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1 year backpacking Asia budget for couples

Map with money

How to budget your trip for one year of backpacking through Asia as a couple!

Dreaming your way to an amazing experience is one thing. Planning and making this dream a reality is something completely different!

We know the struggles that arise. We’ve BEEN there. Initially there are some hurdles that you need to deal with:

  1. Where do you want to go and for how long?
  2. Can you take the time out to realistically do this? (take leave from work,  go between completing studies and starting full time employment, OR [for the few lucky ones] quit work and have no specific return date).
  3. Can you legally go for the amount of time that you want to? You need to take many legalities in mind. Some travel visas only allow you to be in a country for a certain amount of time, do not take for granted that these can be renewed hassle-free. Research all of this beforehand. Check our blog on what Visas you will need in Asia.

Make sure that you are on the same page as your partner. If you are both able to put the same amount of money into your savings – great!

If not, ensure that you have the understanding that the money that is saved is both of yours to collectively spend. Say, your partner needs a new shirt, this doesn’t mean that you have to buy one too just to ‘equalise’ the spending, that’s not going to work in the long-term. Be wise with your spending and stick to your budget, and you will both be happy!

If the answers to the above questions are in place (and you answered ‘yes’ to question 2) then you are only part way there. The second hurdle that you need to overcome is the financials – how do you budget your trip?

There are, of course, different ways to finance your travels. Some people opt to work as they are travelling, as certain places offer a working visa. This would include things like fruit picking or tending to farms in Australia, or working in a bar in Thailand.

However, there are often age related issues with this (say, if you are over a certain age, this is not something that you can apply for). Secondly, you may not actually WANT to work as you are travelling, or you need your time to work on other things as you are traveling.

Also, we would like to make a quick disclaimer that we fall into the latter category. Not only are we travelling in order to enjoy ourselves, but we also want to spend time creating content. Whilst this is very true, we are also very fortunate that Dylan’s business is based online, and he will be able to work whilst we travel, providing that there is enough Wi-Fi for him to use (this is topic in itself which we will soon cover on a new blog!).

However, as the title suggests, this blog will focus on HOW to budget your trip for a whole year of travelling, WITHOUT any active or passive incomes once you set-off.

Deciding on where to go

It seems obvious that this would be at the top of the list. Not only because without a location, you can’t realistically start planning but also because different countries have different prices. For example, backpacking through Europe can be much more expensive than South East Asia, due to obvious reasons.

Budget or luxury?

Once you know the region that you want to cover and the timeframe: for this example we are using 1 year and a mix of East Asia and South East Asia. You need to figure out how ‘nice’ you want to live. As we are travelling as a ‘seasoned’ couple, we don’t feel the need to share hostel rooms with 10 strangers. Many people love this, and it can be a fun experience especially if you are travelling alone, as it really helps you to meet new people. Also, it would help to cut your costs of accommodation in half!

We have opted to go somewhere in between budget and luxury. We have a set criteria in place: private toilet, private bedroom with a double bed, and wifi. This leaves us rather open to hostels and hotels and Airbnb. Realistically, we are hoping to spend a couple of nights in a hotel every 2 weeks, or so, to truly relax after spending the rest of our stays in hostels. It is worth noting that if you are going for a long time, places like Airbnb offer discounts for extended stays. A place that may be way out of your budget for a week slashes the prices if you stay for a whole month, and it ends up hitting your budget target! All of a sudden you have a whole studio or apartment to yourselves, which will allow you to really live in the location.

What things do you need to budget for?

A few obvious answers to this question is accommodation and food. However, once you really get to think about it, there are many other things to consider to budget your trip.

Here’s a list of all the things that are on our list of necessities. (please bear in mind that this is specific to us as a couple, and there are surely many other things to consider)

  • Accommodation: hotel/hostel/airBnB
  • Food/Drink: anything from cocktails by the beach, to a weekly food shop.
  • Experiences: cooking classes, entrances to places of beauty, amusement parks, etc!
  • Travelling around/travelling between countries: anything from renting a motorbike to take a plane to the next location. Check out our 10 hacks on how to get cheaper flights.
  • Toiletries: suncream is bound to run out at some point! Everything that covers toothpaste, and toilet paper.
  • Medications: Dylan has Type 1 Diabetes, so we need to consider a large chunk of money for his medications and testing kits.
  • Travel Insurance: speaks for itself! Do NOT travel without one.
  • Phone: we will want data to use our phones – this cost can vary from country to country
  • Gym: whilst waking around and sweating buckets may help to feel good, we want to make sure that we stay active and healthy, so this is something we wanted to work into our budget.
  • Computer software: like editing tools and subscriptions to adobe
  • Miscellaneous: there’s always something you don’t account for. This category is just that, some money set aside for random things (like buying some new sunglasses!)

Once we decided WHAT we needed to save our money for, the next question was HOW MUCH.

We opted to be very aggressive with our numbers, we know that we could get by very well with lower numbers. Our thought process behind this was that we would much rather save too much and be able to extend our travels, rather than not having enough and having so scrape by or cut our travels short.

Here’s a breakdown of the amount we expect to need for each category:

Cost Per monthThings to buy
Hotel£200.00Computer Software£216 per year
Hostel£650.00
Food/Drink£900.00
Experiences£200.00
Travel around£510.00
Toiletries£30.00
Medications£140.00
Miscelaneous£33.32
Travel insurance£57.00
Phone£40.00
Gymnasium£40.00

This means that the total monthly spend for ONE of us would be £1400/month and therefore two of us living well, in SE Asia, for one year, would cost £2800/month.

We were lucky enough to be able to ensure that we are loan-free before we go travelling. So, do your best to pay off any smaller loans that you might have before you go travelling, otherwise a large chunk of the money you think you have will be going to that every month, making it more difficult (but not impossible) to budget your trip!

When looking at our expectation to spend monthly, some months will be relatively much cheaper (in Laos for example) and some months will be spent in Japan, South Korea, etc – countries that are much more expensive. These numbers are based on research of the higher end of the prices and not pulled out of thin air.

Once we put this to the test, we will do an updated version of the budget sheet as we are expecting to actually spend less but also want to complete some tests (like, can you live in South East Asia for only £500 per person for a whole month? Which is almost 1/3rd of our monthly budget). This website is super helpful to find a basic budget for your tip!

Now, once we worked the above out, we knew that we needed to save £33,891.84 to make our dream a reality.

We are creating a blog for you soon that covers how we managed to save £10,000 more than our budget in just over a year. All the methods we used to double our monthly income, overnight! Keep your eyes peeled!

We hope you found this blog helpful in deciding on how to budget your trip before you set off. We would love to hear what your budgets were like. Comment below if yours is the same (or different!) and how you have been making it work! We can’t wait to connect with you.

Take a look at our other blogs on tips and tricks for travelling couples!

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