Travel Budgets

Here’s an estimation of cost for various parts of the world. We recognize that everyone has a different style of travel and each style costs different amounts of money. While some people might not be keen on a budget holiday or budgeting, long term travel requires us try to save money where we can. These are typical backpacking and budget travel estimates for those seeking cheap transportation, accommodation, and local dining. They are current as of January 2011. [PS- Want to save money on your next trip? Check out our editor's book, "How to Travel the World for $50 USD per day," which features detailed cost information, budget tips and advice as well as over $1000 USD in travel deals! Click here for more details!]

Western Europe
Average Cost Per Day- €60-70 (US$80-95)
Western Europe is expensive – there’s no way around it.  Hostels usually cost about €20 per night in a 10 bed dorm, though they can be a bit cheaper in Spain and Germany. If you prefer a smaller dorm or are in a big city such as Paris, you can expect to pay around €25 per night. Eating on a strict “sandwiches and bread roll budget” will cost about €10 per day, however a more realistic budget for food is about €20 per day. Transportation costs will generally be about €10 per day, and activities and sightseeing will add up to about €20 per day as well. If you cook all your own meals, stick to very large dorm rooms, avoid most paid attractions, and limit your partying, it is possible to live cheaper. And, if you stay with friends or Couchsurf and cook your own meals, Western Europe could cost you as little as €30 per day. Realistically, you’ll want to have some fun, so I suggest you budget more. A minimal budget of €45 per day is recommended if you are just eating and paying for accommodation, but who wants just that? Remember to budget for the extras as well.

Eastern Europe
Average Cost Per Day-€35 (US$48)
Eastern Europe is far cheaper than its western counterpart. Economic growth and integration with the EU has made these countries more expensive in recent years. However, they are still much cheaper than their European counterparts, especially with the current economic crisis affecting their currency valuations. Larger cities like Prague, Budapest, Sofia, and Dubrovnik tend to be more expensive as they are the more popular tourist destinations. However, much of Eastern Europe is still very cheap. Hostels usually cost around €12-15 per night, and food can cost will cost about €5-10 per day, depending how often you cook your own meals. Transportation is quite cheap, and drinking is even cheaper (you can often find €1 beers).

Average Cost Per Day- AU$80 (US$74)
Australia is surprisingly expensive, especially if you are out on the west coast. Hostels usually cost about AU$25-30 per night, and they may cost even more in bigger and more popular destinations. Transportation on the east coast is very cheap as there are numerous competing bus lines. You can travel up the coast from Sydney for only a few hundred dollars. The opposite is true on the west coast, where few bus services and a lack of a tourist infrastructure means that getting around is very expensive. Taking a bus from Perth to Broome will cost about AU$600.  The best way to get around the west coast and the center of the country is flying.  Prices for flights are often about the same or even cheaper than taking a bus. Alcohol in Australia is expensive as it is heavily taxed, and a cheap six-pack of beer will cost about AU$13 dollars.  The biggest expense here is the activities. There is so much to do that it will inevitably eat into your budget. Multi-day tours can cost about AU$200. Overall, if you like to party and want to do a lot of activities, you should budget around AU$80 per day.

New Zealand
Average Cost Per Day- NZ$85 (US$60)
New Zealand is a more expensive than Australia, as there are more activities to do there. This county is known for its natural landscape, expeditions, caving, and glacier trekking, and all of these activities can really add up. Hiring a car or campervan is one way to reduce accommodation expenses. As is the case with Australia, the tours will cost the most, and as the country is so rich with activities, this is where the bulk of your money will be spent.  Hostels cost about NZ$28 per night, cheap meals start at NZ$8, and sit down meals will probably cost about NZ$15.  A beer costs about NZ$7, so drinking will certainly eat into your budget. The adventure tours that are quite expensive, and most of them cost between NZ$75-150. While the decline of the NZ dollar has made the country cheaper, you should expect to spend a lot of money here, especially if you want to experience the outdoor activities.

United States
Average Cost Per Day- US$50-60
The United States is an expensive country, but it is easily manageable. Hostels cost around $20 dollars a night, however hostels are rare in this country outside major cities and a few national parks. Cheap motels are the primary alternative, and they cost about $35 per night. Cheap meals are around $5-6, and restaurants meals are generally $10+. Transportation can be expensive in the center of the country where buses and trains are infrequent, however on the east and west coasts, discount bus services offer cheap intercity fares for as little as $1. The best way to see the middle of the United States is to rent a car or go on organized tours. Also, you should be aware that most buses and trains do not go right to the entrances of many national parks. Drinking can be very expensive in big cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, and Boston, where beers typically cost $5-8 or more. Mixed drinks can be as high as $10, but in New York City, Las Vegas or Miami, it is likely that they will cost even more. Outside major cities, beer is typically $2-3 per bottle and mixed drinks cost around $5.

Central America
Average Cost Per Day- US$30-35
Though countries like Costa Rica and Belize are expensive by local standards, the rest of Central America is considered very cheap. Your cost of living in Costa Rica will be about US$35 per day, and in Belize, it will be about US$40. These are the more popular destinations, and therefore they tend to have more developed and expensive tourist industries. The other Central American countries are just starting to get on the map and are still quite cheap. You can expect to pay about $US15-20 dollars per day in countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Hostels in these countries cost at about US$8 per day, transportation costs only a few US dollars, and local meals never cost more than a few US dollars. If you travel slowly, you can travel through these countries very cheaply.

