Below are my basic cost breakdowns. It includes costs broken down by country for visas, hotel, transportation, food, sightseeing, and souvenirs. As you can see, sometimes I will spend a lot on souvenirs (Thailand) and sometimes it’s the transportation (Japan, Tajikistan) that raises my daily budget. It’s easy to see the huge impact visa fees can have on a budget when you compare Phase I (mostly SE Asia) and Central Asia in Phase II. “Food” includes drinks, beer and snacks. “Souvenirs” includes presents, potcards, postage and shipping. “Misc.” includes internet, phone, books, clothes etc.

Phase II made me realize that a few things were dramatically increasing my daily average in certain countries. Because of this, I pulled out shipping costs, clothes and supplies (backpacks, guide books, shampoo etc.) into seperate categories. I tend to save things up to ship from reliable places like China and I also bought a lot of my supplies in China so you can imagine how including those costs in China’s daily average would be misrepresenting my average daily expenses. Phase 1 remains as above, including shipping etc. in individual country costs.

This reflects traveling alone, mostly by land with any air tickets bought along the way. I stayed at the cheapest or next to cheapest option in almost every location. Meals were often eaten on the street or in small resturaunts apart from Africa, where I ate at more Western-themed resturaunts and incurred more cost (and a bigger waistline!). Scroll down to the bottom of the page for detailed notes on each country as well as individual costs for flights and shipping. This should help anyone planning a similar trip to estimate costs and plan for those details that they might not have anticipated. For instance, internet access can add $1 a day to your averages and laundry fees eat into a daily budget on a low budget trip. I can’t count on all my fingers the times I’ve seen other travelers complaining about having no money to see a significant sight (ie. The Taj Mahal) while drinking beer and waiting for their laundry to be returned. If, after reading this, you have any questions feel free to send me an email and I will try to help.

Phase I

September 2004–March 2005

Expenses Per Country

  Visa Hotel Transport Food Sights Souvenirs Misc. # days Total Avg./day
Japan $0.00 $383.67 $458.43 $217.89 $76.70 $12.05 $13.91 15 $1162.65 $77.51
China $50.00 $181.15 $212.55 $198.68 $98.29 $113.88 $112.98 42 $967.53 $23.04
Vietnam $79.78 $281.06 $182.31 $145.00 $89.25 $211.44 $36.95 21.5 $1025.79 $47.71
Cambodia $24.00 $89.00 $36.96 $156.46 $93.00 $37.65 $40.28 20.5 $478.35 $23.33
Laos $42.00 $124.66 $64.13 $220.27 $20.27 $21.93 $34.13 28 $527.39 $18.84
Thailand $0.00 $205.05 $68.92 $163.85 $19.21 $221.03 $152.95 26 $831.01 $31.96
Myanmar $31.32 $199.33 $445.63 $81.74 $76.61 $127.94 $25.59 32 $988.16 $30.88
Total $228.10 $1463.92 $1468.93 $1183.89 $473.33 $745.92 $416.79 185 $5980.88 $32.33
Avg./day   $7.91 $7.94 $6.40 $2.56 $4.03 $2.25      
 

Additional Expenses

  Airfare Medical Insurance Equip. Clothes Electronics Pampering Misc. Total  
Pre-trip $726.00 $417.24 $449.00 $372.43 $487.94 $559.62 $0 $317.65 $3329.88  
Post-trip $447.31 $171.74 $0 $0 $54.97 $62.64 $53.95 $86.92 $877.53  
 

Total Expenses

  Subtotal $5980.88 $32.33
  Pre-trip $3329.88  
  Post-trip $877.53  
  Trip total $10188.29 $55.07

Country-specific notes:

Japan: transportaion includes a $408 railpass.
Vietnam: Visa cost $60 + $20 for shipping within USA. Souvenirs include $159 on custom-made clothes.
Cambodia: Sightseeing includes a $60 Angkor Wat pass.
Myanmar: Visa amount includes two visas. One land border crossing was $10, a full tourist visa was 21.32.
Transportation includes $181.71 RT ticket between Yangon and Bangkok and $175 on two internal flights.
Souvenirs include $20 on opium weights and $72 on Akha tribal jacket and two headdresses.

