How To Travel The World On A Budget

So, you are thinking of traveling the world and want to to do so without blowing all your hard-earned cash? I feel you! I spent around $720 per month on average while traveling the world between January and the end of August 2018. This post is all about how to travel the world on a budget and how I make it work.

How To Travel The World On A BudgetHow I organize my expenses

Let me start off by saying that I keep track of every single cent I am spending and have been doing so since 2014. It’s something that I absolutely love doing. Keeping track of your expenses, is in my opinion, the best way to get a handle on your money.

My biggest tip when it comes to how to travel the world on a budget is, therefore, to keep track of every single cent you are spending.

I use Google sheets and have been doing so since 2014. This is the template that I am currently using. I amended lots of the categories and switched things around to suit my needs. The template is 100% customizable. Previously, I used a plain google sheet without any graphics.

How To Travel The World On A Budget
A glimpse into my spreadsheet. The only category that I couldn’t capture with my screenshot is “repairs” (it’s right under Misc)

How to travel the world on a budget like a pro!

My monthly budget is $1,000 per month and as mentioned earlier, so far I’ve averaged just $720 per month. I posted how my monthly budget is structured earlier this year and figured to write an update.

How do I manage to spend just $720 per month on average while traveling full-time? I am now going to break it down for you.  There are a handful of things that I do to save money, to be a bit kinder on the environment and to enhance my experience.

My biggest spending categories are definitely accommodation, food, and transport and this is what I do to cut costs.

Accommodation

I live like a local. I use websites such as Airbnb, Housesitting or Couchsurfing to connect with locals and find accommodation. My daily budget for accommodation with my man is $20 (I pay $10, he pays $10). That is our absolute maximum. Most places we stay in are around $15 per night.

  • Housesitting: Between January and August I’ve house sitted for over six weeks. That’s six weeks that I didn’t spend any money on accommodation. Since the end of August, I’ve house sitted for two more weeks and will be doing another house sit in October. House sitting is great if you enjoy spending time with pets. I’ve made lots of YouTube videos about it that I highly recommend checking out. Housesitting this much has resulted in less money spent on accommodation and more enjoyment!
  • Airbnb: I mostly stay in apartments with kitchens. In Eastern Europe, this budget got as a whole apartment to ourselves and in Asia with most been staying in rooms or small studio apartments. I choose to travel like this because I want to get as close to the local experience as possible. I lived in a regular apartment building in Brooklyn, why would I choose to stay in a hotel while away?
  • Couchsurfing: Couchsurfing is all about connecting with locals. It is based on a cultural exchange and completely free. That means that you can stay with locals for free. It’s all about sharing stories, food and just hanging out. On this trip, I’ve only used it to connect with locals and not to stay with them. Why? I simply prefer it for solo trips and trips with friends.
    How To Travel The World On A Budget - accommodation
    Hanging out at a small studio apartment in Bangkok that was only $6.90 per night each!

Food (Groceries & Eating out)

Between January and the end of August, I’ve spent $75 per month on average on groceries and $51 on eating out. When I am not staying somewhere with a suitable kitchen I eat out more than I usually would, hence the relatively big expense on eating out. Just as with accommodation, there are lots of ways to eat better, while spending less.

  • Home cooked meals: I cook a lot. I love making food from scratch and knowing what’s actually in the food that I am eating. I stick to fruit, vegetables, and grains and favor local goods over imported ones. I also seek out local markets and vendors (whenever available) as their prices are usually better than those at supermarkets.
  • Eating out: Whenever I do eat out I go to local restaurants. I strive to support places that are affordable by local standards and stay away from fancy vegan restaurants. That means doing a little research beforehand to get a better understanding of what’s perceived as affordable (and what isn’t). Most meals that I eat out are around $2 or less.
How To Travel The World On A Budget - food
Homemade fruit salad in Kuala Lumpur

Public transportation

I walk whenever possible. I only take public transportation when walking doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Buses, trains, boats, you name it. I hardly ever take anything but local transportation and avoid cabs like the plaque.

Why? I hardly ever take cabs whenever I am living somewhere, so why would I take them on the road? I only ever take cabs when public transportation isn’t running due to it being too early or too late.

Public transportation is always cheaper and so much kinder to the environment.

