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.
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.