The Lost Girls RTW Budget: Part 2

Air, Finances & Savings, Health & Safety, Leaving & Coming Home, Lost Girls RTW Adventure, Packing & Wardrobe, Passports & Visas, Staying There — By on July 1, 2007 at 9:50 am

Flights, Travel Gear, Visas, Vaccines and Accommodations

I hope all you readers out there enjoyed Part 1 of The Lost Girls RTW Budget series, which I posted a few days ago. If you’ve been waiting with bated breath for Part 2 (as I know you have!), wait no longer. Today’s entry will reveal the exact dollars drained from our first five budget categories: flights, travel gear, visas, vaccines and accommodations, as well as offer LG creative cuts and other helpful hints for each.

If you’re tuning in for the first time and have no clue what I’m talking about, I’ve included a quick recap below of what you missed. However, to get the full effect of my wit, charm and uncanny ability to manipulate a calculator, I highly recommend scrolling down to my May 4th entry and starting from the budget’s humble beginning! 🙂

Highlights from Part 1: Showin’ You The Money!
After noticing that questions like “How the heck did The Lost Girls afford to hit the road for so long?” and “How much did they spend for the entire year?” were frequently popping up from readers, we attempted to provide answers by laying out our budget, by category, for the entire trip. Here are the average, estimated costs per person that I highlighted in my last entry:

Flights: $5000
Travel Gear: $500
Visas: $375
Vaccines: $450
Accommodations: $2786
Meals and Snacks: $3803
Intra-Country Transportation: $1490
Entertainment & Extras: $2872
Miscellaneous: $715
And the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The Grand Total:
$17,991 per person

And now, ladies and gentlemen…

Part 2: A Categorical Breakdown
Flights, Travel Gear, Visas, Vaccines and Accommodations

Total Dollars Drained ($5000): $700 (round trip from N.Y.C to Lima, Peru) + $1000 (one way from NYC to Nairobi) + $2300 (RTW ticket: Nairobi – Dubai (free stop) – Bangalore – Bangkok – Bali (free stop) – Auckland – Sydney (via Christchurch) + $1000 (one way from Sydney to NYC).
LG Creative Cuts:
– – We could have saved a lot of money by cutting out South America, not visiting quite so many countries and/or sticking to one region of the world, but considering our complex itinerary, our trip was still economical thanks to the RTW ticket that we booked through Airtreks.
– – For some reason, adding South America to RTW tickets often results in a large leap in price, as was the case with our itinerary. But we managed to save a few hundred bucks by booking our flight for that portion of the trip separately.
– – We also got ourselves to Africa as we found a great deal on a one-way ticket, which gave us more flexibility on dates (we were swinging through NYC and weren’t sure when we’d need to leave to begin our volunteer program in Kenya). Plus, starting our RTW ticket from Nairobi was a bit more affordable anyway.
Other Helpful Hints:
– – Generally, RTW tickets are the most cost effective way to visit multiple destinations without going over budget. lets you plot out various routes, provides an instant quote and offers suggestions to save money/get more cities for your buck. So if you’re bored at work one day, hop on their site and see what your dream itinerary would cost. I guarantee you, it’s less than you think!
– – RTW tickets are often cheaper when you leave from Europe vs. the States, so booking a cheap one-way flight to London, for example, and starting your trip there, might save you a considerable amount.
– – Major alliances like One World offer multi-city tickets, so if you have frequent flier points linked to one of their airlines or just want to shop around, there are definitely options.
– – Research! Research! Research! Great deals are everywhere. You just have to look for them and of course book – immediately!

Travel Gear
Total Dollars Drained ($500): $175 Backpack + $75 Hiking shoes, $150 Clothes (windbreaker, hiking pants, thick socks, sports bras, etc.) + $100 Miscellaneous (water bottle, bug spray, first aid kit, medicine, flashlight, etc.)
LG Creative Cuts:
– – Like big girls are supposed to do, we learned to share! Fortunately we had each other to travel with and could split the cost of items we didn’t all need to bring (e.g. a universal converter, guidebooks, certain electrons/chargers, etc.)
– – When it came to bigger purchases like backpacks and hiking boots, we used all our resources, buying previously owned items (e.g. Amanda got an awesome pack from a friend for only $75 that was only used once and still in great shape), scouring the stores for sales and getting creative with items we already had in our closets.
– – Although we went a little overboard at the beginning (leaving our country for a year was kind of a big deal for us!), we did our best to limit our pre-trip gear to the essentials knowing that we could stock up again when we were passing through NYC on the way to Kenya or pick stuff up on the road.
Other Helpful Hints:
– – Borrowing gear from family or friends can really help your bottom line. You’d be surprised how many fabulous travel accessories are just collecting dust in people’s attics.
– – Take about ½ as much stuff as you think you need and get the rest on the road. Particularly if you’re traveling for a while, not sure what you’ll need, visiting a country or countries with drastic weather changes or simply don’t feel like paying full price in the States for staple items you can get for much less in many countries (e.g. we picked up 100% alpaca sweaters from a market in Peru for $6)
– – Start off with travel sizes and refill with local brands. We made the mistake of lugging huge supplies of certain items, like contact solution and tampons, with us because we thought they might be impossible to find on the road. All lies! Travel urban legends! Even the most remote villages in the farthest corners of the world are stocked with the essentials. Seriously, we bought an extra converter in Trivandrum, India, toilet paper on the Inca Trail, deodorant in Vang Vieng, Laos and shaving cream in Kitale, Kenya. Some things are more expensive abroad, but more often than not, they’re much cheaper.

