Since 2010, I’ve published my cost of full time travel; an uncensored breakdown of all my expenses for the year, demonstrating that full time travel is much more achievable than most people think. (At the end of this article you’ll find links to cost breakdowns for previous years).
What I Did in 2015
Here’s a quick summary of what 2015 held for me: (See Also: 6 Countries and 35,000 miles: This Was 2015)
- 3 weeks in Peru
- 2 weeks in Colombia
- 1 week in Florida
- 2 weeks in Colorado
- 2 weeks in Costa Rica
- 1 week in Florida
- 4+ months in Peru (including a month in the jungle)
- 2 weeks in Canada
- 1 week in Bolivia
- 1 month in Peru
- 1 month in Canada
- 2 months in Peru
Price Tag for 2015: $25,288
All amounts have been converted to US Dollars for ease of comparison.
JANUARY (Peru, Colombia)
Most of the month was spent in my little home in Peru. Transportation expenses are my flights to Colombia towards the end of January.
Food & Drink: $148
FEBRUARY (Colombia, USA)
Although I saved money on accommodation this month by staying with locals in Bogota, Florida, and Colorado, my other expenses more than made up for it. Transportation included flights from Colombia to Florida to Colorado, as well as flights to Costa Rica that I used at the very end of February. Food and drink expenses are up due to being in the States, as are my personal expenses in accumulating a few things and indulging in fancy hair appointments and pedicures. The hefty tour/activities expense is a day of skiing in Colorado (which wasn’t cheap, but was fun).
Food & Drink: $523
MARCH (Costa Rica, USA, Peru)
Given that Costa Rica isn’t the world’s cheapest place to travel to, I did pretty well (and lived very well) in March. Transportation includes flights from Costa Rica back to Peru (via Florida), and accommodation includes three weeks staying at a friend’s resort in Costa Rica (which included most meals).
Food & Drink: $261
Settling back into my life in Peru, my expenses also went back down. Even so, I had multiple massages and healing sessions (in the “personal” category), and participated in a 2-week san pedro retreat with my teacher, to help further my experience with plant medicine as part of my apprenticeship. Education expenses in Peru include regular private Spanish classes.
Food & Drink: $94
May’s expenses are a bit inflated for what I actually did, in that there’s a hefty transportation expense that represents my flights to and from the jungle – where I spent most of June. The tour expense was a trek to Lares Hot Springs; something I did the year prior and loved so much I did it again.
Food & Drink: $176
I spent most of June in the jungles of Peru near Iquitos, studying with my teacher’s teacher and doing a plant diet. This accounts for the accommodation expense, which also included meals. The business/banking expenses this month include the annual fee for one of my credit cards.
Food & Drink: $103
It seems that my basic cost of living in Peru is about $1,200/month (and that includes eating out etc). But I always seem to exceed it for one reason or another. This month it was in spending almost $500 on another 2-week plant medicine retreat. These expenses come back to me tenfold however, in that it helps me to not only experience amazing personal growth and transformation, but also is training for working with my teacher and assisting in ceremonies (which I am paid for).
Food & Drink: $130
AUGUST (Peru, Canada)
Considering I flew return from Peru to Canada (something that costs a bare minimum of $1,500), I hope you’re impressed with my transportation expenses which were under $400. If I told you I flew in business class, then would you be impressed? Good. Because I did. (Here’s how).
But, being back in Canada, I had a huge list of things to get and bring back down to Peru, and thus my personal expenses skyrocketed. As did my food & drink expenses, in going out with family and friends and enjoying social time. Business expenses included annual dues for my Zenfolio account (a very useful photo storage/hosting application), and the purchase of a new adaptor for my laptop.
Food & Drink: $277
SEPTEMBER (Peru, Bolivia)
This was my biggest spending month of the year – September usually is, since it’s when I pay my annual dues for expat insurance, and my web hosting fees. Expenses are also high due to a last-minute trip I had to make back to Canada again at the very end of the month (hence the transportation expense; I wasn’t so lucky this time around with frequent flyer mile availability). Accommodation is a bit higher than normal due to a quick trip to Bolivia with a friend.
Food & Drink: $160
Given that I spent most of October in Canada, my expenses are up and down. My business expenses are a bit high due to the purchase of some handy equipment, but my accommodation expense is lower because my landlord in Peru allowed me to just pay half the rent given my absence. Transportation represents my (business class) flights back to Peru which is pretty reasonable given that the same flight in economy would be double the price. But of course, because I was back in Canada, my personal expenses were high; this seems to be unavoidable for me.
Food & Drink: $170
Finally – a month in Peru where little more than the basic living expenses were expected of me! Even so, I spent almost $170 in medical expenses, which included healing sessions and weekly massages to try and heal a chronic hip injury I’m sick of living with.
Food & Drink: $69
I spent most of December doing another shamanic plant diet (similar to what I did in the jungle in June, except from the comforts of home this time). Thus I spent a bit more on food and drink because I paid for my meals to be prepared, since energy levels can be very low during a plant dieta. The dieta also accounts for my tours/activities expense.
Food & Drink: $298
With a home base in Peru, I was curious to see how my expenses would change in 2015. Over the years I’ve maintained that full-time travel is cheaper than living in one place; one reason for that is because even when you travel, you continue to have the expenses of maintaining your home. On that front I was lucky in 2015, because most of time I traveled, I was able to sublet or get a break on the rent from my landlord (who is also a friend). And my rent is pretty cheap to begin with; I pay about $500/month for a fully furnished three-bedroom house on a large property. But $500/month is still $6,000/year more than I paid when I got free accommodation all year round in the early years of my full-time travels.
But overall, I’ve found that my annual expenses are trending back down. In 2014 I spent $3,000 more, which in turn was down significantly from a ridiculous year of unanticipated expensive emergencies in 2013. 2012 was comparable to 2014, but it all pales in comparison to my annual expenditures of just $17,000 in 2011 and 2010.
I also spent a fair bit of money on my shamanic plant medicine studies this year (about $3,000, including my trip to the jungle) – an investment that is paying off not only in the form of personal transformation, but also in acquiring the skills that allow me to assist my teacher with his ceremonies – and get paid for it.
How much do I care that I’m spending more now than I did five years ago? Not so much. I’m also earning more than I did back then, so I can afford to spend more.
I track and publish my annual expenses and income not because I’m trying to live on a shoestring budget, but rather because I like to live and travel in a financially sustainable way, and I’m committed to making that happen, and helping others to do the same.
When I want lobster – I eat lobster. I’m living a very good life in Peru (and around the world), with the added benefit of currency arbitrage on my side. I’m not afraid to spend money on the things I love, which is why my personal expenses skyrocketed every time I went back to Canada and bought any number of things that would make my life in Peru comfortable, if not luxurious.
How much did you spend in 2015? Was it a surprise in any way?
For previous annual reviews of my cost of full-time travel, check these posts out: