Answering Our Most Commonly Asked Questions

2012: You have questions.. hopefully we will try and answer them now.

It’s a new year and we’re answering our most frequently asked questions from 2012, because when you tell people you quit your job to travel the world for a year, there are bound to be some questions. Questions like, “Where was your favorite place?” Or, “How does it feel to be back in the ‘real world’?” And, “What’s next?”

So we’re taking this time to answer them all. Here we go. One of the first questions we get after people heard we’ve been traveling long-term is:

Did you win the lottery?

No, I wish.

How did you afford a trip like this?

We did it the old fashion way – lots and lots of hard work and savings. We made sacrifices to make saving a priority: I brought lunch to work 3-4 times a week. We barely ate out. And our social life was practically non-existent.


What’s your favorite place?


What was the best thing you ate?

We ate well in 2012 which made it extremely hard to narrow it down, but we wrote all about it here in our 12 Best Thing We Ate in 2012 post.

What’s the biggest shock upon coming home?

Meal portions.

Did you get sick?

I had food poisoning in India and was bed-ridden for nearly a week. Gerard could barely move a muscle for 3-days in Thailand possibly from swallowing ocean water while swimming in Koh Hong. Other than that, a few stomach issues here and there for our fearless eating habits and that was it.

Was it safe? Or, did you get robbed?

Yes and no. Well, I usually answer the ‘Is it safe?’ question with ‘As safe as it is being home..’ and let their imaginations run wild with that. I am grateful we never once got pickpocketed or robbed. We did not lose our luggage or get held up at gunpoint or kidnapped. We rarely felt threatened other than the time we tried to bus through a miner protest in Bolivia. Paranoid at times, yes, but never in ‘real’ danger. The world is a safe place contrary to what the media might put out.

Did you have a budget?

Yes. We started with a cost per day/ per person based on the country then rolled it up to an overall number. Honestly, there was no rhyme or reason, just based on other’s experiences and adjusted accordingly to our traveling habits. For example, $100 a day per person for one- month in New Zealand. We did not let the budget dictate our daily spending either. It was more of a guideline; something to keep in mind. Some days we came in way under and other days we blew the budget out of the water, but it all averaged out for the most part.

Our initial budget was $20,000 per person for the year.

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How much does it cost to travel the world for a year?

Gerard and I spent 312 days on the road and our final grand total for two is $45,357 or roughly $22.5k per person.
UPDATE: Sorry, but we found out we miscalculated the budget, so the actual total is $51,988 (including airfare for both), so that’s about $25.5k per person.

You’ve already seen some of our total recaps by country – New Zealand and India to new a few. We have a lot more numbers coming your way that will break down where exactly our money went including new posts from South America and Eastern Europe.

For us, we often say we’re not backpackers, but rather we’re flashpackers. And while we didn’t travel on a big spenders wallet, we weren’t exactly roughing it either. We spent where it was necessary to keep ourselves comfortable and our sanity in check opting for private double accommodations instead of staying in dorms – hey, we’re not 18 anymore. We couchsurfed more for the experience but it did help save some cash too.

Where’s the honeymoon?

Luckily the world is a big place. I think Belize would be great and Gerard wouldn’t mind Bora Bora. Africa would be another wild option. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Questions From Facebook:

Shanna F had a great question. She wants to know if we had a bad experience in any country or if any country just didn’t appeal to us as much.

China. In their defense, we only did visit Shanghai, Xi’an and Beijing so that hardly counts for the entire country, but just the overall feel rubbed us the wrong way. It’s too congested. People appear to be yelling all the time and, in our minds, rude and didn’t seem to make an effort to care. After a few days, I didn’t like the person I was when I was there – short tempered and erratic, I was just plain mean. Mean enough to push a little old lady on the metro and didn’t care. She pushed me first.

Chris E wants to know, How successful did you find couch surfing, and any tips on using that service?

Couchsurfing was a wonderful experience for us, the few times we got to actually do it. It was a bit tricky since we are a couple and most hosts can only host 1 person. The key to couchsurfing is to get great references. See if you already have friends on CS to write in a good word for you. Local CS meetups are a great way to connect with not only locals but other couchsurfers traveling. Overall, some of our trip highlights, albeit interesting at times, is thanks to couchsurfing.

