If you are only interested in backpacking costs in a specific region then check out the following:
About the Budget Travel Table
This table aims to give you an indication of travel costs in different countries around the world and help you decide on a suitable backpacking budget. Before trotting off to some distant part of our planet, unless you’re lucky enough to be super rich you’ll almost certainly have a figure in mind of how much you are going to spend. However it can be hard to predict how much you will spend in countries you’ve never visited and know little about. If it’s your first time backpacking then it can be almost impossible to know how much money you will need. This page will hopefully help you make at least an educated estimate!
The Budget Travel Table suggests a realistic daily travel budget for backpackers in countries all around the world. It is based on staying in a cheap room or dorm in a budget hostel. It takes into account typical transport costs within a country. It is based on eating local street food, in budget restaurants or self-catering and averaging a few alcoholic drinks every night in a non too swanky bar or disco. It includes the cost of some cheap typical daytime activities such as visits to museums but expensive activities such as safaris or thrill-seeking sports are optional extras and not included in the calculations.
ISIC & Other Discount Cards
One sure-fire way to save some money on your travels is to get a discount card before you go. If you are a student, teacher or anyone under the age of 31, you can get one for just £12 and they can save you cash on important stuff like flights, accommodation, entertainment and shopping in all four corners of the world. Read more and get yours here!
As of May 2016, US$1 is worth..
Euros: €0.88 | British Pound: £0.69 | Canadian Dollars: $1.29 | Aussie Dollars: $1.36 | New Zealand Dollars: $1.47 | Japanese Yen: ¥108 | Singapore Dollars: $1.37 | Philippine Peso: 46.55 | Danish Krone: 6.51 | Swiss Francs: 0.97
World Budget Travel Table
Backpacking Costs in Different Countries
Dirt Cheap Destinations!
US$20 or less per day | €17.50 or less per day | £14 or less per day
These are the world superpowers of budget travel. It is possible and often fairly easy to get by on as little as $15 in some of them provided you are prepared to rough it a little bit and resist the tempting tourist buses, restaurants and hotels and stick to hostels, local transport and local restaurants.
In some of these countries just US$2-3 can get you a room for the night, transport you 200km or buy a round at the bar. Destinations like Sihanoukville, Cambodia (pictured above) let you experience paradise on a tiny budget and although prices are slowly rising in one or two of these countries, it’s not hard to find fantastic value.
Travelling just in these countries you can budget around $140 a week. A whole year of travel on this sort of budget can set you back as little as $7000 or £5000, however you should allow in a little more for flights, visas etc as costs for these things depend on when you are from so are impossible to factor into this table.
See our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia for more on travel costs in that region.
More Great Places for Shoestring Travellers
around US$25 per day | around €22 per day | around £17 per day
Some fascinating countries in this lot and still remarkably cheap travelling. $200 a week should certainly cover it and a year in these sort of countries should work out at around $10,000, less than £7000. North African countries like Morocco (pictured above) and Egypt are great value and intriguing places to visit but there is a real mix of destinations in there.
Worth noting we’ve moved Thailand up from $20 due to numerous requests to do so. If you’re not big into the party culture in Thailand you can still easily get by on $20 or less but it’s probably fair to say that most people end up spending more than $25 in Thailand due to the drinking/party element.
As for Kenya we have changed that down to $25 because it is starting to make itself more appealing to budget travellers rather than those merely on luxury safari holidays. You can probably get by on less in truth but entrance to the expensive national parks and definitely safaris can still blow your budget so it really depends on what kind of trip you want to have.
around US$30 per day | around €26 per day | around £21 per day
Bosnia and Herzegovina
In this lot you’ve got the first European countries in the table as well as several African nations. While you may assume that Eastern Europe and Africa are cheap regions to visit, that isn’t completely the full story as you will find out further down although certainly the countries featured here including China still represent great value for the traveller.
Budget Travel Destinations (but only by Western Standards)
around US$35 per day | around €31 per day | around £24 per day
If you’re from an expensive country yourself you’ll still find these places very cheap and prices around almost half what they are in Western Europe or the USA and Canada. Somewhere like Colombia (pictured above) represents a mid-range South American country and these sort of costs might be a reasonable guide to an overall trip in South America. There is more detailed info on this in our Backpackers Guide to South America.
An average trip in Eastern Europe or the more expensive countries in East Africa might also fall into this range. 6 months of travel in these countries would set you back less than $7,000, still comfortably under £5,000.
Russia, is the biggest mover in this year’s table due to the rapid depreciation in its currency over the past two years. As recently as August 2014, you could get just 35 Roubles for US$1. That figure has soared to around 70 Roubles as of May 2016 and therefore travelling in the country is considerably cheaper than it was only a couple of years ago.
Poland has also got cheaper and just when it appeared to be leaving the world of budget destinations for good, it is firmly back as one of Europe’s most budget-friendly countries.
Hong Kong also makes this section and although it has a reputation as an expensive place, the fact you spend very little on travelling around (as it is so small) and can still get cheap beds in hostels on Hong Kong island or Kowloon makes it good value. South Korea is also a lot cheaper than many people realise. Get some tips on budget travel in Korea here!
around US$40 per day | around €35 per day | around £28 per day
Mozambique is a good example of an African country that can be quite pricey to travel in, likewise Uruguay in South America. You can go well over $40 in both countries if you’re not a bit disciplined as much of the travel industry in both countries isn’t particularly geared towards backpackers.
around US$45 per day | around €39 per day | around £31 per day
A real cross-section of countries from different regions are sitting comfortably in mid-table. Portugal (Lisbon pictured above is Western Europe’s cheapest capital) is still good value when compared to nearby countries while Argentina and Chile are expensive South American countries. You’re looking at $300-350 a week here and in 6 months perhaps $8,000, just over £5,000. Some of these countries are already almost 3 times as expensive as the dirt cheap destinations and we are only half way down the table.
Singapore and the Maldives both have expensive reputations but have just enough of a budget travel scene that you can get by on this kind of budget although eating and drinking out in Singapore will see your expenses soar and it would be higher than $45 were it not a city-state where clearly your transport costs will be less than in countries where you have to move from town to town.
around US$50 per day | around €44 per day | around £35 per day
Check out our backpacking route in Brazil if you fancy taking on South America’s most expensive destination. Puerto Rico is a new inclusion in the 2016 table and prices aren’t dissimilar to those on mainland USA, which is further down the table due to the cost of covering large distances to get between destinations.
Things are getting Expensive
around US$55 per day | around €48 per day | around £38 per day
around US$60 per day | around €53 per day | around £42 per day
If you arrive from South East Asia or Central America into Europe then you’re in for a nasty shock. Backpacking bargains will seem like a distant memory almost as quickly as your trusty savings will diminish. 3 months travel in one of the countries in this section would amount to over $5000 (roughly £3500), not far off what a whole year in some of the cheapest countries in our table might cost.
Germany (Berlin Wall pictured above) still represents pretty good value as far as developed European countries go but if you’ve come from the East of the continent’s former divide then it will still seem expensive.
Costs in Canada vary wildly depending on how much travelling around you do. Stay in one place and you could get by on less than $60 per day but if you are trying to see both Eastern and Western Canada in one trip you should budget much more than this unless you are planning on spending several months in the country.
Things are definitely getting Expensive!
around US$65 per day | around €57 per day | around £45 per day
around US$70 per day | around €61 per day | around £48 per day
These are some of the most expensive countries in the world to travel in. Australia (pictured above) is now more or less in line with British prices and despite its popularity with backpackers it is by no means a budget travel destination. Special deals on coach travel for backpackers helps soften the blow but unless you can get some work or free accommodation in Oz, you will need sizeable savings of over $6,000 or £4,000 if you fancy three months travelling there or in one of the other countries in this section. Check out our backpacking route for Australia here!
The US Dollar and recently the Euro have strengthened against the Scandinavian currencies, making Sweden and Denmark marginally better value but they are still very much expensive. Meanwhile Iceland is heading in the opposite direction again and having briefly been more affordable, prices are returning to the levels they were at before the economic crash.
The UK has got slightly cheaper over the past few months for visitors with the Pound not doing so well due to fears about Britain leaving the EU. If Britain votes to remain in the EU, it will most likely become a bit more expensive again as the Pound recovers.
USA is much like Canada in that you can probably get by on less than $65 if you stay in one or two states but trying to cover various different parts of the country will push your budget right up.
I’m a Backpacker Get Me Out of here!
Finland $75/day (€66)
Norway $80/day (€70)
Switzerland $85/day (€74)
If there is ever a TV show called ‘I’m a Backpacker Get me out of here’ it might as well be held in Scandinavia which seems to have a passion for ripping off penny-saving travellers. $10 for a beer. $40 for a bed in a dorm. You cannot be serious! Norway may have the Northern Lights (pictured above) but it sucks to be a budget traveller although not quite as much as it used to given the Krone has lost value against the Dollar and the Euro over the past couple of years.
That is the reason why for the first time in the history of our World Budget Travel Table, Norway is not the most expensive country in the world to travel in. That dubious honour instead goes to Switzerland which may have nice mountains and lakes but is frankly a rip-off.
Allow for at least $2500 a month when visiting these countries. Don’t bother coming for long periods unless you have some serious funds or a job lined up.
How was the table Compiled?
We’ve come up with the figures from our own backpacking experiences and from people who we’ve met along the way and where this hasn’t been possible (we don’t know anyone who has been to Uzbekistan lately) by consulting several sources to come up with hopefully a realistic figure. We also welcome people contacting us to let us know their spending habits in different countries and we have made a few revisions on the back of this. You can do likewise by contacting us or please do use the comments section at the bottom if you spot anything that you believe to be inaccurate or just want to confirm that our figures are roughly in the right ball-park for a country. Honestly ever comment helps!
Please remember the figures are based on staying in a budget hostel dorm, travelling by local transport and eating and drinking in local restaurants and street stalls. If you are more flashpacker than backpacker you can expect to spend more than this. If you’ve got a knack for shoestring travel then you can probably get by on slightly less.
Check out this excellent guest post on how to travel on a small budget for more money-saving tips.
Factors to Bear in Mind
This is not an exact science! It is impossible for us or anyone to say how much you will spend on your trip as everyone and every trip is different so please use the table as a guideline and only that!
Prices can vary within countries, for example big or capital cities are often much more expensive as are popular package tourist regions such as Cancun in Mexico for example so bare this in mind when planning your trips. China, Russia, Indonesia and Malaysia are other countries where there are huge regional differences in prices sometimes to the extent where certain regions are twice as expensive as other parts of the same country. This tends to be the case more in bigger countries but not always. The UK for example is considerably cheaper outside of London and the South of England.
Staying in one place for longer or travelling in just a small part of a country will see you get by on less than if you are travelling longer distances and moving on every day or two. In this table we are basing it on moving around once every two or three days.
Also realise that you are going to have to spend quite a bit on your trip before you even leave home on things like flights to/from the region you are heading as well as vaccinations, visas and travel insurance (these are not included in the figures as clearly we don’t know where you are coming from or how much those things might cost you). If you’re looking for insurance geared towards backpacking trips then we strongly suggest checking out World Nomads.
One more thing to think about if you’re on a tight budget is that living in a country is much cheaper than travelling in it and if you can read this page without the help of google translate, chances are you can find work teaching English to fund your adventures. For budget living costs in over 100 cities around the world see our World Budget Living Table. We also have a guide to teaching English abroad if this appeals.
What has Changed?
We last updated this table in early 2015 and have made a few small but significant changes, most of which we’ve pointed out a long the way. Countries that have got cheaper include Russia, Poland, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Myanmar, Turkey and Malaysia. This is generally due either to the depreciation of currencies in those countries or the strengthening of the Euro, which was at a real low point the last time we compiled the table and therefore some Eurozone members have got slightly more expensive.
We have removed Venezuela from the table due to the ridiculously complicated system where it has several different exchange rates. If you bring in US Dollars or Euros and trade on the black market it’s arguably the cheapest country in the world to visit. Using official tourist exchange places, it’s still a lot cheaper than it was after the official rate was slashed to help cope with severe economic issues but you may still find it as pricey as the most expensive South American destinations like Chile, Argentina and Brazil.
We’ve also taken out UAE as there is still no sign that the oil-rich Gulf state has anything remotely geared towards budget travellers. If anyone has been to Dubai or Abu Dhabi and knows differently we’d love to hear from you!
4 new countries have been added and they are Jamaica, South Africa, the Maldives and Puerto Rico due to requests from readers. If you’d like a country included in the 2017 table let us know by commenting below or contacting us.
If you’ve found this page useful we’d really appreciate it if you share it with your friends/travel buddies. Even better please comment below letting us know your average daily backpacking costs in any countries you’ve recently visited. It helps to keep the table as up-to-date as possible (which can be a challenge as we don’t have eyes in every country) and also helps other travellers plan their trips.