How $10K Has Taken Me 15,000 Miles

While I have written update posts at monthly intervals of this trip, as I began my second week in Kiev, Ukraine, I realized that I hit two other milestones almost simultaneously: I spent almost exactly $10,000 while traveling almost exactly 15,000 miles.

$10,002.28 and 15,167 miles to be exact.

To some of you, that may sound like a lot.

To others, it may sound like a drop in the bucket.

Either way, for anyone who may be considering long-term travel or thinking about visiting any of these destinations, I thought I would provide a detailed overview of my travel budget so far.

I have broken things out into three sections:  international transportation, per country expenses and extras.

International Transportation



Flight, Chicago to Helsinki (used frequent flier miles) $89.31
Ferry, Helsinki to Tallinn $46.23
Bus, Tallinn to St. Petersburg $41.84
Overnight train, Moscow to Riga $177.07
Bus, Riga to Vilnius $21.62
Overnight bus, Vilnius to Warsaw $18.99
Overnight bus, Warsaw to Minsk $35.24
Overnight train, Minsk to Kiev $81.00




Per Country Expenses






Finland 3 $240.68 $80.23
Estonia 9 $562.02 $62.45
Russia 85 $5259.54 $61.88
Latvia 6 $348.17 $58.03
Lithuania 11 $347.21 $31.56
Poland 11 $504.53 $45.87
Belarus 11  $959.48  $87.23
Ukraine  8  $416.68  $52.08








  • Christmas presents & souvenirs shipped home: $264.12
  • Clothing (winter coat, boots, hat, gloves, scarf, hiking pants, long johns, jeans, sweaters): $519.27
  • Other: $68.68
  • Total: $852.07


$511.90 + $8,638.31 + $852.07 = $10,002.28


Of course, these numbers don’t tell the whole story, so here’s a further breakdown by country:


  • Accommodation:  $85.71 (3 nights hostel dorm)
  • Food: $29.21/day
  • Transportation: $17.43
  • Activities/entertainment: $49.89


  • Accommodation: $207.14 (4 nights hostel dorm, 3 nights guesthouse, 2 nights hotel)
  • Food: $23.80/day
  • Transportation: $46
  • Activities/entertainment: $71.90
  • Miscellaneous: $22.76


  • Visa expenses:  $447.27 (expedited invitation fee, visa fee, processing fees)
  • Geovisions volunteer program: $1,135.00 (included homestay & some meals for 43 days)
  • Other accommodation: $627.65 (17 nights hostel dorm; 2 nights hotel, 2 nights homestay, 9 nights in shared flat)
  • Food: $10.27 /day
  • Transportation (local): $240.09
  • Overnight trains: $516.22 (discount provided by Real Russia)
  • Overnight flight: $247.90
  • Activities/entertainment: $893.10 (includes 2 weeks of Russian language lessons, guide in Ulan Ude, excursion on Olkhon Island and hiking trip in Krasnoyarsk)
  • Phone: $21.16
  • Miscellaneous: $276.10


  • Accommodation: $177.22 (3 nights hotel, 3 nights hostel dorm)
  • Food: $11.02/day
  • Transportation: $17.95
  • Activities/entertainment: $71.43
  • Miscellaneous: $15.44


  • Accommodation: $77.52 (2 nights hotel provided by Vilnius Tourist Information Centre, 8 nights hostel dorm)
  • Food: $7.57 /day
  • Transportation: $91.86 (multiple day trips outside of Vilnius)
  • Activities/entertainment: $58.72
  • Miscellaneous: $35.80


  • Accommodation: $359.91 (6 nights hotel, 4 nights hostel dorm)
  • Food: $9.84 per day
  • Transportation: $2.26
  • Activities/entertainment: $24.03
  • Miscellaneous: $10.09


  • Visa expense: $157.46 (visa fee, mandatory insurance, agency processing fee)
  • Accommodation: $634 (10 nights hotel)
  • Food: $6.81/day
  • Transportation: $28.97
  • Activities/entertainment: $37.64
  • Internet: $4.26

Ukraine (through 8 days – I’m still here!)

  • Accommodation: $135.44 (8 nights homestay)
  • Food: $11.75/day
  • Transportation: $11.08
  • Activities/entertainment: $152.07 (1 week Russian language classes)
  • Internet/Phone: $11.89
  • Miscellaneous: $12.18


So there you have it – $10,000 and 15,000 miles, which includes 9 countries, 19 cities and 150 days!


What do you think? Did anything surprise you?

Photo: ciron810

27 thoughts on “How $10K Has Taken Me 15,000 Miles”

  1. Pingback: It’ll All Work Out In The End…But Still! | Trail*Licious

  2. Just wondering if you’ve budgeted a “re-entry” financial cushion for when you come back?

    I’m struggling with do I leave now (I have the money) or do I save up more and leave in a year with a year’s worth of cushion?

    Based on your expenses, I think I’m going to be shocked on my trip!

    1. I have budgeted a re-entry cushion for a few months, although I plan to initially stay with my parents until I find a job so my expenses won’t be huge. I also plan to start job hunting before I actually return to the country to get a jump start on the process since I know how long hiring processes can take sometimes.

      Don’t be too scared off by my numbers – I started off with some very pricey places. If you’re doing SE Asia or South America, your expenses may be much less.

      If you have the money to leave now, I would say go for it. It’s hard to say you’ll ever get to the point where you’re entirely comfortable with your cushion. At some point I think you just have to trust things will work out.

