Getting where?

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Half the world in a nutshell

A few numbers

12 years (gah!) in the making
3 months in the doing

96 Days
13 countries
21 trains
8 long distance buses (too fucking many)
2 ferries
1 bamboo raft
Numerous metros, taxis, tuktuks, motorbikes, and other local transport
1 pair of hiking shoes
1 pair of sandals
1 pair of dance shoes
10 forms of currency
Temperatures from -39C to +39C
23 hostels and guesthouses
7 locals hosts
1 budget hotel
1 resort
8 Lindy socials
1 weekend dance camp

I don’t know how many kilometers or miles I traveled. I probably should have kept track of the distances as I went, but you can see on the map that it’s a bloody long way. I’m happy to leave it at that.

So what did it all cost?

£715 on new gear pre-trip

I didn’t keep track of what I was spending pre-trip. Some of the things I bought I needed for other stuff (like the hiking shoes for the trip to the highlands) and some things I got as gifts. So this is a rough estimate of the total cost of what I bought new within the past year if I’d had to pay for all of it myself (I probably only paid for about half).

It looks like a lot of money, but actually almost everything I bought is really good quality, was on sale when I got it, and will come in handy for trips within Scotland and just in general, so I’m happy I have it all now. The only thing that I’ll need to replace soon is my shoes I think (the bottoms are pretty worn out).

£230 on clothes, shoes, and shipping in Hoi An

I have kept the cost of the stuff I got made (and shipped home) in Hoi An separate from the main budget, mostly because I want to show what all the normal costs added up to on their own. I did some buying of stuff within the budget, but only little bits here and there that were more like standard travel costs. I’m perfectly happy to tell you what I spent though!

overview£4338.52 spent on the trip

This should be pretty accurate, with a relatively small margin for error. I was obsessive about recording absolutely every expense, down to the 5 Baht or 1RMB it sometimes required to use a public toilet (categorised as ‘health’ of course). What I think I probably missed out on were things like adding extra Skype credit or buying ebooks here and there. So let’s say I could be up to £100 out at most, but I’d be surprised if it was even half of that.

 

A word on the cost of full-time travel

When I compared the daily spending average of this trip to the month I obsessively kept track of for a baseline idea of what my life costs (September 2014), I found it was almost exactly the same. The costs I kept track of included all rent and usual bills aside from my US student loan payments, which I also kept out of this trip’s cost within trail wallet, but saving for 4 months payments was a big part of the challenge of saving for this trip – it added £1200 to the cost of things.

The point is, it costs pretty much the same to live while traveling that is costs to live in Edinburgh. And I know the traveling would cost even less if I hadn’t moved so fast.

It’s nice to see proof that it’s affordable, so if you’re the sort who has a location independent job already, you could definitely take it on the road. But I will not tell you it’s easy to work on the road, and unless you want a whole lot of extra stress, I wouldn’t recommend the digital nomad life if you don’t already have the job you’re going to do before you set off. It’s just as hard to find work wherever you are, and unreliable WiFi connections are more common than not.

I’m not saying any of that is impossible, but it’s also not as breezy as some travel bloggers make it out to be. It’s also not for me.

Breakdown

fullpiechartThe categories are as close an approximation I could get to what the money was actually spent on. For example, a lot of hostels included breakfast, but those costs are still filed under accommodation. Any gifts I bought for Couchsurfing hosts are also filed under accommodation.

Drinks includes all alcohol bought on its own as well as coffee or other random drinks during the day (coconuts!) All water is filed under health. If I bought a beer or glass of wine with dinner, it stayed in the food cost.

Miscellaneous includes gifts, postcards, and various clothes and supplies I needed along the way.


Food £876.82 20%
Transport £1309.18 30%
Entertainment £525.89 12%
Accommodation £538.68 13%
Miscellaneous £141.66 3%
Drinks £222.84 5%
Health £475.96 11%
Visas £247.49 6%

Daily averages

Entire trip: £45.19 per day


Europe 7 days £129.78*
Russia 23 days £36.46
Mongolia 5 days £66.60**
China 19 days £49.02
Vietnam 14 days £22.78
Cambodia 17 days £24.83
Thailand 10 days £56.68***

 

*Includes all my first aid kit stuff and various other bits, but the week in Europe WAS incredibly pricey, thanks to going via Scandinavia.

