See the world on $76 a day!

2023 was another full year of international ‘budget slow travel’ in early retirement for us Earth Vagabonds.

Another year of enjoying some of the greatest places on planet Earth.

Another year of careful expense record keeping which shows we did it all for barely $76 per day.

It’s true! Below is the total tally of our expenditures for all of last year. 

Budget breakdown to see the world on $76 a day

$9,463  —  Housing

$3,830  —  Restaurants

$3,269  —  Charity / Gifts

$2,360  —  Groceries

$2,274  —  Excursions

$2,023  —  Travel

$1,448  —  Supplies

$1,312  —  Health

$966   —   Local transport

$935   —   Beer

_________________________

$27,880 yearly total for 2 people

$27,880 ÷ 365 =  $76.38 per day

As always, the above figures are taken  directly from our “Spending Tracker” cell phone app. Every morning we input those numbers as we recount the previous day’s activities. Every cent we spend is thus accounted for. The app allows for easy totaling and dissecting of the year’s spending.

Below are the MONTHLY averages.

$789  —  Housing

$319  —  Restaurants

$272  —  Charity / Gifts

$197  —  Groceries

$189  —  Excursions

$168  —  Travel

$121  —  Supplies

$109  —  Health

$80    —   Local transport

$78    —   Beer

_________________________

$2,323 per month – to budget slow travel in early retirement in 2023.

world travel on a budget in retirement in bulgaria and turkiye

Incidentally, our total in 2022 was $26,136 — a $2,178 monthly average. (But the first 3 months of 2022 was the final non-travel, COVID-19 time spent in the Philippines).

The countries and budgets

In 2023 we spent 5.5 months in India. Our budget goal for that time was $2,000 per month. Total spend was $11,597 — over budget by about 5.5%.

Five months were spent in Eastern Europe (Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Türkiye). The budget goal in these countries was $2,500 per month. Total expenses were $12,403 — almost exactly on budget.

Nearly one month was spent in Nepal; total cost = $2,109 — $81 per day

The remaining 17 days were in UAE costing $1,784 — $105 per day.

Overall total 2023 budget goal was $26,750. The $1,130 overage was approximately 4.25%.

earth vagabonds in the himalayas and at a rock concert in serbia

Other explanations

Our housing is almost always Airbnb units. In 2023, six Airbnb stays were for a month or more, and 25 other Airbnb rentals were days to weeks in length. Average nightly rate for the year was $25.93. (We got some great deals!)

Related: How we scored great Airbnb and airfare deals in 2023

The ‘excursions’ category includes all our paid leisure activities: tours, shows, attractions, museums, movies, guides, beach rentals, etc. The total included a meditation retreat, a hot-air balloon ride, a rock concert.

‘Travel’ is long-distance relocations: airline, train, bus tickets, car hires, and any visa fees required. In 2023, we flew five times in total. We took 17 lengthy intercity bus rides- including two overnights. Train trips totaled seven – including five overnights, all in India.

The ‘supplies’ category reflects necessities and discretionary goods: toiletries, shoes, clothing, electronics and accessories. Also included is cell phone SIM cards and pre-paid cell service in eight different countries.

‘Health’ covers anything medical related. Doctor and dentist visits. A root canal and crown. Prescriptions, over-the-counter remedies, skin care products, etc.

‘Local transport’ is daily local transportation: city busses and metros, taxis, Ubers, rickshaws, etc.

A few other interesting ways to view the 2023 cost data

– $536 was the average weekly spend.

– Food cost average: $16.95 per day. (Restaurants + groceries ÷ 365)

– Beer cost average $2.56 per day.

Takeaways

Overall, we are extremely pleased with the 2023 spending totals.

We were afraid the time on the European continent and in UAE might blow the budget by far more than 4.25%.

As noted above, we did get some fantastic monthly Airbnb rental discounts (Covid recovery prices booked well in advance) which will likely be more difficult to attain going forward.

Indeed, saving on rent is the easiest way to control costs. Obviously, hundreds of dollars saved on rent is a huge percentage of a monthly budget. 

India continues to be a particular bargain; it’s why we returned in late 2023 after reluctantly canceling plans for the winter months in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. (Plus airfare was reasonable and we already have 5-year visas).

Overall, while prices in the Global North and West remain elevated, our experience in 2023 proves budget slow travel in early retirement is still quite possible. Location selection, planning, and patience with developing world conditions are key.

We do realize that living on a couple thousand bucks is a struggle back home in America. Heck, we couldn’t do it 20 years ago! It really is astounding to think that sum can provide such value and breadth of experience such as:

— Hiking in the Himalayas and taking in the Anapurna Range (but not ‘real’ trekking).

— Ballooning in stunning Cappadocia in central Türkiye.

— Enjoying lazy days at the world-class beaches of Dubai, Bulgaria’s Black Sea, the Turkish Mediterranean, and Goa in India.

— Living and eating like locals in amazing cities like Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, Bucharest, Katmandu, Calcutta (Kolkata).

— Experiencing the rich history, culture, and practice of Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Catholic, and Orthodox faiths the world over.

All of it for $76 a day. Wow!


In closing, naturally, it is never lost on us how fortunate and blessed we are to be able to live this lifestyle. Decades of work and saving and living below our means is what made it possible. As evidenced by our charitable giving, we try to share whatever we can with others less fortunate.

As long as our health and the climate and world politics allow – we intend to continue our wandering, enjoying, learning, and budgeting. Stay tuned here for ongoing cost updates and observations.

As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.

Life is NOW!

Thanks for reading, “See the world on $76 a day!”

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6 thoughts on “See the world on $76 a day!”

  1. Hi,
    saw your blog in google while searching for something and I loved reading your budget related posts. I am also US citizen exploring Indian states and budgeting is great challenge for me. your posts are great insight for budget friendly travel. keep it up the good work. 😊

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