Last Updated on June 3, 2023 by Ellen
Earth Vagabonds enjoyed another year of freedom in exotic locations around the world as early retired budget travelers in 2019. Our travel expenses in retirement were on target as slow travelers in Southeast Asia for the full year.
This expense breakdown report will help you see that you can live a great life in foreign countries for far less money than you spend to live in the U.S.A.
Budgets are relative. On background for new readers, we strive to spend an average of $2,000 a month. As “slow travelers”, we spend a month (or more) in a location and then move on. Sometimes, we are “on the move” in the traditional travel sense several times a year in between our monthly stays. But slow travel is one way we keep our travel expenses in early retirement relatively low.
Travel expenses in early retirement
2019 budget breakdown
- $1,112 – gifts/charity
- $1,230 – supplies
- $1,903 – entertainment
- $3,157 – travel
- $3,685 – health
- $6,558 – food/beer
- $7,246 – housing
- $24,891 – total
The $24,891 divided by 12 months means we spent an average of $2,074.25 each month. Not bad!
For simplicity, we used seven categories for this report. Within each category, however, we break down our expenses even further. The notes below provide information on how we record expenses in more detail.
We gave away 4.6% of our cash outflow. This does not include things like small wood carvings from kids (which was recorded in the supplies category), fruit from a beach vendor struggling to make a living (which was recorded in the food/beer category), or our time as volunteers.
For one volunteer effort in 2019, the commute over five weeks cost us more than $50, which was recorded in our travel category.
This category includes everything from a cheap automatic coffee machine, to toothpaste to clothing.
Sometimes as slow travelers, we buy a small item that may not come with the rental, but will give us pleasure – such as the small coffee machine.
The entertainment category includes things like Tedly’s hockey video subscription, contest entry fees for writing contests Ellen entered, and activities like dives and also admission fees when we go sightseeing.
Also, the occasional movie in a foreign country.
In 2019, it also included a facial laser treatment for Ellen called V-beam — a rare expense we consider a splurge.
With that background, you might spend far less in this category.
Tedly found some amazing airfare deals in 2019 and that kept this category relatively low for a year’s worth of travel. Also, we prefer to travel by bus or train whenever possible. As slow travelers, that’s easy. We are in no rush – and we can take our time getting from city to city, country to country.
Aside from long distance journeys, this category also includes our visa fees, Grab rides (Grab is like Uber), local buses, taxis, motorbike rental fees, and fuel for the bikes.
We ate well. Tedly drank lots and lots and lots of beer. Such an overachiever. I don’t drink. That saves a lot of money in this category.
And by the way, this category lumps together everything food and drink related – groceries, restaurants, carry-out beer, snacks on day trips, giant jugs of water.
We understand why people house sit and pet sit. Housing is always our biggest expense. We might look into house sitting or pet sitting one future day. But for now, we enjoy not being responsible for anything.
One reason we slow travel and try to stay a month at a time in many places, is because some property owners give monthly discounts on Airbnb. Sometimes the discounts are substantial – as much as 50 percent off!
How can we spend more than $2,000 a month on travel expenses in early retirement?
We’ve shared our life decisions many times. We decided not to have children, and we didn’t buy new cars every few years, to name a couple of examples. Read more on our background, and Tedly’s smart money sense on our About page.
We do have some rental income. That offsets what we take from savings each month.
But the rental also costs money, and so for this analysis of 2019 travel expenses in retirement, we excluded rental income and costs (taxes, insurance, property management fees, etc.) to give you a pure look at actual costs to live this retired budget travel lifestyle. Besides, you might not have any rental income or expenses.
Could you do this?
We hope we’ve taken the mystery out of the financial aspect. Could you live around the world in beautiful places for around 2K a month? There are so many factors aside from cost to consider.
You need to be open-minded to stay long-term in other countries with foreign cultures. It helps to be relatively healthy. Toilet paper cannot be flushed in some countries. Extreme poverty will break your heart; kindness of strangers will mend it. You have to want to grow and learn, experience and explore.
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We hope to you are inspired to truly live your best life, and we hope to see you out here one day!