**High because I basically paid for a private guide as I had no one to split the cost with.

***Deceptively high because of The Big Bang. Thailand was cheaper than Cambodia in terms of food, hostels, and entertainment. And the cost of staying at a resort and dancing all weekend was actually pretty low compared to what it would be in Europe.

Resources

Not an exhaustive list, but the most important and heavily used

Websites

Seat 61
The train bible. This guy is a legend. His suggestion for a planning spreadsheet is also something that helped me immensely.

Legal Nomads
Jodi has a travel prep resource page that is second to none and covers everything you need to think of before you go. She also answered my questions about eating street food in Vietnam with a shellfish allergy, which was super helpful.

Too Many Adapters
I got a lot of my tech advice and ideas from TMA. It also has great reviews of all sorts of gadgets you may be thinking of buying for a trip.

Real Russia
Helped organise some of my rail tickets, provided visa support, and answered all of my related questions. They are fantastic and highly recommended.

Travel bloggers of the world
Numerous travel blogs found through Google searches on various different locations. I couldn’t possibly list them all, but I can tell you that if your Google-fu is strong, you can find info on any travel destination on this earth because of the lovely people who write about their adventures (and misadventures).

Apps

xe.com
Currency converter. Could not live without.

Google Maps
Using offline areas (which stopped working or were unavailable in some places).

Galileo
Offline vector maps.

Trail Wallet
Budget tool extraordinaire!

Whatsapp and FB Messenger
For WiFi messaging and sanity. Whatsapp also works in China without a VPN!

Wechat
If you’re going to be in China you pretty much need to get Wechat. Everyone uses it, and it’s also your gateway into a lot of the free WiFi available.

Skype
With Skype-Out credit for uber-cheaply calling friends, family, and on at least one occasion, my bank in the UK.

Google Translate
I used this mostly in Russia, where the instant offline photo translate was super useful for reading signs and menus.

Couchsurfing
For some absolutely lovely local experiences and accommodation.

Booking.com
How I booked most of my hostels. Although if I’d known about Agoda sooner, I’d have maybe gone with that because it lets you pay in advance by card.

Trello
For planning and pre-trip to-do and packing lists. Also how I organise most of my normal life.

My tech and data safeguard arsenal

Crashplan
Every time I was connected to WiFi, crashplan automatically updated my cloud backup. This meant I worried a lot less about my computer being stolen or destroyed because I knew all my actual stuff was safe.

Find My iPhone
Set up in iCloud before I left for both my phone and my computer. More peace of mind knowing I could immediately wipe either if they were lost or stolen (and include a snarky message to the thief should I so choose).

Flickr Uploadr
I took a lot of pictures and I did not want to lose them! Again, every time I was connected to WiFi and the Uploadr detected new images on my computer, it automatically loaded them to my Flickr pro account privately, so I was never in danger of losing any photos I’d put on my computer (and I was pretty good about doing this daily).

ExpressVPN
On both my computer and my phone, for safeguarding data when using banking, email, etc. Also got me under the wall in China whenever I had a strong enough connection.

Google Drive
Used to store copies of all important travel docs and my itinerary plan sheet. These were also shared with my parents and friends in the UK for emergencies.

Dropbox
Further backup for documents, as well as sharing photos with fellow travelers along the way.

Avast
Free anti-virus software to keep the computer squeaky clean.

And finally

This site is proudly powered by WordPress and hosted on Siteground, with a beautiful theme designed by Anders Norén.

This will be the last post for a while as I regroup and figure out what the future of this blog is (if it has one) or if I’ll start a new project. I have kept this up for nearly two years and it has been an adventure in itself. This kind of consistent writing is an exercise in serious self-discipline. It is incredibly hard work (but rewarding!) and it’s been really good for me. I’m at least as proud of myself for sticking with it as I am for completing such a bonkers trip.

So, know that I will be doing SOMETHING eventually, I just don’t know what yet, and I think I’ve earned a bit of a break in the meantime.