Traveling the world with a significant other is lots of people’s dream, but you can make it a reality. So, how much does it cost for a couple to travel the world for a year?
There is so much to see in the world and so many things to do. Taking a year (or more) to travel the world with your significant other can allow you to see some of those places and do some incredible things.
We have been traveling together for the past year and a half and are sharing all of our tips on how much it costs. We’ll cover how much it costs for a couple to travel the world for a year, how much does it cost to travel the world for 1 year, how much does it cost to travel Europe, best travel budget tips, and more!
This post is all about answering the question: how much does it cost for a couple to travel the world for a year?
How much does it cost for a couple to travel the world for a year?
Type of Travel
First and foremost before we get to how much it costs for a couple to travel the world for a year is you need to set your expectations for what type of travel you are looking for. This is not to put your travel “into a box” because we truly believe that every single person travels differently but luxury travel is very different than couch surfing.
Although we are very budget-oriented and as frugal as we can be, we still like to spend a bit more on nicer accommodations. We have a budget for our nightly accommodations, but I would rather go over our budget than stay somewhere I would be uncomfortable. For some people, they couldn’t care less about where they slept as long as there was a bed.
Before you even get started on a budget, you’ll need to understand what you both expect from the trip. Luxury accommodations, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and Michelin-starred restaurants sound amazing but your budget will certainly need to be higher, probably around $500 per day and up.
If you are looking to stay on a lower budget, just know that you don’t need to only have a carry-on or sleep in shared rooms or miss out on awesome adventures, you can make a budget that works for you and all the right comforts. It, honestly, has a lot to do with where you travel. Southeast Asia and South and Central America will be your best bet to spending less money on accommodations, transportation, and food, your main expenses. Europe, North America, and Australia will certainly cost you a bit more.
Benefits of Traveling as a Couple
The best part of traveling as a couple is that everything is cheaper per person the more people you have. So two is better than one! This has been especially true with accommodations and transportation. If you are traveling solo, the best route for extreme budget accommodation is shared dorms in hostels. You pay per bed anywhere from $5-$30 a night. That’s great for one person but once you have two people, the cost can often be similar to a private room.
We have always stayed in private rooms with private bathrooms, sometimes at hostels, but mostly at hotels or in Airbnbs as a private apartment or home. It’s almost always a similar cost to us both booking dorm beds and well the privacy is much better than sharing a bunk bed.
The same is true for transportation. We are often able to book private transportation (taxi, Uber, etc.) over needing to take public transportation because the cost of two usually balances out. That and the added convenience of traveling with two suitcases in a private car.
You can also take advantage of this benefit when booking tours when negotiating prices. And for food, sharing plates can help you save rather than ordering double.
Working While Traveling
Keep in mind that while we saved our money up to travel before we left, you can always work while traveling. This is especially true after the pandemic. With so many businesses moving to remote work, you can use that to your advantage and take up traveling while keeping a career job. Of course, that doesn’t sound appealing to everybody, so there are plenty of other options. Check out FlexJobs or We Work Remotely for some unique opportunities. Another great resource is UpWork for freelancing jobs. Here are just a few of the possible remote jobs you can have while traveling:
- Teaching English
- Software Consultant
- Graphic Designer
- Video Editor
- Career Recruiter
- Virtual Assistant
- Freelance Writer
- and more!
How to set up a budget
Now, if you are trying to figure out how much it is for a couple to travel the world for a year, you are going to need a budget that is specific to you. The biggest thing we have learned about personal finances is that it is personal. Everyone will have different desires and priorities and that’s okay! We’ll cover a couple of the different options for setting up a budget in each of the main travel categories below and discuss how we personally make our decisions.
Accommodations are going to be your largest expense when traveling the world for a year. It’s the same if you were at home with rent or a mortgage but now you have an opportunity to change location as often as you want. We personally wanted to spend a similar amount to our budget back in San Diego but instead of just one place all month we could have dozens of different homes each month for the same(ish) cost.
