It’s Cheaper to Travel the World than Stay Home (Expenses for Three Months)

People always want to know how I’ve managed to travel for so long and to avoid getting a “real” job. Many people have the misconception that long-term travel is expensive, that it is more akin to a vacation — but that is most definitely not the case.

I’ve written extensively about the tactics I use to travel cheap over the long-term in my book Big Travel, Small Budget, but when you actually put those tactics to use, how much does it cost to travel?

In this post I will share our expenses for three months of travel.

Andrea and I are currently in the middle of driving across South America and we just wrapped up three months traveling from north to south through Peru. Spending lots of time in some of the most incredible places I’ve ever seen… Peru is incredible, by the way, if you love nature.

Hiking Laguna 69 Peru

Expenses for Three Months

During those three months (89 days, actually — the visa is good for 90 days), we spent 9,997.29 Soles between the two of us.

At the current exchange rate, that amounts to $3,060.30.

If we break that down, that is $1,020.10 per month for a couple, or $510.05 per month per person.

Breaking it down further, that’s just $34.38 per day for a couple or $17.19 per person (over 89 days).

In most of the United States, you can’t even rent a studio apartment for $510 per month, and yet this was our total expenses per person over the course of a month.

Shocking, isn’t it?

cheaper to travel than stay home-2

** Item-by-item expenses for each day are available at the bottom of this post **

Quality of Life

Now, you might think that we are living like paupers or suffering, but that’s really not the case.

We typically eat out at least once per day, if not twice. The majority of the time we stay in budget hotels — but always in private rooms with a private bath, never in crowded dorm rooms.

We can’t always stay in the cheapest place, because we need to have secure private parking for the truck. But we also go truck camping in national parks, and go trekking sometimes.

cheaper to travel than stay home-3

We go to coffee shops quite often, go out for drinks at night on occasion, and even go to the movies or something similar every once in a while.

We’re never going hungry. On the contrary, we’ve both got a soft spot for sweets like chocolate cake or ice cream, so we’ve got to put in the work to stay in shape and exercise while traveling.

We pay the same as everybody else.

FYI: many travel bloggers get free or comped trips, hotels, activities, etc., which allows them to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do — something I’ve done on occasion, but NOT something that happened at all in Peru, thus it has no bearing on this expense report.

When we go somewhere expensive, like Machu Pacchu, we take strains to do it on the cheap so we don’t break the bank.

cheaper to travel than stay home-4

I kept a 4G data plan active throughout most of Peru, which was data-only (no minutes) so I could keep up the blogging, social media, etc, while traveling as well.

The budget numbers listed above even include 2,320 soles for gasoline ($710.32), since it is a shockingly high $4 or so per gallon throughout Peru, meaning we spent more than $200 per month on gasoline between the two of us (approximately 20% of our monthly expense).

These figures also include the costs for all of our various tourist activities, whether it’s visiting the ruins at Chan Chan, taking a boat tour to Isla Ballesta, seeing the Nazca Lines (though not by plane!), or visiting Machu Picchu, among other things.

* I did not include a $350 guided mountain climb or the $160 Bolivian visa in these figures since both of those were one-time expenses only for me, but that would increase *my* monthly average to $680.05 or to roughly $22.90 per day.

Long-Term Travel

Many people reach out to me about how they wish they could travel, but they just can’t afford it… And yeah, it can be tough to afford it when staying home costs so much more than it costs to travel.

It can be difficult to imagine spending in a month for everything, what many people in the US spend on their rent (if they’re lucky) or pay for the car payment.

Once you can break the cycle though, you’d be surprised at just how cheap it is to keep traveling indefinitely.

cheaper to travel than stay home-5

So, when you combine cheap long-term travel with my monthly income reports (which doesn’t include freelance work), you get a pretty clear answer as to how I’ve managed to stay traveling (in many different forms) since January 2013.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my book Big Travel, Small Budget for more real world examples of saving big money while traveling.

Wish you could travel more? Click me to grab my free resources for affordable, long-term travel.

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Don't have enough money to travel? You'd be surprised at how much cheaper it is to travel full time vs staying home...

