Monday, February 8, 2010

0 Mailbag Monday: February 8, 2010

I can't understand how someone can finance trips like these? Can you give some ideas how is this possible? Do you get payed for traveling? How can I do it?
Attila, Romania

We did not get paid for traveling (we wish!) but financed it on our own through our savings. Here is a breakdown of how we budgeted for this trip:

We bought our OneWorld Explorer round the world tickets for about $2,800 USD each in the Spring of 2009. The cost of these tickets is based on how many continents you include and from where you are departing. Even though we live in Boston, we purchased the ticket with London as our departure point because a) departing from Boston would have included North America in our ticket, which is one of the most expensive continents to include, and b) the British Pound was at a serious low against the dollar at the time. We then used Frequent Flyer miles to fly to Europe for free from Boston.  We also got a ten percent discount  on the price because OneWorld was running a promotion to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their alliance.

We began our trip with a goal daily budget of $80 USD/day, and finished not too far off with an actual daily spending average of $85 USD/day. In more expensive destinations, like Europe and Japan, we spent far over the daily budget, but we averaged it out in cheaper places like Southeast Asia. On our most expensive day we spent $244 in Kruger National Park, South Africa; on our least expensive we spent $12 in India.

In addition to our daily spending, we put aside another $4,000 in our budget as a slush fund. This was intended to pay for activities we really wanted to do but would have skewed our daily spending average. For instance, we used the slush fund to pay for the boat ride through the waterfalls at Iguazu Falls and to cover part of our tour of the Outback in Australia. All the money came from the same overall budget, of course, but it helped us mentally figure out how and where we wanted to spend more.

It's important to note that a trip like this can certainly be done more cheaply--or more expensively--based on how you prefer to travel. We didn't stay in any hostels during the trip. If we had, we could have been spending $2/night for accommodation in Vietnam instead of $15 or $20. Transportation costs like buses, trains, and additional flights outside the round the world ticket add up. If you have more time to travel (the OneWorld Explorer ticket is valid for one year) and can spend more than a few days in one place or concentrate your travels in a smaller geographic area, you can save a lot of money.

Bottom line: traveling isn't cheap, but it's worth every penny. 

You guys took sleeper bus from Hanoi to Hue, is there any route for the contrary?
Pixie, Indonesia
There are a few options to get from Hanoi to Hue. We chose the bus because it was the most economical at around $15 USD per ticket, but it was definitely not the most comfortable way to travel (those bumpy roads alone…) A ticket on the overnight train costs about $25 USD for a sleeper car and is supposed to be quite scenic during the morning hours. There is a daily Vietnam Airlines flight to Hue’s Phu Bai Airport—if you book a few weeks ahead you can get tickets for as low as $45 USD. You can take the bus from there to downtown for about $2 USD, or taxis should be fairly affordable as well.

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