Budget, August- November 2015

  I get a lot of questions, and I wonder myself, so here are some details about what we have been spending from when we left on August 28 through the end of October. For more detailed RTW budgets than we have been able to document, I recommend GlobeGazers.wordpress.com (a couple who travelled 1 year) and traveljunkies.com (couple with 1 child who travelled 2 years).

In the US, we were able to sleep in 1 hotel room for the six of us, and breakfast was included. For Philadelphia to San Francisco, we had a driveaway car and paid only gas. Before leaving, we spent $800 on travel health insurance (August 15 through Feb 1st excluding the cruise for which we had separate insurance) and a little under $1200 for Chinese visas (must be done in advance, multiple entry for 10 years, awesome!)

August 28- August 31: we began driving from Philadelphia to San Francisco in the driveaway car. We stayed 2 nights with my parents, so only 1 hotel night. We went to Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis.

$60 hotel, $147 food, $182 gas, $111 admission to The City Museum(which everyone still considers a highlight of the trip!)= $500 for the first 4 days, $125/day or $20.83 per person per day

September 1-11: From St. Louis, we went pretty quickly across Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and into California. We reached San Francisco and stayed there and Sonoma for 4 days. Then we rented a car and went north to Vancouver, where we got on the ship on the 11th. $520 for hotels (5 nights; the rest we stayed with friends), $500 gas, $610 food, $500 rental car, $370 miscellaneous (mostly clothes and books, thrift store last minute things I thought we should have- raincoats, hiking sandals). Total is $2500 for 11 days, $227/day or $37.83 per person per day

Sept 11-27: the cruise cost about $6000, not a sustainable travel amount for us but we paid for it over the previous year when we were both working. That includes taxes, tips, health insurance onboard, and trip cancellation insurance. And of course, room and board and entertainment and transport to Shanghai. We spent an additional $276 onboard, mostly for Internet access for Mr. Fantastic for business things. Onshore we spent about another $150 on snacks and entertainment. Total $6426, or $401.62 per day, or $66.94 per person per day.

  September 27-November 16: here it gets a little messier. We calculate we have spent $87 per day (cash we have withdrawn/51 days) plus a few things we put on credit cards. Since we use cash so often, we don’t have the credit card statements telling us exactly where we are spending it. We try to write things down but rarely can we be that organized. We do know the amount includes our expenses to volunteer at Sae Lao, which were about $875 for 16 days (or $54.68 per day, or $10.93 per person per day). Also included are Laos visas ($45 per person= $270), most food and housing and entertainment. Not included are the Gibbon Experience, ($1400), the Shanghai to Kunming train ($530), and hotels and food we charged ($390). With those expenses, total for those 51 days are $6757, which is $129.94 per day, or $21.66 per person per day. If that figure is correct, there may be credit card purchases we haven’t checked or something, we are doing amazingly well because we have SIX people!! Many travelers try for $100 per day for 2-3 people and I knew we would spend more than that, but considering the expensive things we have done (gibbons, getting stuck in China) I am happy with how we are doing. Also, we have gone from Philadelphia to Bangkok by land and sea- no airplanes! I’m glad about this; it really shows us how large the world is and it’s just more adventurous in my opinion.

Income and current plan:

We have about $2600/month income from renting out our house and other properties. We had hoped to get a loan against our house for the rest, but it seems to have failed due to some last- minute snafus and the papers having expired. They had actually given us a check, we deposited it, then they cancelled!! Annoying. The bank wants us to sign again in person and it’s not worth the expense to do so now. 

We may have done this anyway, but we decided to accept a position Mr. Fantastic was offered to teach part time for a test prep agency in Bangkok. He is getting far fewer hours than they had discussed, but he gets a small housing stipend that almost covers our rent, so it is cheap for us to stay here.  Other considerations: the kids wanted to settle somewhere for a while, Bangkok is a travel hub for short trips, it has an expat homeschool community, there is easy access to Cambodia and Myanmar, good medical facilities are here if we need them. 

So, we plan to stay in Bangkok for 3-4 months. We are trying to stay under $100/day here and, though we have to say no to some things, it has not been too difficult. For example, we stayed overnight at Cha Am beach last week and yesterday we spent the day at a water park. Including food and transportation and entertainment, were able to stay under budget, even with our fixed expense of rent. And while I sometimes envy the steady paychecks of the expats we meet, we have so much freedom and time together and that is wealth indeed. 

In our pre-trip planning, we had decided to stay in places for weeks or months at a time. We did not plan on staying in cities, since they tend to be more expensive, but so far we are ok here. We are planning where to go next- from Thailand, either India or back to China (Beijing and west) then westward to Eastern Europe. We will likely have to fly soon, since overland looks expensive either way. That’s all for now on the budget!

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