How much does it cost to travel around the world for 13 months?
Obviously, this answer will differ for everyone. Costs vary based on where you go, what you do and the level of comfort you seek on the road, so everyone’s travel budget will be different. I chose to spend most of my time in the 15 countries of the former Soviet Union, throwing in side trips to Finland, Italy, Turkey and Spain.
My final total came out to $28,708.58.
Covering 390 days, that comes out to $73.61 per day.
This total includes absolutely everything from the time I stepped on the plane to fly from Chicago O’ Hare to Helsinki, Finland to the minute I got off the plane at Chicago Midway 390 days later. I meticulously tracked every ruble, manat and som I spent along the way on a massive spreadsheet that separated costs out by country and then by lodging, food, entertainment, activities, internet/phone, visas, transportation and miscellaneous. I also separately tracked international transportation costs and what I considered “extras” – replacing clothing, postage to send stuff home, expensive souvenirs, etc. These were costs that I didn’t think could fairly be counted against a particular country’s totals.
I previously shared my expenses when I hit the $10,000 mark and the $20,000 mark. The latter took me through Tajikistan in July. So before I share any more overall totals, I want to provide the breakdown for costs in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia (the second time around) and Spain. Here goes…
|Shared taxi & taxi, Khujand, Tajikistan to Tashkent, Uzbekistan||$42.61|
|Taxi, Bukhara, Uzbekistan to Turkmenistan border||$40.52|
|Taxi, Turkmenistan border to Khiva, Uzbekistan||$20.00|
|Overnight train, Kungrad, Uzbekistan to Aktau, Kazakhstan||$77.80|
|Shared taxi, Almaty, Kazakhstan to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan||$18.05|
|Flight, Bishkek to Riga, Latvia||$337.83|
|Flight, Riga to Barcelona, Spain||$239.96|
|Flight, Barcelona to Chicago||$698.16|
Per Country Expenses
Clothing (2 jeans, several shirts) & cute sandals: $216.88
Like before, here is a further breakdown by country:
- Visa: $160.00
- Accommodation: $801.01 (includes 10 nights hotel, 8 nights guesthouse)
- Food: $14.06 per day
- Local Transportation: $61.41
- Activities/entertainment: $150.78
- Miscellaneous: $37.42 (toiletries, mosquito spray)
- Currency exchange savings: $76.86 (money saved by changing money on the black market instead of at the official rate)
- Private tour: $2,561.00 (includes 5 nights hotel, 3 nights camping, 2 nights homestay; 7 days private guide and transport; 10 breakfasts & 5 dinners)
- Food: $9.51 per day
- Local Transportation: $0.56
- Activities/entertainment: $13.86
- Miscellaneous: $36.62 (sunglasses, sleeping bag rental)
- Accommodation:$674.68 (8 nights hotel, 1 night homestay, 2 nights guesthouse; used credit card points for another 4 nights hotel)
- Overnight trains: $70.67
- Food: $12.02 per day
- Local Transportation: $86.06
- Activities/entertainment: $224.79 (includes day trip to Aral Sea)
- Phone: $2.81
- Miscellaneous: $28.37 (toiletries)
- Accommodation: $248.82 (5 nights hostel private room, 7 nights guesthouse, 3 nights yurt camp)
- Food: $10.15 per day
- Local Transportation: $226.83
- Activities/entertainment: $55.63
- Phone/internet: $7.34
- Miscellaneous: $30.77 (haircut, pedicure, toiletries)
- Accommodation: $0 (2 nights complimentary hostel private room)
- Food: $18.83 per day
- Local Transportation: $2.32
- Miscellaneous: $9.98
- Accommodation: $491.82 (2 nights B&B, 3 nights shared hotel, 2 nights hotel)
- Food: $13.66 per day
- Local Transportation: $35.97
- Activities/entertainment: $189.73 (includes ticket to TBEX conference)
- Miscellaneous: $8.81
13 Month Breakdown by Category:
- International Transportation: $3,512.74
- Accommodation: $7,650.12 ($19.62 per day)
- Food: $3,932.25 ($10.08 per day)
- Activities/entertainment: $3,813.82 ($9.78 per day)
- Local Transportation: $2,196.23 ($5.63 per day)
- Internet/Phone: $156.03 ($0.40 per day)
- Visas: $1,138.68 ($2.92 per day)
- Miscellaneous: $3,421.77 ($8.77 per day)
- Extras: $2,065.00 ($5.29 per day)
13 Month Breakdown by Country:
- Armenia: 43 days, $1,364.48 ($31.73 per day)
- Azerbaijan: 12 days, $760.66 ($63.39 per day)
- Belarus: 11 days, $959.48 ($87.23 per day)
- Estonia: 9 days, $562.02 ($62.45 per day)
- Finland: 3 days, $240.68 ($80.23 per day)
- Georgia: 26 days, $1,195.54 ($45.98 per day)
- Italy: 7 days, $425.04 ($60.72 per day)
- Kazakhstan: 17 days, $1,321.45 ($77.73 per day)
- Kyrgyzstan: 15 days, $721.70 ($48.11 per day)
- Latvia: 8 days, $416.95 ($52.12 per day)
- Lithuania: 11 days, $347.21 ($31.56 per day)
- Moldova: 6 days, $225.38 ($37.56 per day)
- Poland: 11 days, $504.53 ($45.87 per day)
- Russia: 85 days, $5,259.54 ($61.88 per day)
- Spain: 7 days, $821.94 ($117.42 per day)
- Tajikistan: 29 days, $628.94 ($21.69 per day)
- Turkey: 17 days, $1,133.70 ($66.69 per day)
- Turkmenistan: 10 days, $2,797.27 ($279.73 per day)
- Ukraine: 44 days, $2,043.46 ($46.44 per day)
- Uzbekistan: 19 days, $1,400.88 ($73.73 per day)
I hope this helps anyone planning to take a career break to travel or anyone thinking of visiting any of these countries! Again, what I spent may be more or less than what someone else might spend in the same countries – I made the choice to occasionally splurge on experiences or more comfortable accommodations. Also, due to my gluten intolerance, I probably spent more on food than I would’ve if I had been able to eat a lot of the cheap street food in many countries. At the same time, I probably paid less for some local transportation because I spoke Russian and was able to negotiate taxi fares.
If you have any questions about specific countries or expenses, please feel free to ask!
17 thoughts on “13 Months in the Former Soviet Union: The Final Budget Breakdown”
Thank you so much for this post Katie. We are going to all the “Stan” counties you mentioned and it’s great to have an idea on costs. I found your post from Legal Nomad and so glad I did. Travel Safe
Now this is some useful information. Great job at keeping track of everything!
Hi Katie! I can’t find the Vodka line in your budget in Kirghizstan 😉
Merry Christmas and cheers from Burma
Haha! That’s mixed in with the entertainment line. Of course since we didn’t pay our bill that one night, it was pretty low. 🙂
Hope you’re enjoying Burma!
I love that you have written this post! It can give a real idea of what travelling cost! Majority of us travellers always forget to mention that 🙂
Wow, I’m actually pretty surprised to see Turkmenistan was the most expensive country you visited.
The thing with Turkmenistan is that in order to get a tourist visa, you have to hire a guide to accompany you the entire time. The cost of that alone was close to $200 per day. The fact that most of my transport was by private 4WD vehicle made up most of the rest of the cost.
Amazing detail and commitment! Not many people could track every expenditure to the cent in multiple currencies.
I actually used a spreadsheet format that I got from Shannon of alittleadrift.com that already had formulas in it to do the currency conversions. So I could enter everything in local currency and it converted to dollars automatically.
Wow! That’s meticulous tracking. Good for you. I only keep track of how much we spend each week and what country we are in, but can’t keep track of the rest of the details. Good work!
Thanks! I’m a little spreadsheet obsessed. 🙂
Wow, this is such a useful post, very detailed and it’s very useful especially to take into account visa fees, transportation etc. Amazing job Katie!
Turkmenistan/ Private tour: $2,561.00 (includes 5 nights hotel, 3 nights camping, 2 nights homestay; 7 days private guide and transport; 10 breakfasts & 5 dinners)
OMG! Какой ужас! I hope it was worth it ….My credit card is crying……
Katie, you do a tax refund when you return to the U.S.?
Yeah, it hurt but it was my big splurge of the trip. And it was the only way to go for as long as I did and get a tourist visa – I had to have a guide with me.
Not sure what you mean about a tax refund…??
I’ll try to explain.I do not know what rules apply to U.S. citizens, but…
When I buy in Austria, for example, mobile phone costs 100 euro, I can make a return at the airport Scwechat, sales tax, (for Austria 20% tax included, 18% for Russia etc.)
Cash Refund office office is located in the departure area.
As a Russian citizen I am not required to pay tax on purchases in another state.
Gotcha. I think that has more to do with the VAT (value added tax) system on purchases in most European countries. Anyone visiting those countries can get a refund on the tax they paid on items purchased. I don’t think most of the countries I visited had VAT regimes and, even if they did, I didn’t purchase much in the way of souvenirs that I would’ve thought to try to get a VAT refund.
Of course with small amounts makes no sense.
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