      1. Very cool – thanks! I’m doing Argentina/Chile, SE Asia, Turkey and southern Africa. Although I am planning on Antarctica too (hello pricey). I have a feeling I’ll be leaving sooner rather than later and will figure out ways to stretch my budget as I go along!
        Love reading your posts!

    1. Thanks Jeremy. I think the biggest thing was doing the Geovision volunteer program in Russia – that kept my costs in St Petersburg and Moscow down to a fraction of what they would’ve been otherwise. The discount I got from Real Russia for my Trans Sib tickets helped a bunch as well and in a few places where I have stayed in a hostel for close to a week or more, I negotiated discounted rates.

  3. That’s about 5 months, isn’t it? Sounds like you did really well with your budgeting…those are relatively inexpensive places to travel to aren’t they? If we ever do a year of travel again I’d love to go to some cheaper places – we had hardly any and spent a small fortune.

    1. Yep, just under 5 months. Russia and Finland were probably the most expensive places I’ll go, but the others have been really cheap – especially compared to western Europe.

  4. S10k for all that time and travel seems like a pretty good deal to me!

    Thanks for taking the time to break it down, really helpful. Of course, that’s why you have got so far, writing things down really helps to budget properly.*

    * which is exactly why I’m so bad at budgeting 😉

  5. I’m surprised that Finland and Belarus look fairly expensive compared to the other countries you’ve visited. I guess I always assumed Belarus would be really cheap, but I suppose I don’t have anything to back up that assumption. 🙂

    1. Scandinavia is pretty expensive in general. In Helsinki, a bed in a 10 person hostel dorm was around $30. My food costs were higher there too because they had a lot of gluten free products available, which was great, but they are more expensive than regular items.

      For Belarus, the bulk of the expense was in the visa and the fact that I had to stay in hotels (they really don’t have hostels and to get my visa invitation I had to pre-book all of my hotel stays through an agency). My hotel in Minsk was more than usual because I was there over the Russian holidays and my first choice (cheaper) hotel was already booked and the one I was at was charging higher than usual rates that week. Everything else was dirt cheap – a metro ride in Minsk was about 10 cents and my intercity bus and trains were about $8-10 (for 4-6 hour rides between cities!). My wifi access, which was by prepaid card, came out to about 30 cents an hour.

  6. I’ve always heard Ukraine is quite cheap — looks like your experience confirms this as well. I look forward to hearing about your time in Turkmenistan! How much longer do you plan to travel, and do you have a budget you have to stick to (or would like to … ) for the rest of the trip?

    1. Right now am planning to be on the road through about August. I do have a budget going forward that I hope to stick to – I should actually spend less in the next 7 months than I did in the first 5 since I got the pricey countries out of the way first. Will also likely have 2 very inexpensive volunteer experiences that should keep my costs down.

  7. I always appreciate detailed cost posts such as these – it really helps to see it laid out by someone who keeps much better track of their expenses than me! Considering where you’re traveling isn’t exactly the cheapest part of the world, I’d say you’re doing okay!

    1. Thanks John! And yeah, for the most part I got the most expensive places out of the way first. My costs should go down from here, aside from the fact that I am splurging on a guide for Turkmenistan (required in order to get a tourist visa and stay more than 5 days).

  8. Ohhh, I love these stories – lets me know that I am closer to setting off, and that it can be done!
    Although, I am very impressed with your record keeping, which I am useless at! But the breakdown is a good lesson to see where the bigger expenses are.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Tash! I owe the record-keeping in part to getting an awesome spreadsheet template from Shannon with I just plug everything in at the end of each day and it’s all added up for me. 🙂

    1. Wow, interesting! The $89.31 actually also includes buying an extra 1500 miles because I was just slightly short of what I needed for a free one. It was w/ American Airlines for what it’s worth.

      As for travel insurance, I don’t have separate insurance because I am covered for property loss by my credit card company for anything I bought with that card (which is all my major expenses) and I have medical evacuation coverage through my worldwide health insurance. For this kind of trip, those would be my 2 biggest insurance concerns – not really concerned with trip cancellation or anything like that.

  9. Were there expenses “at home” during this time that would be worthwhile to include, or are things basically a wash with what you’re paid in rent for your place?

    1. No, it doesn’t include expenses back home. While the rent I received mostly covers my mortgage, I still pay for condo assessments, health insurance and condo insurance.

  10. I love posts like this with breakdowns of all indvidual costs! I’m shocked by how little you have spent compared with how much you have done.

    Just wondering – do you have a budget planned out? If so have you spent about what you expected – have there been any surprises for you?

    1. I do have a budget planned out. I am a bit over but I also started the trip with my most expensive countries. I didn’t originally plan to go to Finland, so all of that was extra. I went way over in Russia, but have pretty much been on or under budget since then.

      The biggest things I didn’t account for when I planned my budget were the intangibles – replacing toiletries, getting things fixed (the zipper on my winter coat broke and I had to get heels on my winter boots replaced), getting a hair cut, buying Christmas presents for family and the cost of shipping them home.

      1. Ah yeah those are good points. I feel like people don’t take into account fixing or replacing items they bring with them or everyday costs like hair cuts, etc.

  11. Looks like you are doing pretty amazing so far. I mean, to have it broken down so nicely shows you are under control and obviously have a handle on your money. If that were me, I wouldn’t know if I spend $5.00 or $50.00 on dinner. 🙂 I think the amount spent is perfect for what you have done so far. And also, this is your money so spend as you seem fit. You earned it after all.

    1. Thanks Rhona! I am a spreadhseet freak so it’s second nature for me to track everything. 🙂 And if I didn’t, I would probably already be out of money. 🙂

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