OK team. Here it is. The final look and cost analysis of the trip. As I write this, our minds are still on the road, but our bodies are getting used to the idea of settling down again. We have actually been home for weeks – long enough to be ready to close the deal on a home purchase tomorrow afternoon. The kids are registered for school – actual school – for the first time in 6 years. I guess our wanderlust started with a job that we saw as an opportunity to road-school our kids across the USA. For two years we caravan’d to job locations in Memphis, Chicago, Central New York, LA, and all points in-between. Jump ahead to September 2015, and the idea of taking our road-schooling overseas became a reality.
As we got off the final plane (after a Prague-Oslo-Boston-Nashville blur of a ride home), we were welcomed by our smiling family. It was the weirdest happy/sad feeling I have ever experienced. All told, we spent 223 days on the road. We saw places we had always dreamed of visiting. We spent weeks in cities we never knew existed. We laughed. We fought. We fought through. At this moment we are under a boil-order due to a busted water main, and had not had running water for the prior 24 hours. One of the kids said, “Nepal Mode”. No one complained or missed a beat. I can’t tell you how proud I am that my children can adapt so quickly. I am even more proud about the empathy they have developed for those less fortunate in the world that we can all now visualize – some of whom we know by name.
Anyway, the purpose of this page is supposed to be the budget, so let’s get into it. Behold the final tally:
We made a late decision to switch our final destination from Istanbul to Prague. After checking in back home, we also decided to extend the trip an extra 11 days. As you will see in a moment, Prague came in at $156 per day for the family. So the extra 11 days should have put us $1716 over budget. Coming in at only $1350 over gives me a special kind of geeky pleasure. It’s OK if you don’t understand.
The next visual is how the budget progressed over the course of the trip. If you’re a graph decoder, you’ll notice how the climb is pretty steep from days 1-79, then it flattens out until about day 145, then gets steep again.
And here’s why… I really think the graph below is the real value of the entire spend-tracking exercise. You can see how each location stacks up in direct comparison. It’s direct because the cost of getting there is stripped away. In other words, once you get there, it really does only cost $19 per person per day to enjoy Ganh Do, Vietnam. I have often told people since our return how cheap long-term travel can be. I’ll help you with the math. Overall, it’s $41 per person per day to tour the places we stayed. So for 1 full year (AKA 142 days LONGER than our outing), living expenses would have been $15,000 per person. If you add in transportation, it was $52 per day, totaling under $19,000 for a full year on the road. And an even more enticing nugget is this: Stay in Southeast Asia, and the total is between $7,000 and $10,000. FOR A YEAR. Let that sink in as you compare it to the day-to-day in your current setup. I will spend more in one year on my new mortgage alone (for a very small home in rural Mississippi), than it would take for me to live anywhere in Southeast Asia – including eating out 3 meals a day, seeing the sights, riding local transport, and usually with a beach or mountain view.
So. If you have ever wondered if you should take that trip or experience that exotic location… If you have ever wished that your view of the Himalayas was a bit more panoramic… If you have asked yourself what those amazing flowers in photos actually smell like… or authentic Phở tastes like (FWIW – add the lime and chilies 🙂 ), or a happy rescued elephant’s trunk feels like… I believe you can. Check out these numbers as a rough guide and endeavor to make it happen. I know it can be hard. I know we are blessed. But I also know that we saved for 15 years before we could put a trip like this together, and we did it. We are so glad we did.
To my fellow number-crunchers out there, an in-depth and detailed scoop on all our expenses is at the link below. Message me if you would like the spreadsheet. I promise not to tell everyone that you’re one of those people. – ALaff