How To Travel The World On A Budget - transportation

More tips on how to travel the world on a budget

Stay in places longer

This can make the biggest difference when it comes to how to travel the world on a budget. I stay in places longer. I prefer to spend several weeks in one place and don’t like hopping from place to place.

While it can be of course tricky to arrange longer trips, I prefer them over short ones. Staying in a place for a longer period of time saves you money on transport, accommodation (weekly and monthly discounts!) and allows you to explore a place more deeply.

  • Example: In April/May 2018 my man and I rented an apartment in Nonthaburi, Thailand. We spent around $330 for a month of living there. Utilities and internet included.

Lots of places on Airbnb offer great weekly and monthly discounts. Furthermore, lots of people seeking house sitters are oftentimes looking for people who can stay for weeks, if not months.

The best part? By staying in a place longer you’ll reduce your impact on the environment.

How To Travel The World On A Budget
Hanging out in Shanghai

Travel to affordable destinations

Go to places that will allow you to make the most of your budget. While staying in places such as New York City and London might sound like a great idea, the cost of accommodation and living can be high. Spend the majority of your trip to more affordable destinations and you’ll be able to get the most out of your trip.

For more expensive destinations House Sitting as well as Couchsurfing are great options to cut costs on accommodation while greatly enhancing your experience!

Find a travel partner

If you happen to know someone who’d be down to join you, do it. I am all about traveling solo, however, if I know someone who is down to plan a trip with me then I am all for it! Traveling with someone is going to save you lots of money on accommodation and will give you more options.

  • Example: Instead of having a solo budget of $10 night, my man and I have a combined budget of $20. We can get apartments to ourselves in that price range!

You can make it work

Traveling the world can be a lot of fun, even more so when you make it work without breaking the bank. If you know someone for whom this post could be useful, share it with them. These were my top tips on how you can travel the world on a budget.

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3 Comments

  1. Christian Meneses
    September 29, 2018 / 11:39 PM

    Great tips Nina! I didn’t quite understand your poimt about CoachSurfing. You said you only used it to connect with locals but not to stay with them? Not sure I get it. I’ve been thinking on placing my place on sites like that. What is your experience? Is it safe? Are ppl cool? Thanks and thanks for sharing!

    • Nina
      Author
      September 30, 2018 / 2:58 AM

      Thank you! While I haven’t used it on this trip to sleep at someone’s place (yet), I’ve used it extensively in the past. Most recently I spent a handful of days in Marrocco and spent half of that at a local home, together with my friend. It’s a great way to save money on accommodation (because it’s free!) while connecting with locals 🙂 That’s why I mentioned it! I am also in the process of finding someone right now that could host me and because so many people still don’t seem to know about it I figured I’ll throw it into the mix.

      I absolutely love it! I’ve hosted extensively in the summer of 2013 and met great people! I think it’s important to add as much information to the “home” section as you can. Include photos of the space they’ll have available, info on any rules you have (such as no smoking, etc.) and anything else that could be useful. When I did it in Berlin I got up to 15 requests per day. It was like having a second job! Whenever I did host in nyc for a minute it wasn’t all that different. So. Many. Requests!

      I’d say be fairly selective and read through people’s profiles. I also ignore most requests that someone just copied and pasted and sent off to a million different hosts. I hosted all sorts of people in the past and didn’t have a single bad experience. I hosted someone who chose to be homeless, I had two dudes from Italy crashing at mine, I hosted a girl in my room that I later on re-connected with when I was living in London, etc. It’s a truly amazing platform! I never had any security or safety concerns, but never had those, so that’s just me.

      While the platform has gotten increasingly popular over the last few years, I still recommend it. Of course, there are people who are only messaging because they need a place to crash. I usually prefer hosting people that I’ve got something in common with and that are using Couchsurfing for more than just free accommodation. That’s what it used to be after all. It’s about sharing your space, stories, food, all the good stuff. I’d never use it with the intention of just crashing at someones. I’d want to stay with someone with whom I could imagine myself hanging out.

      Uh, all things considered, it’s still a great platform and if you’d like to host then I’d totally go for it! I think you’d meet some really interesting folks! 🙂

  2. October 2, 2018 / 9:13 AM

    A travel budget always kills me. Thanks a lot for nice tips.

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