Are you rich? How can you afford to travel for years?
May 03, 2006

You don't have to be rich to travel.  You can live well in a lot of the world, in places like Thailand or Guatemala, for less that $20 / day. 

Some simple math:  $20 / day x 365 days in a year = $7000 / year for traveling

So, for the price of a new compact car, you can instead travel the world for a couple of years.  Not so bad, eh?

An example:  A 6 month trip around SE Asia.  $20 / day is over-estimating for places like Cambodia and Burma, but $20 / day x 180 days + $800 for a round-trip flight to Bangkok equals $4400.  And you can certainly do it cheaper than that. 

India and Indonesia are the cheapest places in the world.  If you're not traveling much, you can live well on $5 / day.  But a more cautious estimate would be $10 /day.

After those two countries, the cheapest places are in Central America, South East Asia, and parts of Africa.  If you're traveling slowly, you can live well for under $20 day. 

Simply put, it just doesn't cost that much to travel the world for long periods of time.  It's a heck of a lot cheaper to travel the world than to live in San Francisco while unemployed.  *hint* :-)

Factors that affect the cost:

1) Where you go. 

If you're backpacking through Norway, you can probably expect to pay at least $50/day.  If you're backpacking through India, you can live on about $5 /day.

2) Your standard of living.

If you go to India and stay in the Sheraton, it's still going to cost a fortune.  Backpacker's guesthouses are not as clean nor luxurious, but they are much more affordable.  By sacrificing a few comforts, you can travel for much, much longer.

3) How fast your travel.

The faster that you travel the more expensive it is.  Transport and tourist sights add up quickly.  If you take a train into Cairo, see the pyramids one day and the museum the next day and then take a train out that night you could easily spend $40 or more dollars in those two days on taxis, trains, tickets, etc.  But if you hang out in Cairo for a while, your costs drop down to nothing -- $4/night for a hotel + a couple of dollars in food, tea, and sheesha. 

4) How much you drink.

This one requires a separate bullet point.  In many countries you can get a hotel room for a couple of dollars and buy good street food for pennies.  But beer always seems to cost at least a dollar a bottle.  If you're only paying a couple dollars for a hotel and food, then a half-dozen beers will more than double your daily budget.

5) Are you traveling alone or with someone.

Some guesthouses have cheap dormitories.  But in general, double rooms are only slightly more expensive than single rooms.  Traveling with someone else will save you quite a bit of money in hotel expenses.

My Story

That's all the general stuff in answer to the question.  But here is my story:  When I got laid off from my last job, I got $20,000 in severance and bonuses.  It would have lasted 6 months of looking for job in San Francisco.  But instead I used the money to travel the world for 4 years. 

I turned down a number of jobs offered to me along the way, but finally I was given a job offer that I couldn't refuse.  Now I'm programming again.  Working whatever hours I want, from wherever that I want.  Generally, I'm working about 2 hours a day here on the beach in Egypt. 

I'll write another article soon about finding work on the road.

r.a. gunter - Jun 26, 2006

i'm trying to figure out the best way to get across the bering stright from russia into alaska.  what are the chances i'll be able to just show up and work passage on a fishing boat?


scott - Jul 02, 2006

Adam,we can offer a fantastic rate on hollowed out whale carcasses for world travellers who want to row across the bering strait, so long as they own their own Ethiopian goat skin for those cold nights on the ocean waves.  Please contact us if you require anymore info on this amazing experience of a life time ,this should be right up your street .

mike - Jul 15, 2006

thats awsome ime happy 4 u ever been to south america?  and do u have some budget info on peru and bolivia any info really would help thanks bee cool


I have only been to Brazil and I have been there since 2000.  Sorry, but I don't really have any info on Peru or Bolivia for you. 

You should try asking on


Laura F - Aug 11, 2006

Adam - I'm becoming a groupie!!!
To anyone who reads this please tell me how I can get a job teaching English in the middle east i.e.  Saudie Arabia, Eygpt, Oman, Kuwait etc. 


I cannot tell you any information about Saudi Arabia, Oman or Kuwait.  I imagine that at least in Saudi Arabia it would be difficult for a woman to find work.

However...  I can tell you about Egypt.  It is very easy to find work as an English teacher.  If you have experience or a TOEFL certificate it will help, but none of these are requirements.  My recomendation is to just fly into Cairo and then find work after you arrive.  The Dahab Hotel isn't the cleanest place in Cairo, but it's the best place to meet people.  Other long-term residents there should be able to hook you up with job opportunities.  You should also take a look at the message boards on


mike - Aug 20, 2006

if i go to thailand how long can i stay without a visa and what borders can i jump over to make my stay longer maybe 6to8 months without buying a visa?  any help thanks

Arunkumar - Nov 29, 2006

say, i'm a programmer myself - and i'm embarking on my 1st solo trip across india - but the loneliness is the biggest daunting factor - h'w do u survive that ? 

I have once been alone in NY for 3 months & it was boring like hell.  I just hope my own country proves different. 


First of all, read my article on loneliness:

But in general, big towns can be lonely.  Especially if you're living by yourself.  Cheap backpacker hotels are always a great way to meet people.


DR.CHRIS MORE - Apr 25, 2007

i want to travel from india to australia how much will it cost me and how many days will i stay in the train before i get to austra.


There are no trains from India to Australia.

You're going to have to fly or take boats for at least parts of the trip. 

Traveling by land between India and Thailand is difficult because you need to go all of the way around Myanmar (Burma), and may have to sneak through Tibet.  It'll undoubtedly be cheaper to fly to Thailand. 

And I'm not sure if you'll be able to find a boat from Indonesia to Australia.  As I undertand it, it's a fairly trecherous stretch of water.  Flying from Bali to Australia is probably a better choice. 


Laura Henning - Sept 19, 2007

Trying to figure out the cheapest way to get from S.  America to Africa without having to pay to get to the states.  Ideas? 



Two thoughts for you. 

1) Look for cheap flights to the major hubs in Europe:  London, Frankfurt, etc.

2) Google for "Hitching on Yachts" and see what kind of info you can find.

Good luck!


Addam - Sept 20, 2007

I am traveling to India in April for 40 days through NOLS.  I want to stay longer after my requirements for NOLS are finished.  Im very rugged and am traveling alone (at least at this point, i may recruit another NOLS student if possible, preferably a cute brunette if possible...haha) jokes aside, do you think an additional 3 weeks just backpacking it would be worth it and do you really think i can pull it off for less than 200 bucks?  Im super pumped about this trip but am spending lots of money on the schooling so there's not much money left.  Also any route suggestions from North to South and back North, or West to East...?


> do you think an additional 3 weeks just backpacking it would be worth it and do you really think i can pull it off for less than 200 bucks?

Yes and yes.

But read through what I said about costs again.  How much you travel is a big factor in your costs if you're trying to maintain a budget.  You might have to restrict those 3 weeks to just a couple of places if you want to keep your budget under $200. 


matthew - Nov 07, 2007

hi, im goin to thailand australia and new zealand.  the trip lasts for 6 months.  could i get by on 3000? 

Hannah - Feb 06, 2008

Hi Adam
My hat goes off to you!  Most people wouldn't even think of traveling like you do unless they had a gun to their head.  Their loss...
My friend and I are thinking of taking a drive to The REPUBLIC OF PANAMA from the State of Washington.  What do you think would be a good pace?  They say it's about 3673 miles.  Would we be better off to just fly and avoid the meals and gasoline?
While you are thinking about it I'll send you a few beers. 

Jessica - Feb 25, 2008

Thanks for the advice..I've been to a few sites and it seems like everyone has a different idea of what it costs to travel in Southeast Asia, but I figure the more advice the better.  I went there with Semester at Sea last year but just a few days in each place was not nearly enough!  So I am planning on going there solo for 6 or 9 months next year/as soon as I can save money.

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