This questions can have many answers. I'll answer it honestly. It's probably not as much as you think. And sometimes, less is more. Here's why.
When I was getting ready to travel for the first time, money was all I could think about. I would calculate my savings and projections, be disappointed by the numbers (which I'll tell you a little later), and try to recalculate. If I saved a few more dollars a week, where could I be in six months? The truth was, it never seemed like enough.
When I started traveling, I initially had no source of income, and I didn't plan on working remotely. I was just going to travel until I was down to a magic number in my bank account, then head on home.
Whether you plan on working while you travel or not, I can tell you one thing for sure: traveling long-term can be much cheaper than you think.
(I'm going to dive into how you can travel long-term and low cost at a later date, but if you're really curious now, you can read this extensive post by Nomadic Matt)
So, how much money do you need to travel?
Sure, there's a lot of factors at play when we talk about money and traveling.
Let's dive into some of the variables to consider, and I'll use myself for reference:
No really, just tell me how much money I need to travel.
I know it's kind of taboo to talk about your finances or whatever, but this is how I did things. Obviously, you can do things however you want, and travel is certainly possible with less or more money.
When I left my job in TV news, I had a few thousand dollars saved, but I had some outstanding expenses. I needed to road-trip across the US, back to my parent's place, for example.
By the time I left the country on my one way ticket, I had about $5,000 to my name. My magic number, my abort-mission-and-return-home number, was $1,500. I would use $3,500 for traveling for as long as I could, and come home with my tail between my legs when I had $1,500 left.
Now, that money lasted me much longer than expected, and I learned how to work as a remote freelancer while traveling, which changed the game for me. Want to know more about how you can do that? I recently wrote about some secrets to finding remote work.
Why less may be more when it comes to money and travel.
Here's the thing. It may seem unnerving to leave your home country with only a small nest-egg to your name. It may be more tempting to save for another year, to have $10,000 for your trip, or maybe even $20,000. Bet you could see a lot of the world with that amount of money.
Here's why I don't think it's a necessary plan, or even great idea.
If you have that much of your hard earned cash just sitting there, it may be really tempting to use it for something more immediate and concrete. Why travel for a few months when you can get a car? Sounds like something easy, enjoyable, and responsible. Sounds safe. And when the odds seem stacked against you, it's easy to find an excuse to bail.
Coming up with a responsible budget is important, as is saving. But don't let an out-of-reach budget be what stops you from traveling. There will always be potential barriers standing in the way of your travel dreams. You're going to have to jump at sometime, if you want to see your dreams become a reality.
Here's the secret to money and travel: you can make almost any amount of money work on the road, by knowing the tricks of the cheap travel trade (again, Nomadic Matt is your guy for that right now). You can shift your plans to budget-friendly countries, and start small, say a few weeks away, and see how your wallet feels after that.
There's also no universal "magic number" that will make traveling without a job feel safe. Because we are conditioned to feel like we are dying if we're not showing up for a 9-5 (more about that at a later date as well).
Now, I'm not saying to throw finances out the window. Come up with a responsible budget, and a plan for your finances. But know you don't need to win the lottery to make your travel dreams a reality.