There are tons of different styles of accommodations while traveling. You can choose from anything from shared dorms, camping, hotel rooms, Airbnb, couch surfing, house sitting, resorts, homes, apartments, tiny homes, van rentals, luxury accommodations, unique accommodations, all-inclusive resorts, and so many more. We personally like to have comfortable and clean and fully private rooms with attached bathrooms. It’s certainly a bit more expensive than if we shared bathrooms or were okay with the most budget accommodations. But for us, we have slightly higher standards and are willing to pay a bit more for them.
You will also want to consider your speed of travel. If you plan on traveling quickly from one city or country to the next, your accommodations expenses will be higher. If you are able to travel slowly, you will get discounts on longer stays. Most places offer discounts over 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, and more. The longer you stay, the more of a discount you will get on your nightly rate since you will be a source of guaranteed income for the hotel or homeowner. We travel quite quickly most of the time and do have to pay a slightly higher rate for that.
Our accommodations budget is $40/day & $1,200/month. Truthfully, we have never hit that. Our average spend is $1,500/month or $50/day and we learn to accommodate that change in our budget with other categories.
Transportation takes into account quite a few different factors. The biggest factor is how fast you are traveling. If you are traveling slow or even just moving to a different country for a year, you will likely have very little as your transportation budget. If you are traveling quicker, you will need to account for flights between countries, transport to and from the airports, and higher transportation costs within the towns you are visiting so you can get around quicker.
You will also need to think about your comfort levels. Moving around on the cheap is not always the most comfortable. Budget airlines offer little to no space and certainly no cushion. Budget travel on buses or trains can be cramped and often take much longer than a more expensive option. We like to travel as affordably as possible but we also don’t want our travel day to take 10x longer than it needs to just to save a buck. We will also factor in safety and always pay more for a more reliable or safer option. For example, you’ll never find us hitchhiking or carrying our luggage on a subway at night.
We only budget for larger transportation costs like flights, trains, and rental cars or vehicles. We group this all together for a budget of $1,000/month or $33/day. It is quite high but that’s because of the pandemic’s change in the airline industry. Demand is not the same and flights are quite a bit more expensive than they were before the pandemic. We also group visas, vaccine costs, and testing requirements into this. We do our best to stay under that as much as possible. One great way to do so is with points and miles!
> Check out our top travel credit card recommendations!
Even though you are going to be a nomad for a year with seemingly no attachments, I guarantee you still have some monthly subscriptions to pay for. We certainly did and still do. Although quite a few of them are work or camera-related, we still have some that are needed for travel or just entertainment.
We also continue to use Netflix, DisneyPlus, and Spotify for entertainment purposes. We have SurfShark VPN to help protect us against all potential hackers on public Wi-Fi and access our favorite content on our streaming services. Since we are taking so many photos and videos on our phones we also have to pay monthly for iCloud storage. It’s seamless to ensure you never lose your photos or videos again, even if you drop your phone off a boat in Brazil or under a scooter in Vietnam.
And you have to factor in annual expenses. Some things we only pay for once a year, but that will need to be taken into consideration for your overall budget. Some of our annual expenses include credit card fees for our travel credit cards and our VPN.
The most important one that you will likely have (and should have) is travel insurance. Since you will be traveling the world for a year (or more) and likely quitting your job to do it, you most likely will need to find new health insurance. Most health insurance will also double as travel insurance for things like trip delays, lost luggage, and canceled flights. This is extremely helpful to have while doing so much traveling, something is likely to go wrong at some point. We personally use SafetyWing Nomad Insurance. We have found it to be the most affordable and easiest to use. At only $40.04 per month, you can sign up in minutes and get full health coverage, travel insurance, and the proper insurance for COVID requirements needed by some countries (Costa Rica).
For just our travel and personal related monthly and annual expenses, we are spending an average of $167/month or $5.56/day. This will have to be factored into our daily and monthly budget.
Now for the hardest category to account for. Variable costs don’t have a fixed number and can vary so much depending on where you are and what you buy. A few main categories include is food and drinks, excursions, personal items, shopping, and gifts and donations. Since we don’t truly know what we are going to spend in these categories and they can easily be adjusted each month, we don’t necessarily budget it. We have a monthly budget and subtract out the other costs above (accommodations budget, transportation budget, and fixed costs). The remaining total is what we have for all of our variable spendings.
For example, we aim to spend around $4,000 per month total. If we take out accommodations, transportation, and fixed expenses, that leaves us with $1,333/month or $44/day for variable spending. This is pretty easily doable for us with eating at more affordable restaurants, choosing free attractions (like historical places, walking tours, and beaches), and cutting out shopping almost completely. We also have learned to balance our spending by looking at a week as a whole so if we want to do a more expensive tour, the next day we may just cook at home to make up for the costs.
> Take a look at our long-term travel packing list so you don’t need to shop!
Track all your expenses
> Get started with your free Mint by Intuit account!
The best to figure out what your budget is going to be for travel is to track your expenses. This is true before you leave to see where your money is going and what is important to you. You will also need to track expenses while you are traveling. Of course, you don’t want to spend hours a week tracking expenses while you are traveling the world. However, you can set up a great system ahead of time and spend 20 minutes a week looking over it all.
We use Intuit’s Mint to track all of our expenses. It connects to our bank accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts so we can keep tabs on every transaction. This allows us to categorize where our money is going (rental cars, restaurants, hotels, etc.) and ensure that we catch any fraudulent or mistaken charges as soon as possible. Mint is the only way we were able to see what we were spending before we left and allowed us to save even more. It is also the only reason we have been able to keep track of how our budget is going while traveling.
If you set a budget or have an idea of how much you are going to spend for you and your significant other to travel the world for a year, and then 7 months in you are almost out of money, that would be a real bummer. By tracking your expenses you can know if you had a high month on accommodations because you splurged on nicer beachfront rooms and just how much all those takeaway dinners costs during the rainy month in Bali. Mint is free to use and set up is easy and mostly automatic!
Our last piece of advice is to use credit cards as much as possible. Of course, this is ONLY if you can pay off your credit cards in full every single month. If you have proven to be a responsible credit card user, then using credit cards can be a great advantage. First, it allows you to track your expenses far easier than trying to remember or write down where all your cash went. Second, you are able to earn points or miles. And lots of them.
Since you won’t have a home base you will be able to put your largest expense on a credit card, your accommodations. In a normal rental or home mortgage situation, this large chunk of your monthly expenses comes from your bank account. By putting it on your card you can easily rack up points and if you have the right travel cards, even more points.
The best way to earn a lot of points is through sign-up bonuses. When you first sign up for a credit card, they will offer you a sum of bonus points. This is yours if you can meet the minimum spend usually within the first three months. With all your expenses going on credit cards, it should be an easy target and you can come away with upwards of $1,000 in points. The best way to redeem these points is through flights and you can often get great upgrades or even business class tickets for next to nothing, just for spending money you would have already spent!
> Check out our top credit cards for travel to find out more!
Our First Year Traveling
We had saved up our money for 3 years before deciding to finally head out and travel the world. We knew that whatever we spent traveling full-time was going to be similar to sitting in a tiny apartment in San Diego. Traveling was definitely the better option. In the end, we spent nearly the exact same as we had the year. A year where we had traveled only to Disneyland and one week-long trip to Washington DC. Very different years to be sure.
We budgeted a total of $48,000 ($2,000 per person per month). That comes out to a total of about $65 per person per day or $131 as a couple per day. For the first 12 months of our travel, we spent $50,000 total. That averaged out to $137 per day or $69 per person per day. Nearly right on target with our budget! That was with a lot of unknowns and curveballs throughout the year. In that first year, we traveled to 6 different countries in the midst of a global pandemic, paid for dozens of vaccines, were robbed of all of our camera gear, and spent 2 months in the US traveling (not cheap).
So, in general, you can expect it to cost around $40,000 – $50,000 for a couple to travel the world for a year. That would be around $20,000 – $25,000 per person for a year. You can also look at it as $3,500 – $4,200 per month and about $100 – $140 per day.