Date: January 31, 2006
Subject: (no subject)
Hi Jessica and Tim,
Your site is great – and your trip is inspirational and encouraging. The reason I say it is encouraging is because my husband CJ and I are planning a very very similar trip which we will be starting this September. We are going through all of western and eastern Europe, Thailand, Cambodia, New Zealand, Australia, and South America (a wine tour of the world).
You mentioned that you had budgeted $26,000 for the trip. I too am a stickler for a budget (lets just say I've known exactly what we would spend each month two years in advance for the past five years – as long as I have been planning this trip). We were shooting for a budget of $40,000 – but it looks like we won't have much more than $30,000 (unless a rich, unknown, benefactor dies). In a year, do you think this amount is feasible? What has been your experience so far? Is it more expensive out there or less than anticipated? We will (hopefully) be working through WWOOF (willing workers on organic farms) and through other means for food and lodging for some of our trip, but I would like to know what to expect.
Your site – well, it's uncanny how similar your trip and attitudes and everything are like us. We even have two black kitties. Congratulations on getting out there and realizing your dream. I can't wait for our turn.
Hey Brianne! Tim here.
First of all, thanks so much for your kind words -- we're so happy to hear how much you enjoy our site!
Wow, a wine tour of the world, that sounds *fantastic*. You two must be so excited. (And if you're not excited already, you will be once you see how cheap good wine is in South America!)
As for our budget, we've stayed pretty well on-target. (We'll actually be spending about 36k, but that's to travel for 18 months rather than 12 months: almost exactly the same per-month budget.) We did have to do some adapting as we traveled, though. For instance, we cut out Italy and most of Greece because Europe was a bit more expensive than we'd thought it would be.
Regarding your own budget, it's hard to give you an answer because things vary so wildly from country to country. What we paid for a room at a Spanish youth hostel would more than cover all of our expenses for a few days here in Cambodia, and a half-kilo of mouth-watering steak in Argentina costs about as much as an order of breadsticks in Greece.
Also, we've learned from the friends we've traveled with that different people find themselves operating under very different budgets. It definitely depends on your priorities. For example, we tend to spend a few more dollars on lodging than some of the friends we've made while traveling, but that's because we prefer very bright, happy, clean, and safe rooms. Some of our friends aren't nearly as picky! It's worth it to us though, even if it means spending a few days less on the road in the long run, because rooms affect our mood and it's one of the easiest ways to keep us happy while traveling.
With those caveats in mind, though, and given how good you clearly are at working with a budget, I think $30,000 should be more than enough. You'll spend a lot more per day in Western Europe, but make up the difference in South America and Southeast Asia. We always found the key was to keep our eyes on our budget as we went -- not so much that it took away from our trip, but enough so that we'd notice if we were spending too much. (And sometimes adjustments had to be made, like the example of Italy and Greece...but on the other hand, we gained a perfect trip in the Galapagos and an amazing trip to the Amazon. So it was a good trade-off.)
In general, South America cost about as much as we thought it would (except Galapagos, ouch!), Europe was much more expensive, and Southeast Asia really has been as cheap as everybody says.
I remember worrying before we left about whether we'd have enough money or not, and the one thing I can tell you is that there really isn't much risk of running out of money while abroad. You'll adapt to your budget, and your budget will adapt to you. If you find yourself spending more than you'd thought, you'll either start spending less or change some of your long-term plans to compensate. Finding you're spending less than you'd expected is just as likely, if a touch more welcome.
I hope this helps a bit. We remember all too clearly all of the emotions you guys are probably experiencing right now. And we're excited (and a bit jealous) to hear about your trip! It sounds like you're going to have a great time.
Do you plan to keep a travel blog too? If so, we'd love to read it: we'll have been home for a few months by the time you guys head out in September and we'll be going through travel withdrawal!
Tell your kitties we said hi!
Tim (and Jessica, too!)