The Lost Girls RTW Budget: Part 3

Calling & Texting, Finances & Savings, Food & Wine, Getting There, Leaving & Coming Home, Lost Girls RTW Adventure, Wifi & Internet Cafes — By on July 1, 2007 at 11:16 am

Meals & Snacks, Intra-Country Travel, Entertainment & Extras and Miscellaneous. Plus Bonus Features!

Jen: OK, faithful budget followers, it’s trivia time on…

What do The Lord of the Rings, Back to the Future, Indiana Jones and The Lost Girls RTW Budget Series have in common?

Blog Readers:
“They’re all trilogies that were created by pure and utter geniuses!”
The Lost Girls: “You are absolutely correct!”

Which also means that in addition to your impeccable taste and judge of talent, you’ve probably deduced what today’s blog entry is…all together now!

Blog Readers: “The third and final installment in The Lost Girls RTW Budget Series
The Lost Girls: “Right again! We have the smartest audience of any blog ever!”

While Part 3 of our humble, little series may not sweep every Oscar category, require 1.21 gigawatts of electricity or solve the mystery of the Holy Grail, it will, however, brilliantly showcase the precise number of greenbacks The Lost Girls spent on: Meals & Snacks, Intra-country Transportation, Entertainment & Extras and Miscellaneous items. And before the end credits roll, we’ll also delight you with exciting bonus features (I know, anyone could have guessed this all from the blog’s subtitle, but wasn’t my Q&A so much more fun?!!)

So without further ado, we present:

The Lost Girls RTW Budget: Part 3

Actually, I must ‘ado’ for just a second for the sake of any budget beginners out there (you know who you are!). While I encourage you to scroll down the blog page and check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series first, if 3 happens to be your lucky number, you don’t have time right now or your boss is starting to get suspicious of your online activities, here’s a quick flashback:

(Average, estimated costs per person (by category) for The Lost Girls RTW Trip)
Flights: $5000
Travel Gear: $500
Visas: $375
Vaccines: $450
Accommodations: $2786
Meals & 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

OK, I’m done ‘ado’ing! Here we go with Part 3…

Meals and Snacks

Average Dollars Drained ($3803): (Average $11.81/day for 322 days: $15/day-Peru, Bolivia, Brazil x 60 days = $900 + $8/day-Kenya x 50 days = $400 + $15/day-Dubai x 6 days = $90 + $8/day-India x 28 days = $224 + $12/day-Thailand-Laos-Vietnam-Cambodia x 77 days = $924 + $10/day – Bali x 14 days = $140 + $15/day – New Zealand x 27 days = $405 + $12/day – Australia x 60 days = $720)
LG Creative Cuts:
– – As was the case with most our of budget categories, the fact that we spent about 75% of our time in third world countries was the biggest factor in keeping food costs under control. In most of the places we visited, huge portions or delicious local dishes were available for a few bucks.
– – The girls and I became masters timing our days so we could get away with only two meals and snacks in between. The joy of not having jobs made it possible to sleep in, have a big brunch around 12pm, grab cheap snacks ‘til dinner, then have our second meal around 7pm or 8pm. Since food can be a surprising money sucker, sticking to this schedule helped make it possible for us to eat well within budget.
– – When times were tough, PB&J sandwiches and granola bars were our saviors!
Other Helpful Hints:
– – Follow your Mom’s advice: Share! While most portion sizes abroad do tend to be smaller than those in the States (surprise, surprise, right?) many of the local staples like chicken biryani in India or pan fried noodles in Thailand are automatically super sized (at no extra charge!). So grab a friend or a fellow solo traveler and split a dish for dinner. You’ll save money and still be full.
– – You might be ignoring your Mom’s advice on this one, but give streets eats a chance. It’s a great way to test drive exotic dishes with little financial risk (seriously, we got entire meals for 50 cents). If that thought scares your stomach, take heart in the fact that the girls and I never gotten sick from sampling vendor cuisine (knock on wood) even once during our time abroad. In fact, since the food is cooked fresh right in front you, it’s probably some of the safest on (or in) the market.
– – Make like the hardcore backpackers and prepare your own meals. Hostels worldwide come equipped with kitchens and refrigerator, so hitting the grocery store and cooking at ‘home’ will save you big bucks.

