SE Asia, Australia, and New Zealand – What it’s costing us…..


The two of us above La Paz, Bolivia


Hi y’all. Three months or so ago, I did an analysis of our spending over the first three months of our travel, which also coincided with our Europe leg of the trip. At that time I had shared that we spent $23,298 for the three of us to get to and travel through Europe for the first 90 days of our travels. That figure equated to $258.87 per day, $7,766 per person, or $86.29 per person/day.

We arrived in Bangkok on December 1, 2016 and traveled through Thailand (22 days), Laos (3 days), Vietnam (8 days), Cambodia (3 days), Indonesia (23 days), Singapore (2 days), Malaysia (2 days), Australia (15 days), and New Zealand (12 days) for a total of 90 days. During this leg, we took a total of 15 flights, 7 ferries, and 3 longer train trips. We also rented a campervan for six days, a rental car for 2 weeks and took numerous buses, subways, and taxis along the way. We stayed in hotels/hostels for half of the 90 travel days and the balance was in AirBnB’s (35 days), relatives (5 days),.and the camper (5 days). We ate in restaurants for approximately 80 of the 90 days, but many of the hotels/hostels had breakfast included in their costs.

For this second 90-day travel segment, we spent a total of $18,265 for the three of us. This figure equates to $202.95 per day, $6,088 per person, or $67.65 per person/day. Overall, the second 90 days of our travel were approximately 20% less costly than our first 90 days.

As Australia and New Zealand were significantly different than SE Asia, I decided to break out the costs further. The total cost by category and region are below:

Region Flights Other Trans. Lodging Food Other Total # of Days Average per Day
Europe $2,313 $7,098 $7,429 $4,330 $2,128 $23,298 90 $258.87
SE Asia $3,949 $1,394 $4,301 $2,236 $993 $12,873 63 $204.33
Aus-NZ $1,191 $1,157 $1,494 $824 $726 $5,392 27 $199.72
TOTAL $7,453 $9,649 $13,224 $7,390 $3,847 $41,563 180 $230.91

After looking at the numbers I realized I needed to retro-adjust the allocations of the Europe flight column to better compare the costs. I had previously lumped the Europe campervan rental cost of $5,298 into the Flights category. I’ve since decided to back that cost out and divide it equally between the Other Transportation column and the Lodging column. I’m sure it’s not an exact allocation, but can reasonably justify it.

I found it interesting that the allocations between the various costs didn’t fluctuate much over the regions. If Flights and Other Transportation are added together, they consistently represented approximately 40% of the cost regardless of region. Lodging represented 28-32% of the costs, Food represented 15-19% of the costs, and Other represented 8-14% of the costs regardless of where we were traveling.

Overall, the costs seem straight forward for this second 90-day leg of our travels. As shared in previous posts, Sarah headed back to Minneapolis on February 2. While this had an influence on costs for our travels in Australia and New Zealand, the cost wouldn’t have been more than an additional $500 for the entire month. We had already booked all the transportation and the lodging costs wouldn’t have increased by adding the third person. The only costs that would have been impacted were that of food and other costs.

As shared above, this second 90-day leg of our travels was approximately 20% less costly than the Europe leg. I suppose I had hoped that it would have been even less costly for us, especially SE Asia. By this point in the travel, we knew enough about our thresholds…especially on lodging. In Vientiane, Laos (a costly city) we stayed at what we thought was an average hotel for over $50 night and found it to be a total dump. I state this as I’m sure other (read more adventurous and/or younger) travelers could shave costs by staying at less costly accommodations than we found during our travels. In the other categories, I’m sure more frugal travels could have found cheaper alternatives, but think we did pretty well. Flights were often as cheap as taking the buses or trains in SE Asia. Renting vehicles was cheaper than flying in Australia and New Zealand. We spent only $35.12 per day on food (less than $12 per person/day), which isn’t bad. Some of the costs in Other Costs included over $250 in surfboard rentals (plus a $200 damage fee!), purchase of running shoes at $150, and some gifts. The food and lodging felt less costly in SE Asia compared to Europe, but the transportation felt relatively more expensive even though that wasn’t necessarily the case.

One interesting thing to note is how relatively inexpensive New Zealand was for us. New Zealand ended up costing us a little over $2,000 (average of only $173/day) for the 12 days we were there. Granted, only the cost of the flight from Sydney to Auckland is included in this figure, but still inexpensive. This truly demonstrates the impact of friends and deals while traveling. While New Zealand was arguably the most expensive country we visited on this leg, it turned out to be the least costly for us due to being able to stay with relatives for 5 days and borrowing their car for a couple of those days.  We were also able to take advantage of a campervan relocation deal that ended up costing us less than $70/day (travel, fuel, lodging) while allowing us to see most of the country. Lastly, I suppose it’s necessary to share our ridiculously cheap food find at Pizza Hut of New Zealand. For only $3.70, one could purchase a pizza. We would complement this with greens and drinks from the grocery store and eat ridiculously cheap for the bulk of our trip. Yes…I know…the bar was lowered significantly on the food, but use it as an example of being able to get by inexpensively if needed…especially where even the most basic meals run $20 per person.

Our ambitious goal was to be able to travel for 9 months for less than $50,000 (all in cost). At the end of 6 months, we had expended $41,563. Clearly, we aren’t going to meet that goal, but I don’t think the added the damage will be too horrific. As we are now traveling through South America, the costs for Max and me seem to be holding at about $5,000 month. We’ve also mutually agreed to land back in the States earlier than initially planned. Like Sarah, he’s a bit tired of traveling and homesick. These factors, along with only two of us traveling this last leg will keep the overall costs down. I look forward to doing a final analysis once we finally return. Let me know if there is interest in seeing the Excel spreadsheet where I’ve been tracking our costs along the way, I’d be happy to send it.


3 thoughts on “SE Asia, Australia, and New Zealand – What it’s costing us…..

  1. Wow, Jeff! I’ve been following your family’s journey through this blog from time-to-time, but had to chime in after seeing your OCD note-taking and logging. That’s a lot of numbers, math, and analysis. Are you also writing grant proposals and giving presentations at every town? LOL. Great to read that your all health, happy (mostly), and well. Continued safe travels!


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