How much does a family trip around the world cost? It’s a burning question and understandably so! Indeed, without money, it is difficult to travel. So, I thought it would be useful to compile some figures to inform those who dream of one day embarking on an adventure like ours.
This article is the third of a three-part summary of our round the world trip:
Financial report on our family trip around the world – part 3
In this financial report, I will show you all the expenses of our trip with a breakdown by category and by country. In order to see more clearly and to compare countries with each other, I provide you with a detailed analysis of accommodation, food and transportation expenses. Finally, I will revisit the expense estimate I had made before the trip, to see if it held up.
But first, I would like to remind you of some statistics from our family trip:
- 444 days of travel;
- 50 countries visited;
- 56 flights;
- 33 rental cars;
- 181 habitations;
- 213 cities visited, including 39 capitals, not to mention the many villages and sites outside the cities;
- 50% of expensive countries, 50% of countries considered cheap;
- A lot of comfort, and sometimes luxury;
- Travel in carry-on suitcases.
Distribution of expenses
In total, for 444 days, our expenses amount to 91,241.00 CAD (70,593.69 USD), or 205.00 CAD (158.61 USD) per day for our family of 4, i.e. 51.25 CAD (39.65 USD) per day and per person.
Pro-rated over 365 days, it’s 75,007.00 CAD (58,033.35 USD), or 18,752.00 CAD (14,508.53 USD) per person.
Here is the breakdown of the total cost of our trip by expense item:
- Accommodation (excluding campers): 19,538.00 CAD (15,116.66 USD);
- Flights (international and domestic): 18,677.00 CAD (14,450.50 USD);
- Car rental (including campers and gas) : 19,730.00 CAD (15,265.21 USD);
- Transport (parking, tolls, buses, trains, ferries, taxis, etc.) : 6,038.00 CAD (4,671.64 USD);
- Restaurant : 14,445.00 CAD (11,176.18 USD);
- Groceries (including hygiene products, laundry, SIM cards, medicines) : 6,857.00 CAD (5,305.30 USD);
- Recreation activities: 6,013.00 CAD (4,652.29 USD);
- Visas : 1,942.00 CAD (1,502.54 USD);
Please note that the “Grocery” item is a bit of a catch-all, since I include hygiene products, laundry, SIM cards and medication. In the end, I considered that the weight of these items in relation to the food component is negligible.
Please also note, however, that insurance, equipment, donations and gifts, as well as credit card fees aimed at accumulating points are not included among these items of expenditure. I consider that these expenses, although related to travel, are not strictly speaking recurrent travel expenses, since they are not applicable to countries, but rather to the trip in its entirety.
Expenditure by country
The following table shows the expenditure broken down by item and country. In order to only highlight the expenses related to living in each country, I excluded international flights, but I left local flights, which I consider to be an integral part of transport costs – just like car rentals.
Note that the table has only 38 lines. In order to simplify everything, I have grouped together the expenses of several countries:
- Our expenses in the Benelux include those of Belgium (3 days), the Netherlands (4 days) and Luxembourg (1 day);
- Our expenses in Central Europe include those of Slovakia (1 day), Hungary (3 days), Poland (2 days) and the Czech Republic (3 days);
- Our expenses in England include those in Wales (2 days);
- Our expenses in Spain include those of Gibraltar (1 day);
- Our expenses in Germany include those of Liechtenstein (1 day);
- Our expenses in France include those in Basel, Switzerland (1 day);
- Our expenses in Italy include those in Bratislava, Slovenia (1 day);
- Our expenses in Israel include those in the Palestinian Territory (2 days);
- Our expenses in Hong Kong include those in Macao (2 days).
Feel free to click on the columns of the table to use the sorting function.
Expenditure by country – grouping for analysis
For analysis purposes, I have compiled the following table to represent the average expenses per day and per country, in terms of accommodation, food and transportation. The following categories are therefore groupings of expenditure items:
- The Total column simply shows the total from the previous table, divided by the number of days in each country;
- The Accommodation category contains the Hotel item;
- The Food category includes the Restaurant and Grocery items;
- The Transport category includes the Internal Flights, Car, Transport and Gasoline items.
Feel free to click on the columns of the table to use the sorting function.
Analysis of average expenses per day and per country
Countries where we spent the most per day
- 407.34 CAD per day in Iceland;
- 286.96 CAD per day in Italy;
- 259.42 CAD per day in Australia;
- 248.15 CAD per day in Jordan;
- 245.97 CAD per day in Israel.
