As I wrap up a month of travel costs for each Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, I think it’s important for anyone planning a leave of absence to realize that there are other costs. I’m going to lay out the TOTAL costs for three months on the road. No hidden pennies to be found.
Why are costs for a leave of absence different to your regular three-month adventure?
Maybe they are different, maybe they’re not. Most people that I know who go on extended travels are typically doing it at a time where they don’t own or maintain their residence. They can drop everything and go. They’re also more likely on a strict budget, being that they are straight out of university, taking time before a career shift or are traveling full-time.
We had to consider our rent, as three months didn’t seem worthwhile moving our stuff into storage. We needed to keep our cell phone and internet coverage running, due to our contract restrictions. My parents were caring for our two cats, so I budgeted a monthly stipend to keep them in litter and food (even if my Mom chose not to take it!).
And the Grand Total Was… Drum Roll…
For three months, ninety days, we spent a grand total $23,785 CAD for TWO people, the equivalent of $18,592 USD. It sounds like a lot, but let me break that down for you (prices in CAD).
The last thing I wanted was for a trip to be cut short due to a rabid monkey bite. David was also a bit behind on his shots, so that ratcheted up the cost a bit.
Clothes and Backpacks for the trip: $452.67
I am super impressed with the gear that we bought. Our backpacks were sturdy (a detailed post on our gear is in the works), and I stocked up on high quality Lululemon clothing that would be light and breathable. Worth every penny.
Rent, Phone Plans and Cat Care: $3,800
My parents, from whom we sublet, gave us a discounted rate on our rent while we were gone which helped the budget tremendously. That said, we weren’t going to leave them in the lurch, so this was money well spent. The cost to break our phone and internet contracts would have cost more than the three months we would owe in our absence.
I regret not buying a DSLR camera sooner. It has transformed our photos, the best way we can preserve memories of this adventure forever. The images are sharper, higher quality and this camera has challenged us to learn (some of) its functions. Finally, it goes without saying that this camera is an investment in our future travels. Yes, it was a big cost for this trip, but will enhance photos of our future adventures.
By far the biggest lump sum, we managed to get a great deal on flights with a two week layover in the UK to visit David’s family. I wouldn’t have been able to do that on my own, so big thanks to Flight Centre.
Unexpected Flights: $600
When David came down with the flu in Chiang Mai, we had to change plans. We could no longer plan for the two-day slow boat down the river where medical care would be unlikely. Instead, we bought last minute flights from Chiang Mai to Vientiane. They were rip offs, I won’t lie, but we were stuck for options. I was hardly about to take a man with a flu on twenty-hour bus ride, now was I?
UK Costs: $1,239
I never really did a breakdown of our two weeks in the U.K. Partly that’s because I stopped being so diligent about tracking it and it’s partly because we were staying with family. This cost includes winter clothes (we were NOT dressed for a British January), trains to visit my family in the Lake District, a photography tour of Edinburgh and general entertainment costs. Big thanks to David’s sister for hosting us, saving us a huge chunk of change on accommodation.
Our Painting! $165
The one major souvenir we bought for ourselves, which wasn’t captured in our daily costs for Southeast Asia, was a painting of Hanoi! It is being framed as we speak, so I don’t have a photo for you, but it is going to brighten our dining room and remind us of our life changing adventure every time we see it.
25 days in Thailand – $3,038.46
8.5 days in Laos – $634.42
18 days in Cambodia – $2,196.89
24 days in Vietnam – $2,826.90
Okay… I did it. I bared all with the nitty gritty costs. Why, you might ask? Because I know how terrifying it is to plan for a leave of absence. Don’t get me wrong, it’s exciting and you’re about to go on the trip of a lifetime, but you don’t want to break the bank in the process. Considering this was $11,500 per person and $2,500 per person was down to our flights and insurance… I’m honestly impressed with how well we did. We weren’t on the tightest of budgets, we had room to splurge and we didn’t sacrifice ANY of the major experiences we had hoped for. To me, this was money well spent.
How much will YOUR leave of absence cost?
Are you planning to travel for an extended period of time or have you already done it? What were your budget tricks?