Why travelling budget is not for everyone

So ever since we got back from our 10 months Footprints Across Asia journey, the question that we’ve been asked most is, how much did we spend in total?!


Admiring the beautiful view from the top of the canyon at Hasankeyf in Turkey

So here’s how much we spent for the past 10 months travelling overland from China across Asia to Europe!

We travelled to a total of 12 countries: China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey, Greece

Total number of days: 279 days

Total amount spent: US$7,796 per person (avg US$30 per person per day)


Now you’re probably thinking, “wait a minute, long term travelling sounds like a really cheap and good idea! I want to travel long term too!” 

Wait till you find out how we did it…It’s a tough road out there and be prepared to be thrown out of your comfort zone.

How we survived on a $30/day budget

1. Be prepared to walk a lot


We’re talking about 10-20km on an average per day. That was how we saved money when exploring the sights within the cities, instead of spending on transport, we chose to walk! In some places, the taxi fares were really exorbitant!

2. Skip the planes. Travel overland via public transport


Crossing the border overland from China to Mongolia

It’s more exciting and fulfilling that way, at least for us. We travelled entirely overland from China all the way to Turkey! It can be quite challenging and unnerving at times too when you come across nasty border guards. Our most challenging border crossing would be at Uzbekistan, where the guards checked our bags throughly for almost 2 hours! We had to empty out every single pocket in our bag!

3. Take a risk and hitchhike to the next destination


Hitchhiking with a bunch of woodcutters in Kyrgyzstan!

Having said that, we do not encourage hitchhiking and this has to be done entirely at your own risk. We’re not saying that hitchhiking is safe, but we chose to take the calculated risk and to do it. Also because there are 2 of us, it’s definitely safer than compared to a solo traveller. On hind sight, our hitchhiking experience in Kyrgyzstan might have been quite dangerous actually, but thankfully nothing happened and we were safe! Out of all the countries that we travelled to, we found that it was really easy to hitchhike in Turkey!

4. Trade your bed for a bunk bed in an overnight train or bus


Overnight train ride in China, super squeezy bunks!

We managed to save some money on accommodation by opting for overnight transport to our next destinations. This option is for travellers who aren’t picky about their sleeping conditions. The above was taken in an overnight train in China, where there are 3 bunk beds on each side! Ours was the top bunk and it was so narrow that we couldn’t even sit upright!

5. Forgo your food cravings and eat simply 


Food is one of our lowest priorities when it comes to travelling. Thankfully we have a portable cooking stove that we got from Adventure Gear Post which allows us to cook simple dishes. Sometimes we miss home cooked food, and us being Chinese whereby rice is our staple, we could easily cook rice and some simple dishes with the stove! But mostly for convenience, we’ll just cook instant noodles or eat at cheap local eateries. If we’re on the go, we’ll just grab some bread and eat it with the local chocolate spread.

6. Sacrifice the comfort of a 5 star hotel, but sleep under a million stars instead


Camping under a blanket of infinite stars in Turkey

There are many ways to save on accommodation actually, apart from opting for an overnight transport as mentioned above, you could also do homestays with the locals, stay in a backpacker hostel, couch surf or even camp outdoors under a million stars! Our average cost per night for accommodation is only around $10!

7. Suffer the extreme cold when travelling during off peak to save on activity cost. 


Trekking to Mt Nemrut during winter in Turkey

Travelling during off peak season would also help to shave off some of your cost! For example, as most of the accommodation was empty, we could easily bargain for a cheaper price. Most attractions were also on discount during off peak season. In fact, when we were climbing Mt Nemrut in Turkey (photo above), the entire ticket office was covered in snow! So needless to say, we did not have to pay any entrance fee to climb Mt. Nemrut. Check out our insane and super challenging trek to Mt Nemrut in 2 metres height of snow!

8. Scrape your plans to travel flexibly and spontaneously


Snowboarding in Kyrgyzstan

Certain activities are cheaper during the weekdays and if need to, you might have to adjust your schedule to enjoy the cost savings! For example, we went skiing and snowboarding at Karakol in Kyrgyzstan and managed to enjoy some cost saving by going during the weekdays instead! Of course another benefit is that there’s hardly a single soul during the weekdays! Look at the photo above, we kinda had the entire slope to ourselves! Perfect for beginners 🙂

9. Sacrifice some places and spend more time at each place instead


At the ‘gate of hell’ in Turkmenistan

Instead of rushing from place to place and checking off your “must do list”, spend more time at one place instead. Use the time to get to know the locals,  understand their way of living and even do what the locals do! We were never a fan of rushing through our itinerary. For us, we chose to travel flexibly such that if that place was cheap and good, we would tend to stay there longer. But for example when we were in Turkmenistan and it was way too expensive, we left in less than a week!

10. Put in the extra effort to track your expenses


Crazy huge stack of notes in Uzbekistan!

At the beginning it can be quite a chore to record down every single expense. But after awhile, you kinda get the hang of it and it becomes a habit. We’re using the Trail Wallet application to track our spending and so far we’re pretty satisfied with it. Very user friendly and convenient for travellers! There are many other applications out there to help you with the tracking of your expenses too, do check them out and see which one works best for you! Tracking your expense is a really effective way of making sure that you’re spending within your budget. Sometimes you don’t realise it but every cent adds up! Remember, a dollar less is a dollar more for something else! 🙂

So after reading our post, we hope that we’ve inspired you to take up the challenge and to travel the world too! Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any further question on how we manage our budget/expenses 🙂