Greetings from New Jersey.
After more than eight months of travel, I have finally returned to the United States. It’s been one hell of a ride. Instead of focusing on the actual events of my trip (though I will certainly write about it in the near future), I want to address the question: “How much did my trip cost?”
People ask me that question very often, so I figured I’d get out the calculator, and add together all my costs for my trip. This doesn’t just include the standard food, transport, accommodation, etc. categories that I’ve focused on in my previous retrospective posts. No, this includes everything: flights, visas, travel insurance, and a whole other slew of categories.
During my 254 days on the road, I visited 83 cities in 11 countries, took 10 international flights, rode dozens of buses and trains and stayed at dozens of guesthouses, and ate at hundreds of restaurants and street stalls. For all the fun that I had, I feel like I kept costs quite low. On my tight budget, I was able to go to many fine locations, and even managed to squeeze in a couple of moderately expensive countries (hello, the Maldives and Lebanon).
The countries I visited were: Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel. You can check out my monthly spending breakdowns here, where I delve specifically into each country.
Without further ado, I introduce the breakdown of my total costs for 254 days of travel:
Accommodation - $1,568.88. Average of $6.18 per night. I think I did very well, though I was helped out a bit near the end of my trip. You see, I was able to stay with family and friends for free in Israel. Sticking mostly to dormitory rooms and cheap guesthouses, I was able to keep the prices at a minimum.
Food and Drink - $1,631.37. Average of $6.42 per day, and $2.14 per meal. Once more, it didn’t hurt that I was able to mostly eat for free in Israel. However, I’m still in shock that my food costs were actually higher than my accommodation costs. Street/restaurant food tended to be very cheap in the countries I visited.
Transport (within countries) - $777.76. This includes every bus, train, boat, and taxi ride I took during my travels. It does not include international flights, but I will get to that soon.
International Flights - $1,776.48. Airfare is a necessary evil of travel. Of course, if I had visited Central America instead, the cost for flights would have been much lower. However, I ended up flying very far away from my home country, thus driving up the cost of transport. I took ten flights during my trip. They include:
1. New York (USA) → Bangkok (Thailand)
2. Bangkok → Siem Reap (Cambodia)
3. Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) → Singapore
4. Singapore → Chennai (India)
5. Thiruvananthapuram (India) → Male (Maldives)
6. Male → Colombo (Sri Lanka)
7. Colombo → Madurai (India)
8. Delhi (India) → Beirut (Lebanon)
9. Beirut → Amman (Jordan)
10. Tel Aviv (Israel) → New York
Visas - $397.02. I attained paid visas for Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, and Jordan. Unfortunately, a couple of mishaps contributed to me paying higher prices. First, I did my 60-day Thai visa through a travel agency, which ended up costing me $100 more than I should have paid. Also, I was ripped off at the Cambodia/Laos border, which you can read about here.
Travel Insurance - $286.70. This includes a standard emergency policy for nine months. Sure, I never had to use it, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Alcohol - $271.57. I must admit, I barely drank any alcohol during the second half of my trip. Perhaps I was all partied out from Southeast Asia, but I managed to keep my beer costs to the minimum.
Instruments - $308.56. This was by far the biggest waste of money I encountered during my trip. When my original guitar broke on the flight to Bangkok, I ended up purchasing a new one. I shipped it home soon after, because it was too much of a hassle to carry through India. In Chiang Mai, I also bought something called a “Seung,” which is a traditional Thai instrument. Of course, it was too difficult to bring with me on flights, so I actually abandoned it at a guesthouse. Sigh…I could have really used that extra 300 bucks.
Shipping - $72.43. This includes the costs of shipping my guitar to my family, as well as shipping various souvenirs back home to my friends.
Unused Currency - $6.49. I could not exchange back the small coins and notes from each country, so I kept them as souvenirs.
Miscellaneous - $783.87. I know I should have done a better job at breaking up this category into smaller categories. This includes every other cost, such as admission fees, ATM fees, laundry, film, toiletries, etc. Oh, and let's not forget that ring I bought in Thailand...
Total Costs - $7,881.13.
If I average it out by total days traveled, this comes out to $31.02 per day, including all costs. Sure, I could have spent more and I could have spent less. However, I am very pleased with how my budget turned out. I got nearly eight and a half months of travel in Asia for under $8000. It was worth every dollar, baht, riel, kip, rupee, rufiyaa, lira, dinar, and shekel.
My name is Yonah Paley. I quit my job in the United States to travel. I also write music and do photography. As I backpack across the world, I share stories, philosophy, and travel tips.