Long-Term Travel: Define Your Itinerary and Budget


Long-Term Travel: Define Your Itinerary and Budget

Organising a long journey implies significant involvement and takes time. It has been about a year and a half since we started to think seriously about this trip and saving up for it. Now, it’s time to buckle down and start planning.

This post is also available in: frFrançais (French)


Choose your Itinerary

And the options are limitless. One of the first steps to organise a long trip is to decide where you want to go. Get out a pen, some paper (or your computer!) and start daydreaming about every country you’ve ever aspired to visit (one list for each person if you’re traveling with other people).

Don’t think about the financial aspect and logistics for now, this will help to free your mind and realise all the opportunities ahead of you (and it’s really motivating too!). You could even group the countries by priority like “non-negotiable”, “maybe” etc. There are even some countries you may prefer visit in another context, like a holiday break when your budget might be more comfortable.

When you feel that your list is nearing completion, share your list with your travel companions and get a rough estimate of how long you will be traveling and the amount of time you want to devote to each country. At this point, you’ll have a first draft of your itinerary completed.

We’ve determined that 10 months journey, (that’s about 3 to 4 weeks per country) will give us plenty of time to enjoy what each destination has to offer without the feeling of being rushed. With our few “non-negotiable”, we had our first draft and we rapidly understood that the list was going to evolve as we go on with the organisation.

Iceland, its aurora borealis and wild landscapes sound really great but we have to fly in and out… to choose, we prefer Hawaii. It would also be the only cold country of our trip (I can already see myself with 3 backpacks). Iceland will be for another time!

Most of the people who go on a world tour stop in South America. To add a continent significantly raises your budget in such a journey. We gave priority to some “expensive countries/areas” like Japan, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand.

Our trip will look like this:


As far as the direction to the west, it was decided easily: from France, where we currently live, we will go our American family first.

The calendar

For a long trip, you can’t plan on being in each country on the right time of the year… anyway even during the rainy season in Vietnam, it doesn’t rain 24h/24. In the end, it depends on when you want to leave. Keep also in mind that timing can affect your budget as a particular event will go in hand with more expensive accommodation.


How much will all of this cost?

It’s all well and good to plan on a long trip, but how much will it cost? It’s impossible for me to just go and see what will happen day by day. We need to be sure that we won’t starve and sleep on the street. For organising, our thing is gathering info on spread sheets. It helps to keep your thoughts clear and to share them more easily, especially if you’re travelling with other people. Here is what we took into account, per country:

  •  Best time of the year to go (even if we won’t be able to respect it for every country)
  • Budget per day (local transportation, accommodation, food)
  • How many weeks
  • Total budget
  • Estimated date of arrival
  • Arrival/departure flights
  • Visas

All you need now is to fill in the table. The information about budget remains an estimation but it gives a good idea of the fees to plan for, without forgetting to add the vaccinations, the equipment and the insurance. These criteria will probably impact your itinerary, the number of countries etc. (well, budget is not extensible).


  • Every day expenses (accommodation, food and local transportation): $14,300
  • Flights: $2,000
  • Vaccinations: $450
  • Equipment: $300
  • Insurance: $800
  • Reserve (emergencies… or just to enjoy some extras from time to time): $550

For 13 countries and about 10 months, we think we will basically need $18,400 per person… what a budget (well, let’s try and calculate how much we spend on the same time period in our current lives…), but we won’t regret it.

Departure scheduled for February 2016!


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French travel lover and expat in Texas | Translator and main writer for A Journey Away travel blog