The $$$$ of travel is a question I get more often than not. And of course, everyone who asks that questions knows the answer: it varies.

But yet, it’s still asked, and that’s okay. I get it. How does a 24 year old travel the world?


That is roughly how much I spent in a span of twelve months across 25 countries and 20 states.

To give you an idea of what some of the expenses went toward I’ve made a list:



Now the upfront number of $10,000 sounds like a lot, I know. But if you look at the broken downs costs, combine with the cost of a usual one-week vacation, you’ll soon see traveling full-time is quite cheap (if you want it to be).

I’m currently living in an apartment that is roughly $750/month. That’s $9,000 over the course of a year and nearly as much as I spent traveling. Let’s not forget that $9,000 doesn’t include electricity, internet, groceries, gas, etc.

Huh. Traveling can actually be cheaper than staying in one place…who knew?



I worked a lot of hours before I traveled, but by looking at my blog and Instagram, you couldn’t tell.  I was a weekend warrior who took so many pictures she could publish multiple throughout the week. Through the eyes of my followers, it probably appeared that I was a whimsical butterfly drifting through the world by living off happiness and wild dandelions.

Reality: repeatedly smashing my face on my work desk and Googling blogs on how to quit my job to travel the world. Also taking extra long poop breaks to scroll through Instagram and making a never-ending wish list of places to see.

Now I know I’m pretty gritty and I do things most people wouldn’t. So I’m about to be even more honest with you: very few of you will be able to travel on that cheap of budget unless you really want it. Only if you’re ready to travel solely for the experiences, and not so you can take fancy photos of you sipping a cappuccino in a sparkling gown overlooking the Cliffs of Moher.  Think more like washing your pots and pans in a river and doing laundry every three weeks.



Now, before I scare you off, I’ve broken down three kinds of travelers. See what one you fit in best, and start there for your budget:


  • Doesn’t need to shower daily
  • Can camp for multiple days at a time
  • Takes part in mostly-free activities
  • Can poop in the woods
  • Doesn’t need souvenirs
  • Can live off four outfits
  • Cold canned soup=a legit meal
  • Would be able to sleep on a park bench if needed

Budget Range: $7,000-$15,000



The "Average" Backpacker

  • Likes camping in designated campgrounds, mostly hostel-bum
  • Enjoys wine and soaking up international nightlife occasionally
  • Travels with one pair of nice shoes and a dress
  • Would not be okay with sleeping under a tree (maybe once if drunk)
  • Brings home gifts for family and friends
  • Would pay $50 to ride a tram to the top of Matterhorn

Budget Range: $15,000-$27,000


how much does it cost to travel the world for a year - slovenia

The Fancy Foodie

  • Likes hotels and fancy cheese
  • Couldn’t imagine traveling without his/her Sperry’s or Nike’s
  • Loves to party in every city visited
  • Would pay $2000 for a music festival
  • Likes to shop/will ship home souvenirs because they wont fit in their suitcase
  • The thought of not showering in Paris induces a mild panic attack
  • Eats high-class authentic food in every country
  • Likes guided tours
  • Would pay $300/night for an AirBnb overlooking Oia, Greece

Budget Range: $27,000+


3 Germans pick up 2 dirty American Hitchhikers. Greece.



how much does it cost to travel the world for a year - Nevada

One of the few times I wore a dress during the entire year and I felt fancy AF


This budget will also depend on if you’re traveling solo or with someone else. For me, it was slightly cheaper to travel because I was traveling with someone else, who split the costs of things like van renovations and gas with me. Traveling solo I would’ve spent closer to the $15,000 range.

I also didn’t take many flights over that span of time, which can get pricey. Adding in one flight to a place like Australia can up your budget by $2,000. There are many factors that contribute to what you’ll spend. If I can give one set of advice it would be to over-estimate your budget. No one wants to run out of money six months in.

The price will also heavily depend on the places you’re going to visit. Destinations like Hawaii, Australia, and the UK can be quite pricey making a budget increase by the thousands (hostel rooms can run upward of $100/night). Destinations like Thailand, Serbia, and Mexico will stretch your dollar much further (hostels at $5/night).


Fellow Blogger and Lovely Tour Guide, Jill

Outdoor travel blog

Soulful adventurer. Probably lost. Definitely eating ice cream.

In her late-teens, Shalee drove out of her small hometown watching the sunset behind her along the two-lane highway. Her ventures began in Michigan, where she taught herself to travel on a budget. Today, Shalee shares her tips and stories to thousands of readers interested in adventure, budget, and outdoor travel. Learn more about her here.

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  1. Sabretoothedchickenstour Chickens on November 6, 2017 at 8:11 PM

    Great post. We have shared. Our experience is a year of extreme budget travel as a family of 5. I believe travelling in a small group and couchsurfing can make things cheaper. Ours worked out to about $7000 each inc all costs and covering any costs at home. We managed it with rental income, savings, redrawing advance/additional payments on our mortgage & my husband’s long service leave/annual leave payments.

    • Shalee on November 6, 2017 at 9:31 PM

      Wow! That’s great for family travel! I️ Love couchsurfing too 🙂 do you find it easy to do with kids?

    • Kim on November 7, 2017 at 8:40 PM

      This is the best damn thing I’ve read in a long time. The “reality” part is pretty accurate for me. Hating every minute of work and wondering how I can quit and travel the world. The part about taking extra long poop breaks had me cracking up. Also love your breakdown of what type of traveler are you. “Can poop outside”. Clearly I’m a fan of openly talking about poop lol

  2. Johanna Wellwood on November 6, 2017 at 8:12 PM

    Great info and advice. Thank you.

    • Shalee on November 6, 2017 at 9:29 PM

      Thanks for reading!!

  3. Leigha @ The Yooper Girl on November 6, 2017 at 9:23 PM

    Love love love this! It’s my dream someday to travel the world, but I think it’ll have to wait a few years at least. You rock girl! I could definitely be the nitty-gritty if I need to be, but I’d prefer the average backpacker. I work at a camp during the summer where we hike and canoe to our overnight destinations and cook our own food, so I think I have a good head start!

    • Shalee on November 6, 2017 at 9:29 PM

      You have a great head start! Can’t wait to hear where your adventures end up taking you! Never too early to start planning

  4. Debbie on November 6, 2017 at 10:01 PM

    Thank you for sharing your amazing adventures with us!

    • Shalee on November 7, 2017 at 9:13 AM

      Thank you for following along!

  5. Bruce on November 7, 2017 at 11:22 PM

    Shalee, Your blogs never disappoint. Well written and fun to read. You included a lot of info for a range of travelers in a relatively short article.

  6. Matt on November 9, 2017 at 11:38 AM

    Shalee, I’m not as “basic” a traveler as you, but as a former Peace Corps Volunteer I prefer to travel on the cheap because i think it gives you more opportunity to interact with the locals, an opportunity you wouldn’t get sleeping in a five-star hotel. Keep up the traveling and . . . I’ll bet you could beat me in any world geography quiz. Isn’t travel great?

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