2022. The year of the restart. COVID regulations cast aside. The virus now considered endemic. (China excepted.) People all over the globe ready and eager to get back to the business of life as we knew it.
Perhaps nowhere was that desire greater – or more necessary – than in the tourism industry. Especially affected, developing nations where travel and hospitality related business comprise huge portions of national economies and jobs.
We Earth Vagabonds were there. In the Philippines throughout the COVID crisis. And in 2022, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and now India. It’s certainly been a unique and interesting time.
Just as sure, for early retired slow travelers like us, it’s been a period of anxiety and apprehension. Would the world ‘normalize’? Would our lifestyle still be possible? As war and inflation and fuel prices raged, what would happen to our budget… our dreams?
Our budget slow travel cost in 2022
This blog post looks back at year 2022 and totals up our spending. Below are the actual figures compiled from our daily records. As a reminder, we target $2,000 as our monthly ‘Asia budget’ and we are meticulous about documenting our expenses. Every morning we review the previous day’s activities and expenditures – and record every outgoing penny in our ‘Spending Tracker’ cell phone app.
2022 full year expenses
$6,483 — Housing
$5,416 — Gifts/Charity
$3,910 — Health
$2,348 — Groceries
$2,247 — Restaurants
$1,668 — Travel: (airfare, visas, long-distance trains, etc.)
$1,219 — Supplies: (clothes, toiletries, electronics, web subscriptions)
$1,130 — Beer
$932 — Excursions: (tours, admissions, tickets, guides, tips, etc.)
$783 — Local transport: (taxis, Uber, buses, metros, tuktuks)
$26,136 Total for 2 people
The 25K+ total above exceeds our desired $2,000 per month budget by less than 10%. A very good result for a year filled with travel uncertainty. We always advise allowing a 20%-25% cushion for emergencies and overspending. As such, we are pleased with the overall outcome.
Key notes on budget slow travel cost in 2022
As usual, a few things are worth explaining:
— First, the bulk of our charitable giving occurred in the first quarter of 2022, before we left the Philippines and truly started slow traveling again. (For those unaware: we lived in Malay, Aklan on Panay Island for more than two years during the COVID restriction period.) At that time, our monthly living expenses were very low. Thus we decided to donate our ‘budget surplus’, plus donations sent from overseas, to Philippine projects, friends, and neighbors who suffered economically. Once we were traveling again, other spending categories went higher – ‘gifts’ had to decrease.
— We do make a conscious effort to minimize our spending – lest any reader think this result is ‘automatic’. Living and traveling in the developing world is assuredly less costly than in Western nations. But we do the same ‘bargain hunting’ as we did when we lived in America. We look for good value in everything from groceries to airfares to attractions to housing. (We got some great deals on Airbnb this year.) Someone who is not ‘cost conscious’ could easily double our spending.
— Well over half the ‘Health’ total was related to Ellen’s broken wrist (June 5, Hua Hin, Thailand). Much of the remainder is for ongoing prescription drugs. Obviously, this category can fluctuate widely depending on circumstances, age, diet, conditioning, luck, heredity, etc.
— As I frequently point out, I don’t drink – much. Yes, I enjoy a couple beers each day; those are mostly ‘carry-out’. Ellen does not drink alcohol at all. Just like in the USA or EU, if you need wine, specialty cocktails, or top shelf liquors at restaurants – expect a big bill! Similarly, ‘Western brand’ groceries are available worldwide – at much higher prices.
The accounting of our actual 2022 travel time can be seen below — excluded is the first quarter when we lived in the Philippines.
‘Actual’ budget slow travel cost in 2022
$4,879 — Housing
$3,535 — Health
$2,197 — Gifts/Charity
$1,780 — Restaurants
$1,668 — Travel
$1,620 — Groceries
$978 — Supplies
$863 — Beer
$610 — Excursions
$489 — Local Transport
$18,619 Total for 2 people (9 months in Thailand, Malaysia, India)
This 9-month total is even closer to the Asia budget goal of $2,000 per month / $6,000 per quarter. Thankfully prices remain moderate in this part of the world. We can continue to give charitably and stay on budget.
That being said, we have noted some price creep – but nothing like reported in the West. International tourism levels remain depressed compared to pre-COVID. Hospitality related operators have to compete. Deals can be found.
We intend to spend six more months in India – which can be one of the least expensive places on the planet. Our spending anxiety has eased for now. Later in 2023 we will likely need to adjust our budget and spending as we wander back towards Europe. The 2023 spending report could be far different.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!
Thanks for reading, “What budget slow travel cost in 2022.”
Other expense reports can be found on our “Budget Examples” page.