The Simple Cost of Traveling the WorldPosted on Jun 13, 2011 | 22 comments
Over the past 3 months at The Great Family Escape we have been spending most of our time writing and discussing on the subject of WHY?
Why trade in everything and hit the road with the kids?
I think we all get the point. We love to travel. And we love the benefits travel offers our young kids. We know exactly WHY we are embracing the travel lifestyle.
So I guess it's time to stop asking WHY. . .
and start asking HOW.
One of the happiest, freest times of my life was when I was poor. I don't want to say I was poor in the sense of poverty - I wasn't struggling. But sure enough, I was poor. I was in school making about $150 a week. I slept on the floor, shared a filthy house with a bunch of friends and did pretty much whatever I wanted. All I owned was a beat up old Ford. All I had to pay each month was my rent and car insurance. Life was fantastic.
Now things are different. I own a lot! I have about 20 or so bills to pay every month. And I have this nice, fancy bed that I have to make everyday and for some reason throw all these extra pillows on every day. Whoever invented throw pillows had WAY too much time on their hands.
Of course Heidi and I get the idea that this is all part of adulthood. That taking on more, and buying more, and having bigger homes and making more money is all just emblematic of the two of us being responsible, mature parents.
Truth is there is nothing responsible or mature about buying stuff and complicating your life. It doesn't make anyone better, smarter or more sophisticated. It just makes you a person who has a lot of stuff and some fancy throw pillows.
So we are going back to basics. We are going to being a cash in hand, life-loving family that lives for experiences with our family and friends as opposed to living for the savings account. To do this we are going to start traveling. We are creating a lifestyle that will allow us to hunker down when we want and travel when we want.
Simplicity is a freeing concept. I think I want to spend less and live with less. I think I kind of want to go back to the days when I just had to sit around and talk with people because I didn't have any money to go anywhere.
It's a nice idea. And sure, we know that travel costs money and can be complicated. But it's not that complicated and it costs far less to travel the world than most people think.
How Much It Doesn't Cost To Travel The World
It doesn't cost as much as you think it does.
The first question I hear all our friends of friends asking through the old grapevine is:
"Don't they realize they are going to need money to travel around the world?"
And with just a pinch of sarcasm, I must reply:
"Why YES! Actually, we did consider the fact, if only for a few seconds, that indeed, we would need some money if we were going to travel the world with our kids whom we love so dearly."
Ahhh, ye of little faith.
I guess I can see why people would question the financial stability of world travel. After all, travel for most is a luxury. Packaged resort vacations run upwards of $3,000 a week for a family of four and a 2 week tramp around Europe can push a family back anywhere from $5,000 - $10,000 dollars. Sustaining travel at this rate would run us well over $100,000 dollars a year and I am being totally straightforward when I say that we WILL NEVER HAVE THAT KIND OF MONEY!
We are going to have to consider some other types of travel when we set out on our adventures.
What would you say if I told you that you can travel pretty extensively with a family of 4 for around $25,000 a year.
How about with a family of 7?
The Vogel Family of Family on Bikes cycled from Alaska to Argentina and spent less than $75,000 dollars in 3 years. And they have 2 growing boys. The Dennings of Discover. Share. Inspire. are driving a veggie-powered truck on the same route with 5 kids and just totaled their first month's expenses on the road at less than $1,800. It may seem extreme, but it can be done.
If you're not big into 15,000 mile road trips, then there are plenty of other creative families who are living cheap and traveling all over the world.
- The Page family(6) at Livin on the Road travel in an RV all over Australia for less than $100 a day.
- The Millers from the Edventure Project bicycled around Europe for a year with 4 kids and managed to keep their costs under $100 a day as well.
- The Burns family of Our Travel Lifestyle recently moved to Penang, Malaysia and rented an amazing 4 bedroom home for only $350 dollars a month.
Traveling slow and spending some time in one area can really stretch a budget, even in more expensive parts of the world.
And if you want to learn how to go really, crazy cheap - wandering nomad Nora Dunn says you can travel the globe for as little as $14,000 a year if you are willing to be really flexible.
Long-term travel does not have to be expensive for families and in many cases can even be cheaper than living traditionally at home. Our take is that regardless of where you are in the world, family travel can be comfortably achieved for less than $36,000 a year.
The Daily $100 Rule
The variables involved with long term travel are seemingly endless.
Location - Family Size - Mode of Transport - Lodging Style - Insurance
To try and pin an exact cost on how much it costs to travel the world is pretty much impossible.
Now, that said, we have developed a travel budget that should allow us to go anywhere we want. And, it is a plan that should work for any family considering a travel lifestyle.
The idea is simple: No matter where we are, we must never spend more than $100 a day on average over the course of a month.
Following this rule will allow us to stay under $36,500 a year no matter where we travel, but in most cases will enable us to spend far less.
We have already seen from many traveling families that even in the most expensive areas of the world, traveling on a budget of $100 a day is quite possible. And allowing ourselves to attack this budget on a monthly basis gives a much greater chance of success. By having an overall yearly budget and following it on a monthly basis, you give yourself the greatest chance of sticking to your budget while allowing yourself the opportunity to indulge a bit during your travels.
We are considering taking a trans-atlantic cruise to Europe when we travel. Sure enough, a great way to see the world, but also pretty pricey for a family of 4, at least on our budget. But let's say the cruise runs us $2,000 over 14 days. That only leaves us with $1,000 dollars for the remaining 17 days of the month. That's only $58 dollars a day. And this is where the planning comes in. This is where you need to take advantage of staying at that friends house, exploring couchsurfing, or simply roughing it. But "roughing it" for 17 days is much easier than trying to balance a budget over the course of a year.
I highly recommend shrinking the scope of your budget when you take on long-term travel. We clearly have a yearly budget, but traveling to a monthly budget is far less demanding and easier to stick to.
Over the next few months we will be discussing nearly every aspect of our plans for travel. Regardless of what we do, we will stick to this budget of $36,500 a year, or $100 a day. We really think we can stay under $30,000, maybe even $25,000 a year, but who wants to limit themselves like that? Nothing like traveling to Paris and staring through the window of some pastry shop while the kids drool and we say,
"Sorry guys, no bread in this budget!"
Enjoy your Travels!
Thoughts? Questions? Disagreements? Comments are always encouraged and thanks for reading!
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Thanks for the Flickr Pic from StuckinCustoms