Here's the Actual Cost of a Solo Trip Around the World

For every trip I embark upon I prepare a pre-trip budget that I use to compare with my actual costs in my post-trip recap. I always get a little nervous when I start going through my credit card statements and receipts wondering if I’ve overspent. Though I did go over the $30,000, or $600 per day, trip budget goal, it was not by much. Peruse this blog post and get an idea of what a solo around the world 50-day trip to seven destinations staying at five star hotels and flying business class internationally should cost.

Before I go into the actual cost breakdown a little background info is warranted. For over twenty years I have wanted to take a trip around the world. I tried to get my husband to take this kind of trip with me numerous times but never could convince him it would be worth the money. I made up my mind to experience a solo journey like this two years ago and started to do some serious destinations and cost research.

There were several wonderful luxury excursions by leading tour operators such as National Geographic and Abercrombie and Kent that were three weeks in length with of a cost range of $85,900-$151,500 for the solo traveler. While I knew these would be fabulous trips flying on a private chartered aircraft, staying at luxurious hotels and having extremely knowledgeable guides throughout, I couldn’t justify the cost.

My next problem solving step was to put together a list of destinations I wanted to travel to and start doing my own cost research and create a pre-trip budget to see if I could accomplish my goal, an affordable luxury "Around the World" (ATW) trip. I targeted places that I had never traveled to before which had very favorable currency conversion rates to the US dollar. The seven destinations I chose were Lisbon, Marrakesh, and Cairo with a river cruise down the Nile, Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, Bangkok and Hanoi.

To further save money, my 50-day journey was taken during the off season when airline and hotel rates are discounted and you don’t have to experience the peak season high tourist traffic that can make traveling and sightseeing less pleasurable. 

The total trip cost came in at $32,868 or $657 per day, which was not too shabby considering two issues that drove the cost up which I will explain later in this blog post. The base cost of the trip without shopping, my biggest overspending challenge, was roughly $25,000 or $500 per day. I added and extra $3,000 for shopping to the original budget, which drove up the total trip cost, estimated to be $28,000 or $560 per day.

As you can see the only category that came in under budget was food and drink. Likewise, the pre-trip expenses were virtually the same. My shopping budget was thrown out of whack by two large shopping purchases, a $750 Moroccan rug for my daughter and a beautiful gold, diamond framed Egyptian cartouche necklace costing $1,800.

I couldn’t resist either of these two purchases. They were both one of a kind items that will be treasured and enjoyed. These two items added $2,550 to the total trip cost. No regrets here! I spent $2,385 on clothes purchases and roughly $430 on souvenirs and small gift items totaling $2,815 without the added rug and cartouche expense of $2,550.Grand total shopping costs were roughly $5,375. Once again, it could have been a lot worse if I hadn’t watched my spending throughout the trip.

An unforeseen event occurred on the trip which I consider to be the first real trip disaster that I had ever experienced in my 45 years of travel. As I went to check in with Emirates Air to fly to Mumbai the attendant said there was a problem with my Indian visa that I had done online. We tried to solve the issue quickly but that was not to be. I learned it would take five days to fix the error. Consequently, I made a hard decision to forego Mumbai because I would only be there now for two days. I decided to fly to Singapore instead, a destination which turned out to be one of my favorites on the ATW trip. 

This “faux pas” set me back $712 for loss of one night’s hotel and the flight to Mumbai from Abu Dhabi expense and $1,927 for a one way ticket I had to purchase immediately with SriLanken Airlines to Singapore, ouch! All total my trip incident drove the ATW trip cost up by $2,639. I hated to have to face this reality but I could either stay in Abu Dhabi for another week or fly directly to Bangkok and stay there for 2 weeks. Neither of these options were appealing to me. I set a goal of traveling to seven different destinations that I had never been to before and I decided to roll with the punches and head to Singapore, which was still on my travel bucket list.

Ultimately, $5,375 for shopping and $2,639 totaling roughly $8,000 drove the ATW trip cost over the base budget of $25,000. As I shared I added another $3,000 for my shopping habit and felt if the trip came in at around $28,000 I would be elated but knowing me I upped it to $30,000 as tops and, lo and behold, this is what occurred less the Mumbai debacle costs!

I am a firm believer in crafting a written pre-trip budget. For whatever reason, when I write things on paper whether it’s my daily to do list or a trip budget, I tend to make it happen as written! Likewise, I strongly believe diligent trip budgeting is a great practice which educates the solo traveler to what a trip is likely to cost and thus, helps you decide whether to take the trip, save money in order to experience the excursion or shows you what you need to set aside from your savings to make it happen. If you know how much your daily expenditures should run, you will keep closer tabs on how much you are spending each day which will ultimately help you avoid racking up large credit card debt that you will have to face when you get home.

Last, I always do a post trip cost evaluation of my journey for several important reasons: to document what the trip actually cost, to determine if I spent my money wisely and to determine whether the trip was worth the expenditure. Focusing on the money aspect of travel is never fun but it is essential. Most solo travelers want to spend their money prudently when traveling. Develop the practice of trip budgeting and you will be well on your way to acquiring travel financial wisdom.

Let me know if this blog post has been helpful. I value all comments and questions on this topic.   

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