“How much did that cost!?”
That was the number-one question my husband David and I got after we returned from our year-long trip around the world together. Just as much as people wanted to know how we did the trip, they wanted to know how much the trip cost, and more often than not, their guesses were far higher than the real number.
Our 11.5-month, 20-country, east-to-west journey totaled just over $37,000 for both me and David, all in. To put it into perspective, that’s how much a Subaru Outback Limited costs. And to put it even more into perspective, from my research, a two-week European vacation for two people averages nearly $6,200.
Being in our early 30s when we left, David and I were at a point in our lives where we wanted to be nimble and efficient, but also uncompromising on some of our tastes and the basic level of comfort we had grown adjusted to over time.
Once we agreed upon the budget, we gave ourselves four months to plan and prep for our departure. It was an aggressive timeline, but saving for the trip was more nuanced. David had already been saving for some time as he had been thinking about traveling before meeting me, but I had less in my savings. I needed to save up quickly and not only for the trip, but also for a little cushion for when we got back home in case it took me some time to find work.
David and I employed the typical cost-savings tactics of living with extra roommates, cooking at home more and nixing coffee out, but I also made a few bolder moves. Up until that point, I had always worked full-time in advertising, but I decided to take the leap into freelancing. I took a three-month contract and made more at my hourly rate than I did working full-time. The benefit of this higher hourly coupled with the cost-savings approach we took in our day-to-day life helped me put aside a good bit of money in a short period of time. But the big boon was selling my car. I had a 2011 Honda Fit, which I was delighted to find had great resale value, and selling it contributed $11,000 to my trip funds.
Once on the road, we did as much as we could to stretch our budget as far as we could, but seven steps in particular made a significant difference. Here, I'll elaborate: