Luxury Travel Blog

Talking Travel Budgets for Long Term or RTW Travelers

I’ve been putting off writing this post for a long time.  Not because I don’t want to talk about it but because travel budgets for long term travelers are so individual and it’s really hard to give advice on something that has no definite answer.

There are so many methods for long term travel (we are talking long term travel here but you can adapt it for short term too).  Lets just look at some of the travel styles that are popular today:

·      Backpacking/Hosteling

·      Couchsurfing/Woofing

·      Camping

·      Rv’ing

·      House sitting

·      Hotels/motels/Apartments

·      Resorts/5 star hotels


Talking Travel Budgets for Long Term or RTW Travelers - Fancy Hotel

Fancy 5 star hotel? Don’t mind if I do!


The price range there is anything between $5 per night to $500 per night!  So as you can see, there is such a huge range when you are talking travel budgets.

But one of the things we want to achieve here at Suitcase Stories is to help anyone who dreams of living this lifestyle plan and prepare for their travels.  And of course your budget is an essential part of that.

Traveling without a budget is like traveling blind.  You really do need to know what travel style you can afford if you want to stay on the long for a decent amount of time.

But how can I advise you of that when I travel using one style and you may want to travel in another?  I can’t really.

So instead of advising you how much you will need to save to travel the world, we decided it would be better to show what we spend living this lifestyle.  Then, you can adjust it to suit your travel style.


Talking Travel Budgets for Long Term or RTW Travelers - Backpackers

Backpacking is a very popular method of travel for long term travelers


Some of you may look at this and go “Oh my god, they spend so little” and others will be thinking “Holy crap, I cant afford to travel like that!”.  But what you have to remember is, this is OUR budget.  This is the method we CHOOSE to travel with.

You will probably travel very differently from us and therefore you will have to come up with your own budget to suit your needs.  But we hope this gives you a starting point to develop your own travel budget.

As some of you know, we travel using the house sitting method.  We get to live in other peoples homes free of charge in exchange of looking after their home and pets.

However, this isn’t the only method we use.  Some times there are weeks or even months where we do not house sit.  This is sometimes by choice so we can travel quicker in some countries or it can be because there were no suitable house sits which we wanted to apply for.


Talking Travel Budgets for Long Term or RTW Travelers - Run Down House

We like to be a little bit fussy with what kind of house sits we accept


Either way this means we have to pay for accommodation during these times.   Now, I left my tiara back in Australia when we left 14 months ago but there is still a little ‘princess’ left in me and I prefer to stay in decent hotels or short term apartments during these times.  I’m not talking 5 star here people but I do like  clean bathroom, comfortable bed and a mini bar to keep all my liquor in (or maybe its diet coke but liquor makes me sound much more exciting!)

So this means our budgets are vastly different between our house sitting days and our hotel days.  Now we could just show you our budget for our hotel days because most of you will relate to that more.  But because we are huge advocated of house sitting we thought we would include that too so you can see exactly why we talk your ear off about house sitting on this blog!

Please remember, this is not a suggest budget for you!  This is OUR budget which you can use as a guide to determine your own budget.


Talking Travel Budgets for Long Term or RTW Travelers - Hotel Room

Hotel Room


 Please note: Both budgets have been worked out on an average over the last 12 months and of course will vary day to day.  All prices are in USD.  The costs presented are for two people, not per person and exclude transport costs.


Hotel Stays

I mentioned we stay in hotels between sits.  Sometimes this can be just for a few short days, other times it can be a month or more at a time.  Occasionally we have a kitchenette to cook our own meals in but usually we are in a standard hotel room with nothing more than a small bathroom and maybe a mini fridge.

This means we eat out – a LOT.  We usually have a very cheap breakfast, or sometimes its included in the room rate, and lunch and dinner are either eaten in cheap restaurants or food stalls. So our food budget varies as much as the accommodation when compared to our house sitting budget.

Accommodation $87

Food $80

Sightseeing $17

Total Daily Spend $184


Talking Travel Budgets for Long Term or RTW Travelers - House Sitting

House sitting is a great way to keep your costs down!


