’s what finally pushed me to sit down and write it all out.
I hope other families around the world 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.
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So, How Much Does It Cost To Travel The World With Kids?
- Researching: How Much Do I Need?
- Pre-World Trip Costs
- Round The World Trip Budget
Researching: How Much Money Do I Need To Travel The World?
A generic search of what it would cost to travel the world is the logical place to start. Most of what I found pertained to solo or couple travel, none really pertained to a family travelling around the world. It wasn’t perfect, but at least it provided 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, so I set a goal right in the middle and then tried to figure out if it was realistic!
I set a goal of $25K (CAD) per person to travel the world for a year.
Next, I looked at our route (you can find it HERE!). I wrote out the countries we planned to visit, and the expected 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 was 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!
After 6 months of travel, $210 CAD ($170 USD) is a pretty good average. Some places in Asia are easy to travel in for under $100/day (for a family of 4), whereas the Middle East really pushes the budget.
Where to look for accurate, up to date numbers:
Flights are one of the major expenses so I wanted an accurate idea of flight costs. The best place to start is Google Flights. It 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 with Google Flights and then move to Momondo for a more in depth search. I find Momondo often has flight options I don’t find anywhere else on the web, it’s by far my favourite flight-finding tool! For more expensive or long distance flights, I usually cross reference with Skyscanner or AirFare Watchdog, to ensure I’m getting the best deal.
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.
Without all our flights (except the flights home), we’ve spent just over $16K CAD on flights. This includes expensive flights to Sorong, West Papua, Indonesia (for a liveaboard diveboat) as well as a bit of a detour through Toronto, Canada (for my cousin’s wedding) on our way from Panama to Ecuador. Even with a few big splurges, we’ll still well within budget. Yeah!!
Activities & Tours
It’s important to have room in the budget for a few bucket list activities. You don’t want to travel all the way around the world just to miss out on something big because you didn’t factor it into your budget. This doesn’t mean you can do everything, but you should set aside some money for a few splurges. It also doesn’t necessarily mean you should go over budget, just be aware of costs and cut daily 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 our trip, these are:
- Aral Sea Tour ($1000 for 2 days)
- Bhutan ($5000 for 5 days!)
Safari in Kenya ($10000 for 8-10 days)7 days on a liveaboard diveboat in Raja Ampat Indonesia ($7500 CAD incl flights)
- Hot Air Balloon ride in Luxor ($500)
- Galapagos Islands (land-based, $3500 for 1 week incl flights)
It might be easier to think about a $150CAD/day budget with a $20,000 splurge fund!
Pre-World Trip Costs
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.
It’s shocking how large a number this can be, and definitely needs to be taken into consideration when calculating a round the world trip budget.
Vaccinations & Medications
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. We only spent 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. (Buying medications overseas as needed, is probably less than $100/year, unless you get really sick!! So if you don’t have great coverage, don’t worry about stocking up too much!)
Read More: You can also check out my Pre-Trip steps to Stay Healthy During Long Term Travel.
This will vary a lot depending on your nationality and the countries you plan to visit while you travel the world! Luckily, we only needed 2 Visas prior to traveling, 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.
That’s about $750CAD per person, just for Visas!!
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:
- Hiking shoes for everyone ($350)
- Solar powered power bank ($30)
- Skyroam (we get local SIM cards everywhere, so don’t really need this) ($100)
- Lifestraw ($30)
- Timberland sandals for the girls ($80)
- Buff headbands for everyone ($100)
- Backpacks (we purchased these within the last year, $400 total)
- Packing Cubes ($150)
- Swell water bottle for Randy (he lost it a month into the trip!! – $40)
- Stuffable winter jackets for everyone (we only used these twice!) ($300)
- We’ve slowly purchased ExOfficio underwear and shirts, Icebreakers merino wool clothing and a few other key travel pieces for ourselves over the years. If you’re starting from scratch I’d dedicate a few hundred dollars to some decent, technical gear that’ll stand up to a year of travel and multiple climates and conditions.
Read More: This is our Packing List for a Round The World Trip with Kids!
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.
Our Round The World Trip Budget for a Year
- $150-200 CAD average per day
- $20,000 for splurges
- $20,000 for flights.
For a total of $93,000 – $111,250 CAD
(Our actual budget came in a few hundred dollars under $100,000 Canadian! I’m sure I missed a few expenses along the way, but was pretty diligent about tracking everything. Even after we got home Randy would walk in the door and tell me what he spent then remember he didn’t have to anymore!)
How much did you think it would cost to travel the world with a family for a year?