Check out the line-by-line details of three months of expenses in Peru here:

Fecha Item Cantidad
     
23-Jun Hotel Mancora 50
24-Jun Hotel Mancora 135
27-Jun Gasolina 160
  Peaje 7.7
  Hotel Satelite 57
  Restaurante 14
28-Jun Gasolina 60
  Gasolina 127
  Mercado 62
  Hostal El Ancla 70
29-Jun Hostal El Ancla 52
  Restaurante 34
  Mercado 8
30-Jun Ruinas Chan Chan 20
  Restaurante 26.5
  Hostal Delfines 40
  Panes 1
1-Jul Gasolina 100
  Hotel Edwards 30
  Restaurante 27
  Panes y alfajores 1.5
  Cafes 7
  Plantillas 1
2-Jul Hotel Edwards 30
  Restaurante 43
  Plantillas 8
  Mercado 51
  Cafes 15
  Panes 4.5
3-Jul Restaurante 16
  Hotel Edwards 30
  Panes 5
4-Jul Hotel Edwards 30
  Restaurante 10
  Pizza 34
  Panes 4.2
  Arreglo zapatos 5
5-Jul Almuerzo 8
  Panes 5.5
  Entrada Paron 10
  Gasolina 168.99
6-Jul Hotel Edwards 30
  Comida 10
7-Jul Hotel Edwards 30
  Almuerzo 10
  Comida 11
8-Jul Hotel Huaraz 38
  Minimercado 45
  Almuerzo 10
  Cafe Andino 14
  Panes 1
9-Jul Hotel Huaraz 38
  Almuerzo 17
  Comida 12
  Tienda 3.5
10-Jul Hotel Huaraz 38
  Gas propano 25
  Mercado 50
  Almuerzo 24
  Cafe California 20
11-Jul Gorros 40
  Cafe Yurac Yacu 11
  Hotel Huaraz 38
12-Jul Comida 6
  Hotel Huaraz 38
13-Jul Hotel Huaraz 38
  Almuerzo 23.5
14-Jul Hotel Huaraz 38
  Mercado 29.6
15-Jul Hotel Huaraz 38
  Almuerzo 15
16-Jul Hotel Huaraz 38
  Almuerzo 20
17-Jul Hotel Huaraz 38
  Mercado 1 19.7
  Mercado 2 23.7
  Cafe California 24
18-Jul Hotel Chacas 30
  Restaurante 9
  Restaurante 12
  Gasolina 142
19-Jul Hotel Chacas 30
  Desayuno 14
  Almuerzo 14
20-Jul Hotel Chacas 30
  Desayuno 14
  Pizza 10
21-Jul Habitacion Vaqueria 20
  Entrada Parque 130
23-Jul Hotel Edwards 30
  Restaurante 11
  Panes y mantequilla 3
24-Jul Hotel Edwards 30
  Mercado 69.1
  Pizza 12
  Cervezas 13
25-Jul Entrada Paron 10
  Gasolina 140
27-Jul Almuerzo 10.5
  Algo en La Terraza 12
  Pizza 12
  Hotel Edwards 40
28-Jul Hostal Dulzura 45
  Parqueadero 20
  Mercado 73.4
  Almuerzo 22
29-Jul Colectivo a Yunguey 4
  Colectivo a Vaqueria 40
2-Aug Colectivo a Caraz 20
  Almuerzo 20
  Hostal Dulzura 45
  Pizza 24
3-Aug Hostal Dulce Amanecer Huaraz 135
  Almuerzo 15
  Creperie Patrick 19
  Empanadas 6.5
  Mercado 30.3
4-Aug Almuerzo Chilli heaven 53
  Empanadas 8.5
5-Aug Almuerzo 18
  Bar VIP 40
  Bar 15
6-Aug Hamburguesas 54
  Empanadas y panes 4.6
  Mercado 45
  Hostal Dulce Amanecer Huaraz 45
7-Aug Almuerzo 20
  Mercado 1 23.5
  Mercado 2 3.3
  Cafe California 12
  Hotel Huaraz 38
8-Aug Hotel Huaraz 38
  Mercado 89.2
9-Aug Hotel Huaraz 38
  Almuerzo Ryan 22
10-Aug Hotel Huaraz 38
  Almuerzo 15
11-Aug Hotel Huaraz 38
  Almuerzo 20
  Mercado 27.9
12-Aug Hotel Huaraz 30
  Entrada Parque 65
13-Aug Hotel Huaraz 38
14-Aug Hotel Huaraz 38
  Almuerzo 13 Buhos 58
  Hervidor agua 63
15-Aug Almuerzo 18
  Cafe 13 buhos 22
16-Aug Gasolina 90
  Parque Pastoruri 20
17-Aug Hotel Huanuco 46
  Comida 23
18-Aug Hotel Huanuco 46
  Desayuno 7
  Mercado 30.62
19-Aug Desayuno 7
  Gasolina 110
  Almuerzo 16
  Comida Pizza 26
  Hotel Huancayo 43
20-Aug Almuerzo KFC 30
  Mercado 103.72
  Hotel Huancayo 43
  Homecenter 56.6
  Coolbox 29.49
  Sturbucks 22
21-Aug Gasolina 130
  Hotel Pisco 50
  Comida 10
22-Aug Hotel Pisco 50
  Almuerzo 30
  Comida Ryan 8
23-Aug Hotel Paracas 50
  Almuerzo 24
  Entrada Parque 20
  Comida 5
24-Aug Peaje 14
  Gasolina 146
  Snakcs 8
  Hotel 45
  Recarga 10
  Islas Vallestas 40
25-Aug Hotel 45
  Comida Huacachina 30
26-Aug Peaje 7.5
  Entradas Nazca 6
  Hotel Nazca 60
  Café 36
27-Aug Gasolina 64.5
  Peaje 3.9
  Almuerzo 16
  Peaje 3.9
  Hotel Chalhualca 40
28-Aug Gasolina 152.02
  Peaje 3.9
  Almuerzo 24
  Peaje 3.9
  Hotel Izcuchaca 35
29-Aug Hotel Izcuchaca 35
  Almuerzo 10
  Café 9
  Mercado 9
30-Aug Almuerzo 12
  Panes 2
  Hotel Izcuchaca 35
31-Aug Hotel Izcuchaca 35
  Almuerzo 12
  Panes y mantequilla 2.2
1-Sep Hotel Izcuchaca 35
  Almuerzo 12
  Avena 2.2
  Panes 1
2-Sep Hotel Izcuchaca 35
  Almuerzo 12
  Panes 5
3-Sep Hotel Cusco 45
  Almuerzo 20
  Café 19
  Mercado 142.59
4-Sep Hotel Cusco 45
  Almuerzo 30
  Tour bus 60
  Comida 30
  Mercado 62.56
5-Sep Gasolina 112.23
  Hotel Ollantaytambo 60
  Recarga 10
  Compras 5
6-Sep Hotel Santa Teresa 35
  Almuerzo 14
7-Sep Hotel Santa Teresa 35
  Almuerzo 20
  Pizza 53
8-Sep Almuerzo 20
  Comida 36
  Hotel Machu Picchu 50
  Entradas Machu Picchu 152
  Entradas Machu Picchu 64
9-Sep Hotel Machu Picchu 50
  Gaseosa Machu Picchu 13
  Comida 30
  Tienda 12
10-Sep Parqueadero hidroeléctrica 30
  Hotel Urubamba 50
11-Sep Gasolina 164
  Limpiaparabrisas 9
  Almuerzo 30
  Hotel Cusco 45
  Pizza 40
12-Sep Hotel Cusco 45
  Hamburguesas 22
  Cafe 9
  Helado 6.5
  Mercado 36.17
  Panes 1
13-Sep Peaje 7.5
  Almuerzo 26.5
  Hotel Espinar 30
14-Sep Gasolina 100
  Peaje 5
  Hotel Chivay 35
  Comida 8
15-Sep Hotel Chivay 35
  Almuerzo 11
  Cafe 15
  Comida 15
  Cafe 47
16-Sep Gasolina 100
  Entrada Colca 80
  Almuerzo 34
  Hotel Arequipa 40
  Cervezas 23
  Comida turca 42
  Arepa 3
17-Sep Hotel Arequipa 35
  Almuerzo 77
  Barra chocolate 12
  Café 23.5
  Pizza 16
18-Sep Gasolina 112
  Aceite 20
  Peajes x 3 11.7
  Hotel Puno 55
  Comida 10
  Panes y galletas 2.5
19-Sep Desayuno 16
  Sanduches 16
  Bus y taxi Puno 6.2
  Papelería visa 2
  Visa Bolivia  
  Gasolina 141.7
  Peaje 7.5
    9997.29
 
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Ryan

Author, Writer, and Head Honcho at Desk to Dirtbag
Ryan is an author, adventurer, and wanderer. Originally from Seattle, he headed to Washington D.C. where he spent five years working for Congress before heeding the call of the wild. He set out living in his pickup truck and road tripping across the American West. Since then he backpacked through Colombia, drove across all of Central America, and also wrote a best selling book: Big Travel, Small Budget. Right now you can find him driving his old truck across all of South America -- support the adventures by visiting the D2D Shop. Follow the adventures on social media or read more.

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