House sitting stays

You are about to see why we try and house sit much more than we stay at hotels.  This budget is very different in many ways.  The obvious is accommodation costs but you will also see food, sightseeing and transport very low too.  Why?  Well when we house sit we have our own kitchen to cook in this means its much cheaper to eat.

We do not do as much sightseeing while we house sit because we like to stay at the house majority of the time so instead of being out every day (like we are when we are at hotels) we go out only 1 or 2 days a week when we house sit.

And transport is low because we always take sits that supply us their car.  This means the only transport cost we have is gas, which of course is minimal when you only go out once or twice a week.

Accommodation $0

Food $35

Sightseeing $1

Total Daily Spend $36

Please note: Typically we stay at 3 star hotels.  Sightseeing includes things like entry fees and tour fees.  Costs for food include 3 restaurant meals per week.


Talking Travel Budgets for Long Term or RTW Travelers - World Map

Money makes the world go round!


So as you can see there is a huge difference in our two budgets so imagine how hard it would be for us to give you an exact budget for your travel style which may be different to ours.  It’s even greater if you include transport costs!

Hopefully this will give you a rough idea of costs for both hotel stays and house sitting.  You can tweak it to your travel style and type of accommodation you will be staying in.  Of course if you choose to do camping or hosteling your daily spend will be a lot cheaper than what we have shown here.  And on the flip side, if you stay at only 4-5 star hotels you need to allow for that additional cost in your budget.

Which ever travel method you choose it’s a very good idea to do up a budget, or expected costs, so you know how much money you will need to have in your savings account before you embark on your big adventure!


If you have any budget tips you would like to share please do so in the comments below.



  1. A fab round up Nicole, It’s crazy to see just exactly how much house sitting does save. I have to say we don’t track our daily spend religiously. As we do house sit for a large proportion of the time it’s easier to justify spending a little extra when we are out and about. Just one of the many joys of house sitting!
    Charli l Wanderlusters recently posted…Mataatua: The House That Came HomeMy Profile

  2. I’ve never really looked into the house sitting side of things but it looks as though it\’s saved you guys heaps! Not sure how much people would like a nomadic surfer guys staying in their place though!I\’ve been keeping a record of my backpacker finances for nearly a year now (hostel living all the way) which you might be interested in reading;
    Chris recently posted…Campervanning New Zealand – My South Island Round UpMy Profile

    • Nicole Connolly /

      Hi Chris! I think you would be surprised and you might find some great sits…perhaps even one on an awesome surf beach maybe 😉 Ill definitely check out your budget! Im always interested in others budgets, especially because ours isnt the ‘norm’ for a nomad. – Thanks for taking time out to stop by 🙂
      Nicole Connolly recently posted…An Interview With A Traveler – Charli and Ben from WanderlustersMy Profile

  3. Hey Nicole! Thanks for sharing! It sounds like we have a lot in common, the way our budget drastically changes from when we are house sitting and when we are on the move! We too enjoy a clean bathroom, a room with natural light and a comfy bed. The part we have found tricky is managing to make some of our meals to avoid restaurants for every single meal!! You guys rock! Thanks for sharing your budget!
    Kathleen recently posted…Extended Travel Preparation 101My Profile

    • Nicole Connolly /

      Hey Kathleen! Yeah, I know a lot of people like hostels or are happy with a cheap (read dirty) hotel to save money but the good thing about house sitting is the money we save during those times allows us to be a little more, shall we say, picky when we stay at hotels 🙂 One thing we do in regards to the food at hotels… we book rooms with a mini bar and microwave so we can eat microwavable meals from time to time (not every meal!) and buy milk and cereal for a cheap breakfast (they are usually happy to supply a bowl and spoon, otherwise we eat it out of the supplied coffee cups lol). We do this quite often to help keep the food costs down during hotel stays. We cant always find the room we want with the fridge and microwave but those times we do, it definitely helps.
      Nicole Connolly recently posted…An Interview With A Traveler – Charli and Ben from WanderlustersMy Profile

  4. Great post – are you travelling off savings or do you have income coming in from working remotely while traveling? I’ve always bee hesitant to long term travel just because I can see myself blowing through all of my savings!!
    Megan Claire recently posted…Florida is hot right now!My Profile

