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Asia - South America budget: 20000 (a couple)?


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  • Added on: January 29th, 2013

Me and my boyfriend decided we want to go on a rtw trip! We are new to all of this, and I've done a lot of reading on the subject. I was hoping i'd get some questions answered up here... We'd like to leave with a 20000 dollar budget for the two of us (excluding tickets, gear and some special treats). Now, we were wondering how far you guys think that will get us. I thought about spending 40 dollar a day, per person. Which should cover accommodation, food and transport, and some day activities. We are willing to stay in hostels (although we'd like to go for private rooms, shared bathrooms are no problem), we want to eat at markets and cheap restaurants. We prefer transport by bus instead of flying.

We'd like to start in Asia, hoping to travel India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia. Calculating one month India & Nepal, one month Thailand, one month Cambodia, one month Vietnam, one month Indonesia. If it's possible (and i do think it is, but just want your opinion on this), we'd like to go on to South America, visiting Chile, Peru, Ecuador and some other countries if there's still money left.

Is this doable? How fast do you think we'll run out of money?

Specific questions: I'm not really planning on booking a lot of things in advance, bad idea or is it possible? Did anyone go from Cambodia to Vietnam on boat? Can you book it while you're there or should we do that in advance?

Anyone with blogs about using trains to go through India, blogs about budget travelling these countries, ... I'd be really happy to read them!

Oh and also, anything about going to the Galapagos on a budget?


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Holds PhD in Packing
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Location: St. Louis

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  • Added on: February 1st, 2013
Sounds like you have an awesome trip planned!

You are going about this the right way, that's for sure. We took a pretty similar trip to what your'e doing.

We spent about 6 months in S. America (Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia), 5 weeks in New Zealand, 3.5 months in SE Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam), and 6 weeks in India.

All told, we spent about $40k US between my wife and I, all flights and everything included. We stayed in hostels most of the time, but private rooms. We averaged about $25USD/night on accommodations throughout the trip (excluding New Zealand - that was our vacation from the trip, and we spent about $6k during our time there, which made our overall budget soar). We did pretty much what we wanted when we wanted - didn't really say no to anything because of money. Just to give you an idea on how we traveled. Everyone is different, obviously.

Definitely no need to book much in advance. When we left, we had a one-way flight to Lima, our Inca Trail hike booked, and an apartment in Buenos Aires booked for a month around the holidays (about 2.5 months after arriving in S. America). Everything else we did on the fly.

I am the editor here at BootsnAll, and we have tons of articles about budget travel in many of these countries.

Here's a great article on doing the Galapagos on a budget (so wish this was written when we did our trip - we skipped out on it because of the expense): ... -5000.html

And here's a few articles on extended travel in S. America and SE Asia: ... -asia.html ... erica.html

Hope these help, and if you have any more questions, post them here or feel free to send me an email. adam at bootsnall dot com
Check out my new blog or browse our blog about our RTW at


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  • Added on: February 6th, 2013
Your budget should last more than a year if you don't spend much time in high cost countries like Japan and Australia.

My wife and I have been18 months in Asia and we keep a budget of actual expenditures. (you should track too)

Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia - combined for the two of us - 50 to 55 USD per day as follows;

Vietnam details example
$11.22 Transport
$17.71 Hotel
$10.63 Miscellaneous
$0.16 Laundry
$1.02 Spirits
$2.89 Breakfast Total
$4.84 Lunch Total
$7.65 Dinner Total
$56.12 Grand Total

Per day for two -
$61.35 in China
$96.91 in Mongolia while on tour - driver, guide Van etc
$39.88 in Mongolia while not on tour
$50.11 in India

We couchsurfed in Hong Kong and stayed with friends in Japan so spent less there.

We did central America and Mexico two years ago for sub $60 too

$80 per day the two of you should work. I am sure someone on a frugal budget could do it in half what we spent. We opt for AC and private bath when available.

We blog. To read the latest entry, follow this link:

No boat route between Cambodia and Vietnam when we were there due to lack of customs and immigration procedures.

Train travel is overrated in India. Buy or rent a motorcycle and have a more adventure....

Happy Travels !


