How much does one year of travel in Asia cost? Here’s how much I spent during one year of backpacking in Asia (Eurasia, to be precise), plus some tips on how you, too, can travel long-term on a budget.
Holy sh*t, I’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 I have of my time on the road are my deteriorating English skills, woefully stained clothes, and of course, depleted bank account.
… BUT. My bank account is far less painful to look at than I thought it might be.
I expected to spend about €10,000 each in one year of travel, and I’d saved around €12,000 before leaving. However, I ended up spending about €8,000 after 12 months of travel in Eurasia.
Table of contents
- How much does one year of travel in Eurasia cost?
- My backpacker spending habits
- Backpacking isn’t as expensive as you think
- Tips for backpacking on a budget
- Resources for saving and funding travel
2020 note: When I wrote this post back in 2017, I was traveling with my then-boyfriend. We since split up—oops!—so read this knowing we were sharing costs. Traveling solo is slightly more expensive, though traveling solo on the same budget is absolutely possible. I do it now!
How much does one year of backpacking in Eurasia cost?
I spent exactly €8,026 ($8,909) after 12 months of traveling in Eurasia. On average, I spent €22 ($24.50) per day.
In that time, I traveled to 10 countries:
These countries were chosen primarily because they’re awesome, but also because they’re relatively affordable since I hold strong currencies. A month of backpacking in Armenia is going to be a lot cheaper than a month in Argentina. Just sayin’
To get an idea of just how budget-friendly these places are, here’s how much I spent in each country:
- Time: 21 days (3 weeks)
- Total spent: €413 / $438
- Average daily costs: €20 / $22 per day
- Full breakdown: Georgia budget report
- Time: 19 days
- Total spent: €440 / $488
- Average daily costs: €23 / $26 per day
- Full breakdown: Armenia budget report
- Time: 55 days (~2 months)
- Amount spent: €1,376 / $1,528
- Average daily costs: €25 / $28 per day
- Full breakdown: Iran budget report
- Days spent in Pakistan: 44 days (1.5 months)
- Total spent: €813 / $903
- Average daily costs: €19 / $21 per day
- Full breakdown: Pakistan budget report
China (Xinjiang province)
- Time: 22 days
- Total spent: €393 / $436
- Average daily costs: €18 / $20 per day
- Full breakdown: Xinjiang, China budget report
Kazakhstan (Almaty region)
- Time: 14 days
- Total spent: €377 / $419
- Average daily costs: €27 / $30 per day
- 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
- Average daily costs: €24 / $26 per day
- Full breakdown: Uzbekistan budget report
- Time: 20 days
- Total spent: €1071 / $1,189
- Average daily costs: €54 / $60 per day
- Full breakdown: Afghanistan budget report
- Time: 125 days (4 months… at the time of writing)
- Total spent: €1,975 / $2,193
- Average daily costs: €15 / $17 per day
- Full report: South India budget report
A little bit on my backpacker spending habits
As you can see, I tried to stick to a budget of €25 per day. Less in India.
For some travelers that’s a lot… but for many travelers from wealthy countries it’s definitely not.
I’m budget-oriented—hello, backpacker—but there were times when I spent more than I 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 inevitable.
(Unless you’re a magician who never breaks anything nor destroys clothes, which, alas, I am not.)
Since I’ve been on the road for a while, I’m also more willing to skip out on sights I find too expensive. Many a traditional house in Iran was skipped, and I’ve walked away from plenty of sights in India out of frustration at the not-always-logical dual pricing system.
If you’re on a short holiday these sights are worth the extra buck, but I’d rather have a few more days in India than see seven traditional houses.
Finally, I have my vices. Every long-term traveler has their little comforts they’re willing to splurge on. Personally, I’m an antisocial cave troll who can only sporadically handle the socializing necessary for Couchsurfing.
If you’re willing to use Couchsurfing more often, you could spend a hell of a lot less money than I have. Do consider it if you’re on a tight budget… or just like meeting local travelers!
The 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. While living in the Netherlands, I was spending almost €2,000 a month. That’s four months of travel in India!
For me, a privileged traveler coming from the West, 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.
However, regardless of where you’re from, if you’re willing to put in some effort traveling can still be relatively cheap. 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 and travel on a budget more in the future, here’s my advice to you:
Tips for backpacking on a budget
Visit cheap countries. Your dreams of wining and dining in Paris will have to wait until you’re old and rich. Hopefully.
Set a daily budget… and stick to it. Like I said, I 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. Try writing down ever. single. cent. you spend. It can be eye opening (and slightly disturbing at times). Being careful with spending is easier when you can see exactly where your money is going.
Travel domestically. All around the world, I meet people who say they can’t travel because they can’t get visas… except yo. FYI dudes and dudettes: your home countries are awesome. Why not explore them, first?
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, anyway! Make an effort to buy the tickets yourself at stations rather than through travel agents to save more money… and have more adventures as a result.
Don’t fly. Flying is the same everywhere, and it’s costly, and bad for the environmentit’s . 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 me when you get scurvy, though.
More on saving, spending, and funding long-term travel
- How the f**k do I pay for all this long-term travel?
- 5 steps to save money for travel
- How to make extra cash and save money for travel
Want to know more about my epic journey? Here’s what Lost With Purpose is all about.