There is nothing more valuable than accurate real life numbers and data when trying to understand the finances of traveling with a family. Here are some awesome blog posts that cover some of the details of the cost of travel. While every family is unique in their priorities, needs, wants and budget, seeing someone else’s budget can help you get a grip on how much it may cost you. You can extrapolate from the data, add increased cost if you like to eat out more, or decrease the cost if you’ll be staying with a friend, etc. But reviewing these blogs will give you a realistic look at how much people are spending while out there.
Sailing vessel Terrapin is my HERO!! They post a financial spreadsheet each month so we can see how much they are spending and where it is going. On average they seem to spend close to $3,000 per month for a family of 4 living on a sailboat. Of course this will vary from month to month depending on how much work you need to do on the boat, how remote you are (can’t eat out, no shops available for buying groceries, etc), and how social the setting (eating out, drinks, etc.) But their attention to detail is an amazing resource for us!!
After six years of planning, saving, and finally selling a house, they spent six months in Asia. They had planned approximately $2,000 per month and in the first month they went over by almost double. In the end, they spent $28,215 for a total of 182 days of travel. That’s $115 per day while they were traveling, but in reality you have to add the pre trip expenses and airline costs, so they spent $155 per day for a family of 4. They traveled Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Thailand. She breaks down her costs by country also because even for the same family, some countries are much more cost effective than others to travel and live in.
In summary she states, “In the end I am still pretty shocked about how much this trip actually cost us. We actually spend slightly less than this per month living at home in Canada even when we had a mortgage! Next time we plan to travel much slower, concentrating on only one or possibly two countries and treating our six months out as more of a lifestyle and less of a vacation.”
They planned a 12 month journey with a budget of $35,000 for the year for their family of 4 in 2012. Once again, I am in love! This was an excellent resource for anyone curious about how much they spent, where and what they spent it on. She has excellent record keeping as she is the daughter of an accountant and presents her data in a few different spreadsheets. Their final cost was $46,678.08 for a daily budget of $128.59. At first this was a surprise for them, but as they looked at each of the numbers, it was all realistic. She included items that others often won’t. Because they had to be paid over the year, she included travel insurance, home insurance, and things they’d use during the trip, like clothing, that they pre-purchased while they were working, so paid up front. She also breaks down the costs per country that they visited and noticed that even though they felt like some countries were cheaper than others, the final numbers (daily expenses) for some locations was a surprise. Sometimes when a place felt inexpensive, it turned out to be as much or more than other locations. So having kept records and doing an analysis, you can help yourself plan more accurately for the future.
This family of four cycled parts of the world for a year. This cut down significantly on the cost of transportation as they provided it and it did not require fuel. Accommodations were the largest expense. They did not keep exact accounting, but their final numbers came in at $2,000 per month or $67 per day. They note that they probably paid about $600 per month in housing and places to sleep. This is obviously a slower form of travel, which has it’s pros and cons. You don’t get to travel as far and see as many places, but you get to slow down and take in the sights and sounds and smells. You get to meet people along the way and stop whenever and wherever you want to. And this budget falls in well below that of those other travelers, making it a more sustainable form of travel. She also wrote another blog compiling advice from many family travel bloggers about how to finance long term travels.
Behan does not give specific numbers, but reviews her journey of how their finances have morphed over their 8, going on 9, year adventure. When they left with their family of 5 on a sailboat, they had some savings and rental income. By the time they reached Australia, they had run out of savings and their house crashed with the market, so they had to work while they were there. The kids attended school while the parents worked. They found it hard to get ahead working in an area with a high cost of living, so saving was difficult. They revamped, she focused on her blog and her husband developed his skill of sail-making as a traveling business. Behan co-authored a book Voyaging with Kids, which is an excellent resource for anyone sailing with kids, planning to sail with kids and even for those land traveling. All the authors have traveled with their children and they questioned many other traveling families also for a comprehensive look at the experience, not simply a story of how they specifically are doing it. Their house began to break even again, and now they are using their extensive knowledge as cruising consults to help other people realize their dreams, get set up, and not have to make all the usual mistakes along the way.
They spent 148 days traveling Europe and Africa with a 5 year old and a 3 year old. They had a career change when his company closed after 20 years, so took it as an opportunity to travel. They had no set budget in mind, but spent a little over $24,000. They note that there are a couple of costs not in there, the cost of lost work and income while they were out and the cost of some accommodations they received in exchange for reviews on their site, so their actual financial costs would have been higher. They break down their costs one by one. They rented out their condo for a loss of $200/month, but didn’t calculate that in as it was a fixed cost no matter what they did. They spent $10,948 on transportation. Meals were $8389. Accommodation was only $2306 because they used GuestToGuest which allowed them to exchange their house for other’s houses through a point system rather than a cash system. They also have insurances, activities, phones and things.
