This is the post where I break down my traveling spending habits, for your benefit. I spent quite a bit of money during my first 30 days of traveling; however, I have excluded some of the purchases from this analysis. For example, my guitar broke during my first week in Bangkok, and I bought a new one for about $250. It is highly unlikely that you will incur this cost. Additionally, I'm assuming that you have read my post about getting scammed in Bangkok. Therefore, I'm certain none of you will be spending $50 on a fake ring. The final real exclusion I will make is the roughly $33 I spent on film and processing fees. Although I shoot photography primarily with film, I am in the vast minority. For these purposes I'll assume you are bringing a digital camera with you. Addionally, I'm not including my airplane or visa fees. They will be included in a final trip breakdown (whenever that may be), and can't really be factored into my daily costs.
In each category, I'll include the amount I spent during my first 30 days (05/22/14 - 06/20/14). I'll also describe how you can easily spend less.
Without further ado, here we go! First 30 days:
Accommodation - $282.93. Average of $9.43 per day. This category easily made up the bulk of my spending for the month. It's also the thing I could have saved the most money on. While I chose to rent a private room, I could have stayed in mixed dorm rooms, saving anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of what I spent. Additionally, if you travel with another friend, you will be able to share the cost of a double room, for much less money.
Food - $171.97. Average of.$5.73 per day, or $1.91 per meal (assuming three meals a day). While I tried to stick to inexpensive street food, I also went to restaurants frequently. If I had only eaten the cheapest street food (about $1 to $1.50 per meal), I could have saved a fair amount of money.
Alcohol - $60.61. Average of $2.02 per day. I am not a heavy drinker, and mostly had the occasional Chang beer (about $2 each). However, a private movie club I discovered served cocktails, which were more expensive ($3-4 each). As an avid film buff, I visited the club a handful of times, usually buying a drink or two. Actually, if I did not drink at all, I could have saved the full amount. An extra 60 bucks in Thailand could have been very helpful.
Transport - $35.37. This is probably the category I had the least control over. I tried to take taxis and tuk-tuks and infrequently as possible, sticking mostly to buses and boats. While bus and boat rides usually range between 10 and 50 cents, I did spend about $6 each way too and from Ko Si Chan island, which I previously wrote about.
Water - $18.95. Average of 63 cents per day. Once again, there is little you can do about spending money on water while traveling. It is honestly a very minuscule cost, and is an absolute necessity. I generally stuck to the 1.5 liter bottles from 7-Eleven, which cost around 40 cents each.
Toiletries - $18.61. This includes things such as toothpaste, soap and bug repellent. It also includes stuff such as super-glue, which I needed to repair my broken sandals. Like the previous two categories, you won't be able to skimp much on the cost. I bought everything cheaply from 7-Eleven.
Miscellaneous - $65.34. These are random categories such as: ATM fees ($21.35) a phone and prepaid minutes ($18.55), Two hour long massages ($14.24), Laundry ($7.74), plus an additional $3.46 from various costs and fees. ATM fees are usually $4.50-$5.50 per transaction, and can be reduced by taking out big amounts at a time. However, keep in mind the obvious fact that losing large amounts of money is much worse than losing small amounts. I rarely used my cheap travel phone. It is very easy to just not get one. However, a lot of people would probably spend way more than I did, so keep that in mind if you want to frequently text or call while traveling.
Total amount spent - $653.78. Average of $21.79 per day. If you stay in shared dorms, eat only street food, don't drink beer, and are vigilant with your spending, you can easily knock off several dollars per day. However, keep in mind that you want to also enjoy your trip. Weigh out your costs and needs, and strike a healthy balance between them.
I used a fantastic app called Trail Wallet to track my expenses. You can download it if you have an Iphone/Ipad/Ipod, or you can just do it the old fashioned pen and paper way.
I hope you have enjoyed this budget breakdown, and it is useful to you.
Stay tuned for more thoughts and adventures!
My name is Yonah Paley. I quit my job in the United States to travel. I also write movies and do photography. As I backpack across the world, I share stories, philosophy, and travel tips.