Determining our RTW budget

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This is the part of travel that a lot of people get put off by; the actual cost. People can get a bit funny when it comes to discussing money, which personally I think is a real shame. I love to be open about my finances, and intend to be 100% honest about every penny saved and spent on our RTW dream. I hope it will go some way towards helping others in determining the cost of their own adventures, and show that it doesn’t have to cost the earth to travel it.

Our budget is pretty straightforward and has simply been based on one equation: How long we can stand to delay our departure date by, in order to save as much as possible for travelling.

We opted for one whole year of saving. At 36 and 31 years old respectively, Lee and I felt that leaving it any longer would be delaying life for too long, and simply wasn’t an option for us. So we gave ourselves 365 days, no more and no less, and what we can’t save in that time we always have the option of trying to make up somewhere along the road.

For our year of saving (currently we are 3 months in) our lives will be devoted to living as ultra frugal minimalists, squirreling away every penny possible, selling off everything we own and finding extra sources of income from rebates with TurboTax to making sandwiches everyday. Not everyone would want to live this way, but to us our dream is worth it (I will discuss exactly how we are actually saving this money in a future post).

Our RTW Budget

I have set two savings targets – one that is 100% achievable based on our income, and the other that is entirely dependant on how much extra work we can secure, and how much we can make from the the sale of all of our stuff.

Note: All budget totals will be for both Lee and I as a couple, not per person. As most of my readers use the dollar, I will also convert all figures into USD, based on the current figures provided by XE.com (rounded up to the nearest $).

  • Realistic Savings Budget: UK £30,000.00 (US $46,483.00)

As of today we have saved £10,140.00 ($15,693.00) – that’s a smile inducing 33.80% achieved. Woo hoo!

  • Dream Savings Budget: UK £40,000.00 (US $62,025.00)

Currently 25.35% achieved.

I know we will definitely hit our realistic budget and should hopefully end up somewhere in the middle between that and our dream budget. Who knows though, I’m a pretty determined lady so never say never – that dream budget is still within my grasp if I work hard enough.

How this money will be spent

Our travels start on 30th September 2012. We will be spending our first year away divided between India and South East Asia, with an even six months in each place.

We will begin by living in Goa in the south of India, where our goal is not to go out there and live like kings, but simply to go there and live. We will be renting a house for our six month stay and cooking most of our meals. Between us we have visited India 12 times in the last decade, so we are able to base our budget on firsthand experience.

I have only been to SEA once for a brief holiday, but Lee spent a year there in 2008 so we are determining that part of our budget based on his personal experience. He found it to be a little more expensive than Goa so we have upped our budget slightly to accommodate that.

Our goal will be less about doing, and more about simply being. Living in places for 6 months should definitely help keep the costs down, as you can often haggle for very good long-term rental deals. We also hope to volunteer in most of the places we visit, something that can often provide you with food and/or accommodation in exchange for your hard work.

Daily Budget in Goa

  • £30.00 per day ($46.00)

This is to include all food and accommodation. We will also be hiring a moped, which should cost around £1.00 ($1.55) per day, a minimal fee that we have simply included into our daily budget.

182 days in Goa x £30.00 = £5,460.00 ($8,372.00) bi-annual total

Daily Budget in SEA

  • £35.00 per day ($54.00)

183 days in SEA x £35.00 = £6,405.00 ($9,882.00) bi-annual total

Annual Grand Total

  • £11,865.00 ($18,254.00)

So, to make life easier, let’s say £12,000.00 a year at £1000.00 a month or $18,000.00 a year at $1,500.00 a month.

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We hope this budget will afford us 2-3 years of consecutive travel, though in an ideal world we will find ways to sustain ourselves and keep us out on the road indefinitely.

We know we won’t always be able to live as cheaply as we do in India and South East Asia, and obviously our budget will vary a great deal according to where we are, I simply wanted to show how we will be spending our hard earned moolah during our first year out in the world.

Other plans include spending six months circumnavigating Australia by RV, something which would no doubt triple our daily budget. We would also like to travel through South America, which again is more expensive than SEA, though cheaper than Oz. To be honest though, everything is up in the air and our plans following our initial year are as changeable as the wind.

