February 6, 2023

The trip was far too short but the fact of the matter is, it was longer and further than most people will ever travel.  I circumnavigated the globe in 42 days – leaving Hawaii for Australia, then Bali in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Dubai, Morocco, France, Iceland, New York City and now back to Hawaii. The first half of the trip was on a budget and far cheaper than you might imagine, but after picking up my daughter in Morocco and then heading to ‘The Expensive Lands’ the cost of the trip went up pretty seriously. France, Iceland, and NYC ate far more of my budget than I had expected they would in both ground transport and food.

To put things in perspective, just before leaving I was at the Navy Ticket Office – checking out prices on flights and hotels – I met a couple and their son going to Italy for two weeks – hotels, a short cruise, and flights – their discounted cost was right around $10,000 without including food, ground transport, souvenirs, or additional activities.

This 42 day trip around the world – including every little thing – covering Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, North America and islands in the oceans between and an amazing litany of activities. Well, I don’t want to spoil the surprise. I’ll reveal the details later. Oh fuck it, I’ll reveal it now – total cost (thank you credit cards for the rewards and the ability to pay for this over time) was right around $11,000. Spas, safaris, Paris Disneyland, 5 star hotels, world class museums, and so on.

In any event – Sophia and I are home. My wife chose to stay a bit longer with her parents in Morocco. Her adventure continues. I’m both glad to be home and sad to have this journey complete. It really was two very different trips. Part 1: Me in the World, inexpensively Part 2: Me and My Kid in the World, expensively.  Both parts were equally amazing but in different ways – and there was a strange transition period in Morocco between them that just seems kind of fitting. So, in a way, this trip was like a journey of my life – not the trip of a lifetime but the journey of my life itself. The journey of any parent really personified in the solo start, the joining, the added responsibility and expense along with the added fun and joy of sharing the journey and being able to share important life lessons along the way with my child (things like – we splurged on a lunch so for dinner we are making instant noodles using the hotel coffee pot and – if we want to take an Uber to the airport, we need to use the metro or walk for the rest of our time here).

Here is the cost breakdown by category with a few details attached:

Accommodation: 42 nights of hotel rooms varying from 3-5 star on five continents and three islands in the middle of three different oceans (Pacific, Atlantic, Indian)- $2821 – an average of $67/night. To put this in perspective – our rent at home comes out to about $61/night. In truth, I can’t believe how expensive it is to just live at this point in time. This budget would have stretched a lot further if I had stayed in ‘budget’ countries. The most expensive hotel accommodation we paid for was our 4-night hostel stay in Iceland.  Second most expensive was my five night splurge for a 5 star resort in Morocco.

Flights: Total flights for this trip around the world including a couple of business class upgrades, first class airline lounges, and any taxes of fees was $4700. The first half of the journey was just me and the second half of the journey was me and my daughter. Her seats were right around $1500 for a trip halfway around the world. So, my solo fare for trip around the world was right around $3200. Far less than any sites that I looked at offering RTW fares – the cheapest of which (almost $10k) clocked in at almost the entire amount we spent on everything.

Ground Transport: A lot of people don’t think about ground transport when they are trip planning, but you need to. Ubers, taxis, trains – these expenses add up and you have to pay them. We didn’t rent a car at any point so we didn’t have to pay gas or those fees – but our total for ground transport from start to finish was $702. The two most expensive bits of this clocked in at right around $67 each – this was my cost for using taxis in Dubai and also the splurge for an Uber from our hotel in Manhattan direct to JFK because I didn’t want to drag bags (and my kid) through train transfers, subway steps etc in NYC. This averaged to about $16/day but keep in mind we did a lot of walking. I love walking and we averaged 10-12 miles per day when we were in destinations for a full day or longer.

Activities: Total cost for all activities was right around $1800. I can’t believe that’s it. I went on a land and a boat safari, had multiple spa treatments (massage, fish foot nibbling, and hammam), we went to Paris Disneyland, went up the Eiffel Tower, the statue of Liberty, the tallest building in the world, an indoor snow park in Dubai, so many museums, an ice cave, multiple tours, cultural shows, a Broadway show, ferris wheels, and so much more. This total included all tips and private drivers hired for excursions and outings. Roughly $42/day when averaged out.

Food: Total amount spent on food, snacks, drinks, coffee etc was a total of $1163 including tips. Our food budget got destroyed in Paris, Iceland, and NYC –  partially because the most expensive destinations either didn’t offer free breakfast at the hotels or charged more than it would cost us to go get breakfast elsewhere. $780 of this total came from France, Iceland, and NYC – partially this was due to in those places there were two of us eating, but mostly it just came from the extreme cost of food in those places. Yes, we could have eaten cheaper – but honestly food is part of the fun of travel. If I cut those portions in half to account for just one person eating – food total comes to an average of $18/day.  If I average out how much I was spending per day before reaching ‘the expensive lands’ it was 1/3rd cheaper at right around $12/day. To be honest, I’m surprised the numbers even come that close.

Shopping and Souvenirs: Frankly, I like to travel light and don’t particularly want souvenirs or chotzkys in my life. I also don’t tend to buy a bunch of stuff for people who aren’t on the trip – a big part of all of this is I don’t want to carry stuff around with me. There were things I wanted or needed to buy though and there were also a few souvenirs that my daughter or I wanted (her beret’s in Paris, an outfit from NYC), a bottle of Icelandic Gin for me, Sri Lankan cinnamon, coffee, and tea, a Balinese sarong, chocolate from everywhere plus buying power adaptors, buying clothes when I needed them, and getting a pair of shoes to replace my worn out slippers (flip-flops) in NYC. Total for shopping and souvenirs was $702 an average of about $16/day. Keep in mind, this is a highly subjective number but there absolutely were things I had to buy along the way (like adaptors and replacement cords for charging my phone).

And that’s it. My credit cards have a much higher balance than they did before but I think it was totally worth it.

So – to sum up – cost for flights around the world for one person: $3200 per person plus an average spend for all categories put together of $159 per day including lodging, transport, amazing activities, great food, and some souvenir shopping (our regular life ends up costing about $95 a day on a no frills month to put this number into perspective). So, you can see this wasn’t a ‘budget’ trip – definitely not a $20/$50/$100 per day trip – in fact, I would put it much more on the side of a luxury trip with us doing almost everything we wanted to do in the destinations we went to, eating very good food along the way, and even doing a little shopping. I can definitely see where we could have shaved off quite a bit of expense (Portugal or Czech Republic instead of France), flying into Canada instead of NYC, skipping Iceland and instead seeing Canadian places, and staying in 2 star accommodation (instead of 4 and 5 star) or couch surfing, cooking our own meals on multiple days, doing free activities etc – but honestly, this was the trip we wanted to take and we made it work. The cost we were able to do all of this for is mind-blowing to me because planning an equivalent trip easily goes beyond $30,000 without even including everything we were able to do. How was I able to bring this trip in with $20,000 or more in savings? I wrote about that here.

And so – here we are, end of the trip, back at home, in Hawai’i – and by the way – that is one of the great benefits of living in Hawaii. When you take a trip and the trip is over, you have to go to Hawai’i. Real life is going to kick into gear very soon with middle school starting for my kiddo and me having to figure out how to pay the bills (including some new credit card balances) – but it was worth it, man oh man, yes 100% it was worth it.

The featured image of this post is me at the start, middle, and end of this trip. Travel is good for me. Below are the two bags I got home with – I left with just the backpack but had some personal items in Morocco to bring back with me – this bag held them and clothes I bought along the way – the grey bag by the way, was part of my shopping and souvenir expense – a $35 cheapie suitcase from Morocco.

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