Intra-country transportation

Average Dollars Drained ($1460): (Peru/Bolivia: flights-$200, buses-$50, taxis-$10, boats-$10 = $270 + Brazil: flights-$150, taxis-$50 = $200 + Kenya: trains-$60, matatus (shared vans ) /boda bodas (bicycles)-$25 = $85 + India: trains-$100, taxis/rickshaws-$30 = $140 + U.A.E. (Dubai): taxis-$50 = $50, Thailand: flights-$75, trains-$40, buses/ferries-$25, taxis-$20, skytrain-$30 = $190 + Laos: buses-$25, tuk tuks-$10 = $35 + Cambodia: buses-$30, taxis/motorbikes/bicycles-$15 = $45 + Vietnam: flights-$80, trains-$30, boats-$20, taxis-$15 = $145 + Indonesia: taxis/shared vans/bicycles-$20 + New Zealand: rental car-$230 + Australia (est.): taxis/buses(est.)-$50)
LG Creative Cuts:
– – Clearly, our creative juices weren’t flowing at the beginning as we blew almost $350 on plane tickets during the first two months of the trip alone. The flight to the Amazon in Peru was worth it, but we could have opted for an alternative route for the others. Oh, well, live and learn.
– – After a little bit of practice, we realized the best way to save money was to not worry about how long it took to get somewhere or how uncomfortable it was (we still reserved the right to bitch about, though). So we started taking local buses and trains whenever possible, which saved us loads of money in the long run.
– – Another way we saved was simply by negotiating. In most of the countries we visited, everyone from tour operators to taxi drivers will come down significantly from their original asking price. It’s just the way the game is played, so learning the rules quickly will definitely help your bottom line.
Other Helpful Hints:
– – Other than, don’t visit as many countries as we did, our best advice is to not get too ambitious with your itinerary versus racing around and trying to squeeze in too much. It’s hard not to be excited and want to see everything, but you’ll avoid overspending and burnout if you prioritize your over land commitments and focus on getting to know one region well.
– – Sharing is key when it comes to intra-country transport. Taxi, mini-vans, tours, etc. are all more cost-effective when there’s a group of travelers to split the cost. We paired up with strangers several times to get a better rate into town from the airport or border crossing and by the end of the trip, we’d made new friends.

Entertainment and Extras
Average Dollars Drained ($2872): (Travel Insurance: 1-year policy from World Nomads ( = $500; Peru/Bolivia: Inca Trail-$275, other tours/sites/entry fees-$40, sand boarding/dune buggy-$15, movies/shows-$20, cocktails/happy hours-$75, souvenirs/shopping-$65 = $490 + Brazil: capeoira/dance classes-$25, soccer game-$10, drinks/dancing-$45, souvenirs/shopping-$65 = $145 + Kenya: stargazing-$0, watching a baby calf being born-$0, bootleg DVDs-$10, scuba diving-$60, happy hours at the beach-$50 = $120 + U.A.E. (Dubai): cocktails-$50 = $50 + India: Golden Triangle tour-$100, yoga school-$70, backwater tour-$35, clubs/drinks-$55, souvenirs/shopping-$50 = $310 + Thailand: scuba diving-$115, muay thai boxing match-$15, muay thai classes-$10, beach buckets (liquor/mixer/straws)-$40, massages (3@$8/each)-$24, souvenirs/shopping-$60 = $264 + Laos: 2-day hike/kayak tour-$22, river tubing-$4, massages/reflexology (5@$3/each, 2@$5/each)-$25, souvenirs/shopping-$30 = $81 + Cambodia: Ankor Wat driving tour-$5, Tour of Killing Fields and school – $10, happy hours-$15 souvenirs/shopping-$20 = $50 + Vietnam: Museum entry fee-$3, 4-day tour to Sapa-$75, 2-day tour to Halong Bay-$35, souvenirs/shopping-$40, haircuts-$12, cocktails-$45 = $210 + Indonesia: DVD player/DVDs-$10, day tour of Bali-$15, drinks-$40, massage-$10, shopping/souvenirs-$20 = $95 + New Zealand: Abel Tasman 2-day hike/kayak-$70, bungee jumping-$150, bike tour of vineyards-$25, wine-$20, movies-$15 = $280 + Australia (est.): surf board rental-$12, scuba diving-$90, museums/sites-$30, wine tours-$20, mountain bike rental-$10, boat ride-$15, souvenirs-$25, cocktails-$75= $277)
Creative Cuts:
– – This is the one area where we attempted to be careful, but we just couldn’t help but overspend. When once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like hiking the Inca Trail, scuba diving in Southern Thailand or bungee jumping off the famous Nevis (a 400 foot drop) in New Zealand are thrust in your face on a daily basis, it’s difficult to stay cooped up in a dingy hostel reading a book.
– – Even considering our above admission of semi-reckless spending in this area, in general, we did manage to save a lot of money by simply opting out of activities or slashing all extra-curricular purchases when we noticed our monthly budget was in jeopardy. It sounds simple, but the old drug campaign “Just Say No” really works here.
– – Fortunately for us, there were dozens of free or cheap entertainment options in almost every country we visited. A few of our faves: DIY hikes, exploring local markets, horseback riding, running around town snapping photos, free movie screenings in local cafes (there practically on every corner in backpacker-friendly towns), hitting the beach with a good novel (purchased at a used book store or hostel trading shelf) or catching up on our journals over many cups of coffee – just to name a few!
Other Helpful Hints:
– – It sounds cheesy, but when you visit a country that truly inspires you, sitting on a bench and people watching or hiking to the top of a cliff and soaking in the scenery is often all the entertainment you need.
– – Prioritize! Decide which activities are absolute musts and set aside cash in your budget for them ahead of time. Also, allow a little extra for luxuries; they’ll help keep you sane!
– – Keep a detailed money journal to track how much you’re spending on anything that’s not a necessity. That way you can reel things in if they get out of control.


Average Dollars Drained ($715): (internet/communication-$30/month x 11 months=$330 + bank/ATM/credit card fees-$20/month x 11 months = $220, toiletries/personal supplies-$15/month x 11 months = $165)
LG Creative Cuts:
– – We signed up for Skype! It’s an internet based telephone service that allows you to call any number around the world for mere pennies a minute. You’d be surprised how many cafes around the globe cater to Skype users already, meaning they’ve downloaded the program on their computers (you just need to enter your log in and password) and provide headsets. It’s not a perfect system as calls can be patchy if the connection is slow, but in general it works great and definitely cuts communication costs. For more go to
– – Before we hit the road, we called all of our credit card companies and banks to alert them of our departure and all the countries we planned to visit (we didn’t want them to shut our cards off due to suspected suspicious activity) and also to confirm exactly how much they each charged for international fees. By doing our research, we were able to save by opting to use the card with the cheapest fees, take more cash out at a time if there was a per/transaction ATM fee and using our own branches abroad where available. FYI-If you don’t have a Visa, get one. It’s often the only card taken in certain parts of the world.
– – The girls and I found that buying local brands of toiletries or cheaper imports (Nivea is huge in Peru!) resulted in significant savings in the personal supplies department.
Other Helpful Hints:
– – If you’re traveling with a laptop, type out all your email responses ahead of time before hitting the internet café. You’ll spend less money that way and have a more pleasant experience (connections can be frustratingly slow).
– – Pay cash when you can. Even with ATM fees and conversion rates, you’re probably better off using bills for purchases versus your credit cards. Visa and Mastercard can charge up to 4% on all international fees, with American Express generally coming in around 3%.
– – Learn to live without luxuries. It’s amazing how little you actually need when you’re traveling. All the fancy face washes, masks, scrubs, deep conditioners we swore by back home seemed a bit silly and extraneous on the road (and heavy to store in your backpack). It’s easy to save money in this category simply by pairing down to the basics.



Ok, so If your head isn’t completely spinning from all the random numbers, complex calculations and arbitrary advice above (and in the past two entries), stay tuned for the exciting special features that I promised. 5,4,3,2,1…and action!

Random LG Facts
– – We are not trust fund babies nor do we have sugar daddies.
– – The only people who cared enough to contribute to The Lost Girls travel fund were me, Holly and Amanda.
– – We saved specifically for this trip for a year and a half.
– – International travel has been a priority in all three of our lives since we were old enough to get our first jobs, so we always set aside a portion of our paychecks for that purpose.
– – We were willing to drain our bank accounts, dip into savings and even go into a teeny bit of debt in order to take our big RTW journey. Now, I’m not suggesting that others should necessarily adopt this mentality, but it was definitely a factor in our decision to go nomad for 365 days.
– – We will return to the States with none of the following: jobs, apartments, furniture (it’s all in storage but where the heck would we put it anyway?), health insurance, boyfriends (well, AP and I won’t) or a clue as to what our future brings. Oh well!

Savvy Saving Tips
Before We Left:

– – Had a set amount from our paychecks automatically deposited into savings.
– – Paid more attention to the little costs that add up. Example: bringing a mug of coffee from home rather than paying more to get it from a street vendor saved us about $50/month.
– – Immediately transferred tax returns and bonuses directly into our travel accounts.
– – Sold old clothes, books, furniture and basically all the useless crap we’d accumulated over the years on Ebay. Not only did we pocket a nice chunk of change, we also didn’t have as much stuff to store during our year away.
– – To completely eliminate storage costs, we begged our family and friends to adopt our possessions for the year in exchange for a few exotic souvenirs, a postcard from every country and, most importantly, our undying devotion! They’re so lucky!
– – For months before our departure, we limited our purchases to only essential items like food, rent, and bills and limited luxuries like clothes, taxis, dinners out and high priced cocktails (look hard enough and you can find cheap happy hours even in NYC!)
– – When possible, we picked up extra work writing freelance articles, babysitting and bartending. Good practice for us as these things will probably be our main source of income when we return.
On the Road:
Although we covered several specific ways to save in the above category breakdown, here are a couple other things you can do to stretch your travel dollars:
– – Pick up odd jobs: Hostels looking for help behind the bar, local vineyards in need of extra fruit pickers, a scuba shop searching for a new dive master. If you can fill any of these needs or the dozens more that are out there, you can make money abroad. A lot of people we met had a system going: they’d travel until they run out of funds, stop and work a bit until they earned more and then hit the road again. We’d definitely rank this method at the top of our savvy savings list.
– – Volunteer: While some organizations charge pretty high fees, there are several that provide amazing volunteer opportunities at a reasonable price. And since costs are generally fixed and include food and accommodations, signing up with a reputable program is a great way to see the world on a small budget, while helping to make a difference in the lives of others. We registered for a 1 month program in Kenya through Village Volunteers ( and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of our trip. Plus, the money we paid all went directly to assist the organization and the local community where we worked (approximately $950 total, which included fees, meals, lodging, intra-country transport and 1 day safari in the Masai Mara-optional add on).

A Week at Disney World vs. A Week in New Delhi

This little exercise was really just for fun as it doesn’t proof anything particular and the figures are merely rough estimates I gleaned from various websites and/or from my own personal experiences. Still, it just goes to show that even trips to more remote or foreign countries can be just as affordable as many popular domestic destinations. Plus, you get the added advantage of discovering another culture, building a better understanding of how others around the world live and putting your own life in the States in perspective. That’s just a Lost Girls opinion, though. Everyone has different tastes and travel personalities, which should be the main considerations when planning a vacation. Though you have to admit, these mock budgets create a pretty compelling case to think globally!

7 Days with Mickey, Minnie and Goofy
– – Airfare and Accommodations: (2) Roundtrip tickets from NYC to Orlando, FL and 7 nights at Disney’s Coronondo Springs Resort (double occupancy) = $1464
– – Meals: Sample menu – Breakfast (continental breakfast at the hotel-$10), Lunch at Casey’s Corner in Magic Kingdom (Hot dog, French fries and a soda-$20), Dinner at Bistro de Paris in Epcot (Asparagus salad, Filet Mignon, crème brulee and a bottle of wine-$40) – All meals estimated $70/day/person x 7 days = $980
– – Rental Car: $39/day x 7 days = $273
– – Park Admission: 4-day pass for 2 people = $450
– – Park Extras:
cotton candy/popcorn/hot pretzels/icecream ($5/item x 3 per day x 2 people x 7 days = $210), water/sodas ($3/item x 4 per day x 2 people x 7 days = $168), Space Mountain photo-$35, Mickey ears-($15/pair x 2 people = $30) = $443
– – Additional Activities: 2 movie tickets-Downtown Orlando-$20, Cocktails at Universal Citywalk-$40, 2 tickets to Cirque du Soleil-$150, spa treatment-$80, miniature golf-$25 = $315

