My 2016 Full-Time Travel Expenses

by Nora on January 16, 2017

Since 2010, I’ve annually published my full-time travel expenses; an uncensored breakdown of all my expenses for the year, demonstrating that the travel lifestyle is much more achievable than most people think. (At the end of this article you’ll find links to full-time travel expenses reports from previous years).

2016 full-time travel expenses

2016 was an odd year for me on many levels. Luckily it was more than sustainable financially, due partly to the fact that I didn’t move around too much. The pace of travel that I kept this year (although boring for some) is very comfortable for me, and ultimately sustainable (financially and otherwise).

What I Did in 2016

Here’s a basic summary of where I was in 2016: (See Also: 5 Countries and 30,000 miles: This Was 2016)

  • 2 months in Peru
  • 1 month in Canada and Ireland
  • 2.5 months in Peru
  • 1.5 months in Florida
  • 1 month in Canada
  • 3 months in Ecuador
  • 1 month in Florida

Full-Time Travel Expenses for 2016: $23,216

 

full-time travel expenses

 

Monthly Breakdown

All amounts have been converted to US Dollars for ease of comparison.

JANUARY (Peru)

$1,068

January was a quiet month in Peru. Thus my expenses were very low and nothing was off the radar.

Transportation $6

Accommodation $514

Food&Drink $111

Groceries $135

Phone&Internet $52

Personal $14

Business $87

Tours/Activities $80

Medical $57

Gifts $12

 

FEBRUARY (Peru)

$2,126

Although February was also relatively quiet in Peru, I was neck-deep in the process of applying for residency in Peru (with the help of my teacher), which accounted for the “Peru Residence” category expenses along with the transportation expenses involved in making a special trip from Cusco to Lima. Almost half the month’s expenses! Sheesh.

Transportation $193

Accommodation $503

Food&Drink $120

Groceries $165

Phone&Internet $51

Personal $154

Business $159

Tours/Activities $11

Medical $85

Gifts $8

Peru Residence $677

 

MARCH (Canada, Ireland)

$3,644

March was much more active for me, and also the most expensive month of the year; I traveled to Canada to pick up my mum and take her on a trip to Ireland (I actually won a trip to Ireland!). While in Canada I also bought a new laptop, hence the large business expense. And of course, before I left Peru I managed to spend a couple of hundred more on my residency efforts.

Transportation $264

Accommodation $524

Food&Drink $138

Groceries $143

Phone&Internet $74

Personal $535

Business $1,664

Medical $56

Gifts $84

Peru Residence $162

 

APRIL (Peru)

$1,774

I’m a wee bit bitter about all the money (and time, and effort) I spent in applying for Peruvian residency, since it was all for naught as soon as I returned to Peru in April. I didn’t do much in April other than feel sorry for myself, with the silver lining that I didn’t spend too much money. The transportation expense was my flight back to Peru from Canada.

Transportation $564

Accommodation $515

Food&Drink $288

Groceries $107

Phone&Internet $63

Personal $60

Business $65

Tours/Activities $77

Gifts $35

 

MAY (Peru)

$875

May was my cheapest month of the year, as I continued to hole up and feel sorry for myself. My accommodation expense is lower because once I moved out of my place I mostly stayed with friends and house-sat until I left Peru in June.

Transportation $11

Accommodation $200

Food&Drink $108

Groceries $176

Phone&Internet $12

Business $116

Tours/Activities $163

Medical $89

 

JUNE (Peru, USA)

$1,450

Considering June’s expenses include a $600+ flight from Peru to Florida at the end of the month, I didn’t spend much. My accommodation was a whopping $18 (for laundry and cleaning service) while staying with friends. Everything else was business as usual, with an extra massage or two in the Medical category.

Transportation $645

Accommodation $18

Food&Drink $130

Groceries $271

Business $106

Tours/Activities $166

Medical $104

Gifts $10

 

JULY (USA)

$1,409

Staying with a generous friend in Florida, I had zero accommodation expenses for July.

The transportation expense is kind of bogus, but was money spent (or lost): early in the year I bought flights to the jungle in Peru (from Cusco), but I never ended up using them, nor could I receive a refund. The flights were supposed to be for July travel, so they went into the budget anyway.

Transportation $223

Food&Drink $112

Groceries $286

Personal $481

Business $234

Medical $43

Gifts $30

 

AUGUST (USA, Canada)

$1,472

In August I spent almost the same amount as in July, except this time I got on the flight I booked (to Canada)! Again in Canada I was staying with family and friends and didn’t have to worry about accommodation.

Transportation $311

Accommodation $15

Food&Drink $393

Groceries $212

Phone&Internet $22

Personal $139

Business $105

Tours/Activities $195

Gifts $80

 

SEPTEMBER (Ecuador)

$2,527

Take out my annual expat insurance premiums ($1,130), and September was a pretty low-cost month as well, especially considering the transportation expense from Canada to Ecuador. I also had some inflated business expenses in September since I hired somebody to do some web projects, and also had to pay the annual dues for some web services I use.

Transportation $423

Accommodation $126

Food&Drink $187

Groceries $184

Phone&Internet $15

Business $359

Tours/Activities $103

Insurance $1,130

 

OCTOBER (Ecuador)

$2,209

I had some extra business expenses this month; mostly in the form of the annual premium for my Aweber account (which I use for newsletters).

And when my house-sitting gig ended in mid-October, I spent the rest of the month (and then some) at a retreat centre, which accounts for the tours/activities expense (which also included accommodation and food).

Transportation $28

Accommodation $151

Food&Drink $191

Groceries $61

Personal $22

Business $284

Tours/Activities $1,472

 

NOVEMBER (Ecuador, USA)

$3,056

November was the second most expensive month of the year for three key reasons:

  • I did another retreat at Gaia Sagrada (tours/activities)
  • I flew to Florida towards the end of the month (transportation)
  • I bought a new smartphone (business)

I also bought a few extra things for my business including a microphone and some gear for my new vlog, which rounds out my business expenses.

Transportation $419

Accommodation $80

Food&Drink $66

Groceries $150

Phone&Internet $37

Personal $113

Business $910

Tours/Activities $1,275

Gifts $6

 

DECEMBER (USA)

$1,606

I spent most of December with my friend in Florida, with about a week in California visiting friends in San Diego and Los Angeles. Thanks to these lovely people, accommodation was gratis for the month. This allowed me to spend extra money on a few personal and business items, gifts, and lots of nice food, and still feel like it was a cheap month.

Transportation $244

Food&Drink $203

Groceries $471

Phone&Internet $30

Personal $338

Business $155

Tours/Activities $70

Gifts $95

 

Summary Notes

I don’t have much to say about 2016 from the perspective of full-time travel expenses. A few thousand dollars were lost in my Peruvian residency efforts and the loss of use of some flight tickets. But it’s way better than the many thousands I lost to life circumstances in 2013! (See below if you’re curious – it sticks out like a sore thumb in the list!).

In looking at my full-time travel expenses from years’ past, it seems I’m finding a sweet spot around $24,000; it’s not anywhere near what I used to spend to live in Canada, but enough to be comfortable and in style (around the world). And you’ll see from my income report (to be published next month) that I could have spent more money had I chosen, but there wasn’t anything I wanted or needed to spend more money on!

I don’t have any idea what 2017 will hold for me monetarily. I don’t think I’ll be moving around too much, but I may have some extra expenses in Ecuador living at a retreat centre and doing plant medicine ceremonies. No matter. By tracking my expenses as I go, I always have a finger on the pulse of my spending and can make adjustments as needed.

 

For previous annual reviews of my full-time travel expenses, check these posts out:

2015 ($25,000)

2014 ($28,000)

2013 ($44,000)

2012 ($28,000)

2011 ($18,000)

2010 ($17,000)

 

 

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 roy January 16, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Interesting to see the numbers. I’m surprised that even though you stayed with friends quite often and for longer periods, these stays are +/- categorised as “free”. I know how selflessly generous and hospitable my friends can be, which is why I really try to get them to accept a contribution toward hidden costs like water electricity laundry, condo fees and of course food…. especially if I’m there longer than a fortnight or so. Just a thought.

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2 Nora January 16, 2017 at 8:17 pm

Hi Roy,
Wow – really? Do you truly think that I would take advantage of the kindness of my generous hosts?
Thank you for your suggestion that I try to contribute in some way when I am receiving a free place to stay. Rest assured that I do….in many, many ways – monetarily and otherwise. But since none of my gracious hosts would accept any cash from me despite my offers, whatever money I spent towards my hosts (groceries, meals out, supplies, household items, gifts, etc) was not categorized in the Accommodation category.

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3 Jo January 16, 2017 at 7:49 pm

Hi Nora,
That was an interesting read. Well done. Why are your internet expenses so low?

As I am back in NZ in my “bolt hole” I bought in Napier, I am wondering when you were in NZ and have you still got your expenses done for either of those years? Be interesting to do a comparison with today.

Have a great 2017. I’m laying low as have to have a cataract done and a hip sometime!!😕
Waiting for cataract and hopefully will be able to see again! Have you heard of Nate who runs “small untours” called Yomadic. Hes an Aussie and his lartner is Kiwi. Im hoping to do an Iran tour later in the year with them…..when I can see..lol.

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4 Nora January 16, 2017 at 8:21 pm

Hi Jo,
Thanks for the update! I hope that your surgeries go off smoothly and painlessly.

My internet expenses are low because just about everywhere I’ve stayed/lived I have had Wifi included with accommodation.

As for my expenses from New Zealand, I was there in 2010 and 2011 (you can see the expense post links in my post above). Much of my time in New Zealand was spent working in trade for accommodation/food or staying with friends, so my expenses those years was very low.

Yes – I’m familiar with Yomadic Nate. How cool it would be to go to Iran! I hope you get to go. Have a fabulous year!

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5 Dana January 16, 2017 at 8:17 pm

Hi, Nora. Interesting summary, as always. Noticed you bought a new computer in both 2013 and 2016. Is that how long laptops last these days, or did I miss something?

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6 Nora January 16, 2017 at 8:26 pm

Hi Dana,
Excellent observation! I didn’t need to get a new laptop in 2016, but my mother’s computer died, so I took the opportunity to upgrade my laptop (since I use it so much) and give her my old one.

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7 Tiffany January 16, 2017 at 9:02 pm

Hey Nora! Oh, I would feel you on that time and effort for the Peru residency. And unused flight tickets – gah. I am so bad with getting worked up over that stuff – but ah well – we all do our best and my dad always used to remind me you just can’t see the future. That aside – sounds like an awesome and sustainable year! You still got so much traveling in there! 🙂

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8 Nora January 17, 2017 at 11:47 am

Thanks, Tiff! Yeah, I hate “wasted” money, but like you say, we can’t see the future. All things considered, it was a lesson learned, and one that didn’t hurt me too much overall. All’s well that ends well! 🙂 Happy 2017!

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9 Kymberly January 17, 2017 at 11:08 am

Curious to amounts spent getting from place to place.

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10 Nora January 17, 2017 at 11:49 am

Hi Kymberly,
Sometimes I fly with air miles (hence the low cost of transportation), and other times if I can find inexpensive airfare (AND accumulate miles in flying), I’ll just pay in cash. For the most part I try to save my miles for long-haul flights – in business class no less!

For more on frequent flyer miles: http://www.theprofessionalhobo.com/financial-travel-tip-103-frequent-flyer-mile-accumulation-management-redemption/

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11 Aaron January 17, 2017 at 8:39 pm

I look forward to this every year! I like the ’24k sweetspot’ point, and can’t wait for the 2016 income report to compliment. Thanks Nora!

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12 Nora January 20, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Thanks, Aaron! Stay tuned….my income report will follow next month. 🙂

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13 Ilja January 18, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Still so jealous about your lifestyle, me I’m once more unemployed since this month. I would really love to live like you. Last week I turned 35 and so tired of a decade of temp jobs, not able to live happy. I’m so stunned at your low costs, you basically never have to pay for accommodation. Me I don’t have a network of friends, so there that problem. I can’t imagine other fulltime travellers be so lucky. I also wonder what your business costs are (other than mentioned).

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14 Nora January 20, 2017 at 5:37 pm

Hi Ilja,
All my expenses (every single penny, including business costs) are included in this report!
I expect my accommodation expenses will increase this year, as I’m paying for my current six months in Ecuador, and I don’t think I’ll be doing any house-sitting. But…who knows! One day at a time.
Good luck finding some fulfilling work. I’m sorry it has been a struggle for you. Hang in there…

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15 same day agra tour by car January 20, 2017 at 2:32 am

Such an interesting post about your travel expenses, I love how you did it on a budget too!

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16 Nora January 20, 2017 at 5:38 pm

Thank you!

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17 Martina January 21, 2017 at 5:47 am

Hi Nora, thank you for post. Would you recommend housesitting sites for travels, maybe not full time. I thought how great it could be working from differrent places to flee the rat race and sameness. Your articles show it needs good planning, writing skills and network of good friends and cost managment, heaps of patience with permits. I hope to make some travels to inspiring places with help of sites like yours. Have a fullfiling, cost effective travel and many readers in this year.

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18 Nora January 21, 2017 at 7:48 pm

Hi Martina,
Absolutely – house-sitting is great for traveling, even if it’s not full-time!
Thank you for your kind words, and have fun planning out your own perfect life! 🙂

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19 Sarah Jo Lorenz January 27, 2017 at 11:57 pm

Thank you so much for making such a good quick reference for this! It is something that will be of great use to me and my friends as we plan our summer trip for the year! I just forwarded them the link and I know I will be printing this out to keep it as a handy reference during my planning and dreaming. Thanks again!

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20 Layne Tisdel Martin February 9, 2017 at 9:53 pm

Wow, (looking at your January food and drink expenses in Peru)—I think I just spent that much in three days in Cuenca, ha! How do you manage to eat for so little? I should definitely buy more groceries… O_o

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21 Nora February 12, 2017 at 3:55 pm

Hey Layne,
Cuenca can be quite expensive, depending on where you eat. You can catch great meals for $3, and others that are the equivalent of US prices. I found much less of a price discrepancy in Peru. But yes – buying groceries is also a huge money-saver!

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22 Karen February 22, 2017 at 9:00 pm

I love to see your income and expense sumarries and actually look forward to them. Cant wait to hear from your experience in Ecuador. I would also love to share a post idea…I’ve always wondered what you gift your host. It always seems to be a category and I would love for your to share your gift ideas.

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23 Nora February 23, 2017 at 4:29 pm

Hi Karen,
That’s a cool idea! Ways to thank your hosts. I’ll chuck it in the idea-hopper. 🙂

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