Budgeting for Your Trip – How Much Does it Cost to Travel the World?
This page contains a rough guide to how much you can expect to spend PER DAY in each region/country. I get so many questions asking me “How much does it cost per day in X?” that I thought I’d lay out some guidelines.
A major part of traveling is money management, as you don’t want to spend more than you can afford.
Please note, however, that I will be making some rash generalizations here, and that all of the price guides are based on averages and are just there to give an idea of how much you’ll be spending (so you can budget accordingly).
Something else to note is that the amount you’ll spend in each place largely depends on your habits and the level of comfort you want to experience. For example, when visiting Thailand you could stay in a wooden guesthouse by the beach, or you could stay in a five star hotel. You could spend your days getting massages and shopping in the street markets or you could explore the local scenery instead. These choices that you make will affect how much you’re spending each day.
So how have I worked out how much it’ll cost you per day, if it’s all relative? Well, I’ve assumed that you’ll be staying in moderately cheap accommodation (or budget accommodation that’s still reasonably comfortable) and experiencing the country as most travelers do.
Let’s take a look at the average daily costs, broken down by region (then in more detail later on). Please note that all dollar amount shown are United States Dollars (USD), unless stated otherwise:
Average Daily Cost – $80-105 USD (€55-75)
Western Europe one of the most expensive areas in the world to travel (although its diverse nature and amazing culture make it thoroughly worthwhile).
Staying in a large dorm room at a hostel will cost your around $30 per night (although some countries – such as Germany and Spain – tend to be a bit cheaper than this). Staying in a small dorm room, alternatively, will cost you around $35 a night.
A realistic budget for food would be around $30 per day, but you COULD get by on half that (if you bought bread from supermarkets and made your own sandwiches).
When staying in a city you’ll most likely be using public transportation (such as buses and trains, etc.) every day, so budget $10-15 for that.
Although you won’t be spending money on activities every single day (such as sightseeing tours), I’d budget $35 per day as this is what it should average out as.
One way to lower your costs considerably is to do what’s known as ‘Couchsurfing’ (staying on the couch at someone else’s house) and to home cook meals at the place you’re staying. Couchsurfing is very popular in Western Europe, so you shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding a place to stay.
Average Daily Cost – $50-75 (€35-55) Per Day
Eastern Europe has recently been opened up massively to the public (since its inclusion to the European Union), and tourism is just starting to grow there after many years of privacy. One of the best things about traveling Eastern Europe is that it’s considerably cheaper to travel around than its Western equivalent.
Most hostels will cost you around $16-21 per night, although the types of room on offer do vary greatly.
For food I’d budget for around $7-20 per day ($7 if you plan to cook/make most of your own meals yourself).
You may know by now that many Eastern European cities such as Tallinn (Estonia) and Prague (Czech Republic) are popular with stag parties, and that’s partly because of the amazingly cheap beer they have on offer! In a typical bar you can buy a beer for as little as $1.4.
For activities and transportation I’d budget for around $15.
You’ll find that the larger, more popular cities (such as Prague in the Czech Republic and Budapest in Hungary) are more expensive than the rest of the region, but in comparison with the rest of Europe they’re still a bargain!
Average Daily Cost – $70-100 USD (€48-70) Per Day
Whichever way you look at it, the USA is an expensive country to travel, best there is so much to see and so much variety between the different states that visiting it should be high up on the list of any traveler.
Most hostels and cheap hotels/motels will cost you $25-35 per night. Hostels are cheaper than hotels and motels, but they’re extremely rare outside of the large cities and tourist destinations (such as national parks).
It is well documented that both, food and gas are cheap in the United States. Take-away meals will cost you around $5-6, whereas restaurant meals with set you back $10 or more (depending on how many drinks you have).
Going out and drinking is expensive in most places, but even more so in the major cities (such as Miami, New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles), where you can easily pay over $10 for one drink.
Most cities are easy to get around, and will have an army of willing taxi drivers prepared to take you where you want to go. For intercity travel I’d recommend budgeting $10-15 a day.
It can be a little difficult to get around the United States unless you plan on flying around the major cities (which is expensive). Trains are infrequent and should not be relied on, so the only real public transport between cities are buses. Greyhound buses are very popular, as they travel to and from most major locations in the States (not to mention that they’re reasonably priced). You can buy a Greyhound Discovery Pass that lets you use their buses as much as you want for a period of time. A 15 day pass is around $480, a 30 day pass costs $600 and a 60 day pass will set you back $750.