Average Dollars Drained ($375): $100 Brazil + $50 Kenya + $75 India + $20 Cambodia + $70 Vietnam + $35 Laos + $25 Indonesia
LG Creative Cuts:
– – While mapping our itinerary, we researched which countries didn’t require visas, provided them for free (e.g. Thailand) or at a fairly low rate (e.g. Cambodia). That way, when there was a toss up between two options, we could save cash by choosing the cheaper one.
– – We applied for visas along the way versus getting them ahead of time (that wasn’t practical for our type of trip anyway), so if we changed our minds and nixed or switched a country at the last minute, we wouldn’t waste money.
– – As a side note, for those doubters out there, yes, it is possible to get visas as you go (Ex: we got our Brazil visa in Lima, Peru and our Vietnam visa in Bangkok, Thailand)! None of our visas took more than 2-3 days to process and sometimes we even got them the same or next day. Batting your eyelashes, smiling and/or begging also work in a pinch too if you’re really stuck!
Other Helpful Hints:
– – If you do have to pay for a high priced visa, avoid excess processing fees, postage, etc. by visiting the embassy in person vs. mailing away for it and be sure to budget for the cost when planning your trip. A couple less cocktails at the pool and the visa money will barely make a dent!
– – Also, in countries like Laos and Cambodia, where you can get your visa on the way in at border patrol, it helps to have U.S. dollars on hand as you can wind up paying more if you use local currency (For example: At the Laos border, our $35 visa ended up costing close to $42 when we paid in kip.)
– – Be sure to confirm visa requirements ahead of time so there won’t be any unexpected surprises or costly setbacks.
– – This may seem obvious (although it took us LGs by surprise), but the embassies actually keep your passport for the duration of the visa processing. This created a slight problem for us when we applied for our Brazil visa on a Friday in Lima, Peru, had a in-country flight to the Amazon on Saturday (for which you need a passport) and were told our visa wouldn’t be ready until Monday. Thankfully we are fairly savvy girls and managed to get our passports and freshly stamped visas back that same afternoon (see the last sentence of the last bullet in the above LG Creative Cuts if you’re curious how accomplished this feat.)

Average Dollars Drained ($450): (since the type of shots and the price we each paid varied slightly, I’ve adjusted the total number to reflect the average cost per person. In case you’re interested, here are estimated prices (at cost) for the vaccines we got: Hepatitis A ($52), Hepatitis B ($45) (can get Twinrix A/B combo for $78), Meningitis ($96), Yellow fever ($80), Typhoid ($55), Tetanus/Diphtheria ($24). We also spent about $150 on malaria medication since we were in high risk regions for about 4-6 months.
LG Creative Cuts:
– – Other than the obvious – don’t visit countries where you need vaccines – our best money saving advice is to do your research! The price of the same vaccine can vary drastically depending on whether you get it at your doctor’s office, a travel clinic or your county health department. We each shopped around to find the best deal (Hint! That means, getting the vaccines at cost), which saved us almost $50.
– – Since we were going to be in high risk malarial zones for several months, we opted to take Larium as it was only $10/per pill (which covers a week) versus Malarone, which was about 4x the price (and you have to take a pill every day) NOTE: Since we’re definitely not qualified to give medical advice, our best suggestion is to research all options thoroughly and weight the pros and cons of each. Ex: We were warned that Larium had more serious side effects than Malarone, but since saving money was critical for us, we decided to take our chances (and luckily we didn’t have any trouble).
– – We made sure to make the rounds with our all doctors and get all prescriptions filled before our health insurance ran out. I know, this is really specific, but if you plan to quit your job to travel, like we did, it’s a quintessential tip!
Other Helpful Hints:
– – Check with your insurance company first as some vaccines, like tetanus boosters or Hepatitis A, may be included. Most plans will also cover a small supply of malaria medication at the co-pay cost. After that, you’ll need to factor in whether visiting a malarial region for an extended period of time is worth the cost as meds can be very expensive.
– – Since certain vaccines can take days or weeks to become effective, be sure to take that into consideration and allow ample time to get them before your trip departure.
– – Separate your sticks! Speaking from experience, it’s no fun to get five shots in one day. My right arm swelled up immediately, producing a bright red lump the size of a baseball that refused to go away for almost 2 weeks – making it a fun conversation piece at The Lost Girls’ going away party! On a more serious note, it’s also safer to spread out your vaccines in case you happen to have an adverse reaction. Meaning, if you get multiple vaccines at once, you wouldn’t know which one caused the problem versus if you got one at a time.
– – Shot records – Don’t leave home without them! Some countries may require proof that you’ve had certain vaccines, so be sure to carry a copy of your card with you.
– – Read Amanda’s article, Cheap Shots, on the Travel + Leisure website ( Years ago, AP penned this brilliant piece, which, of course, coincidentally served as a great resource to The Lost Girls during our trip planning phase. We’re so lucky!