Rachel K was curious, since we traveled light, did we buy souvenirs and if we bought an additional bag to carry our newly acquired goods?

We debated this. In the end, not nearly as much as I’d hope but we knew this when we decided to travel with carry-on size luggage. We stuck to small items that were practical like jewelry for me and new t-shirts for Gerard to switch out. We were able to send things back with my cousin whom we met up with in Thailand and we also shipped a big box home when we were in Seoul but never had to purchase additional luggage.

What’s next?

Probably the most popular question we’ve been getting recently, now that we’re home, is what’s next for you and G? What does the year have in store, and, are we done traveling?

I don’t think we’ll ever tire from traveling, we have yet to make a dent in the universe. But for now our long-term traveling days are at a halt.

We still have so much to share from our time abroad, it’ll keep us both busy for months to come. Plus, we intend to indulge in some mini weekend getaways to quench our wanderlust thirst.

We have a wedding to plan which is both exciting and frightening at the same time. And finally, Gerard and I are actively looking for jobs. Eeeek!



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51 Responses to Answering Our Most Commonly Asked Questions

  1. Trudy January 8, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Loved reading this! That’s so long to travel. I like the idea of splitting your budget by country too. We tend to budget per day as well but haven’t thought about splitting it by country – makes a lot of sense! Looking forward to reading more about your weekend trips and yes the wedding planning, I’m a girlie girl ;)

    • Kieu - GQ trippin January 10, 2013 at 8:08 am #

      LOL, I’ll be sure to share some wedding related post some time down the line. :)

  2. Antoinette B. January 8, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    Q, thanks for that mini breakdown of your spending average in each country. It’s always helpful, as I am going back out on the road again in two months. I too consider myself a “flashpacker” as I am always willing to shell out more for good food or experience a top-rated restaurant abroad, yet I don’t mind the dorms often. Just a quick question, were your flights/transportation part of your $45k budget or completely separate?

    • Kieu - GQ trippin January 10, 2013 at 8:10 am #

      Yes, the flights are included in there. I’ll definitely break it down for you in a later. The flights were actually a lot cheaper than we initially thought.. :)

  3. Tony K + Steph H January 8, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    We’ve only been traveling 5 months & been to 7 countries now, and I would say I am right there with you on China. We’re writing about those experiences on our blog right now, and some of them were really rough. The hardest thing for us was that the people were generally so aggressive and not at all friendly… I am always so envious of other travelers who went and have tales of being heaped with kindness! So not what we experienced!

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin January 9, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

      Yeah. We were lucky to experience kindness through our Shanghai Couchsurfing host. It made the difference for us. But outside of that, it was pretty rough.

  4. Lisa January 9, 2013 at 5:10 am #

    Hi Kieu, heard from my sis a little news from you! I have a ? unseen yet.. I know G traveled w/ lots of electronic devices. Where did you put them while out and about in the day time? Any issues of theft there??

    • Kieu - GQ trippin January 10, 2013 at 8:06 am #

      Because we stayed in our own private rooms, we just left it there and locked the doors when we left. No theft for us..

  5. 30HomeGames January 9, 2013 at 6:42 am #

    Thanks for sharing. The inevitable musings about happiness and the itch to return I’m sure will surface at some point during the year (looking forward to those posts;).
    Its something I thought I had staved off but its a real thing you have to deal with after a long-term whirlwind of a trip. The great thing about looking back at it all is how effortless it seemed at the time but upon reflection, how blessed you were that you managed to pull any of it off. From the friends you make to the crazy sequence of events that lead you to anywhere. Fun!
    Blogging is a great way of collating the nonsense but you ultimately can’t really reverse-engineer the cost, safety and connections. Its what makes it even more memorable.

  6. Ian Figueroa January 9, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    Hey what’s up GQ! Are the flight cost included in the above cost breakdown? I’ve read just a few travel blogs out there from other travelers, but nothing really delves into the planning process of a round the world itinerary. Just wondering how long it took both of you to plan this year long adventure? Did you do a lot of research beforehand, or did you just plan and research half of it, and figured out the rest when you got to your destination? I’m planning (well more dreaming at this time) of going around the world for a year. The biggest hurdle is planning an itinerary, but I’m more of a type of traveler who just wants to plan half of it which is how i will get myself to my travel destination, and figuring out what i want to see or do when i get there. any tips on how to plan a travel itinerary for this long?

    so yeah, i know i need to get myself out of distracting situations and just find time to sit down during the day and plan.

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin January 9, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

      Yes it is. That includes everything. We started planning a couple months beforehand. You just want a rough idea of what country you’ll be in and when. So yes, we recommend you include flexibility and plan less than half. And figure it out as you go along.

  7. Lazy Travelers January 10, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    love posts like this. even for all our shorter travels, we get the occasional, “how do you afford this?!” challenge. it’s possible without a trust fund, people.

  8. Guest January 10, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    Such a thorough post =thanks for sharing this, lots of useful information for those planning something similar – you’re itinerary was amazing!

  9. Fiona Hilliard January 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    Amazing itinerary and such thorough information, so useful for anyone planning something similar! Thanks for sharing:)

  10. Ana Silva O'Reilly January 11, 2013 at 1:28 am #

    What a year, huh?? So amazing and incredible value! Have you worked out how much it would have cost for you to live at home?

    • Ana Silva O'Reilly January 11, 2013 at 1:28 am #

      And course, if you were at home you wouldn’t have seen anything!

  11. Leah Travels January 11, 2013 at 6:14 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing this. You’ve offered tremendous advice and hope for those hoping to do what you did. Often people don’t consider the time put in prior to travel. The fact that you were able to save that much money is a testament to you both. Well done, and I’m happy to say that I met you along that great travel road.

    • Kieu - GQ trippin January 11, 2013 at 9:04 am #

      Thanks Leah! So happy to have met you along this journey as well. Looking forward to what 2013 has in store for you!

  12. Suzanne Kenworthy January 11, 2013 at 6:29 am #

    Finally someone broke it down with cost. Really appreciate this and hearing about your adventure~

    • Kieu - GQ trippin January 11, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      Thanks Suzanne! We’ve got a lot more numbers and details that will hopefully break it down even further for you.. stay tune!

  13. Anglo Italian January 11, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    What an interesting and inspiring reading guys! We have been traveling for just over 4 months, nothing yet compare to your big trip, but we are willing to carry on as long as we can. You guys seem to be such good planners, it looks like you kind of had an idea on budget and places to go beforehand, that must have taken a bit of the stress out while on the road?
    Anyway best of luck with your job hunting and looking forward to see the wedding photos on the blog ;)

    • Kieu - GQ trippin January 11, 2013 at 9:07 am #

      Yea, we’re not the wingin’ it type though I’ve always wanted to, it’s just not me. I plan to be spontaneous. LOL. We only used this as a prelim, a lot of the booking and research happened on the road. :)

  14. Traveling Ted January 13, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    Great advice for future RTW travelers like possibly myself.

    • Kieu - GQ trippin January 13, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

      Oooo.. and when might that trip be?! :)

      • Traveling Ted January 14, 2013 at 4:10 am #

        No concrete plans as of yet. I first have to get out of debt before I start saving, so it may be a year or two.

  15. Caro_PassportandaToothbrush January 13, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    Aaah I’m in love with this post! First off, totally agree on the meal portions. We’re not home yet (will be in April) but I must say I miss Canadian portions. Not as big as in the States but I just miss large pepperoni pizzas too much. Also fascinated at seeing your costs! We’ll probably do a similar rundown when we return, it’ll be interesting to compare. We’re with you too on the flashpacker bandwagon; I think it’s hard to be hardcore budget backpackers as a couple. We want our privacy and comfort at the end of the day … and we’re not 21 anymore either! Great post!

    • Kieu - GQ trippin January 13, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

      Lol, we’re definitely NOT 21 anymore. Yea these American portions are killing us. That and Walmart. Haha.. you’re heading home in April? I’d like to know where you guys are on spending too, see if us flashpackers are on the same page or if Gerard and I are completely off. :P

  16. Raul January 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    I love that you tracked the expenses so carefully – we rarely get that detailed info in posts and that helps others in their planning! And I kinda agree with you on China. I did like Xi’an but generally, it is not a place that called me much as I enjoyed getting to see first-hand

    • Kieu - GQ trippin January 16, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

      We’re geeks when it comes to numbers and things.. LOL. Glad we’re not the only ones feeling that way about China.. :)

      • Adventurocity February 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

        Geographically, China is the third largest country in the world, yet a very high percentage of foreign visitors go to a surprisingly small number of places there: Beijing, Shanghai (maybe Suzhou & Hangzhou), Xi’an, the Yangtze, possibly Guilin/Yangshuo. These tourist traps are crowded not only with foreign tourists, but more and more domestic tourists, as well. And with Chinese being famous for their entrepreneurship, you can be assured there will be many people competing to part the “Milch cows” from their money.

        Meeting Chinese outside the tourist trap zoo on their own turf is a very different experience, as you found out from your Shanghai couch surfing. I remember my friend and I staying a few days in Yangshuo. Aside from doing our own exploring, we hung out with a local artist and his friends. It was a completely different vibe from the tour groups that would just be passing through within the day. Sitting back and watching, it was interesting to see the daily dynamic — all the vendors and hawkers setting up in the morning on West Street like a Serengeti predator gauntlet in anticipation of the “wildebeest” tourist migration. Knowing how that whole racket works, we just stayed outside of it. It wasn’t hard.

        That said, you are inevitably going to experience problems in China, especially if you don’t travel within the safe bubble of an international tour group. Even then, it can be surprising the amount of latitude foreigners are given, compared to that we give visitors to our country. (Mind you, it is very different for overseas-born Asians than Caucasians.) With over 1.3 billion inhabitants, it’s also challenging for people who live there! So expect problems, take them in stride when they arise, and look for any opportunities they can bring. This will make you a better, more experienced traveller. And, who knows? You might meet new people and even make life-long friends.

        I love China — the good, the bad, and the ugly. But to have an overall positive independent travel experience, I think you need to have a good quiver of travel skills at your disposal, along with resourcefulness and a big dose of patience. For the first-time Asia traveller, I think it’s better starting off in places like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia, then upping the ante with more progressively challenging destinations, like Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia.

  17. The World Wanderer January 15, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    I’m so impressed with the way you kept track of your spending – clearly something I need to learn. Amazing what 28 days in NZ will cost you compared to 28 in Thailand. Favorite part of SE Asia for sure…and the food of course. :) I vote Africa for the honeymoon – magical!

    • Kieu - GQ trippin January 16, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

      LOL, we tracked a bit too much but it’s fun to review them in the end.. I’d love to go to Africa for our honeymoon. :P

  18. Alana - Paper Planes January 15, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

    I need to follow your lead better with the budgeting – I am usually very frugal, but at the same time don’t keep track of what/when I spending…your New Zealand cost post was incredible!

    • Kieu - GQ trippin January 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      Lol, budgeting can be a drag but once you get the hang of logging your expenses at the end of the day, it’s actually easy to keep track. :)

  19. Stuart Howarth January 20, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    Sounds like an amazing time! Welcome to managing work with travel, its tough and we find that having at least two trips (local or abroad) in line is great as you always have something to look forward to.

  20. Pola (JettingAround) January 20, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    Great info for those planning an RTW trip!

  21. Austin Ngau February 5, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

    You two are amazing and inspiring! I’m hoping you find ways to monetize your site and make some money. I’m impressed with all the planning, courage, and risk taking you two have.

  22. xee February 6, 2013 at 1:44 am #

    hi, what about the air fair?

    • Kieu - GQ trippin February 6, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

      That’s including airfare.. :D We’re hoping to release an extensive post soon that will break down where all that money went. Stay tuned!

  23. xee February 6, 2013 at 1:44 am #

    air fare*

  24. Zakaria Bin Rosdan February 12, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Hey GQ I’ve got a question. What about visa issues for long term travelers? I’ve always wanted to travel the world alone but one thing I’m always concerned about is visa.

  25. Tanya February 17, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Where is home for you? Great site!

  26. The Wandering Soles February 26, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    Thanks for this! We are so glad we found your site and will definitely be revisiting when we need some specific tips for our own RTW trip in 2014.

  27. Tanya March 1, 2013 at 1:11 am #

    I absolutely love your site! I’m planning on travelling to a few countries this year and was wondering if you could tell me which cameras you took with you or if you’d recommend a specific type or brand? Many thanks!


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