Is it possible to travel abroad AND save money?

When I was telling people before I left the US that I was going on a 2+ month trip to SE Asia, most of them had reactions like:

“Oh wow, business must be going really well!”
“Can you afford that???”
“How can you do that, what about your business?”

Another rice field near ubud

The funny thing is, part of the deal of me going was saving money! After being here almost a month, I can say that I underestimated my costs- partly because my traveling partner and I only lasted a week, so I was on my own with hotel or accommodations for a lot of the time here. I think what surprised me was that while Bali is cheap, it’s not THAT cheap. There is so much tourism here that you can easily travel around the island in luxury if that’s what you want. There are all levels of hotels.

And, my original thought was to be here for 2 months and rent 1 place, which I could have easily gotten for $300 or so a month. But, the way I did it bouncing from hotel to hotel cost a little more. Let’s look at numbers compared to what I spend at home (not including the stuff that I pay either way):

Typical month in San Diego:
Rent: $1200
Food: $350
Phone: $100
Gas: $200
Misc. car expenses: $50
Internet: $40
Power: $18
Entertainment: $100
Car insurance: $75
Total: $2133

First month here:
Hotel expenses: $650 (taking out $3 for breakfasts included)
Food: $300
Flight: $25 (Just taxes)
30-day Visa: $25
Phone: $40
Transport costs (taxis/shuttles): $80
“Exit” Fee from Indonesia (lame, I know): $30
ATM Fees: $50
Tours/Boat transport: $170
Internet: $0
Power: $0
Car insurance: $0
Total: $1400

So, according to this, I’m $733 ahead. I left out laundry, which is a wash, no pun intended. I may have spent a little more on little restaurant things (like amazing avocado juice shakes!), but it’s like $2 here and there, and beer (which I don’t drink much of at home, but when it’s like $1.70/beer I have it more often here), so maybe throw in another $25 to my trip expenses. But clothing comes out to be less here, not that I’m buying a bunch of clothes, but I spent $2 on a tank top yesterday where at home it would be $10.

I’m kicking back and letting the checks roll in!

Now, let’s say I got a place for $300/month here instead of paying for hotels wherever I go. This doesn’t mean I suddenly save an extra $450 a month- unless I just stay in one place and never do overnight trips. So, if I had gone with my original plan, I would have been doing several overnight trips and paying for hotels on top of my rent. So let’s say I did 8 trips and averaged $25, it’s an extra $200 so we’re looking at a savings of about $283.

So we’re going with a $733 savings over staying home for the past month. Not bad, was hoping for a little better, but like I started with this post, it’s not as cheap here as it’s played up to be- and food costs go up a bit because I eat out for every meal here as opposed to doing the groceries thing.

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Kevin Koskella

Kevin Koskella

Kevin is a podcaster and writer on living free, despite the crazy world we live in. Kevin travels full time and explores the world and how to achieve and maximize freedom in life.

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