Traveling and seeing the world is an item appearing on most people's bucket lists, however, many think it's merely a dream. Something reserved for the ultra-rich...
Well, it might be more in your reach than you think.
I've been living out of carry-on luggage full time since the end of 2012, and been 100% location independent—living and working on the road full time—since the middle of 2014. I've tracked my spending (among other things) in a journal everyday since I hit the road in 2012, and I've never spent more than I did living a fairly uneventful life in California.
When I tell people this fact—that I spent more money living in California than I ever have traveling the world, I'm usually met with something like..."yeah, but you must be roughing it..."
In 2016, I...
- Never stayed in a hostel dorm.
- Ate out for 90% of my meals.
- Visited 10 different countries and crossed international borders 19 times.
- Had even more adventures. Check out the end of the post for a lil taste...
But before I get to the all important number and breakdown. Let's clarify what my expenses don't include, what they do include and how you can best use it for your trip planning and prep...
What my 2016 Expenses Don't Include
Any Gear Purchases.
Also, gear is extremely variable from person to person. Many people already have the gear they will travel with and the differences in price between high and low end travel gear can be massive.
I think these factors skew the results and give an unfair representation of what it costs to travel full time, which is why I have decided to leave it out.
What my 2016 Expenses Do Include
Everything else, including some of my favorite photos from the year.
You'll find my expenses broken down into 6 main categories:
All food and beverage from restaurants and grocery stores.
This does not include alcohol.
This includes everything spent on a place to sleep, health/personal care like toothpaste and haircuts and non-entertainment services like travel insurance.
Flights, trains, taxis, vehicle rentals, public transport, gas, etc.
This does not include transportation for tours.
Tours, shows, entrance fees, adventure sports, etc.
The cause and solution to all of life's problems.
Business & Education
Anything used to help run/build an online business or learn a new skill.
I also break some of the larger categories into more interesting subcategories to give you a better idea of where the money is going.
For example, I spent $6,585.52 on food and beverages in 2016, which is about $18/day. I've broken that down further into restaurant food vs. groceries which is a lot more helpful when you're planning your own travel budgets.
What My 2016 Expenses Mean For You...
There's a lot of great information in this post gathered over an entire year of traveling and living on the road. You'll get to see a detailed breakdown of my spending, where I went and a small peek into some of the adventures over the year to give you some tangibles and ideas of what's possible with this amount of spending.
Concrete details on spending and experiences can be extremely helpful for inspiration, budget and planning purposes. One of my reasons for keeping track of this stuff and posting it is to help you get out into the world anyway I can.
However, this entire post comes with a caveat: this expense report is merely a tool to give you an idea of what IS possible. You are not me, we do not have the same goals or aspirations, we do not have the same network and we do not enjoy the same activities.
Keep this in mind as it ultimately means we will travel differently, have different opportunities available to us, and have a completely different travel experience, which will result in different travel expenses...
Now let me get down off my lil soapbox and show you the numbers you're all here for...
My 2016 Expenses & Breakdown
A Lil' Taste of 2016's Adventures
Where I Went (Countries Only)
In total, I visited 10 countries (5 new), but my itinerary for the year seems much more crazy as I crossed international borders 19 times. Here's how 2016 looked:
USA> Mexico> Colombia*> Spain> Thailand> Vietnam*> Mexico> Ecuador*> Mexico> USA> Mexico> Belize*> Mexico> USA> Mexico> Portugal> Romania> Portugal*> Mexico> USA
*Countries visited for the first time.