Average Dollars Drained* ($2786): (Average $8.65/day for 322 days: $8/night-Peru, Bolivia, Brazil x 60 days = $480 + $9/night-Kenya x 50 days = $450 + $45/night-Dubai x 6 days = $270 + $5/night-India x 28 days = $140 + $5/night-Thailand-Laos-Vietnam-Cambodia x 77 days = $385 + $4/night – Bali x 14 days = $56 + $15/night – New Zealand x 27 days = $405 + $10/night – Australia x 60 days = $600)
LG Creative Cuts:
– – When it comes to saving on sleep (location, not hours!), The Lost Girls rely heavily on the three Cs: Country, Comfort and Compromise.
– – Sticking primarily to cheaper countries can drastically slash your budget and can mean the difference between affording to travel for a few weeks or a few months. For us, committing to an entire year on the road meant nixing Europe all together, limiting our time in New Zealand and Australia and spending the majority of our months in more cost effective regions like South America, Southeast Asia, India and Africa.
– – If you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of comfort (OK, sometimes a lot) and stay in hostels and super cheap guesthouses like we did, you’ll save big bucks. Hotels weren’t even an option for us as they were nearly triple or even up to 10x the price.
– – Lastly, be sure to have a clear understanding of what you and your travel partners consider deal breakers (e.g. will only stay in shared dorm rooms ½ the time). Other than those few things (yes, there should only be a few), you must be willing to compromise on everything else if it means saving $.
Other Helpful Hints:
Get creative! There are tons of ways you can save on accommodations, but here are a few of our faves:
– – Book overnight flights. It sounds silly, but for us that was almost a week’s worth of hostels we didn’t have to pay for.
– – Expand your options and consider things like camping or renting a van that doubles as your transportation and a bedroom.
– – Call in favors / ask to stay with friends of friends abroad (if they’re willing and you promise to return the favor).
– – Negotiate! Negotiate! Negotiate! It’s pretty standard in third world countries to bargain on the price of a room, so don’t be afraid to show off your haggling skills, particularly if there’s stiff competition in the area or you’re willing to guarantee an extended stay.

*This was a pretty tough category to estimate considering how much the cost varies from country to country and hostel to hostel. In Laos, Amanda and I spend $5 for an entire double room, while in New Zealand, it cost about $15 for a dorm bed. What saved us in this category was 1) we spent 9 out of 12 months in third world countries where lodging is very cheap 2) we didn’t have to pay for lodging for 365 days as we spent a couple weeks with friends and family (for free) back in the States and on the road and 3) we were able to secure an apartment for only $300/month/person in Sydney – a city where hostels usually cost $20-$25 per night. Yikes!

Coming Soon!

Part 3: A Categorical Breakdown
– Meals and Snacks
– Entertainment and Extras
– Intra-Country Transportation
– Miscellaneous

Plus! Bonus Features
– LG Random Facts
– Savvy Savings Tips
– A Week at Disney World vs. A Week in the Life of a Lost Girl

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  • dave925 says:

    Great info! I haven’t seen any mentions of travel insurance, or medical insurance (so coverage doesn’t lapse between jobs). I was planning to purchase both.

    Did any of you do so?

  • Lizzi says:

    Wow. This post is SO incredibly helpful to someone in the very early stages of planning a big trip. Thank you thank you thank you.

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