South America
Average Cost Per Day- US$30
Costs vary for each country in South America. The more expensive destinations will always be places like Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Santiago. However, most of the continent is still less expensive than a lot of the other continents. Hostels can vary greatly, so knowing what your needs are, whether it be a private room or if you are willing to share with other travelers, will help determine your costs.  It can be as cheap as US$8 per night or as much as US$35, depending on the occupancy and whether the bathroom is shared or not.  If your hostel has a kitchen, you can always save on food by cooking your own meals. However, good meal of the local specialty will cost about US$2-7 dollars, and it will almost always include a free after dinner drink. Transportation is also very cheap, as most taxis will take only cost between US$1-5. Bus rates in the city will rarely cost over US$1. Attractions such as museums and tours will be your biggest expense since they are priced for tourists. All-day tours and adventures can cost US$10-40, depending on how adventurous you want to get.  Museum admission is between US$3-5, if not free.

Southeast Asia
Average Cost Per Day- US$25
Southeast Asia is very cheap. If you really want to penny pinch, you can travel this part of the world for about US$15 per day. Singapore is the most expensive country in the region, and it is only slightly cheaper than the United States. However, the other countries in Southeast Asia are very cheap. In Thailand, you can live between $15-25 per day. Guesthouses cost as little as 150 baht ($4) for a room with a fan and about 300 baht ($10) for air conditioning. Eating local food will cost between 100-200 baht per day. Beer is typically 60 baht per bottle, and even less at 25 baht in a convenience store. On the islands surrounding Thailand, you will pay at least 500 baht per night for a decent bungalow, 2-3 baht per minute of Internet use, and about 80 baht or more for a meal. In Cambodia, ATMs distribute dollars and everything is “a dollar.” This can add up quite a bit if you eat and drink a lot while you’re traveling there. Rates for guesthouses start at $2, and hotels tend to cost around $8. Beer costs $1, cheap meals cost about a dollar, and expensive meals will cost $2-3 dollars. In Vietnam, everything is cheap except for accommodations. There are no guesthouses in Vietnam, just hotels, and rooms start around $4. Everything else is very cheap, with meals costing less than $1. Laos is also quite cheap, and prices are comparable to Cambodia.

Average Cost Per Day- US$20
India is an inexpensive place to travel. If you stay in cheap hotels, travel in 2nd class trains, and can learn to survive on daal and rice, you could travel through India on US$10 per day. However, if you prefer a few more comforts, like a private room with a bathroom, a varied diet, and occasional 1st class rail travel on long journeys, you will spend about US$20 per day. In tourist destinations like Goa and larger cities such as Mumbai and Delhi, you can expect to pay more. Single rooms roughly cost about Rs 100-400, and double rooms cost about Rs 200-600. Dining out in India is also cheap, with meals as little as Rs 40.

Average Cost Per Day- US$20
China is not as cheap as it once was. The most expensive destinations are the big cities on the eastern coast. Staying in hostels, traveling 2nd class, eating from street stalls or small restaurants, and not shopping expensively means that you could live on US$20 per day. Food has remained cheap throughout China, and you can eat for as little as US$5 per day. Traveling by train is cheap and air travel is expensive, but those with less time will find air travel great for covering vast distances.

East Asia
Average Cost Per Day- US$70
Japan is one country that is actually becoming cheaper to travel through because of the unstable economy. As always, cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto will be more expensive.  Hostels generally cost around US$30-40 per night, and entrance fees for most attractions cost about US$5. If you can live on only noodles, you can eat for practically nothing. Fish markets are be the best value, costing only a few dollars to sample several delicacies of the day’s catch. If you prefer a more familiar Western meal, there are always McDonald’s, and they cost about the same there as they do in the United States. Transportation will be your largest cost, as the bullet train is a bit expensive. Week-long passes for Japan Railways are available for purchase outside of Japan at a much lower rate, so its better to arrange that before you get into the country.

Average Cost Per Day- US$30
Taiwan is not very cheap, though it is cheaper than some of its neighboring countries. Guesthouse rates start at 300 NT per night, with a single room about 500 NT per night.  Meals at the night market are around 80 NT, and a meal at a restaurant will cost about 150 NT. Most of the activities in Taipei are free, but expect Taipei 101 to cost you about 400 NT. The train is about 25 NT per trip. The high-speed train around the country is expensive, and it can cost a few hundred NT, depending on where you are going. Overall, this country can be traveled cheaply, provided that you keep your meals cheap. Meals are probably the easiest way to go over your budget here, and you can easily find yourself spending 300 or more NT per meal if you are not careful.

Average Cost Per Day- US$60-70
Canada is a very large country, and getting between the major cities can be costly if you decide to fly. If you can tolerate a long bus ride, Greyhound buses go everywhere, and they offer passes for unlimited travel over a certain amount of days, called Discovery Passes.  The rates start at US$190 for seven days and US$475 for 30 days for. Hostels all across Canada cost about US$20-30 per night, and hotels cost between US$60-80 per night. Canada’s food culture is quite similar to the US, and the prices are similar as well, with meals costing about US$15-30 per day. In the French parts of Eastern Canada such as Quebec, you can expect to pay more for food, particularly in upscale restaurants. Canada’s best attractions are it’s natural beauty you can find in its glacial mountains and landmark Niagara Falls, all of which are free.

Average Cost Per Day- US$50-60
Hostels will cost about US$30-50, depending on amenities such as hot water and Internet access. You can also find protected camping sites for US$15 per night, and you can rent a tent for US$30. Food is fairly cheap, and you can eat at a small restaurant or vendor for as little as US$2. Most African travel is usually for wealthy travelers, and it is priced for those who can afford traveling to areas where structured tourism is not in place. Getting around is not an easy task, and you will need to hire a driver or rent a car. South Africa is the more popular destination, and a car rental there will cost about US$25 per day. Entrance to a national park or wildlife reserve will cost nearly US$100, but this is why you come to Africa, and it’s worth it.

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