  5. Agreed! Having a budget is very important. We kept much closer track of things on our second extended trip than we did the first time. Generally, we are more in the clean, comfortable guesthouse and hostel category, though we were lucky enough the last time around to have a lot of Marriott points built up. That enabled us some very comfortable splurge nights when we needed it. We have not delved into House-sitting yet, though we are absolutely ready to. For now we are home for a bit, building up some cash in the coffers. Safe travels!
    Tamara recently posted…Weekly Photo Challenge: CultureMy Profile

    • Nicole Connolly /

      Hi Tamara! I will admit; we have had the odd occasion where we have splurged a little. For example we stayed in the Marriott in Puerto Rico and a few others along the way but mostly its been 3 star (ish). I am a woman who enjoys a splash of lux 😉 When you are ready to start house sitting we have loads of info on the site and more coming every week. And of course at any time feel free to email us, we are always happy to help where we can! – Thanks for stopping by 🙂
      Nicole Connolly recently posted…Talking Travel Budgets for Long Term or RTW TravelersMy Profile

  6. Thanks for this post. I am about to start my RTW next week, and I have been having a hard time determining my budget as a single traveler. Would you estimate for going solo, the accommodations costs would be the same, the food be 50% and the sightseeing 50%? I am not a backpacker/couch surfer, but I also don’t need the five star hotels. I am intrigued by the house sitting. I love animals so this would be ideal. Is it difficult to get started in house sitting if you don’t have previous experience and no “reviews”? Thanks!
    Laurie recently posted…The Next AdventureMy Profile

    • Nicole Connolly /

      Hi Laurie. Thanks so much for your comments and questions! Yes, if you take 50% off the food and sightseeing that will equal one person. Of course the hotels are by the room so the only way to reduce that cost is of course to stay at cheaper places. The accommodation is an average of 3 start as I mentioned however there were a few 4-5 star thrown in there when we wanted to splash out so you could definitely lower that cost if you stuck to 3 star.

      Its not hard to get started in house sitting. The best advice I have for new house sitters is to have some personal references to offer the home owners and tell them about your strengths (for example, if you like gardening, mention it). You may find this post helpful because I talk a little about it there.

      Thanks for stopping by Laurie and if you need any more help you can email me any time 🙂
      Nicole Connolly recently posted…An Interview with a Traveler – Erin from TravelWithBender.comMy Profile

  7. Great post! I can see why you put off writing it for a while, though: it’s so individual! Nonetheless, I think this is a really useful resource for someone just starting out…and even for people already on the road, like us. We did a terrible job of planning a budget before we left, and it’s cause some problems that we’re currently trying to overcome…but you live and learn, right?

    • Nicole Connolly /

      Thats life is all about Sam, living and learning 🙂 I hope people find this helpful. I wish I could give a more specific answer but I dont want to mislead anyone out there. The are too many variables when talking travel budgets but hopefully this will be guidance for those considering long term travel
      Nicole Connolly recently posted…Costa Rica Road Trip – Part 1My Profile

  8. Hey this is a great resource, thanks! Budgeting is probably my least favorite thing and also the thing I am least skilled at. I leave for a RTW in a few months and have not been so great about saving as much as I could have (I like my dinners out and drinking!) I am hopefully banking on housesitting/working/couch surfing as much as I can while traveling so $$ hasn’t been on the forefront of my mind so much. To each his own!
    Katie recently posted…A Food Lovers Dream: What to Expect during Vermont Restaurant WeekMy Profile

    • Nicole Connolly /

      Hi Katie! So glad you enjoyed it 🙂 Yes, Im not a fan of budgeting either but of course its important when it comes to travel, especially long term travel.

      How exciting for you! Yes, house sitting and couch surfing will help you keep your costs down and there are plenty of ways to keep food costs down too. I look forward to reading about your upcoming adventure!
      Nicole Connolly recently posted…Beautiful Sunsets & Sunrises From All Over The WorldMy Profile

  9. You’re really selling the house sitting thing! I’ve never got round to trying it, but it makes so much sense when there are so many empty houses sitting around needing a little bit of tlc. Thanks for the advice!
    Arianwen recently posted…Bad news Brazil: attempted molestations and muggingsMy Profile

  10. thank you soo much for sharing. along with being hugely insightful, i also love ANY post that proves just how affordable long-term travel can be… IF you know what you’re doing and have a plan.

    maybe the next time we meet someone on our current rtw who asks us “just HOW we can afford all of this?!” i’ll direct them to your site instead of punching them in the face.