Phase II

June 2006–August 2007

Expenses Per Country

  Visa Hotel Transport Food Sights Souvenirs Misc. # days Total Avg./day
Korea $0.00 $106.58 $32.18 $92.42 $58.72 $37.10 $6.27 7 $333.27 $47.61
Mongolia $0.00 $120.50 $331.34 $169.79 $52.50 $60.33 $28.62 28.5 $763.08 $26.77
NW China $47.50 $191.10 $189.06 $130.26 $68.17 $9.28 $24.81 25 $660.18 $26.41
Kyrgyzstan $82.57 $173.94 $128.00 $182.42 $0.08 $138.89 $47.08 36 $752.98 $20.92
Uzbekistan $144.15 $220.00 $128.49 $53.89 $25.98 $24.12 $4.85 14 $601.48 $42.96
Tajikistan $122.83 $108.53 $278.29 $51.49 $2.92 $23.05 $4.46 13 $591.57 $45.51
China-Tibet $47.50 $64.89 $253.27 $146.61 $67.55 $125.65 $27.92 23 $733.39 $31.89
Nepal $30.00 $122.41 $124.40 $282.78 $119.70 $16.21 $90.52 29 $786.02 $27.10
India $70.00 $565.21 $233.66 $567.67 $155.00 $86.26 $129.97 82 $1807.77 $22.05
Jordan $14.08 $123.94 $61.48 $130.77 $118.31 $17.89 $31.34 12.5 $497.81 $39.82
Egypt $15.00 $117.54 $70.31 $206.66 $96.05 $42.24 $50.39 26.5 $598.19 $22.57
Ethiopia $20.00 $221.70 $523.04 $229.18 $122.95 $233.87 $76.88 34.5 $1427.62 $41.38
Madagascar $18.00 $263.66 $255.54 $238.05 $459.74 $128.24 $15.17 28 $1378.40 $49.23
Uganda $50.00 $86.67 $100.30 $136.06 $95.00 $32.64 $16.73 12 $517.40 $43.12
D.R.C. $30.00 $0.00 $35.00 $1.80 $310.00 $0.00 $12.12 1 $388.92 $388.92
Rwanda $0.00 $63.55 $31.32 $84.02 $5.49 $0.00 $0.18 7 $184.56 $26.37
Tanzania $50.00 $489.41 $147.45 $378.43 $652.75 $88.24 $35.92 28 $1842.20 $65.79
Kenya $80.00 $101.65 $164.91 $163.39 $0.00 $126.60 $37.65 14 $674.20 $48.16
England $0.00 $130.00 $32.00 $141.28 $73.50 $15.00 $11.80 4 $403.58 $100.90
Total $821.63 $3271.28 $3120.04 $3386.97 $2484.41 $1205.61 $652.68 425 $14942.62 $35.16
Avg./day $1.93 $5.38 $7.34 $7.97 $5.85 $2.84 $1.54      
 

Additional Expenses

  Airfare Medical Insurance Equip. Clothes Electronics Shipping Misc. Total  
Pre-trip $1040.00 $260.00 $453.60 $153.56 $205.86 $0.00 $0.00 $12.95 $2125.97  
During-trip $1938.45 $155.42 $151.20 $370.00 $249.88 $180.77 $556.33 $13.72 $3615.77  
Post-trip $664.32 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $96.00 $760.32  
 

Total Expenses

  Subtotal $14942.62 $35.16
  Pre-trip $2125.97  
  During-trip $3615.77  
  Post-trip $760.32  
  Trip total $21444.68 $50.46

Country-specific notes:

