How much does it cost to travel for a year?

This is a question I get the most from people. I was equally curious before starting my travel for a year. Although there is no definite answer to it, this post hopefully would help you come to a close estimate at least for the continent I went to travel for a year.

  • Countries where I went to travel for a year: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala (In that order)
  • Time spent on the road: 365 days
  • Money spent: INR 575K (USD 8900 ) This is the closest number I could come to looking at my bank statements.
  • Travel Style: Budget travel mostly hitchhiking, buses (cheapest), Couchsurfing, volunteering in hostels, dormitories, cooking my meals

This magic number that everyone had been asking me about – Rs. 5,75,000 is inclusive of EVERYTHING including a short trip to Dwarkadheesh (Gujarat) in India, two trips to Delhi for Visa. I took my bank statements and summed up all debit starting Nov 2016 until 20th Nov 2017 as I used only one card during this time.

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The map that I drew with my sole is for keeps

I had maintained a notebook for all my expenses that had details of every penny I spent on the road but it was in my bag the day I got robbed so I lost all that data and now I can only rely on my bank statements.

Rough break-up:

Flight from Mumbai to Sao Paolo and back: INR 93000 (USD 1443)

With all the memories flashing in my head, I could barely sleep on my return flight

My recommendation would be to travel with a one-way ticket if you have no plans or plan to travel for a year and of course have resources to do that. But if you are on leave and have a fixed holiday schedule then it’s best to book a return ticket.

Also, Sao Paolo is the cheapest city to fly to from India if you intend to enter South America

Best connections to look for- From Mumbai or Bangalore to Sao Paolo or Bogota.

Visas: INR 55000 (USD 850)

This Includes Brazil Visa, Chile Visa, Peru Visa (USD 40, No more required if you have valid US Visa. The rule changed when I had already left the country), Colombian Visa (USD 134, This is not required if you have valid US Visa), US Visa two times as I had to apply for a fresh Visa after getting robbed.

If you’re traveling with a passport that lets you travel to these countries Visa free (Almost everyone I met on the road had a passport that allowed them to just show up without having to think about Visas) then you would save on nearly Rs. 55,000 ($850). Apart from these expenses there comes many other tiny expenses that build up like for Peru and Chile Visa I had to travel to New Delhi from Mumbai as they don’t have embassies in Mumbai. Apart from travel expenses, there were documents to be printed, scanned, photos to be taken in foreign countries as well. All together Visas cost more Rs. 55,000.

New Passport: INR 15000 ($230)

If you are not as unfortunate as me with losing things then you might not have to apply for a new passport in a foreign land. 

New backpack: INR 11000 ($165)

This was my first big trip and I had no idea what kind of backpack to choose. I had seen many videos but there’s no teacher like the road. Within a month of traveling, my backpack’s strap gave up. I had to stitch it while sitting in a park in Argentina.

It was getting more difficult with each day to travel with that bag so I bought a new one in Mexico. A bag that I had grown to appreciate and couldn’t stop thinking about since I tried it in a store in Ecuador.

I’m now a proud owner of Osprey Exos 48 lt.

I like to accessorize it a little bit

New Phone: INR 16000 (USD 245)

After getting robbed in Bogota of my day bag which had my camera, phone, passport, debit cards among other things, I was in a fix whether to replace phone and camera or not. I spent two months without any phone or camera but as soon as I started traveling again I realized it’s going to very difficult without a phone. I needed to know where am I and where am I headed through maps at least.
I couldn’t afford a camera so I instead bought the cheapest phone I could with international warranty and a decent inbuilt camera.

Money spent on the road: Approximately INR 3,85,000 (USD 6000)

Which makes my per day budget of around $16.3. However this by no means could translate into, budget = number of days you wish to travel * 16.3

This includes all my buses, flights (except the one to and from India), hostels, souvenirs, everything.

Can you do it for less money? Yes.

But, do I recommend it? No.

When you are traveling to another part of the world, you don’t want to miss out on certain experiences like if you have made it to Peru would you not want to go to Machu Picchu? (I know people who didn’t and were completely fine with it but this is just an example) or if you’re in Bolivia, would you be okay not going to Salar de Uyuni? These experiences would cost more than a regular day’s budget. While hiking alone is peaceful but it is not feasible all the time. Some places require you to take an organized tour.

I traveled with very little money towards the end of my trip and it was getting more stressful with each passing day. Like when I got to know of the exit fee in Mexico ($27), it upset me so much.

But I would also say if your travel is a healing mechanism then just leave. Go where your heart desires with whatever money you have saved and the light will shine on you.

Did I miss any important aspect of costs?

21 thoughts on “How much does it cost to travel for a year?”

    • My return flight which was around USD 540 was booked by someone else but I do have the money now to return him however I intend to use my money for traveling in India and return the loan as soon as I get a job.
      Apart from this I paid for everything with my savings. The only money I made on the road was by selling a bag I had received as remuneration for a photoshoot I did. I earned around Rs. 3500 from that.
      My next post is going to be on how did I manage to save this money and also how did I keep the costs to $16 a day.

  1. Wow lovely. Commendable the way u did all this on ur own. Getting visas to countries wasn’t difficult as u were not working? How did u manage that? Out bag and still managed seriously great. Would love to read more about ur whole experience do share soon. Yes Money saving technique also want to know about that.

    • Hey, to be honest it really was difficult to get the Visas. I was often asked for crazy documents like day to day itinerary, For Peru I got all of 20 days in the country, For Argentina I had to go to embassy three days in a row, and a lot of other skeptical reactions. I could have chosen not to mention that I’m quitting but I wanted to experience the process they way it is. I was working until Oct end 2016.

  2. Manisha,

    Spending 365 days in a foreign land travelling in diffrent countries with a limited budget is not an easy task and requires lots of mental strength and courage. Kudos to you. Keep travelling and keep spreading happiness.

  3. I’m happy to have stumbled on this post. To be honest, many travel bloggers write stuff which is not practical and I’m not sure but looks like they write things just to garner attention. I come across blogs with title like how to travel the world with US$ *** Your post is practical and sane. There’s not much info on travel to SA from Indian perspective. Great write up!

    • I would say there’s so much content created everyday that the ones giving a realistic picture (By that I mean for people who are traveling with their savings) gets lost in the crowd.
      I did realize the lack of content from Indian perspective and that’s why I continue to document everything as I see the importance of doing it. I’m glad people like you find use in it 🙂

      • Manisha, you are right. Problem is that content created by real travelers is buried deep inside google pages where as shallow content dominates top search results. I have realised that there are great travelers and bloggers around but we have to search around. 😊👍

  4. Even with less than adequate mathematical skills, understood the expenditure management but you have displayed another skill, manage for the unforeseen.


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