Our RTW Trip » Research & Tips » Budget

How Much Does It Cost?

$60,702.91 CAD

… for two people to travel without income for one year.

I think it’s worth clarifying the level at which we travelled. We certainly weren’t travelling with the jet-set crew, always eating at fancy retaurants and staying in brand-name hotels, but neither did we bow to the lowest-price accommodation or tours. And we definitely splurged now and then on a nicer-than-average meal. We didn’t curtail our liquor consumption (indeed, a drink was most often less expensive than it would have been in Canada), or skip meals or tours, if we figured they would be valuable. I would categorize us somewhere near the middle; somewhere between Rich Retired and Cheap Student. (More info on our accommodations.)

NB: All the amounts displayed on this page are in Canadian dollars and, unless otherwise specified, represent the cost for 2 people.

Trip Expenses

What follows is a breakdown of our trip expenses by country and includes ALL of our travel costs, such as flights (see Fixed Costs row at the bottom), meals, accommodations, liquor, museum entry fees, guided tours (such as the Trans-Siberian trip or the hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu), car rental, trains, buses, ferries, Starbucks, visa fees, etc.

The “Fixed Costs” in the bottom row includes all our flights, clothing replacements, electronics replacements and our ‘At Home’ expenses (i.e. storage unit, etc.) and is broken down into further detail on the second table.

Country Dates # of Days Total Daily Average
Canada 30 Apr – 30 Apr 1 $70.00 $70.00
U.S.A. 01 May – 02 May 3 $309.43 $103.14
Taiwan* 03 May – 12 May 10 $681.28 $68.13
Hong Kong S.A.R. 13 May – 22 May 10 $1,098.04 $109.80
China 23 May – 21 Jun 30 $1,966.59 $65.55
South Korea 22 Jun – 22 Jul 31 $3,803.05 $122.68
Mongolia & Russia 23 Jul – 16 Aug 25 $6,063.63 $242.55
Europe*† 17 Aug – 02 Oct 47 $8,216.04 $174.81
Turkey* 03 Oct – 27 Oct 25 $2,005.79 $80.23
India 28 Oct – 12 Dec 46 $3,209.71 $69.78
South East Asia‡ 13 Dec – 28 Feb 78 $8,589.41 $110.12
Japan 01 Mar – 04 Mar 4 $604.13 $151.03
South America ¤ 05 Mar – 25 Apr 51 $7,450.96 $146.10
Fixed Costs 30 Apr – 26 Apr 361 $16,634.86 $46.08
Total 30 Apr – 26 Apr 361 $60,702.91 $168.15

* accommodation with friends/family for part of the time
† includes Sweden, France, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, and The Netherlands.
‡ includes Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.
¤ includes Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru.

Flight Expenses

$11,609.43 (included in “Fixed Costs” row of Trip Expenses table above)

The total cost of our flights represents about 20% of our trip expenses. What follows is a breakdown of these costs. I identified some flights as “long haul” because I use these costs to compare to the cost of an RTW ticket in the Flights section.

Cost Flight Long Haul
$180.00 Calgary > Los Angeles  
$1,829.56 Los Angeles > Taipei > Hong Kong > Shanghai *
$945.30 Seoul > Ulaanbataar *
$188.74 Tallinn > Stockholm *
$101.40 Stockhom > Paris  
$98.80 Paris > Rome  
$160.01 Venice > Budapest  
$65.67 Prague > Amsterdam  
$455.20 Amsterdam > Dalaman *
$846.88 Istanbul > Mumbai *
$604.90 Delhi > Bangkok *
$124.83 Bangkok > Phuket > Bangkok  
$160.00 Bangkok > Phnom Penh  
$196.54 Ho Chi Minh City > Dalat  
$120.00 Da Nang > Hanoi  
$250.00 Hanoi > Vientiane  
$306.71 Luang Prabang > Bangkok  
$1,766.32 Bangkok > Tokyo > Los Angeles *
$2,533.66 Los Angeles > Buenos Aires + Santiago > Lima > Los Angeles > Calgary *
$546.27 Buenos Aires > El Calafate > Buenos Aires  
$128.64 Cusco > Lima  
$11,609.43 Total $9,170.56

At Home Expenses

$3,887.12 (included in “Fixed Costs” row of Trip Expenses table above)

There were some costs at home for which we were responsible while away. Not including the care and maintenance of puppy, we had to pay for the following:

  • Alberta Health Care,
  • storage space fees,
  • mobile phone bill (which I would’ve cancelled had I been able to do so without a ridiculous penalty),
  • travel health insurance (check the RTW Health section for details on our insurance and broker),
  • mail forwarding service, and,
  • Visa credit card annual fees.

The total of all these expenses for the year worked out to $3,887.12 and is definitely part of the cost of travelling long-term.

Pre-Travel Expenses


Not included in the Trip Expenses above are all the things that we purchased before leaving, or in other words, any trip-related expenditures that we made prior to April 30, 2005. I didn’t include this as part of our trip expenses because it is so subjective; does one really need new packs? new quick-dry clothing? new computer? all the vaccinations? Technically, no, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

This includes items such as the following:

  • our new backpacks,
  • all of our new quick-dry clothes,
  • an account on flickr.com for uploading photos,
  • the Sony Vaio computer,
  • International Driver’s Permits,
  • miscellaneous travel gear,
  • medicines that we wanted with us (from Aspirin to Cipro),
  • disposable contact lenses, and,
  • our vaccinations.

The vaccinations were the most expensive bit at $ 2,015.00 for both of us. (Check the RTW Health section for a list of diseases against which we earned some protection.) The pre-trip total was $7,887.56.

Grand Total


If I add ALL the costs associated with this trip, it comes out to a grand total of $68,590.47 (Pre-Trip Expenses + Trip Expenses). We estimated it would be about $54,000 which means that we came in 27% over budget. I believe we could have curtailed our trip or cut back on some of our expenses in order to have arrived home on budget – or under budget – but ultimately, it wouldn’t have been worth it. The experience was far, far more valuable than the 27%.

Budget Tracking Strategy

In order to track the money we were throwing away on travel, we used a spreadsheet that Marc designed and which we updated regularly using our computer.

Basically, it kept a record of each time we withdrew money from our accounts, used a credit card or exchanged a currency. It also recorded the country where the transaction took place, the date, the source of the funds (chequing, savings, credit card), and then automatically changed each transaction from the local currency to CAD so we could keep a running tally or our expenses. Marc made good use of formulas and pull-down menus to make it easy for us to stick to the ‘sheet.


Country Item Source Date Cost Currency CAD Cost
Taiwan ATM Withdrawal Marc’s Savings Acct 06 May 3000.00 TWD 105.87
Taiwan ATM Fee Marc’s Savings Acct 06 May 5.00 CAD 5.00

Eventually, this evolved into further analytics with calculations of cost/country and forecasting our spending, and predictions of when we might run out. It proved to be an essential tool for managing our money while on the road.

We chose not to itemize or track every expense, as some people do, so as to be able to go back to say, for example, “In Thailand, we spent $1182.33 on meals.” We mostly paid for things in cash and we were really only concerned about how much was gone and how much remained. I don’t regret not having tracked all the details.

Other Opinions

13 Months A description of one couple’s estimated, and then actual, budget for long-term travel; in USD.

Small Bag, Big World More estimates from people who travelled long-term; in USD.