By far the best way to get around is to bite the bullet and rent a car. You’ll need to be 25 years old to do so, and they can be expensive (expect to pay $200 extra if you’re dropping your car off in a different location than you picked it up), but if you’re traveling with friends and splitting the cost between three or four of you then you won’t be paying too much. A fairly standard rate for car rental is $200 a week or for around $40 a day.
The main problem with taking buses and trains is that they often don’t go to locations outside of the big cities (such as national parks). If you want to visit national parks, renting a car is the best way to do so. Another option, however, is to go on an organized tour. Many of these tours can be booked from major cities, and you’ll be driven to the national park as part of the price. Most of these tours will set you back around $200-300.
One interesting thing to note about the USA is that tipping is EXPECTED (and not just appreciated) at all restaurants and bars. Tour guides will also expect tips, so be sure to factor this into your budget.
Average Daily Cost – $80-110 USD (€56-77) Per Day
Canada is similar to the United States (in terms of pricing), though it’s generally a little more expensive. Basic hostels will set you back around $20-30 per night, while hotels are slightly more expensive at $60-80 per night.
Ideally you should budget around $15-20 a day for food (depending on how expensive your tastes are). Generally, the further East you go into Canada (and into French Canada), the more expensive (and classy) the food becomes.
Since Canada is such a vast country traveling between the major towns/cities means either paying for a plane ticket or enduring a ridiculously long bus journey. As with the United States, Canada has Greyhound buses, and the Discovery Passes are cheaper in Canada than they are in the USA.
Canada is a beautiful country that has lots of natural and historic landmarks (such as the Niagara Falls) as well as great scenery (such as mountain ranges and glaciers). The best thing about these things is that they’re completely free to look at!
Average Daily Cost – $30-50 USD (€20-35) Per Day
It is very difficult to work out an estimate average daily budget for South America, as all of the countries are so different from one another. As with all regions, the most expensive areas will be the big cities (which in this case are Rio De Janeiro in Brazil and Buenos Aires in Argentina), but they certainly justify the price tag.
Dorm rooms in hostels generally start at around $8 a night, although you can easily pay $30+ to stay in a private room.
Meals generally cost between $2-10, and in a lot of countries a drink is included in the price of the meal.
Getting between the cities can be tricky, but as the cost of a bus ticket is rarely over a dollar, one can hardly complain.
Most South American cities have a lot to see and do, and budgeting for around $10-20 a day for daily activities and entertainment should be more than enough.
Average Daily Cost – $50-60 USD (€35-42) Per Day
Africa is a huge region with many different diverse and colorful countries, and it seems that most of it can be traveled on a very reasonable budget.
A basic hostel should cost you between $30-50 a night. The price of a hostel usually depends on whether it comes with hot running water or not. Most food in Africa is very cheap, and meals often cost as little as $2!
Making your way around the different parts of Africa overland is tough if you don’t have a car, since public transport is limited. Your best bet is to rent a car or to hire a driver to take you where you need to go. Even this can be difficult to do (as there are very few rental firms), unless you’re in South Africa, where renting a car will cost you around $25 a day.
One of the many highlights of Africa is the wildlife reserve and national parks that are dotted around. They are well worth going to, despite their hefty entrance fees of around $100.
Average Daily Cost – $30-45 USD (€20-31) Per Day
Southeast Asia is a traveler’s dream come true. It’s extremely cheap to travel, and it’s incredibly easy to get from one place to another (provided you don’t mind long bus or train rides).
Singapore is a small city at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula, and is by far the most expensive place in South East Asia (you can easily spend $80-90 a day there).
All of the other countries (Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam), however, are extremely cheap. For accommodation, you should look to stay in their ‘guesthouses’, as these can cost as little as $4 a night.
Most local food is also very cheap (and extremely tasty), and can be bought for $2-5 a meal (although many street vendors are even cheaper than this). The average price of beer (from a bar) is around $1.50, although it becomes more expensive in the big cities.
Getting around South East Asia is easy. In major cities you’ll have tuk-tuk and rickshaw drivers begging for your business, meaning you’ve always got a ride when you need it. Getting between towns/cities is also very easy, as there are lots of overnight buses throughout the region.
