I get asked at least three times a day either in person or via email… “How do you afford to do what you do?”

I am far from rich…I promise that I have not hit the lottery, stock market, found a magic income generator on Ebay, or any other Holy Grail of economics. People still think that money is a huge barrier to them being able to see the world. I disagree, and will run the numbers for my trip last year.

In Southeast Asia, I lived in relative backpacker “luxury.” Sure, I still gave up AC and had insects inside my bungalow that would frighten an entomologist, but I chose the middle ground between comfort and savings. I averaged about $20 a day…or $600 a month to live. That was not just sitting around the bungalow, that was exploring the country, falling into newbie scams, entertainment — pretty much everything but my scuba diving.

Average Costs While on My Trip

Night of accommodation = $5 – $10 a night. ($10 only in the islands and very touristy areas.)
I stayed in bungalows and guest houses, very few hotels.

Average meal = $.50 – $2 (yes…thats a decimal point before the 50!)
The funny thing is that I splurged to try new things…it could have been cheaper!

Travel insurance = ~$30 a month.
This eliminates the need for health insurance…..a HUGE expense for me at home.

Transportation = ~$30 a month.
This eliminates auto insurance, car maintenance, and buying gas. I walked, used local buses, tuk-tuks, hitchhiked, etc.

Entertainment = ~$100 a month
Obviously this could have been MUCH cheaper, but my personal conviction is that it is OK to cut costs on everything but new experiences.

A Thai bucket with Redbull at a beach party was about $5. If you find me a pub in America where you can have that much fun for $5, I will move there! 🙂

So that puts us at about $600 a month to live a healthy and exciting life…with new stories to tell gathered daily. Not at bad deal when you consider what you will be paying at home:

  • rent or mortgage
  • utilities
  • health insurance
  • car insurance
  • car payment or at least maintenance/repairs
  • entertainment, movies, expensive dinners, nights at the club/pub
  • purchases made out of boredom or because “I deserve it.”

Once past the barrier of entry (a plane ticket), it is much cheaper for me to stay on the road!