The most expensive country, all categories considered, is none other than Iceland, and by a wide margin! Fortunately, we have been extremely frugal by purchasing the simplest products in grocery stores and eating out only twice. Otherwise, the expenses could have literally exploded.
Israel is also a horribly expensive country. We had to deprive ourselves a little, otherwise this country would be in 2nd place in the ranking.
Jordan is a surprise in this ranking. This is largely due to our deliberate choices to pay more in accommodation.
Countries where we spent the least per day
- 78.74 CAD per day in Indonesia;
- 83.04 CAD per day in Taiwan;
- 88.37 CAD per day in Hong Kong;
- 89.88 CAD per day in the United Arab Emirates;
- 94.90 CAD per day in Vietnam.
Indonesia (Bali) is simply a very affordable country, where money can go very far.
In Taiwan, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates, we stayed almost exclusively in luxury hotels with points. In addition, we have not rented a car in Taiwan or Hong Kong.
In Vietnam, the in-laws sheltered and fed us. I still feel bad to say it, but they wanted to pay for everything, to the point of giving us some pocket money… an out of the ordinary generosity!
You may suspect that this ranking is not representative of the true cost of living in some countries. For the sake of being realistic, I will give you my analysis of the costs of accommodation, food and transport.
Regarding accommodation, we adapted our expenses according to the following guidelines:
- As much as possible, we slept in hotels with our points. But only when I thought it would be beneficial to pay in points rather than money (e.g. Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Spain).
- Otherwise, we usually just slept in hotels or Airbnb of a lower mid-range range, i.e. offering a minimum level of comfort.
Countries where we spent the most on accommodation per day
- 123.31 CAD per day in Belgium;
- 119.02 CAD per day in the Netherlands;
- 109.28 CAD per day in Israel;
- 105.63 CAD per day in England;
- 93.18 CAD per day in Singapore.
Iceland would have been well at the top of this list if we had chosen to sleep in hotels instead of renting a camper.
Countries where we spent the least on accommodation per day
From the table, it is difficult to say in which country it is generally more affordable to stay in considering that:
- We have rented campers in Iceland, Australia and New Zealand;
- We were mainly hosted in Vietnam and France;
- We have used points partially or exclusively for accommodation in Austria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Italy and Spain.
But I was able to use my accommodation statistics to give you an idea:
- 29.70 CAD per day in Indonesia;
- 33.49 CAD per day in Malaysia;
- 39.26 CAD per day in the Philippines;
- 39.49 CAD per day in Sri Lanka;
- 40.53 CAD per day in Thailand.
Regarding food, we adapted our expenses according to the following guidelines:
- In countries where food is expensive, but where there is no great gastronomic reputation (e.g. Iceland, Israel, Australia, New Zealand), we simply purchased food from the grocery store.
- In countries where eating is expensive, but which have a high gastronomic reputation (usually Western Europe), we more often combined restaurants in our diet.
- In countries where food is cheap (mainly the rest of the world, including both Japan and Singapore), we ate almost exclusively in restaurants.
Countries where we spent the most on food per day
- 97.27 CAD per day in Italy;
- 77.57 CAD per day in Japan;
- 71.57 CAD per day in England;
- 65.20 CAD per day in Austria;
- 63.78 CAD per day in Portugal.
Our food expenses in Japan are high for the simple reason that we have not made much effort to reduce them. We could have done so because, it is very easy to eat there in an affordable way. But we preferred to enjoy the country’s culinary specialties, and more particularly Kobe beef, with a meal that cost us 270 CAD!
For the rest of the ranking, there are no surprises.
Countries where we spent the least on food per day
- 21.80 CAD per day in Vietnam;
- 24.18 CAD per day in Myanmar;
- 25.10 CAD per day in India;
- 26.03 CAD per day in Sri Lanka;
- 26.73 CAD per day in Malaysia.
There are no real surprises here either, except for Vietnam, which is at the top of the ranking, because we were treated by our lovely Vietnamese family.
Countries where we spent the most on transport per day
- 338.10 CAD per day in Iceland;
- 174.10 CAD per day in Australia;
- 157.58 CAD per day in New Zealand;
- 142.94 CAD per day in Italy;
- 95.60 CAD per day in Greece;
Transportation costs were very high in Iceland, Australia and New Zealand for the simple reason that we rented campers there, in addition to taking internal flights in Australia and New Zealand.
In Italy, tolls and parking lots are horribly expensive. And in Greece, the 4 ferries we took to get to the islands, as well as the 5 cars we rented on each island and on the mainland, pushed the price up.