Estimated Total – $3925


7 Days with Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu
– – Airfare: (2) Roundtrip tickets from NYC to New Delhi, India = $1900 ($950/person-estimate from
– – Accommodations: 4 nights at Sunstar Grand (double occupancy) = $224
(mid-range, 3 star hotel). Note: The remaining 3 nights spent on tour-see below
– – Meals: Sample menu – Breakfast (fresh fruit, toast w/jam, tea/coffee-$3), Lunch (masala dosa, lentils w/rice, papaya lassi-$7), Dinner (cheese stuffed naan, chicken tika masala, wine, dessert-$15) -All meals-estimated $25/day/person x 7 days = $350
– – Local Transportation: Taxi/rickshaws-estimated $5/day x 7 days = $35
– – Golden Triangle Tour: ($100 per person) Includes a personal driver from New Delhi to Agra, 1-night hotel stay w/breakfast-, entry fee and tour of Taj Mahal, personal driver from Agra to Jaipur, 2-nights hotel stay w/breakfast, entry fees to all temples and palaces, personal driver from Jaipur back to New Delhi = $200
(based on an actual tour the girls and I took)
– – Souvenirs/Shopping: Handmade saris-$30, Carved Ganesh statue-$15, marble table top-$45, incense burner-$10, bangles/earrings-$20, sandals-$8, silk skirts-2 for $12 = $140
– – Entertainment/Extras: Shows and site-seeing – $20/day x 7 days-$140 x 2 people = $280, elephant ride for two -$20 = $300
– – Vaccines/medication: Hepatitis A-$52, Typhoid-$55, 3 Larium tablets-$30=$137 x 2 people = $274 (source: recommended vaccines pulled from

Estimated Total – $3423

Still not convinced to go international even after my beautiful side by side comparison? OK, fine. But at the very least, promise me that you’ll stop and sample a few exotic dishes from the row of ‘foreign countries’ lining Epcot! 🙂

Happy travels – wherever they may lead you!

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  • Shawna says:

    I’ve been looking for a good (and cheap) travel insurance policy. So you’d recommend World Nomads?


    Ha, and I’m giving my job to travel two months this summer–scary, but love the feeling of not having to come back to the same old. (And the perfect excuse to quit, too!)

  • Diane B says:

    Being a budget geek, I love the break down of your expenses. Thanks so much for doing this.

    Your guys’ adventures have inspired me to do something similar…so after grad school is done, I’m off to see the world (and not just the world pavilion!).

  • Marcia says:

    Does this mean your home now? No home comming pics? Don’t leave us hanging, we want to know how you girls are doing once you get back to NY!

  • Anonymous says:

    OK seriously, what is all of your skin secret? You guys have gorgeous skin!

  • Scott from Oregon says:


    Wow! Inflation, I guess.

    Glad to see kindred spirits flocking around…

  • Schmanders says:

    Fear not, Marcia! We’re plan to keep blogging about our travels through New Zealand, Australia and back home in the States. I’m already anticipating some SERIOUS reverse culture shock, but that’s just motivation to plan the next trip!

    Oh–and to anonymous: Thanks for the skin compliment! Because we’ve been traveling in very tropical climates and have been using sunscreen, our complexions have improved. But there’s lots to be said for the power of good lighting and makeup 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Hey Jen, this post rocks. Its given me a lot of pointers for my 2008 RTW trip. My journey will actually be somewhat similar to yours except in a reverse order. I plan to email you girls on some of the destinations once I get everything a little more ironed out.

    Thought I’d point out a few tips I’ve learned as well though: 1) Good idea to scan in copies of important documents such as passports, vaccinations, emergency contacts, plane tickets, etc and then email them to yourself so you can access them anywhere in the event you lose your bags or something (except Myanmar apparently) 2) Internal frame bags have come a long way recently and its good to splurge and go to an good outdoors store where you can get expert advise and find one that fits your body size. Your back will thank you 3) If you can, try and join a credit union. Their ATM fees outside the US are generally cheaper than banks…Hope this all helps

  • Jason says:

    I think these girls had a great trip and you enjoy more great trips by using Coupon Codes just like me.