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How Much Money Do I Need to Go Travelling?


People often email me to ask “How Much Money Do I Need to Go Travelling?” I thought I’d answer it here as a blog post which, hopefully, will be helpful to other people too. It’s the first in a series of FAQ blog posts that I hope will be useful. Let me know if there’s a question you’d like me to answer.

I remember well the frustration of earning terrible money in a very boring job. So I sympathise! The question of “how much money do I need?” is one that I can answer easily, though not by giving you an actual number.

  1. Save up as much money as you possibly can. Work hard. Live cheap. 
  2. Do not be so hung up on saving money that you never actually leave. For young people life will only ever get more busy, more complex, with more ties to stop you leaving. Better to leave today, live on instant noodles and sleeping wild in a tent, than never to go at all.

Google will tell you everything you need to know about how to save money. Here’s a few pointers though: make a note of everything you spend money on. Try to cut back as much of them as you can. Stiffen your resolve by remembering this: “one beer in a pub costs as much as a day cycling through India. Upgrading your phone costs as much as a lot of cycling through India. And so on.”

Google will tell you how to earn money when travelling. It’s up to you to decide whether you’d prefer to live cheap and keep moving, or whether to stay somewhere and work for a while. There are pros and cons of both. I’d recommend you read Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. And this site is a handy guide to budgeting on your travels in different countries.

I realise this is not a very concrete answer, so here is my honest opinion on the matter of money:

  • Block off a chunk of time when you will go away. Save as much as you can before that date. And then go. When you return, repeat the process. I’d rather do two cheap adventures than one adventure whose only difference was a posher level of food and accommodation. Just go. Being a dirtbag is a great time of life!

I have written a more detailed post about Money and Adventure here.

Perhaps other people may be willing to offer their own advice in the comments below?

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  1. Great post, as ever!

    My partner Emma and I travelled without money for a year in South America. We hitchhiked between volunteering projects which got us from the north of Colombia to the south of Chile and back again. Tom Allen did his moneyless bike trip too and wrote wonderfully about it.

    I’m not saying that we should all travel without money but it shouldn’t be a major inhibiting factor to travel. One of the most important lessons I learned during my travels is that there are far more valuable currencies than money.

    I’m looking forward to reading this series. I loved the Adventure 1000 series.



  2. David fowler Posted

    Money is such a hurdle… But in my experience, only in our heads! In the past, I have set a time limit on my saving! Chucked my spare change into a bowl over 3 months and deadline up, counted it and planned an adventure in line with the funds. It’s amazing how a few coins can add up.

  3. Martin McQuaide Posted

    Al.. Im off for a week and am going to go away from the U.K. alone. If you had for example £300-500 budget..which places would you go in europe and what would you do there?..

    • Alastair Posted

      I would fly to Slovenia, Andalucia, or the Carpathian mountains with a small pack and walk a big circular loop, sleeping wild, climbing hills, swimming in rivers, and drinking in local bars…

  4. Money is such a frustrating topic for many… I’m in a job I enjoy, makes me 6 figures a year, but affords very little opportunity for more than 3-4 weeks of holidays a year.

    I’ve saved multiple 6 figures for ‘early retirement’ (including travel), and have my ‘aged 65+’ retirement funds well in hand too.

    But, I’m still working the day job, ‘afraid of money’ (running out) if I was to leave and start to travel. My own personal demons to work out with it all, I suppose.

    Mind you, your line “Better to leave today, live on instant noodles and sleeping wild in a tent, than never to go at all.” really resonates with me.

  5. Great! I found some great advice on saving here:

    The slogan of the site is “Early retirement through badassity” but don’t be fooled, it’s not really about early retirement so much as financial freedom through eliminating spending on things you think are necessary – but which really aren’t.
    Definitely useful for would-be adventurers.

    I highly recommend it! ( By the way I have nothing to do with the blog and don’t get anything for promoting it – I’m just a huge fan.)



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