“We aren’t rich by any stretch. We both earned below average salaries for the UK, but we chose to prioritise travel over buying ‘stuff’ and spending money on big nights out. Many people say they want to travel but they can’t afford it. We think everyone can if they want it enough. It may take some people longer than others, and you’ll have to make sacrifices, but the trick is simple – start saving now!”
They are a great example of how travel can be done on any income and any budget. Making priorities and making it happen and giving up the small daily luxuries has provided them something so much more fulfilling in their lives. They talk about how they were able to save 75% of their income and prioritize it to travel adventures.
This family of 4 set out and decided to figure out how to live a sustainable simple life on the road while homeschooling 2 boys. They were in Bali in 2015 for 2 months and review their costs. They hoped to spend about $1500/month, but they were willing to go up close to $2,000. They rented a house, ate local foods, and did eat out a few times per week. Eating out was costing them maybe $10 for the 4 of them. They ended up paying $4,500 for the 59 days in Bali ultimately. They did admit that it was a pretty simple life and they didn’t have much money to partake in many activities while they were out there, but they much preferred the quieter life in Bali breaking even rather than the hectic paced lifestyles they were leading with both parents working back home and very little family time.
They talk about their 9 steps to being able to afford long term travel. Again, self evident things like spend less and increase income. Specifically, they recommend debt free living, thrifty spending through second hand stores and coupons, sweat equity like mowing your own lawn, location independent employment to increase flexibility and keep an income stream, plan ahead, prioritize travel in your budget. My favorite part is what she describes as “Scorched Earth” which was a final push to get on the road and where they only used their income for the bare essentials. Anything else they wanted, new shoes, eating out, or whatever, had to come from a new stream of income. They could sell items on craigslist, have a bake sale, or whatever, but it could not come from their base income, which was already prioritized to travel. And the final point she makes is that the thing that made the biggest impact for their budget was downsizing. People thought they were crazy moving their kids into the same room of a small living space, but it opened up the world to them.
He recommends diversity as the key to success. He worked as a medical transcriptionist and had very little saved when he left. He’s been able to carry on his work online, but of course you’re tied to internet. He’s made some money blogging. He suggests that you can’t make much with photography because there are many free images online that you’re competing with. Sometimes you can sell an article and make some money as a writer, but you have to wait for payments to process well after you’ve done the work. He has also done house sitting to cut expenses. There are no numbers behind it, but rather a sense of what he’s done to support himself.
She talks about how she saved $20,000 in 2 years through basic budgeting ideas and how to make it happen for yourself. There’s not a single thing to do to, but rather a conscious effort of organizing your finances and prioritizing travel over day to day luxuries. You have to cut spending, find ways to increase your income, and make a budget and stick to it. Most of her suggestions are common sense financial recommendations, but sometimes it’s good to get inspired and review each of the ways that ordinary people with ordinary incomes are traveling, surviving, and even thriving!
They discuss how their first year out they paid large amounts of their budget for accommodations. Obviously traveling by bikes their transportation was close to nothing, maybe local buses for touring or groceries. Now their main and almost only expense is for food, which is the fuel for their biking. They have mastered free camping and couch surfing. There is a website specifically for bikers called WarmShowers.com which is like couch surfing for cyclists. They have now spent only $600 in the past 12 months on accommodations.
Our dream here at World Schools is that we could create a similar, but far more vast, network for families to share their financial experiences.
- In the finance forums, we discuss finances. Naturally the forums that discuss finances draw more attention to those people who are multilevel marketing and advertising for their businesses, so this skews the impression, but it allows newcomers the ability to see the nuts and bolts of how people are making it as well as allows traveling families an opportunity to share their businesses. You are able to open your own forum topic also if you have a question.
- We can help each other out through our ‘Lending Libraries’ on the Travel Directory where people who are willing to share equipment and resources make them available to traveling families. For instance, they may have a kayak at the beach, or ski gear near a popular ski area. If we don’t have to buy and lug gear, or pay top dollar for tourist rentals, we are able to engage in so many more diverse and rich travel experiences!!
- Another place you may find great deals is through our classifieds, where you can list your items for sale, offer them free to assist in your downsizing and departure planning, advertise your products, or make yourself available to the community by offering a service (babysitting, airport pick-up or housecleaning for example) and so much more. We can offer each other support, cultural experiences in our local areas and affordable travel therefore making our lifestyles richer and more sustainable, even on lower incomes.
Do you have a blog linking to financial numbers that you’re willing to share with the community? Please share in the comments below to help those people who are in the planning stages obtain a better feel for the real cost to travel.