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  • Added on: March 21st, 2013
Hi! My partner and I did a similar trip in 2008. We were in the South Pacific for 1 month (Fiji & Samoa), SE Asia for 4 months (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam), and South America for 5 months (Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru). We saved up 20,000 for the two of us, but that did not include the large flights. We purchased the big tickets ahead of time (LA --> Fiji --> Bangkok --> LA --> Santiago and then Lima --> Miami). Since those were the big ticket flights, we used miles and searched for cheap deals. For the rest of the trip, we bought as we went especially since so many of our plans/routes changed.

We did not expect to love Laos and Bolivia as much as we did. Instead of the couple weeks we had planned, we extended it for over a month traveling as we felt like it. That worked out well because those were some of the cheaper countries. My partner is a budgeter and a tracker, while I am much more fly by the seat of my pants and make adjustments as necessary kind of a gal. That combo worked out well for us and allowed us to stay in our budget but still be spontaneous.


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Guidebook Dependent
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Location: Scotland

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  • Added on: April 14th, 2013
Your budget should get you quite far. It really depends on how you spent it though. If you choose many places which are relatively close to each other you can use local transport which is usually cheap. If you want to see places further apart and want to fly, it becomes a lot more expensive.

Also it depends on what you want to do. Some activities cost a bit more, especially in the most popular places. Also within countries there are large price differences, E.g. in Thailand the most popular beaches cost a fair bit, whereas more inland costs are low.

Trains in India are the way to go though. They are quite comfortable and run overnight between many of the interesting cities.


Street Food Connoisseur
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  • Added on: May 15th, 2013
Budget - it's the question everyone asks how much will I spend, well the answer to that depends on what life style you expect and want from this rtw experience and really no two people are the same.

You are doing the best thing in calculating a daily budget that's how I plan our trips.

The one thing I would say is always book accommodation when you have a long haul flight, you'll be tired and just want to get your head down not walking around looking for budget accommodation and it could cost you more in the end.

I tended to book accommodation in advance as we traveled using the Internet, we always had somewhere to head when we arrived in an area.

Don't forget all the extras like,insurance,malaria tablets, inoculations, Visas, bank costs for cash withdrawal, medications

check out this site


Good site for keeping in touch with friends and family and you can down load photos and it provides a map of your travels and blog

To save money get the best current and credit card deals you can and set up standing orders to transfer funds from savings account to pay off the credit card monthly and put sufficient money in your current account.
Get back up cards also, cards do tend to stop working at the most inconvenient times and getting a replacement is never easy.
If you will be using Internet banking the one thing I would say is you can't be too cautious, don't use Internet cafes they might not have a secure line. I use good hotel business rooms there will be a charge but you can be sure you are using a secure line.
Our 12 month trip cost us £28,000 for the two of us in 2008, I accounted for everything.
We bought the rtw ticket from Virgin Alliance (check out the cost for changing dates and routes this can be very expensive with some alliances)they offered the best deal.
In Australia NZ and US we did months of camping.
Hostels don't always work out cheaper for a couple in a private room as you pay per person. Dorms would be the cheaper option.
Stick to hotels in Asia they are reasonably inexpensive.



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  • Added on: August 18th, 2013
Hey! first of all congratulations for your decision! a RTW trip is a very big thing and i bet you'll be super excited!
I departed for my own adventure around 6 months ago, so i know exactly what are you going through and all the necessary planning behind it. But don't despair! it's easier that you think.
Regarding the budget, this is a sensitive question, i would say for one year (backpaker style, so cheap accommodation, street food etc) i calculated around 16.000$/18.000$. Count that i'm now renting a house in Thailand, so my expenses are hugely reduced, but if you want to travel faster, you need to consider (and add) the cost of transport, hostels and meals (it's much better to cook your own food at home and save some money!)
If you want to know more, i have a few articles on my blog about the budget, how i saved the money etc, i hope it can be useful for you!

You are in good shape anyway, as traveling as a couple is better for your finances, especially when it comes to share the accommodation costs and sometimes the transport costs.
Hope it helps!
My adventure Around the world, useful tips, photography and funny stories are all documented at

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