The Cost of a Year Abroad

We are back from our trip abroad and I have a lot of writing to do! In total, we visited 30 countries. I thought I would hit the topic of cost first since the numbers are all in. How much did a year of no work and all play cost? I’ll break it down here.

I’d like to preface this article by saying that I would find it fascinating to know how much taking a year off of work and simply traveling could cost. I understand that this amount may seem like quite a lot or rather little depending on your own personal spending habits, so I will try and give as many caveats as possible.

Here’s the number: 38 750 $

That amount includes our trip to Hawaii, which precluded our time in Europe. It includes all flights, food, gasoline, entertainment, and all other miscellaneous travel expenses. Broken down further, here is how much we spent on each of our travel categories:

Accommodation: 12 800 $

Transportation: 10 800 $

Eating: 7 900 $

Airfare: 4 000 $

Entertainment: 2 800 $

Other: 450 $

Accommodation includes all hotels, Airbnbs, guesthouses and the like. We were not staying in hostels or the absolute cheapest places available. Rather, we were using the app to search for places in the area (often the very same day) and filtering by a few basic features such as free parking, air conditioning, decent reviews, a kitchenette, and perhaps a washer so we could do laundry. I would consider all of our stays as quite comfortable with only a few outliers that were on the very low or very high end. They were simply comfortable guesthouses.

Transportation includes gasoline (approximately 50 000 kilometers), tolls, parking, car repairs, public transportation, and car rentals when we were not able to use our own (South Africa, Morocco, Jordan, and Azerbaijan). Gas was by far the largest expense at about 5 500 $. We had one large car repair about 3 months into our trip where we needed to fix wheel bearings, breaks, and tires. But besides that, we were lucky to have had a really reliable car (especially considering how far we drove it)!

This is a great time to mention how fortunate we were to have that Renault Clio. It was practically a gift from a family friend. In normal circumstances we would have expected to pay a lot more to buy a vehicle but as luck would have it, we asked family for help finding a car exactly when an older couple was ready to part with theirs. Another thing to take into consideration is the fact that we were only able to do this trip at all because my husband is Spanish and his family could help with the paperwork well before we began our expedition. Any non-EU resident would have to find workarounds or contemplate a different trip as visa and vehicle-registration restrictions would inhibit traveling like this.

The “eating” category is well… eating! And we ate a lot (both restaurants and groceries)! I don’t believe we held back at all. We aren’t hungry during breakfast hours so we almost always skipped that unless it was included in the price of the hotel (Morocco and Turkey typically had breakfast included). We would prefer to snack during the day because we tend to be busy visiting sites and driving around to dedicate a couple of hours for lunch.

After a long day of adventure, we would go out to eat. Some countries, in our opinion, are not worth spending the money to eat out (Switzerland), and thus we would cook in our hotels with their kitchenettes. Other countries we would consider it a sin to not consume as much of their food as humanly possible (Italy and Georgia!). Italian pizzas cannot be beat and Georgian food is quite literally to die for. We would change our eating habits depending on the country, but I never felt that we constrained ourselves.

Airfare is also self-explanatory. That category includes our flights between islands in Hawaii, roundtrip flights to Europe, Morocco, South Africa, Jordan and a few smaller flights in between. I will have another post strictly about how we purchase flights in general, but I will mention how all of those cheap flights were possible due to the fact that we had complete flexibility. We could leave whenever we wanted so we coordinated our trips to match the cheapest flights.

Entertainment includes entrances into national parks, cable car rides, tours, museums, scuba diving, a hot air balloon ride and a whole lot of castles. The only thing I think worth mentioning here is that our drone saved us money when it came to the entertainment category! There comes a point when you’ve seen one too many old buildings and you don’t feel motivated to spend the money to enter into yet another old building. Whenever we were unsure about whether an entrance ticket was worth it, we simply flew the drone to the site. Not to mention the fact that photos from the drone are more interesting in my opinion than photos I would have gotten had I gone inside. Clearly, some places you absolutely must visit in person, but many others are subpar… so we were happy to have the drone to still make us feel like we had somewhat visited the sites.

Lastly, the “other” category includes SIM cards (another post to come on that), visas, laundry, parking fines (whoops), and a few items we wanted to make our trip more comfortable (like a jump starter)! It’s something that you never hope to use but when you have to, you’re sure glad you have it! It instantly pays for itself too. We ended up using it a few times by the end of our trip.

So there you have it. The total cost of our “year abroad” trip. Again, there are many caveats like the fact that we had a connection in Europe to find us a vehicle, and that our particular style of traveling is cheap in many people’s eyes. We were able to offset some of this cost by Airbnb-ing our home (yet another post I will get to); but even then, I was pleasantly surprised by how little we spent. I hope this post makes you feel that the cost of traveling isn’t nearly as much as maybe you had previously thought!

Europe, Middle East and the Caucasus
South Africa
Full Trip

One Comment Add yours

  1. Grant Upchurch says:

    Amazing! Glad you did it. It seems so impossible to most people because most people don’t think it is possible for them or available.


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