It’s one of the first questions asked by anyone considering a round the world trip: how much will it cost?
This is our best shot at nailing down just how much it costs to travel around the world. It’s tricky to give an exact answer to this question, because every trip is based on different variables like destinations, timing, and traveling style.
If you want to see our hard number, jump to that section. Otherwise, read on to see why a hard number shouldn’t always be trusted.
Which variables affect costs?
- When you go – Timing has a huge influence on the overall cost of an around-the-world trip. Prices in a given location can vary wildly depending on the time of year you’re there (also known as seasonality).
- Where you go – Some parts of the world are more expensive than others. Europe, the United States, Australia, and Japan are going to cost more. India, Southeast Asia, and Central America will bring the cost down.
- What you do when you’re there – Going out for adventures every day will bring up the total cost of your trip. Skydives, snorkeling, dune buggies, and ski slopes aren’t cheap!
- Your accommodations – hostels, hotels, guest houses, long-term rentals. The level of luxury you choose will have a huge effect on your trip’s cost.
- The type of food you eat – Eating at street vendors, supermarkets, restaurants, local homes or Buddhist monasteries…where you eat will alter your food budget.
What’s generally included in the cost of a round-the-world trip?
There are really only a few things that people spend their money on when they travel:
Plane tickets – Getting from region to region. The average cost of an AirTreks ticket tends to be in the $2500 – $3500 range per person, including taxes. Over the last twenty years this number has remained fairly consistent. You can estimate the cost of your airfare with our TripPlanner or call one of our free Personal Travel Consultants at (415) 977-7100 for a quick estimate. If you need a generalized price for your budget, use $3300. If your trip comes in lower, that’s a bonus! Of course, business class will run a little extra.
Accommodations – These can range from the most barebones dormitory-style hostel to a fairly luxurious hotel or resort. Of course you can mix and match over the course of your trip. After plane tickets, accommodations will be the most expensive part of your travel budget. Plan on $20-40 per night in inexpensive regions and $90-150 in expensive ones. If you plan on hostels every night, much less. In cheap areas you can find a dormitory for under $5 and even in the most expensive areas, it’s rare to find one over $25.
Food/Drink – This item can range from supermarket picnicking, to street food, to restaurants. This will vary from meal to meal. Plan on $1-5 per meal per person in inexpensive regions and $5-20 per meal per person in expensive ones.
Activities – These are things like tours, museums, adventure activities, elephant riding. Of course you’re going to spend money on doing things. Can range from $5 to $200 each, depending on the activity and location.
Ground transportation – This includes buses, trains, ferries, taxis, moto-rickshaws, regular rickshaws, tuk-tuks, barges, speedboats, motorcycle rentals. Costs vary depending on how far you’re going and how fast. Taking a moto across town in Africa costs less than a dollar. Renting a Mercedes in Dubai might cost $500. Generally, though, ground transportation is a small fraction of your expenses.
Here’s how much a round the world trip will cost*
The general consensus from travelers who’ve done these trips is that a year on the road costs somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000.
However, that is just the middle of the bell curve. If you prefer to live in the lap of luxury, flying in business class and staying at the Four Seasons, you’re going to have to pay a lot more than that. But if you’re a lowly backpacker, you could potentially travel the world for a year on $6,000 (it has been done!) For the sake of argument, let’s average a comfortable RTW year-long trip at $24,000. If you break that down monthly, a Round the World trip will cost one person around $2,000 per month, taking everything into consideration. For many people it’s cheaper to be on the road than staying at home.
*This shouldn’t be taken as a hard and fast number, since variables for your particular traveling style are numerous.
Keep in mind that the longer the trip, the less you spend on a daily basis simply because you don’t need to fill each day with activities or spending expensive time in airports. This is the reason why we’ve said that longer trips can actually be cheaper on a relative basis.
If you want some further hard numbers on how much a round the world trip cost, there’s a selection of travel bloggers who have posted their numbers online for all to compare and to evaluate. The travel blog Jack and Jill Travel has compiled some of the best. The blog RTW Expenses put together a yearlong tally of their personal costs for a RTW trip.
And finally, AirTreks producer Gil Gildner wrote an extensive account of his 40 day, 6-destination trip around the world along with how much it cost per day.