How Much Money Do I Need To Travel South East Asia?

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Before you go travelling one of the biggest most obvious questions & stress you will face is… Money. How much do you really need to be able to travel the world for either a short or long period of time? 

Things are about to get super personal. I have written this blog with Sam and we are happy to go in depth with you because we really needed something like this before we went travelling and struggled to find anything. So hopefully this will give you an insight on travel money, & an idea of your approximate expenditure on your travels and how much you think you need depending on your time away. A lot of bloggers don’t like discussing money. It’s obvious that you need a fair bit of it to travel the world long term or short term for that matter. Without further ado, here she goes…

One thing that ANNOYS THE HELL OUT OF US… is when we speak to other backpackers out here and they ask how long we are travelling for and how much money we have. We, of course, don’t mind talking about it, hence why I am writing this blog… but they have the NERVE to say ‘oh you have rich parents’ or ‘haha you’re lucky, the bank of parents right?’ Or ‘oh a gap year? Student loan?’ Absolutely not. LET ME MAKE THIS EXTREMELY CLEAR. *Clears throat* The money we have, we both saved very hard for. Even if our families offered us money we wouldn’t of accepted it. It was a challenge we were both up for and something we are very proud of for achieving.

Sam worked extremely hard every day in London as an electrician. Leaving the house at 5am and getting back sometimes as late as 8pm. I worked in an office job working in finance, mortgages specifically. Which, if you know what a mortgage is, you will know how important it is to make sure everything is 100% right. Both of us had important jobs that we both worked very hard in. Sam earned quite a lot more money than me so was able to save more, but 95% of my money that I earned each month went straight into my savings account. I also sold EVERYTHING I had ever bought. Allowing me to catch up more with Sams savings. Earning more than me, it was obvious sam would overtake me by a mile. We still got paid a little when we were away so this added to our savings. 

As I was employed and left part way through the tax year, I was also able to claim all of the tax back that I had paid for 6 months… Sam was a self-employed contractor & was paid a month in hand so got paid once we were a month in too. 

Total money saved: £30,000
Lauren: £10,500
Sam: £19,500

We also have emergency credit cards which I could have spent £3000 on, and Sam could spend £4000. We only use these for flights though and anything else we need a nice villa for example *rolls eyes*. Jokes aside, we have about £1000 each on our credit cards, which we are totally fine with. We pay a bit off each month but when we start working we will clear these entirely with our remaining savings. Good credit scores are important, so only get a credit card for travels if you can trust yourself with one.

Countries visited and money spent so far:

Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Malaysian Borneo, Indonesia, Philippines. We have spent time in 9 different countries and re-entered

Thailand 3 times, Indonesia and Malaysia twice. 

In 8 months we have spent a total of £18,000 including the money on our credit cards. Yes, this is a lot, but let me explain. Here you have to bear in mind that, we went to Hong Kong and Tokyo, Japan. That trip alone cost about £3000 including flights. Also, we have spent a lot of time in Thailand training our favourite sport and that costs around £300 per week for both of us AND one last thing… We have been fortunate enough to meet friends and family on our travels, and when we’ve been meeting up with them we have spent more and gone into a holiday mode. So I think realistically, if you stick to South-East Asia, on a middle/comfortable budget you could spend less than £1000 per person, per month. If you do it on a lower budget you can do it between £600 – £800 per month but you’d have to keep a close eye on what you’re spending.

I’d like to add, everyone is different. Some people really don’t care about little things like sitting at a table whilst you eat or to have a nice bed to sleep in… If you’re someone like that, you could travel for a very long time and spend very little money. Sam and I are a couple, we love a good night sleep and love good food (at a nice table). We have also done a lot of nice couple things too, like spa days, private boat tours etc. We defiantly could have done our travels cheaper and made our money go a lot further than it has. That being said we most certainly wouldn’t change a thing! The money we have spent we have had the best time with and we will forever be grateful that we have taken a few years out to create such amazing memories in the most wonderful places around the earth. Here is what you need for each budget…

Just to reiterate, we have ONLY travelled South-East Asia so far, and we are heading to Australia soon. The budget information below is all about South-East Asia ONLY.

Daily: 

Solo traveller – £20 including accommodation
Couple travellers – £40 including accommodation

Monthly:

Solo traveller: £800
£600 for food/accommodation/miscellaneous
Allow another £200 at least for travel costs.

Couple travellers: £1600
£1200 for food/accommodation/miscellaneous
Allow another £400 for travel costs.

Let me break it down…

Budget Accommodation: £2-£7 for a bed in a dorm. £7-£20 for a double room with/without an ensuite. 
Food: £1-£5 per meal.
Internal travel costs (buses/trains/boats/taxis): £5-£40
International travel costs £20-£200 (depending on how far away you are going & whether you are taking a sleeper bus or a flight)
Nights out: £10-£20 (depending on transport to and from and how much you want to drink)
Day trips/tours: £5 – £30
Toiletries: £0.50 – £3 (not including sun cream)
Others – 
Massage/spa treatments: £3-£30
Souvenirs: £0.50 – £10
Markets/clothes: £0.50 – £20

Here are a few examples of an average day for us:

Accommodation: £10
3 meals: £3 each
Water throughout the day: £1 for the whole day
A massage: £4
……………….
£24 for one person. 
£48 for us both.

Another day like this:

Accommodation: £7
3 meals: £2 each
Water throughout the day: £1
……………….
£10.50 for one person
£21 for us both

One more example:

Accommodation: £20
2 meals (breakfast included with the hotel): £2 each
Water throughout the day: £1
Flight from the Philippines to Thailand: £80
……………….
£95 for one person
£190 for both
 

If your anything like us, you will have the intention that you won’t go out drinking, you won’t spend unnecessary money on things like massages etc and you will only eat cheap street food, but… when you are actually travelling and you see how cheap things like that are this side of the world, and how good the standard is, you will for sure want to try it out. Also, let’s not forget, You have just spent the most part of a year, maybe longer, working your arse off to save every last penny to have the BEST time travelling. So enjoy yourselves, treat yourselves every now and then and don’t feel bad for doing so! Money comes and goes so don’t become obsessed with it. Memories and time are way more valuable TRUST ME. Forget the material rubbish. When you travel you need to find a happy medium. Have budget days where you barely spend money and have days where you think ‘sod it, I fancy going for a massage and a nice meal’… that’s fine, because the money you didn’t spend on your budget days you can spend now, and you still haven’t gone over your monthly budget. Win-win right? … Let me explain each topic and give you the low down.

Accommodation:

As a solo traveller, you can normally get a pretty decent hostel for £5 a night that includes breakfast, and a curtain around the bed (way more private). As a couple, £10 a night is normally enough for a half decent room. Sometimes a double room in a hostel with a shared bathroom, sometimes a nice room in a hotel with an ensuite. It really depends where you are to what kind of value for money you can get. Every now and then we splash out a bit. The maximum we have spent on one night’s accommodation was £130 (crazy I know) but the minimum we have spent on one night was £2.50. So we really have stayed in a whole scope of accommodation. The way we normally see it is the less you spend on accommodation the more money you have to spend throughout the day.

Food:

(Our favourite topic)… Street food is really good most places around the world… but every now and then it’s nice to have a sit-down meal. Also, chances are you will probably get food poisoning at some point in your travels, and when that happens you will most likely want to eat western food in restaurants until your feeling confident again. This being said, sometimes we trust eating street food more because you can see how clean their kitchen is… you don’t know what goes on in a restaurant’s hidden kitchen. You can never be too careful either so just go with it and hope for the best. Sam and I have become vegetarians on this trip and my golly it is soo much cheaper. Meat costs a lot more money than veggie meals! Easily £1+ more per meal which defiantly adds up. Naturally, we pick the cheaper options on the menu anyway, we have gotten into the habit of doing that with everything and it’s defiantly helped.

Nights out:

You meet so many people along the way and as a backpacker, you should defiantly be open-minded and sociable to meet people. Trust me you’ll make the best friends… this is where nights out get involved… one drink leads to another and before you know it you are strutting your dutty wine with your new besties all over Koh San road (and about £20 poorer). But being £20 poorer might of bagged you some real decent friends that you will stay in contact with for life! Id say, most nights out we have gone on we have met some brilliant people that we have met up with again and will meet up with in the future. Nights out are important!! For drinkers AND non-drinkers!

Internal travel:

Busses/boats/trains really vary in price. It sort of works out that any journey over 10 hours will cost between £15-£30 depending on how far it is you are going. Anything under 10 hours can cost £10-£15 on approx. For example, Sam and I regularly get a boat and a bus from Koh Samui, Thailand to Phuket, Thailand… This is 2 hours on a boat and 5 hours on a bus. This costs us £15 each, each time. Boats from island to island are normally around £15 one way & your cheapest taxi option is GRAB (download the app).

International Travel:

For international travel, you should use different comparison websites to get the best deal. If you’re lucky you can get a flight as cheap as £30. However, if you’re unlucky, you might be looking at £100-£200 depending on where you are going.
 

How do we deal with money?

Sam and I decided before we even saved for travelling that we would share all of the money we have between us. Which is exactly what we have done. As a couple, if you travel and worry about owing the other one money or trying to split it all the time, it’s going to get stressful and could cause arguments. You need to be real with each other and have a joint account. If the other one has more money and doesn’t want to share it, no problem. Have a joint account where you both put the exact amount of money in and then share that. Our savings are still separate in our own names but when we run low in our joint account either I will transfer into it or sam will… no stress and this works fine for us.

We try to stick to £40 a day including accommodation which is very doable mostly. But travelling around becomes quite a big expense so we tend to keep that separate and more in our monthly budget. If I am honest, because we have been travelling for 8 months now, we are so used to using cheap options and know our routine to stay within budget, we tend not to add it up anymore. £10 is the maximum we look for accommodation, and £2-£3 is what we look for when we eat. we always pick the best value for money transport and if we want to buy anything for ourselves we buy the cheaper option as a natural habit. Today we have only spent money on one meal, a grab taxi and 2 sim cards. Including accommodation, we have spent £30 altogether.

To finish, I am going to give you some tips:

1 – Look at your savings as an exciting challenge to see how high you can get the number. It’s really exciting watching it grow.

2 – Do not take any money out of your savings. STOP THAT HABIT. You’ll notice a huge difference at the end of the month when you actually didn’t dip into it. (Plus its rewarding too, be proud of that.)

3 – YOU CAN DO IT. I am the worlds best/worse spender. But when I realised how far my money could go on experience, I bucked up my ideas and it was the best thing I ever did!

4 – if you think you need an extra month, give yourself the extra month. Travel will always be here and if you could go with an extra grand to add to the pot, wait. We only gave ourselves 7 months to save. We only had £200 between us when we booked our flights. It was tight! & We still don’t understand how we managed to do it. PURE DETERMINATION. 

5 – Work hard, stop spending unnecessary money on things you don’t need. Even if it costs £1. You can have a bed to sleep in for £3, so every penny counts.

Thanks so much for reading!

Please let me know if you found this blog useful and by all means share it! 

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