    … i mean…
    the lazy travelers recently posted…no travel requiredMy Profile

  11. It’s always super interesting to see what other people budget. Our goal for the next 6 months is to cover our costs while we’re traveling with income from renting our house and other income. In the week prior to departing, we’ve had over $3000 of unexpected expenditure. Ouch!
    Kate recently posted…5 Vegan or Very Vegan-Friendly Restaurants for Your Vegan Restaurant Bucket ListMy Profile

  12. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family /

    Thanks for sharing. What you choose to spend on travel is such a personal thing but it’s great to share it to prove that long term travel is possible and doesn’t ahve to be as expensive as vacationing.

    • Nicole Connolly /

      Im not normally one to share financial info because like you said, its personal (and we dont do it in the real world so I dont understand why its a big thing in the travel/blogging world) but I hope what Ive shared helps others to see how affordable long term travel can be. If I can help just one person live their dreams its all worth it.
      Nicole Connolly recently posted…Six Experts Answer Your House Sitting Questions (Part 2)My Profile

  13. In days gone by when I pursued long term travel people would often exclaim oh I wish I could afford to travel.

    To me it is all about priorities. You can’t have everything: latest clothes, blowing half your wage at the pub on the weekend, new flashy car and travel around the world.

    You choose the one that is most important for you. For me that has always been travel.
    Sally recently posted…Dreaming of SummerMy Profile

  14. Wade Goodwin /

    Like you said…its really difficult to pin down your exact budget…but its definitely important to form money saving habits quickly into your trip. I love how y’all use house sitting opportunities when possible. That has to be one of the better ways to experience ultra cheap travel!
    Wade Goodwin recently posted…Cheap Lodging: The World Traveler’s Guide to RTW AccommodationsMy Profile

  15. House sitting is such a good idea for long term travellers. It’s nice to take a break from travel and spending money!
    Go Click Travel recently posted…Friday Link Round Up – 6 December 2013My Profile

  16. I talked with a couple who was volunteering at the lighthouse at a state park in SC, staying in their RV. They said they also did the same thing with some of the National Parks out west. That also sounds like a way to do it.
    Robert Fowler recently posted…Boomer TravelMy Profile

  17. The budgets are really interesting. I’m with you, if I’m going to stay in a hotel, it should be fit for a princess. 🙂
    Penny Sadller recently posted…Game Day GuacamoleMy Profile

  18. I recently found out, that if I was living in hostels throughout a whole year, and getting a food budget of 60$ and the highest hostels being $35 per night (in europe) I could live on $15,000 a year comfortably.
    So it is good to look at different options that are available, although i am mainly looking at helpx type of sites, but am starting to give house sitting a thought.

  19. Another reason to try housesitting!! How is it starting up? Do people really pick you even if you haven’t done it before?
    Marina from

    • Michael Wright
      Michael Wright /

      It is harder to get a house sit without having done one before, but definitely not impossible. You can get references from different people that will help. Jump over to our housesitting page (link at the top), for information about making a good application.
      Michael Wright recently posted…Three days in Boston, USAMy Profile

  20. Craig /

    I just stumbled onto your page, great content! I’m about to embark on my own journey around the world. I am single and 25 years of age (from the US). Do you see people my age house sitting? I have plenty of experience and am very responsible. But I am unsure homeowners will turn their house keys over to a single guy in his mid-20’s. Any thoughts?

    • Michael Wright
      Michael Wright /

      It is definitely harder to get a housesit as a single young male, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get them. You just have to sell yourself very well in your application. Prior experience is the best sell and a great application.
      Michael Wright recently posted…Best Things to See on a Road Trip in ColoradoMy Profile


  1. Travelling the World under $25 a Day in style! How? Housesitting! - [...] spending that money, you have it to spend elsewhere or, like us, to prolong your trip.  We have saved…

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