Korea: Sightseeing includes $42 for DMZ tour.
Mongolia: Transport includes group van/driver/gasoline. Sightseeing includes horse and camel riding and $30 for Naadam tickets.
Misc. includes showers (!), $8 driver’s tip etc.
NW China: Double entry visa cost $75 and $22 in parking fees at Chicago consulate.
Kyrgyzstan: Includes a tourist visa for $56, a transit visa for $20 and $6.57 to extend the transit visa. Kyrgyz souvenirs includes a $99 felt carpet.
Uzbekistan: Visa costs incluse $102 for visa in Bishkek, $36 for letter of invitation and $5.15 for a Russian translator.
It doesn’t factor in the 5-10 extra days of living expenses trying to get the visa!
Tajikistan: Visa costs include $50 for visa in Bishkek, $30.82 to register with OVIR (twice, because they’re corrupt!),
and a $42 GBAO permit. Transportation includes one flight from Dushanbe to Khorog for $60, $25 to get to Dushanbe,
$160 for a jeep along the Wakhan from Khorog to Murgab ($350 for the jeep shared by 3 people) and $63 to get from Murgab to Osh, Kyrgyzstan.
Nepal: Nepal transport includes flights for myself and porter from Pokhara to Jomsom.
Jordan:Jordan sightseeing includes $43.66 for 3-day Petra pass, $35.212 for Wadi Rum tour and $9.86 for a taxi to Mt. Nebo and The Dead Sea.
Transport includes $23.94 for taxi along King’s Highway.
Ethiopia: South Omo Valley (10.5 days) was an average of $63.60 per day. That includes $41.90 per day for car rental (my share of the 125.70 total for car rental per day).
Northern historical circuit by bus averaged $21.25 per day.
Madagascar: Sightseeing includes $380.84 for 7-day canoe tour on Tsiribihina river and enterance and guides for four National Parks. Transport includes $111.37 for one-way flight from Morondava to Tulear. Souvenirs include many presents.
Uganda: Visa includes one $20 student tourist visa & two $15 transit visas.
Tanzania: Sightseeing includes 5-day lowest end tent safari for $650. Souvenirs include many presents.
Kenya: Visa includes four $20 transit visas. Transport includes three trips to the airport and bus to Uganda. Souvenirs include many presents.
England: Sightseeing includes $57.50 for Musical “Chicago.”

Additional notes:

Medical: Medical includes refilling medicine (like anti-malarials), seeing a doctor in Kyrgyzstan, India and Ethiopia.
Insurance: My original insurance policy was for 12 months, two of which were in-country coverage for when I returned to the USA. I renewed my insurance at the end of my trip to cover the remainder of my trip and two months in the USA.
Equipment: During trip includes supplies like guidebooks, shampoo and drawing paper.
Clothes: Pre-trip includes new boots, socks, pants and shirts. During-trip includes new pants and shirts in India and China and seasonal supplies like long undwerwear and mittens in Kyrgyzstan and Tibet.
Electronics: I bought a portable hard drive in Seoul for $180.77.
Misc: This category includes $96 for photo printing after the trip.

Airfare

All airfare is included in the expenses per country and additional expense tables above. The airline costs below are simply broken out for your reference. Most flights were purchased in-country 1-5 days in advance. Chicago to Seoul and Seoul to Mongolia were bought three months in advance. Mumbai to Amman was bought three weeks in advance. Nairobi to London and London to Chicago were bought two months in advance. All flights are one-way except Nairobi to Madagascar.
From To Airline Cost
Chicago, USA Seoul, Korea United Airlines $612.00
Seoul, Korea Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia MIAT (Mongolian Airlines) $428.00
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan Tashkent, Uzbekistan Uzbekistan Airways $135.00
Tashkent, Uzbekistan Nukkus, Uzbekistan Uzbekistan Airways $51.00
Dushanbe, Tajikistan Khorog, Tajikistan Tajik Air $60.00
Pokhara, Nepal Jomsom, Nepal Gorkha Airlines $80.28
Mumbai, India Amman, Jordan Kuwait Airways $270.00
Cairo, Egypt Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Egypt Air $328.25
Nairobi, Kenya (round trip) Tana, Madagascar Air Madagascar $613.00
Morondava, Madagascar Tulear, Madagascar Air Madagascar $111.37
Nairobi, Kenya London, England Kenya Airways $497.20
London, England Chicago, USA American Airlines $664.32
 

Shipping

All shipping is included in the additional expenses (during-trip expense) tables above. All packages are from a foreign destination to Chicago, USA except for the last line which was from Chicago to Madagascar to replace ATM and credit cards.
From Method Delivery time Kilos (Pounds) Cost
Hohhot, China China Post (surface) 3 months 2.69 (5.93) $17.00
Bishkek, Kyrgzstan Kyrgyz Post EMS (air) 7 days 6.76 (14.90) $124.47
Urumqi, China China Post (surface) 3 months 5.8 (12.79) $23.92
New Delhi, India India Post (surface) 2 months 7 (15.4) $39.68
Goa, India India Post (surface) 2 months 2.8 (6.17) $21.75
Bangalore, India India Post (surface) 3 months 3.98 (8.77) $25.83
Cairo, Egypt Egypt Post (surface) 1 month 5.9 (13) $36.47
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Lufthansa Cargo (air) 3 days 20 (44.09) $170.50
Chicago (to Madagascar) FedEx (air) 5 days 0.23 (0.5) $99.07