Travel Asia on a Budget
I just wrapped up a glorious 8 month backpacking trip in Southeast Asia on a long-term traveler’s budget. This meant staying in dorms, taking local transport, eating street food, and generally traveling on a shoestring budget. Though I could have spent far more (or even perhaps a little less), I wanted to know if it was plausible, at least semi-comfortable, and enjoyable to travel on a tight budget. Most of all, I wanted to know,
How much money is needed for a long-term trip in Southeast Asia?
This is probably the most important and common question that any long-term traveler in the planning stages asks (and one I get quite often) when considering a trip through Southeast Asia. Some guide books will swear that $30/day or less is sufficient – let me just say that this is generally not realistic.
Though I traveled all through Southeast Asia and Oceania for 10 months, for the purposes of this guide, I am whittling it down to if I had spent just six months in Southeast Asia. This encompasses a month each in Cambodia, Laos, northern Thailand, southern Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
What did I personally spend?
$7, 958 (without SCUBA diving – $6, 095)
With flights and pre-trip expenses: $11, 000
I bought two one-way flights to get from LAX to Southeast Asia and back. In hindsight, this may not have been the cheapest way to travel (I could have saved a couple hundred dollars by booking round-trip), however, I was entirely unsure of my dates and departure city. Sometimes, the penalties and restrictions on moving flights ends up making a RT flight too much of a hassle.
Though rare as I normally traveled overland and by public transport, I booked flights from time to time when overland travel was not feasible or I simply didn’t have time. One series of flights in around Indonesia was particularly painful at $300.
Travel Insurance: $793
This is one of those costs that’s annoying, but necessary should the worst occur. I went with which happened to be cheaper than any other company I could find for US citizens.
Tip: If you know for sure how much time you’ll be away, buying more months upfront is definitely cheaper than extending periodically.
In order to get immunized the cheapest way possible, visit the travel specialist at your local county healthcare clinic.