Budget, Budget, Budget

budgeting for long term travel

budgeting for long term travel

So, how much does it cost for two people to travel the world for a year?  Well, the super annoying answer is, it depends. We’ve read a ton of blog posts and done a bunch of research, and it can vary wildly depending on where you are traveling to and the kind of traveling you want to do.
Jake and I decided, that while cheap, we don’t plan on living on saltines and honey for days on end. We want to enjoy our travels and get to experience local foods and culture. We do plan on saving as much as we can by housesitting and working at hostels on occasion, but we also want to budget for some luxuries too. Our goal number is really an educated guess since we don’t really know all of the countries we plan on visiting. If we knew exactly, we could break down the cost of living for each, but since we will be traveling a bit more free form, we can only guess and aim high.

Our goal to save is around $35-40K

Now before you scoff or take out your calculator and work backwards from our go-date of next April, there’s more to that number.
This number also includes some items we will need before we go, like backpacks (already purchased!) airplane tickets, (which will hopefully be taken care of with our points we’ve accumulated on our travel rewards credit card),  and new tech items like laptops and a new camera. For the new tech items we hope to be able to sell some of what we have to put towards the cost of the new items, like my computer and an older camera and lenses.

How we’ve started to save

We moved

Our rent was going up at our apartment we had been in for the last two years. The apartment served us well, but it really wasn’t worth the increase. It was not in a great area and the commute was getting to both of us. It took us each an hour to an hour and a half each way to get to and from work. We found a smaller and cheaper apartment that also happened to be closer to both of our jobs (amazingly!) Honestly, we really lucked out with our apartment, especially as Seattle rentals are absolutely crazy right now. You would be lucky to find anything under $1500 near downtown. We scored a small one bedroom apartment for under 1,000 right in the heart of it all.

Savings: over $200/ month

Sold lots of stuff

When we decided to move, we also decided to downsize. We sold furniture including both our desks, office chairs, a bookcase, living room table, exercise equipment, dining room table and chairs, several large kitchen appliances, and sadly our Weber grill. *sniff, we miss you, Weber!

Extra money in hand: around $1,000

Earned extra income

I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up a few photography gigs so far this year without doing any marketing. I have a few more on the books, but will be focusing more energy on creating income through my on-line business. Stay tuned as that starts to develop! My BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is to be making around $1,000 additional a month through my on-line business while we travel. I’ve got a long way to go, but am very excited about the possibilities!

So far this year, an additional: $475

Got out of debt

I had some credit card debt that I was very slowly paying off and Jake had some student loan debt. Knowing that we would never have the freedom we wanted being in any kind of debt at all, we focused on getting it paid off, and we able to do so about two years ago. And I have to tell you, it feels so good!  With the help of family and friends, we were also able to pull off a wedding without going into any additional debt by asking for money instead of things as gifts. We don’t forget for one second how lucky we are to have an amazing supportive community around us. This wouldn’t have happened without their generosity.

This number varies, but let’s say – Saved: about $300/ month

Took a hard look at expenses

What are we actually spending money on? Where is it going? It’s taken us several months to really hone in on our expenses. Monthly and annual expenses add up. What do we really need? Where can we cut back on? After rent, food is our second biggest expense. We are no longer buying lunches as regularly, and I’ve given up my daily coffee stop in exchange for having coffee at home or the office. We’re cooking more, even though we cooked pretty regularly before.  We’ve had to get a lot better at meal planning. We’re still working on it, but it’s getting easier once it was made a priority.
Just coffee alone can add up so fast! Even though I was only buying drip, at around $3.00 a pop, times 5 days a week, that’s $60 a month.  And if I splurged on the occasional cold brew, those suckers are over $4 a pop! I need to make my own this summer.

Packing lunches and making coffee at home: savings of around $350/ month
We’re saving a ton on dinners as well, but that number varies.


With our budgeting, ideally one of our entire paychecks will always go into our savings fund. Just this alone will get us close, but not quite to our goal. I’m hoping some additional hustled income will get us where we need to go! If we need to push out a few months, we will, but I’d rather approach our deadline as a challenge to take on!

lets do this liz lemon

Have you ever saved for something big? Do you have any tips on how you made it work? We’d love to know!



  • Sandy Barker says:

    Brilliant – this is good advice even for those who are not planning to do what you do – many of us spend, spend, spend so mindlessly…but we could be spending that money more thoughtfully or saving it for something spectacular!

    • Danielle says:

      So so true! It’s a mind shift for sure. It’s much easier not to pay any attention and buy all the things I want 😉

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