I don’t know about you, but after discussing the best languages to learn in a recent post, I’m wondering where I could put them to use once I’ve managed to master them. While there is much that can be accomplished with knowledge of foreign languages without leaving your native land (greatly increasing your job prospects being the first of many options), one of the true advantages to speaking a foreign language is that it is that much easier to communicate with other people as you travel the world.
Yes, world travel. A dream of many since at least the publication of Around the World in 80 Days back in the nineteenth century, it’s something that’s easier thanks to all the planes, trains, and automobiles you can find for yourself nowadays. It’s increasingly possible to visit many of the countries of the world without too much effort, or too much money. Although, on the subject of money, the question arises:
How Much Does It Cost To Travel The World?
The Short Answer: It Depends.
Alright, alright, I know that’s not much of an answer; it could be applied to just about question regarding cost that you could ask. But hear me out: there’s a lot of different factors involved in determining the expense of going to one foreign country, let alone half a dozen (or more…). You can see how the costs can vary widely between, say, a family of four trying to see three countries during Dad’s two week vacation, a high school graduate hitchhiking across Europe the summer before college, and say, a couple spending half a decade traveling the world.
With all these different types of world travelers out there, it’s not going to be that simple to come up with one fee for world travel; there’s simply too many different things to consider. If we want to get least a ballpark figure, we should set a few ground rules, so that we’re comparing apples to apples. So, when we say ‘travel the world’ in this article, we’re talking about:
- One Person: While we’re not necessarily going to only consider people who travel the world solo (nor suggest that you shouldn’t take a significant other with you while seeing the world), doing all the calculations for individuals allows for easier comparisons, so we’ll run our calculations per person.
- Visiting At Least Six Countries on Two Continents: There’s a difference between visiting one or maybe two foreign countries for a short time (a la the typical vacation travel) and truly ‘traveling the world’. While not every example will list all the countries traveled, each one hit a sizable amount of the planet.
- Traveling for One Year: Here’s a biggie; there’s a lot of different time frames you can use for your world-gallivanting trips, which would have vastly different expenses as a result. Setting a standard trip time, in this case a year, helps to make the comparisons easier; for those trips that are longer or shorter than a year, we’ll extrapolate to get the per-year cost. (Plus, who wouldn’t want to spend a year seeing the world?)
- Without Children: Don’t get me wrong, as someone with a baby girl myself, I can’t imagine traveling without her, whether around the world or simply across the state. That said, I know from my experiences traveling with her across the state (and even across town), that having a child, particularly a baby, makes travel more expensive. (Granted, none of the sources I’ve found mentioned children, but I thought I’d clarify this point.)
Alright, so with those rules set, let’s look again at
How Much Does It Cost To Travel The World?
Here’s the Long Answer: Let’s look at some examples:
- Kyle and Briana of RollGlobal.Org = A year touring Asia and Europe for a total of $15,000 per person
- Kelly and Quang of GoNomad.Com = $3000 per person, per month to visit eight countries; overall, $36,000 per person (if they had kept up their traveling for a full year)
- Betsy and Warren of MarriedWithLuggage.Com = $100 per day, $36,500 per year (total), $18,250 per person
- Daniel Baylis, The Conversationalist = One year of travel to 12 countries on six continents, $13,931 per person
- Jaime Davila, the Breakaway Backpacker = Two years of travel for $27,696, meaning $13,848 per person
- Alex Macaw, who is Mostly Harmless = Provides plenty of advice on how to travel for a year, while spending $22,000 per person
- Nora Dunn, the Professional Hobo = Provided more than a few tips on how to travel the world for less than $14,000 per person and in 2011, spent $17,615 per person herself.
Alright, so we have a total of seven different experiences here, that should give us at least some idea of how much it costs to travel the world. Let’s run the number, shall we?
- Highest Cost: $36,000 per person
- Lowest Cost: $13,848 per person
- Average Cost: $19,520 per person
- Median Cost: $17,615 per person
So, to (finally) answer the question, you can potentially afford to travel the world for a year for less than $20,000, and maybe even less than $15,000. After you get your jaw off the floor (don’t worry, I had the same reaction to many of these stories) and before you start questioning whether they are at all representative of typical year-long travel expenses, it is worth making the standard disclaimer, as most of these writers do: These results may not be the same as your results, prices of travel and other expenses are always changing, if you go to different places/do different things/meet different people, then your costs will likely be different, sometimes drastically, etc., etc., etc. (Of course, there are ways to help keep your costs to a minimum; we’ll cover most of them in the near future, so be sure to keep reading!)