East Asia (Not Including China)
Average Daily Cost – $70-110 USD (€49-77) Per Day
East Asia has a lot of interesting countries to visit, with Japan being one of the highlights. The big cities of Japan and South Korea (such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka) are what draw in the most visitors, and they’re also the most expensive areas to visit.
Most hostels will cost around US$20-40 a night, although in Japan that rate can easily be doubled.
The food in most parts of East Asia is cheap and delicious, and rice and noodle dishes can be bought for next to nothing. Most other cheap meals will cost you around $7, or around $14 in Japan.
A great way of getting around Japan is on the infamous bullet train, but it can be a bit expensive. To save money, buy a 7 day rail pass before you leave, as they’re much cheaper to buy before you get there.
There is a lot to see in Japan, and the entrance fees are actually pretty cheap at most places – costing around $5 on average.
Average Daily Cost – $40-70 USD (€28-49) Per Day
China has traditionally been known as a great, cheap travel destination, but sadly it isn’t as cheap as it used to be (for a number of reasons). It is, however, still great value for money, and there is lots to see and do there. As with most countries, the big cities are the most expensive areas to visit, and they now see more tourist than ever before.
A budget room will cost you around $12-15 a night, with a luxury room costing upwards of $60. As in most of Asia, the food is extremely cheap, and it is possible to find meals for less than $2.
China is a very large country, which means you basically have two choices for getting around: taking the train or flying. Flying is expensive, but for those with a larger budget and limited time, it can sometimes be necessary if you want to experience different parts of China. Taking the train is a lot cheaper, and you’ll see a lot more of the country, so I advise going on the train at least once.
Average Daily Cost – $20-50 USD (€15-36) Per Day
India is currently a great place to travel, as it’s inexpensive and has many unique and interesting traditions.
A cheap hotel will cost you around $14 a night, while most budget meals can be bought for as little as $3. That being said, if you’re on a super tight budget and you don’t mind eating basic rice-based meals you can eat for next to nothing.
Obviously the more popular tourist destinations (such as Mumbai and Goa) will be more expensive, particularly during national holidays and religious festivals (such as ‘Holi day’).
India is a huge country, and if you want to see more than one part of it the best way to do so is by taking the train. Train tickets are very cheap (even for 1st class), so you won’t need to budget more than $7-10 a day for them.
Average Daily Cost – $100-140 USD (€70-98) Per Day
Surprisingly, Australia is actually one of the most expensive countries in the world, with the West coast being even more expensive than the East.
For a hostel you can expect to pay around $27-33 per night, although rooms/beds in more popular tourist destinations (such as Bondi Beach) during peak times can cost even more.
For meals I’d budget around $42 a day. Beer and alcohol is very expensive in Australia (thanks to large taxation), so I’d add on an extra $10 if you like a beer or two in the evening.
Thankfully, the infrastructure on the East coast is pretty good, resulting in cheap transport links. There are lots of reasonably prices bus services available, especially with buses traveling North up the coast from Sydney (which is a popular tourist route). Sadly, the same can’t be said about traveling on the West coast, and you’ll find that getting around there is extremely expensive (as there is a lack of transport links). It seems that the best way of navigating the West coast of Australia is by flying, as flying is often cheaper than taking the bus!
There are a lot of great things to do in Australia (such as snorkeling, bungee jumping and skydiving) but as expected they don’t come cheap. If you’re interested in doing tours and lots of activities, set aside $80-90 per day in your daily budget.
Average Daily Cost – $80-105 USD (€55-73) Per Day
Thankfully, New Zealand is cheaper to travel than Australia, but as there’s also lots of amazing activities to do there, a reasonable budget should be set aside. New Zealand is one of the most amazing countries in the world (visually), and is the setting of the popular film series ‘Lord of the Rings’. It has just about every type of landscape you can think of, making it a paradise for outdoor adventurers.
Budget room at hostels should cost between $15-20 per night. As with Australia, food and drink is expensive, so budget for $40-60 per day for this.
One great (and popular way to experience) the vast country of New Zealand is to hire yourself a campervan. Not only does this give you total freedom, but it also drastically reduces the amount your accommodation costs. You can expect to pay a minimum of $25 per day for a campervan (with increased charges for additional features such as extra tables and chairs), with a minimum hire of two weeks (which is what you’ll need if you want to fully explore the island).
Experiencing outdoor activities is what New Zealand is all about. Such activities generally range from $65-130, so budget accordingly (depending on how many you wish to do).
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