We are also taking the decision not to budget for re-entry back to the UK. If the worst happens and we do run out of money we will be sucking it up and moving back to my mum’s house until we can get back on our feet. Hopefully we will never have to go down this route though (no offense mum!).

It’s a long and uncertain road ahead of us, but really all that matters is that we get out there and do it. Whether we last 12 months, 36 months or longer, the thing that counts is that we had a dream and we made it come true.

It’s the best money we will ever spend.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim January 2, 2012 at 22:10

Hannah, it is so so valuable to share information about cost. I’ve tried to be open and honest with our budget too, it definitely helps everyone out there scheming and planning. We also plan on spending time in SE Asia and Goa… maybe our paths will cross someday? I hope so!

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Hannah January 2, 2012 at 22:55

OMG I would LOVE that! We definitely have to schedule a crossing of paths at some point – that will be amazing 🙂

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tunimaal January 3, 2012 at 02:56

Your budget is pretty well done. When I started my world tour in November 2009 (I am still doing it right now, and I am in Japan) I had 15 000 USD. My trip so far bring me to Hong-Kong and Macau (5 days), Australia (5 months), New Zealand (2 weeks), Canada (One Year), USA (2 months), Mexico (1 week), Morocco (2 days), France (3 weeks), Japan (8 months so far)….To be able to do that I had to work in Australia, Canada and Japan… So I’ve got a Working Holiday Visa for that….
If you want to get a RV in Australia, you should try the relocation, you can get one for 1 USD per day

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Hannah January 3, 2012 at 20:27

Wow, that is a pretty impressive world tour! I hope we are also able to work abroad to help us continue our adventures. And thanks for the RV tip, I will look into that. Good luck with the rest of your travels 🙂

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Monica January 3, 2012 at 13:50

I am beyond impressed with the pre-planning you two are doing! I’m heading out to Southeast Asia for Feb/March and I have… zero dollars saved and about the same amount of debt you used to have… but where there’s a will, there’s a way, right? {Gulp.} India is my #1 travel dream destination, and I’ll definitely be excited to read about your adventures there. {And fingers crossed, be able to say ‘hello’ in person;)} Here’s to an amazing 2012! Cheers!

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Hannah January 3, 2012 at 20:25

Thanks Monica! Yes, where there’s a will, there’s DEFINITELY a way – I’m living proof of that! I have just checked out your blog and really love what you are doing – I’m equally excited to follow along on your adventure. I hope 2012 is a year of clearing debt and building savings for you and look forward to comparing success stories one day in India! Stay in touch 🙂

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Florent January 4, 2012 at 05:26

Budget is also directly related to the number of days you stay in each place. If you take your time, it decreases the cost. Australia is quite expensive anyway, comparing US or NZ, where I have been the last 6 months. I am continuing in SEA and India, and planned to spend 30 euros per day only (£25). It’s what I can earn online while travelling.

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Hannah January 4, 2012 at 22:04

Yes, you are right – that is why we decided to travel slowly, spending 6 months in each place we visit. It is definitely a great way to keep the budget down, but also to learn more about the place and the people. I am really looking forward to living in India and absorbing everything about the country. I hope your budget works out for you and wish you all the best for your continued adventures.

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Kjersti January 4, 2012 at 09:00

Hi Hannah! Love this post – especially as we are ourselves just getting started on our trip, and we have already done some mistakes budget wise. I need to learn to schedule finding cheap food options BEFORE I am starving 😉 Anyway, for the Australia trip, if you’re OK with a lower standard, check out travellers-autobarn.com.au. They rent campervans, but they also sell something they call the slap’n’tickle van, which is quite cheap. We were investigating this when the plan was to go straight to Australia, so I would love to see someone else doing it 🙂 Cheers, Kjersti

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Hannah January 4, 2012 at 21:56

Wow, thanks for the great tip Kjersti – I checked out the website and that is definitely a great way to tackle our Oz budget issues. I love it! I hope you are enjoying your travels so far – I have enjoyed reading about them 🙂

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Amer @TendToTravel January 6, 2012 at 12:52

What a great post here. I’ve never done a RTW before so it’s great to know how you’re planning your finances in advance. By the way, out of curiosity – you’re spending in SEA is just 5GBP more than Goa. I thought living in Goa would be a lot cheaper than SEA, but that’s just me.

