This is a summary (with some details) of all our expenses for 2019. We spent the first 3 months in the west coast town of Langebaan, South Africa and then the remainder of the year travelling around Asia. You should keep in mind that if one travels at a slower pace it's easier to make savings as especially transportation can eat into your budget quickly. This budget report is a true reflection of our Total Annual Expenditure. For our travel only related budget report, see our 2019 Yearly Travel Budget Report (281 nights). Many further cost savings are indeed possible, but one should also not completely deprive oneself of uniquely local experiences that ultimately add value to your visit to a foreign country. However, more often than not, the events, encounters and connections with people that stand out, are those that you do not foresee or could even have planned for. Like most things in life, a balance between being frugal and making use of opportunities should be sought.
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During 2019, we spent time in a total of 8 different countries and slept in a total of 51 different beds! This budget report is for the 2019 calendar year. Four of the countries we visited were new to us, while we have visited the two countries of Malaysia and Indonesia before, and chose to return to explore further. We spent the first 3 months of the year in South Africa and started our travels by visiting a friend in the United Arab Emirates. We also have individual budget reports for each country we visited.
United Arab Emirates
South Korea (new)
This budget report includes all expenses, both travel-related as well as all other overhead annual expenses.
We slept in a total of 51 different beds over the 365 days of 2019! Our average cost of accommodation per night came to $23 per night for both of us.
We found that accommodation for two people sharing for under $30 per night is fairly easily doable. If you want to spend less than $25 per night for two people, then you may need to consider accommodation without a private en-suite bathroom and may even need to consider hostel rooms in some countries. If you are prepared to spend over $30 per night, you will have a much wider variety of accommodation to choose from.
We book all our accommodation via one from the following service providers:
Our minimum requirement for accommodation is a double bed room with private en-suite bathroom and with air conditioning at the very least in the bedroom. These vary from extremely basic to some very luxurious VIP suite rooms. For longer stays, we try to find apartments with full kitchen facilities and if possible also laundry facilities. Most of our accommodation included free wifi, although the usability of this wifi varies from country to country. For more details and examples of our accommodation for 2019, see our 2019 Yearly Travel Budget Report (281 nights).
We generally try to eat like and with the locals. Many people wonder just how expensive is it to eat while travelling. We spent an average of $14.50 per day for the two of us for all food, snacks, drinks and alcohol.
Our most expensive country for food was South Korea, where we spent $20 per day. This included trying a fair amount of new local foods from street markets but did not include any restaurant meals (which are significantly more expensive) and also involved us preparing most breakfasts and about half of our dinners ourselves in our apartment-style accommodations. We did not consume much alcohol while in South Korea, only the occasional beer.
We found the cheapest country for food to be the Philippines, where we spent an average of only $13 per day. Here we ate very much as the locals do, with the exception of making our own breakfast when and where we could. In comparison, the daily cost included a few more beers compared to South Korea, but the food was also a lot more simplistic.
We found that if you are prepared to stay out of western-style restaurants and eat like and with the locals, most countries were very affordable. Alcohol can be extremely expensive in some countries, and you may need to cut alcohol entirely to be able to stick to a tight budget. Even when we do enjoy a drink, we try to choose affordable options of beer and sometimes gin and tonic, and steer clear of more expensive alternatives such as cocktails.
Without any alcohol or treats, and only eating local, you could definitely save a dollar or two a day. We do believe that our budget is a fair balance between frugal, nutritious and still enjoyable! However, if you choose to eat western and prefer to sit in a restaurant, be prepared to more than double the budget!
We took the following international flights during 2019:
Cape Town, South Africa - Dubai, UAE
Dubai, UAE - Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei, Taiwan - Busan, South Korea
Jeju, South Korea - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Langkawi, Malaysia - Denpasar, Indonesia
Denpasar, Indonesia - Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo - Coron, Philippines
Manila, Philippines - Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Our annual medical expenses include, amongst other costs, annual cover from World Nomads. If you’re considering full-time travel, be sure to do the necessary research for the most suitable product for you.
We also spent about $250 on travel vaccinations during 2019. Although it’s not practical to prepare and protect yourself from every possible scenario, we do believe that there is merit in obtaining some vaccinations when travelling to certain destinations.
Our transportation category includes all transportation costs within each country. We spent an average of $5 per day on transportation. This includes all internal flights, trains, buses, ferries, taxis, scooter rental and fuel. You should keep in mind that we travel at a fairly slow pace which allows us to reduce our average daily cost of transportation.
The most expensive country to get around was by far The Philippines, with an average cost of just over $9 per day. One should also consider that we travelled fairly slowly and that most people visiting The Philippines would move around faster which would significantly increase their average daily transportation cost.
We found Malaysia to be the cheapest country to get around, with our daily transportation cost averaging to only $3 over the 70 days that we spent there. Penang was, in particular, a very cheap destination with so many free transportation options available which resulted in us spending less than $0.50 per day on average over our 28 days spent there.
Our insurance category includes personal insurance such as dread disease cover and all-risk insurance. We also had a few months of vehicle insurance while in South Africa. It also includes all banking fees and related finance charges.
ELECTRONICS & SHOPPING
This category includes any electronics, gadgets and other shopping items purchased during the year. Some of our purchases for 2019 were:
Osmo Pocket & Accessories
Tripod & Selfie Stick
New Laptop Screen
SIGHTSEEING & ACTIVITIES
We generally try to stay away from very touristy places and prefer to explore independently where and when possible. That being said, we travel for the experience and there are often touristy experiences which simply can’t be missed. This includes entry fees and excursions and only excludes extreme / disproportionately expensive activities such as scuba diving. It was very interesting to us to see just how much sightseeing costs vary from country to country. You can see this reflected in our 2019 Yearly Travel Budget Report (281 nights).
The country with the cheapest sightseeing was by far Taiwan, where we didn’t spend a single cent on sightseeing and yet saw so many incredibly beautiful places. Well done Taiwan, this is truly something to be proud of!
The country with the most expensive sightseeing was by far Cambodia, where we spent an average of $9.50 per day. This is largely due to the disproportionately expensive entry fee to the Angkor Wat Temple Complex. We each purchased the 3 day pass which costs $62 per person! This is, however, one of the most incredible places to visit in the world and we do recommend it!
This is our one travel extravagance and spoil! We try to go scuba diving whenever we are in a popular scuba diving location. In 2019 we scuba dived in the following places:
GENERAL & TRAVEL MISCELLANEOUS
Our "General" category includes everyday expenses like toiletries, medical, laundry & small shopping items. In 2019, we purchased a Travel Water Filter, which was not only a great investment travelling across Asia, it also greatly reduced the number of single-use plastics bottles that we had to purchase. This category also includes VISA or VISA Extension costs.
Although our clothing contribute a very small percentage of the budget, it did include new running shoes for both of us. We quickly learnt that using the same pair of shoes every day takes its toll on the longevity of such shoes!
We have a few annual web subscriptions, such as Google Storage, Netflix, Photo Editing software and website hosting.
CELLPHONE & DATA
Being very dependent on data for getting around and rather heavy data user generally, this is one of the first things we investigate when staying in a country for a period of time. We usually each purchase a local SIM Card and then load data as required. Although WiFi is usually available in most countries these days, it is not always that reliable. We spent an average of $1 per day for both of us to always be connected. Data was the cheapest in Malaysia, where we only spent an average of $0.30 per day. We found The Philippines to be the most expensive with regards to data costs with an average cost of $1.45 per day. This was largely due to the poor WiFi available in The Philippines which resulted in a higher reliance on personal cell phone data.