How much does one year of travel in Asia cost? Here’s how much we spent in our year of backpacking in Asia (Eurasia, to be precise), plus some tips on how you, too, can travel long-term on a budget.
Holy shit, we’ve been on the road for more than a year.
It seems like a crazy long time… but it doesn’t feel like it. The only indicators we have of our time on the road are our deteriorating English skills, woefully stained clothes, and of course, depleted bank accounts.
BUT. Our bank accounts are far less painful to look at than we thought they’d be.
We expected to spend about €10,000 each in one year of travel, and we’d saved around €12,000 each. Actually, we only spent about €8,000 each in 12 months of travel.
How much does one year of travel in Asia cost?
Together, our grand total was €16,052. That’s €8,026 ($8,909) per person for 12 months of travel.
On average, we each spent €22 ($24.50) a day.
How much did we spend in each country?
In the last year, we traveled to 10 countries:
These countries were chosen primarily because they’re awesome, but also because they’re cheap. A month of backpacking in Armenia is going to be a lot cheaper than a month in Argentina.
To get an idea of just how budget-friendly these places are, here’s how much we spent in each country.
- Time: 21 days
- Total spent: €413 / $438 per person
- Average daily costs: €20 / $22 per person
- Full breakdown: Georgia budget report
- Time: 19 days
- Total spent: €440 / $488 per person
- Average daily costs: €23 / $26 per person
- Full breakdown: Armenia budget report
- Time: 55 days (~2 months)
- Amount spent between two people: €1,376 / $1,528 per person
- Average daily costs: €25 / $28 per person
- Full breakdown: Iran budget report
- Days spent in Pakistan: 44 days (1.5 months)
- Total spent: €813 / $903 per person
- Average daily costs: €19 / $21 per person
- Full breakdown: Pakistan budget report
China (Xinjiang province)
- Time: 22 days
- Total spent: €393 / $436 per person
- Average daily costs: €18 / $20 per person
- Full breakdown: Xinjiang, China budget report
Note: Alex had to go back to the US for personal reasons while we were in China (tickets not included in costs), and Sebastiaan was stationary for a while in Urumqi. This led to relatively low costs. If you plan on extensive travel in China, expect to pay more.
Kazakhstan (Almaty region)
- Time: 14 days
- Total spent: €377 / $419
- Average daily costs: €27 / $30 per person
- Full breakdown: Kazakhstan budget report
- Time: 26 days
- Total spent: €716 / $795 per person
- Average daily costs: €28 / $31 per person
- Full breakdown: Kyrgyzstan budget report
- Time: 19 days
- Total spent: €450 / $500 per person
- Average daily costs: €24 / $26
- Full breakdown: Uzbekistan budget report
- Time: 20 days
- Total spent: €1071 / $1,189 per person
- Average daily costs: €54 / $60 per person
- Full breakdown: Afghanistan budget report
- Time: 125 days (4 months… and counting)
- Total spent: €1,975 / $2,193 per person
- Average daily costs: €15 / $17 per person
- Full report: South India budget report
A little bit on our spending habits
As you can see, we tried to stick to a budget of €25 per day, less in India. For some that’s a lot, for many it’s not.
We’re very budget-oriented, but there were times when we spent more than we intended to, on things like clothing and electronics. These expenses bumped up averages for some countries, but if you’re planning on long-term travel, they’re going to happen eventually.
(Unless you’re a magician who never breaks anything nor destroys clothes, which, alas, we are not.)
Since we’ve been on the road for a while, we’re also more willing to skip out on sights we find too expensive. Many a traditional house in Iran was skipped, and we’ve walked away from plenty of sights in India out of frustration at the dual pricing system.
If you’re on a short holiday these sights are worth the extra buck, but we’d rather have a few more days in India than see seven traditional houses.
Finally, we have our vices. I’m a creature of comfort, and would rather pay for a bus than wait several hours to go hitchhiking. Alex is an antisocial cave troll, and can only sporadically handle the socializing necessary for Couchsurfing. If you’re willing to either hitchhike or go Couchsurfing more often, you’re going to spend a hell of a lot less money than us. Do consider it.
Our point: backpacking isn’t as expensive as you’d think
Long-term backpacking really doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, especially compared to your cost of living. In the Netherlands we were spending almost €2,000 a month… each. That’s four months of travel in India!
For us, traveling is much cheaper than living in one place. Of course, that’s not true for everyone, especially those from developing countries with lower wages. But traveling can still be relatively cheap, and many people from countries all over the world can afford travel IF they prioritize and plan accordingly.
If you’re trying to up your backpacking game in the future, here’s our advice to you:
How you can backpack on the cheap like us
Visit cheap countries. Your dreams of wining and dining in Paris will have to wait.
Set a daily budget… and stick to it. Like I said, we stuck to €25/day, less in India. Once you have the number in your mind, it’s easier to make sure you stay under.
Track your expenses. I anal retentively track every. single. cent. we spend. It helps to see exactly where your money is going.
Travel domestically. We met plenty of Pakistanis and Indians that say they can’t travel because they can’t get visas. Um, dudes and dudettes, your home countries are awesome. Explore them.
Hitchhike and use Couchsurfing. They’re the greatest ways to save money and meet people at the same time.
Take photos, not souvenirs. We don’t buy stuff. It weighs us down. Photos on the other hand…
Use public transport. Forget taxis and drivers. Public transport is more interesting. Make an effort to buy the tickets yourself at stations rather than through travel agents to save more money… and have more adventures.
Don’t fly. Flying is the same everywhere, and it’s costly. That’s no fun.
Use sites like Trusted Housesitters. If you’re on the road for a while, it’s a great way to find yourself a “luxurious” home base in which you can save money and lie low for a bit.
Get a tent. Once you have one, you can sleep for free virtually anywhere!
Be nice to people. You never know when you’ll meet a friendly soul willing to host your sorry backpacker ass.
Eat too much bread. It’s filling and cheap. Don’t blame us when you get scurvy, though.
Want to know more about our epic journey? Here’s what Lost With Purpose is all about.
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