It is also in Iceland and the Greek islands that we have encountered the most expensive gasoline, at more than 3.00 CAD (2.32 USD) per litre.
Countries where we spent the least on transport per day
- 2.23 CAD per day in Vietnam;
- 2.50 CAD per day in Vanuatu;
- 3.83 CAD per day in Bulgaria;
- 14.70 CAD per day in Cambodia;
- 16.90 CAD per day in Hong Kong.
This list includes 5 of the 10 countries where we did not have to drive. In Vietnam and Vanuatu, we were taken care of in terms of transport. In Bulgaria, we took a taxi. In Cambodia, we were wandering around in tuk-tuk. In Hong Kong, we used public transport.
Expenditure in relation to the estimated cost of living
I wanted to do the exercise of comparing, for the different countries, the expenses incurred with the one I projected before our departure (I will come back to this in the next chapter). You’re going to have to believe me because since the calculation is more complex, I didn’t want to demonstrate it here.
Countries where we have spent much less than expected
- 66% less than expected in Hong Kong: we slept in hotels with the points;
- 62% less than expected in the United Arab Emirates: we slept in hotels with the points;
- 54% less than expected in Vanuatu: our local friends helped us save;
- 39% less than expected in Singapore: we ate inexpensively in hawker centers;
- 37% less than expected in France: we often enjoyed the hospitality of family and friends.
Countries where we have spent much more than expected
- 107% higher than expected in India: mainly due to the rental of a car with driver;
- 74% more than expected in Italy: because we ate a lot of pizzas;
- 60% more than expected in the Philippines: because we made 4 boat trips across the islands;
- 55% more than expected in Myanmar: mainly due to the rental of a car with driver;
- 46% more than expected in Turkey: because we had a hot air balloon ride there.
You can see that the first list contains countries that are considered expensive and the second list contains countries that are considered affordable – except for Italy. This is because, in general, we have not reduced our spending in expensive countries as far as possible. And on the other hand, we really indulged ourselves in the cheaper countries.
India and Myanmar are very special exceptions, since these countries are known to be incubators of “tourista” for most of the travelers who go there. In these countries, since we were on a tight schedule, we didn’t want to risk getting sick. We have therefore increased our precautions in terms of hygiene measures by avoiding street foods and favoring a certain range of restaurants. We chose hotels carefully and used the services of chauffeurs to travel through these countries. For all these reasons, our spending in these countries is much higher than the real cost of living can suggest.
Comparison with the projected cost before departure
I have often been asked if our expenses are in line with the budget I had established. Remember this estimate of expenses I made before departure. At the time, I had established a method for estimating our expenses based on a cost-of-living index by country. I had used a cost of living in France of 290 CAD par day as a benchmark to estimate the cost of our entire trip. At that time, our itinerary had not yet been completely drawn up, but I had arrived at an estimate of 88,500.00 CAD (68,472.96 USD) based on a period of 431 days, equivalent to 74,748.00 CAD (57,832.96 USD) over 365 days. Considering that our trip, prorated for 365 days, came back to us at 75,007.00 CAD (58,033.35 USD) (a discrepancy of 259 CAD), you can imagine that I can’t be prouder!
For a little fun, I updated the estimate chart with our final itinerary, which you can see in the image below. The 443-day estimate (444 days if we count our last night in Montreal paid with points) becomes 97,141.00 CAD (75,158.55 USD). Following the same methodology, I subtracted $50 for each night in a hotel where we used the points, as well as the 38 nights staying with family and friends, and the 6 nights spent in transportation, that is ((86+38+6) x 50 = 6500 CAD. The corrected total becomes 90,641.00 CAD (70,129.46 USD), which is still relatively close to the 91,241 CAD we spent!
Conclusion of Part 3
As you can see, at 91,241.00 CAD (70,593.69 USD), our trip was not so expensive considering that it lasted 14 and a half months, that we visited 50 countries, 50% of which are known to be expensive, flew 56 times, rented 33 vehicles, stayed in 181 different accommodations, that we allowed ourselves much luxury and that we never deprived ourselves of anything.
For comparison purposes, 51.25 CAD (39.65 USD) per day and per person, this is roughly what it generally costs (including airfare, local expenses and excluding equipment, insurance) to the average backpacker, staying in youth hostels, taking public transport, eating in local markets, flying 14 times, visiting 11 countries for 11 months, the majority being countries deemed affordable.
To navigate to the other sections of our summary: