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How Much Would It Cost To Travel Around The World?

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could travel around the world for six months? I’m talking about visiting 9 countries across 6 regions. Not rushing through them like your typical packaged tour, but spending a leisurely 3 weeks in each country so you can really soak in the culture.


Being on the road is tiring, so you’d only want to fly on full-service airlines (no low-cost carriers!) on your epic adventure.

When you get to each destination, you’d like to explore everything there is to do: visit historical sites, climb mountains, chill on a beach, etc.

And at the end of the day, you’d like to retire back to your private bedroom so you can catch a good night’s sleep.

If you added everything up, how much do you think it’ll cost you? Take a quick guess.

If you added everything up, how much do you think it’ll cost you? Take a quick guess.

$100,000? $200,000? $500,000?

Let’s find out.

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Flights

An Economy Class ticket on a full-service carrier could easily set you back by $500-$1,000 for medium haul flights, and $1,500-$4,000 for long-haul flights.

While it’s pretty cheap to fly to South-East Asian countries from Singapore, a longer flight to the USA or South America will likely involve 1-2 stopovers – and a much higher cost.

Your epic trip to 9 countries will (at the very least) comprise 10 flights: One to each destination and one back to Singapore.

How much would all these flights cost? Most people assume that it would set them back by tens of thousands of dollars.

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But when I delved into the data, the true cost turned out to be much, much lower.

First, I visited the Star Alliance Book And Fly website, which lets you customise your own round-the-world ticket to any of their 1,330 destinations in 192 countries. Star Alliance, being the largest airline alliance in the world, has 28 airlines to choose from.

Next, I constructed a sample itinerary of 9 destinations across 6 regions. Off the top of my head, I came up with Singapore-Hanoi-Sydney-Shanghai-Tokyo-Mumbai-Istanbul-London-New York-San Francisco-Singapore.

The website priced the itinerary for me, and came up with a surprisingly low figure of $9,181 SGD. And that’s just from a random mishmash of destinations – with more efficient routing, you could easily bring that figure lower.

Blogger Chris Guillebeau estimates that a round-the-world ticket would typically cost between $3,000 – $10,000 USD.

Oh, and let’s not forget that you’ll be getting a whole bunch of MILES from this epic journey, which you can use to offset the cost of your flights, upgrade to Business Class, etc.

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Accommodation

Now, let’s turn to accommodation. 6 months a looooong time to be travelling, and we’d easily rack up over 180 nights in total.

Unfortunately, hotels are expensive. A quick check for London hotels on TripAdvisor showed that it costs around $200 – $500 a night. Multiply $200 by 180 room nights, and that gives us a whopping $36,000 spent on accommodation. Woah mama!

Luckily for us, there’s always Airbnb. These days, Airbnb listings offer fantastic serviced apartment-quality rooms at a fraction of hotel prices. How much would it cost to rent a private room in these 9 cities?

Using data from AirDNA, I took the median Airbnb room rate plus the cleaning fee for each city, and made a couple of assumptions:

  • You’ll only stay in private rooms
  • You’ll spend 20 nights in each destination
  • The cleaning fee is applied once during your stay
  • USDSGD exchange rate of 1.4

Here’s what I found:

Travel Cost Breakdown

It turns out that your total accommodation costs amount to just $13,509 SGD – less than half of what we initially estimated.

Also, notice that more than 40% of the total costs came from Manhattan and San Francisco – rents in these cities are notoriously astronomical. You can easily bring down the cost by living in suburbs away from the city centre, which are usually a short drive or subway ride away.

The same goes for the other cities. The destinations I picked are all high-traffic tourist hubs where we’d expect accommodation to be more expensive. If you venture into the smaller towns – such as Nha Trang (Vietnam), Brighton (UK), or Pamukkale (Turkey) – you could easily bring the cost down even lower.

Finally, staying for 20 nights at a stretch puts you in an excellent position to negotiate for a lower overall nightly rate.

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Living Expenses and Attractions

Now, let’s figure out how much you’d need for food, transport, and enjoying ourselves.

In my opinion, $60 SGD a day is more than enough. Most people are surprised by how low this figure is, because we’re all used to bringing along say, $500 for a 3-day weekend getaway.

But remember: Travelling for 6 months is not the same as travelling for a weekend.

For example, travel blogger Nomadic Matt travelled around the United States for 116 days on just $50 USD a day. Excluding accommodations, his expenses totalled $45 USD ($63 SGD) per day. And remember that this is the United States – where expenses are much higher than in most other countries.

There are plenty of ways to save on attractions, such as buying a city tourism card (which lets you visit multiple attractions) or going for free walking or museum tours.

Besides, when you’re travelling for 6 months, you won’t be spending every day visiting Disneyland. Instead, there will be many days when you’ll simply live like a local – shopping at markets, strolling around parks, or just chilling in a cafe with a good book.

Think about it: Most of us don’t spend more than $50 on a normal day in Singapore – one of the most expensive cities in the world!

So taking our extravagant estimate of SGD $60 a day for 180 days, we arrive at a figure of $10,800. That covers your food and transport, lets you visit multiple attractions, and even dine at nice restaurants weekly if that floats your boat.

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So! Adding it all up: Flights, accommodations, living expenses, etc – how much would it cost you to travel around the world for 6 months?

Not hundreds of thousands of dollars. No, not even $50,000.

  • Flights: $9,181
  • Accommodation: $13,509
  • Living Expenses: $10,800
  • Total: $33,490

Not cheap, but not impossible either. If you started saving $560 a month now, you could literally go on this trip in 5 years (semi-retirement, anyone?).

Everyone looks at travel bloggers and whines “Ohhhhhh… I WISH I had enough money to do that! But how can I sacrifice my entire life savings? Waaaahhh…”

These people never took 20 minutes to sit down, get specific, and crunch the numbers. If they did, they’d realise this “dream” was a lot closer than they thought.

The point I’m trying to make is this: If you really want to turn your dreams into reality, stop dreaming. Get specific.

Take 10 minutes to crunch the numbers – they might surprise you.

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WRITTEN BY:
 Lionel Yeo

About Lionel Yeo
Lionel blogs on cheerfulegg.com - a personal finance blog for young executives.
To learn more smart strategies, and download his free ebook on How To Start Investing In 3 Days, click here!