How Many Days Can I Travel On $1,000? (Your Guide To The Cheapest Countries To Travel)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A few months ago I wrote about this chart on Rough Guides’ web site calculating how many days you can travel with $1,000 in various countries around the world. Ahead of the upcoming publishing phenomena, otherwise known as the book release of “The Expeditioner’s Guide to the World” (more on that to come), I decided to do an update on the chart, using current statistics, and also expanding the field a bit to include some favorite bargain countries like Vietnam, Argentina, and Indonesia.

How, you may ask, does one come up with these numbers? Easy, I simply researched the purchasing power of the U.S dollar as a base by referring to the oft-quoted Big Mac Index, cross-referenced that with boots-on-the-ground estimates from guidebooks, then converted those numbers using the most up-to-date currency exchange rates.  I then put a team of monkeys to work crunching the numbers all night to come up with the following chart.

As you can see, and not surprising to most travelers, Asia is the cheapest place to travel right now, with a $1,000 budget lasting you over 40 days in many countries. On the other end of the spectrum is of course Scandinavia, where you can expect to blow your trip savings in a svelte two weeks. (Did that beer really just cost me $18?)

Keep in mind, these numbers are based upon a backpacker’s budget (i.e, staying in hostels, street food, minimal transport), and these numbers will vary widely depending on the extent you travel in more expensive, urban areas. However, I tried to integrate both urban and cheaper rural travel to better reflect the composition of a typical trip. Now if only your job gave you that many vacation days . . .

By Matt Stabile



Matt Stabile Bio PictureMatt Stabile is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Expeditioner. The Expeditioner began in 2008 and is headquartered in New York City. You can read his writings, watch his travel videos or contact him at any time at (@TheExpeditioner)

  • Wow, Laos is cheapest country now. I think Indonesia. But if you choose a cheaper accommodation I think you will stay longer.

  • Excellent post, very helpful for picking countries when you have a very limited budget. But two things. 1. I'm concerned about those monkey you have working for you. and 2. I'm surprised Brazil is so expensive. Plus they just slapped US travelers with a $75 visa fee.

  • I guess I have to forgive you for not including Canada :)

    Having spent a month in China this past summer, I can't imagine trying to live on a little under $21.00 a day. Since i am not on a long open ended trip I don't really budget like a backpacker. I try to keep within a budget, but not that modest.

    In japan this summer as well I consciously tried to keep costs in line. It was difficult, and one way I managed to do it was by staying in Kyoto and Tokyo for extended periods of time.

    I live in Korea , and the biggest expense here is probably accommodation. Maybe that's why there seems to such a large couch surfing community here. Food and transportation are much much cheaper than Japan.

    • TheExpeditioner

      Ha, well actually Canada's dollar is basically equal to the U.S. dollar right now, plus travel costs and expenses are not much different (unless you're buying lots of books), so I figured that the statistic for U.S. travel would be a good marker for Canada as well. Good info about Korea too.

      And about China, that may be a little low on expenses in my chart, but again I tried to balance it out with rural travel too. Were you traveling in more expensive areas of China?

  • Great chart! Just wondering, where's Peru? Outside of Macchu Picchu it's extremely cheap to travel through Peru. It has $6 rooms with private bath, friendly people and interesting sights.

    • TheExpeditioner

      I had to pick and choose, maybe for next year's edition?

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