In January 2017 I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime!
22 flights. 12 countries. 12 months. 345 days. 1 stolen bag. 1 hospital visit. 3 rounds of food poisoning. 2 new tattoos. Countless friends and unbelievable memories completely changed my life forever! So how much did all that fun cost me? You’re about to find out …
Asia felt like home the minute I landed, this continent stole my heart long ago with it’s friendly smiles, crazy roads and incredible spirit. Oh and did I mention … its EXTREMELY affordable.
I jetted off to Thailand with a rough idea of budgets from previous visits but this time I had no return flight home so it was time to make budgets my best friend. I had saved enough back in the UK to keep me going for 12 months without much worry but I didn’t want to blow it all on beer and market sarongs, plus there should always be wiggle-room for spontaneous trips to the Maldives (read how much that trip cost here).
I decided £1,000 per month / £32 per day would be sufficient for my lifestyle (hostels and buses rather than domestic flights and 5* hotels) but to be honest, I rarely reached that, in fact even if I ate 6 meals per day – in most countries I never would have reached that!
Here are some tips to stay on the road for as long as possible …
I personally LOVE hostels. There is nothing I enjoy more than coming home to the little family that you form in each stop. Sharing your bedroom with like-minded wanderers who you grow to love … unless you’re the hostel snorer! So for me sticking to budget accommodation was a breeze, and if you are nervous about staying in hostels then read this post, it will change your mind.
Dorms come in all shapes and sizes, from girls only to en-suite bathrooms and mixed dorms of 25 people. I discovered (through a dodgy period of trial and error) that the best rooms were mixed dorms of 8. They weren’t so small that you’d end up being stuck alone with a large group who all knew each other already but they weren’t so big that you don’t catch a wink of sleep.
There’s also a perfect price bracket that I nailed for you … you’re welcome. Hostels can start at anywhere from £2 – £10 per night in Asia and I found that the £4-£5 per night rooms meant I met people that were travelling for the same period of time as me, we formed stronger bonds and could journey together for longer. The odd stay at a £8-£10 per night dorm lead to me hanging out with tourists on a 2 week trip so they were going to fancy restaurants and doing all the lavish things that I couldn’t afford. Don’t even get me started on my night at a £2 hostel in Cambodia .. following the ‘stolen bag’ incident I was pretty short on $$$.
I always rely on Agoda for budget hotel rooms if I need some privacy or want to stay near an airport – they are usually a little cheaper than Booking.com. Friends and I would also take turns referring each other and using the £25 off Airbnb voucher – click here to get £25 off your booking.
Well I’d love to sound more positive but nobody loves 18 hour bus journeys … and if in Asia you may as well add at least 2 hours to every single ride you board – they’re always late. Despite the bumpy, delayed, near-death experiences on overnight buses its a no-brainer. You not only save money in comparison to a flight or taxi but your accommodation is sorted for the night! … £2 hostel anyone 😉
Using a debit card from home around the world can rack up to be one of the most pricey mistakes that people make. I ALWAYS opt for an international credit card – which will also protect against fraud! In the UK there are amazing choices which I regularly use such as the Halifax Clarity Card and my ultimate fave – the Santander Zero Card.
Simply set up a direct debit so that whatever you spend and withdraw is paid off each month. Debt = No Travelling.
When you use a card the machine will ask you if you want to pay in your currency or the local currency, ALWAYS pick local. The credit card will automatically use the BEST conversion rate on that day so you are constantly spending efficiently. Well done you.
Food Glorious Food
Not that any of you would know *cough, cough – blog name* but I’m rather tiny at 47kg (7.5 stone) and 156cm (5,1″) so I don’t eat a TON and am quite satisfied with 2 large meals per day and a fruit snack in-between. Make the most of FREE breakfast at your accommodation, I always look for this on HostelWorld whenever I book my bed for the night.
Enjoy eating local cuisine! Sometimes the dirtiest looking huts and stalls served the most authentic and beautiful tasting dishes I’ve ever had. Eating like the locals is also incredibly cheap, most meals in Asia cost me less than £2 and tasted heavenly. Of course you can still have a rare treat and go-all-out once per month but even that is affordable in the right destination.
The Final Figures
After combining my credit card payments (cash withdrawals too), flight purchases online, my initial flight from London and trip home – my total spend for 12 months on the road and adventures in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, The Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, India, The Maldives AND Sri Lanka I spent …..
That’s an average of £918 per month – for trips, travel, food, accommodation A LOT of drinks every night and even souvenirs and shopping every now and then! I didn’t miss out on anything I wanted to do and I even fit in a holiday to the Maldives.
I think most of us in Western society can safely say we spend more than that on food and rent/bills per month with NONE of the fun! So stop making excuses and get out there, it’s cheaper than staying home and working your butt off!