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Hannah January 6, 2012 at 17:03

Hi Amer, we have based our daily budget on our previous experience, particularly the year that Lee spent living throughout SEA. We also based it on the type of travellers we are and the accommodation we will be looking for. We will be trying to live as cheaply as possible in order to prolong the life of our adventure so will be staying in pretty basic huts and villas in SEA and don’t mind roughing it – it’s all part of the experience! Taking all that into account we were able to feel pretty confident about how much we will spend per day. I will be keeping a very open account of all our daily expenditure while we are away though so if we do find our costs are higher, we will report back here. I just checked out your blog too and was very impressed. I particularly love your travel sketches – you are very talented 🙂

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ian w March 25, 2012 at 14:19

When you based you SE Asia costs on Lee’s experiences there in 2008, were you basing it on what he spent in £s or in local currency? For instance if he said “I lived on £20 a day” that would have been 1250 thai baht (for instance) whereas the exchange rate now would provide for less than 1000 baht. Some countries there have also had inflation (particularly Vietnam). Anyway, I think your budget is doable, but don’t expect double room en-suite every night!

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Hannah April 12, 2012 at 14:13

Thank you for your comment Ian. We based our budget on a broad amount of travel experience, and awareness of our travel style. We are very happy to enjoy any kind of accommodation to help keep to this budget, in fact we prefer to keep things basic. The simple life is where it’s at in my opinion – a hammock underneath the stars is my idea of heaven 🙂

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Klaus Kommoss May 28, 2012 at 06:13

Our times of planning a RTW life happened so many years ago, so I cannot directly relate to your numbers so much. However, I hear all the music behind it, and I want to send you my warmest wishes for a good start of all this.
This kind of planning is very necessary; but on the way you will continuously revise it. Try to keep it all as open as you can, you will be surprised how often and how much you’ll change your mind.
We burned our bridges 25 years ago and had a ball ever since, never really returned home. But then the traveling became slower and slower and we found a new attitude toward the phenomenon of home; we could live anywhere.
In general we found it cheaper to travel than to live at home.
http://kommoss.wordpress.com/

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Hannah June 5, 2012 at 23:46

Hi Klaus, thank you so much for your comment and warm wishes. This budget has already been revised considerably, as I found it impossible to continue working the hours necessary to reach my target. Right now, we’re aiming for £25K – maybe a little more – and it feels good to let go of the pressure I was placing upon myself! It sounds like you have certainly got a great outlook on life, and I look forward to checking out your blog and reading more about it 🙂

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Katherine - Kapcha The World July 2, 2012 at 01:01

Great info thanks. Am jealous you’re spending 6 months in Goa. I went there when I was 19 and it’s a place I’ve always wanted to go back to. Something to think about for OZ RV rental. In NZ they do return journeys – not sure if they do similar in OZ or not though – you pick up a camper from somewhere and take it back to their base. I have a friend who travelled all over NZ taking campers up and down the country. Otherwise as there are a lot of companies that supply campers – it might be worth pitching them to see if they might FOC them for you or at least give you a discount in return for say photos with the camper on your blog. Worth a try anyway.

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Izy Berry August 1, 2012 at 20:49

Wow, great budget. Looks like you’ll have a little room for budge, too. Will you be posting actual costs as you go along? I’d be really interested to read that.

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Tamara December 30, 2012 at 03:50

Wishing you all the best on your travels! We’ve just been reading up on the rickshaw run…exciting!India was the last stop on our last extended trip (just under a year primarily in Asia). I think your budget it right on. You’ll be fine…perfect for slow travel: not too low so you miss out on stuff, but not extravagant either. You seem to be off to a great start!

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