Tips, Tools, and Tracking Spending for a RTW Travel Budget

In previous posts I wrote about how much we have budgeted for a year of round-the-world travel and the tricks we use to stick to that budget on a daily basis. For me, the most fundamental piece of adhering to a travel budget is to know how much I am spending. Joe and I track all of our spending. We use the app Trabee which allows us to track our expenses and converts the foreign currency transactions into USD. We record every. single. expense. in Trabee. We are those people who are crunching numbers on our phones before making a purchase to ensure it won’t put us over our budget for the day. We are also those people who get our phones out after buying every little thing to record it. There is no transaction too small to be recorded; that 30 cent drink or 50 cent bus ride is getting recorded immediately.

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My Favorite Credit Card for RTW Travel

Although it may seem counterintuitive, credit cards are a huge part of the way we survive as budget backpackers. Many years ago, I was introduced to the concept of “travel hacking”, which is basically signing up for credit cards that give you airline, hotel, or travel points. Most of the points come as sign-up bonuses for spending a certain amount, but I also accrue points by earning 1-5 points per dollar spent in my daily life.

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(Hitch)Hiking in Transylvania’s Mountains

We took a day trip from Brasov to go hiking in Piatra Craiului National Park. We caught the 9am train from Brasov to Zarnesti, a small town on the edge of the National Park. The train departs every two hours and costs roughly $1 per person. The train shuttles between Brasov and Zarnesti every hour and the journey takes 45 minutes.

On the train from Brasov to Zarnesti

Zarnesti’s train station is on the edge of town, which meant we had to walk all the way through Zarnesti to reach the National Park. We stopped in at the visitor’s center, mostly because I had to pee and the train station did not have a bathroom, but also to pick up a trail map since the internet actually provided very little information about how to go hiking in the park.

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How We Stick to Our Round-the-World Travel Budget

In my last post I talked about our budget for a year of round-the-world travel, which is $50 per day per person, and how we arrived at that number. $18,250 per year may sound like a lot of money, but it goes fast when we only have $50 a day to cover lodging, food, transport, flights, excursions, sightseeing, toiletries, and incidentals. In this post, I will describe some of the tricks we use to save or manage our money so we can stick to our RTW backpacking budget. For some of these points I will go into more detail in future posts, but for now here is a brief overview of how we save money on the road.

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How Much I’m Spending on RTW Travel

We are a little over 6 months into what started as a year-long, round-the-world journey from where we were living in Australia back to our permanent homes in the United States. You may have been keeping up with our travels and seen us lounging on beaches in Malaysia, drinking liters of fine wine in Europe, and staying in resorts in Fiji, and thought, “Those trust fund bitches…”

This is the face of a budget backpacker

Actually, no. Our budget for a year of travel through Australia, Southeast Asia, India, Dubai, and Europe is $50 per day (per person), which includes everything: accommodation, food, transport, activities, excursions, flights, toiletries, alcohol, souvenirs, and incidentals.

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The Cost of a Perfect Day in Langkawi, Malaysia

Today Joe and I had the day off work from the hostel on Langawki Island, Malaysia, where we clean and do reception duties in exchange for room and board. We only work about three hours a day but the hours do fall right in the middle of the day, after one round of guests check out and before the next group checks in, so it can be a bit difficult to fit in a whole day’s worth of activities either before or after work. We had today all to ourselves so we wanted to have an adventure. There are many outdoor and watersport activities to do on Langkawi Island, but the tours and equipment rentals can be expensive and definitley add up. We are on a budget, hence working for our stay, so we wanted to explore Langkawi without spending a ton of money. Here’s what we did today and how much it cost us:

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