How Much Money Do You Need to Travel the World?

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Here we go; the million dollar question (for which hopefully the answer isn’t “a million dollars”): How much money do you need to start traveling?

If I could give you a number, I would.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

Instead, here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you define your travels, set a travel budget, and figure out how much to start with:

Define Your Trip

  • How long will my trip be?
  • What do I want to do? (Volunteering can reduce your expenses; skydiving won’t.)
  • Why am I going? Are you expecting all-inclusive vacations in Europe, or rustic home-stays, or are you on a mission to conquer mountains, or do you want to hit the backpacker trail?)

Assess Your Income


  • How long will it take me to find a job? (This depends on your skills and how in-demand they are where you’re going, and whether or not you can work legally.)
  • Is my trip short enough that I can do it on savings alone? (If your trip is under six months, worrying about getting work along the way will infringe on your travel experience. If you can, do it on savings and “save” yourself the hassle.)

Remember Insurance & Emergencies


  • For my emergency fund, how much do I need to get home in a pinch?

Define Your Ideal Travels Before You Leave

My partner who I started traveling with wasn’t in a stellar financial situation. We left before he reached his savings goal (and with some lingering debts to boot), on the premise that he could find work along the way. Although he was periodically able to do so, finding jobs was tougher than anticipated.

Despite my financial planning background, we had trouble predicting what our travels would cost (in 2006 there weren’t nearly the online tools available that there are today), and thus how much money we needed to hit the road. So we threw our hands up and just took the leap of faith we knew we had to, and figured we’d learn how to swim once we were in the water.

Which we did. But the water ran deep, and it made for some trying times.

It takes time to define your ideal travels and put a general price tag to it. But it’s 100% worthwhile, and can also be a fun exercise in dreaming about what you want to do and where.

Things may change along the way, but as long as you have the money – or the ongoing income – to keep up with Plan A, then Plan B can be tweaked accordingly.