Travel Budget: How much money did I spend on travel in 2016?

Travel Budget: How much money did I spend on travel in 2016?

2016 has been a pretty big year of travel for us. We’ve managed to fit quite a bit into the past 12 months.

At the beginning of the year, Robert and I put together our travel budget. We predicted that we would spend about $10,000 USD on travel between the two of us in 2016 based on an extremely rough estimate from our past travels.

Now that we’re at the end of the year, we’ve had a chance to look back and see how we did!

2016 has actually been quite different from our past travels. Last year we moved to New York so that it would be easier for us to travel more of North America and Europe, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. Instead of taking longer trips once a year, we’ve been taking smaller weekend trips about once a month (as well as a few longer trips).

I’ve been tracking the cost of our trips throughout the year, so I’m letting you know exactly how much money we spent in 2016 in the hopes that you can see the reality behind how much travel actually costs. Sometimes it was difficult to calculate the exact numbers behind what we spent, but they’re pretty damn close!

2016 travel map

Where exactly did we go in 2016?

I had a total of 65 travel days, and Rob had 48 travel days. It’s safe to say that this has been one epic year of travel, and we’re very keen to continue this in 2017.


This was definitely not our cheapest year of travel, but we did get a lot of bang for our buck – living in New York City has made it so much easier to travel shorter distances and take advantage of long weekends to see new places.

For the sake of making it easier to calculate, I’m going to quote the prices for both Robert and I.

  • Transport costs (flights, trains, buses, rental cars): $7,306
  • Accommodation costs: $4,599
  • Other costs: $563

Total: $12,469 USD

By the way, this total does not include incidental purchases and meals. I don’t count them in my travel budget as it’s more like general spending money to me than travel costs.

Now I’m going to get into some serious math (feel free to tune out for the next paragraph if your brain starts short-circuiting!).

Considering I travelled for 65 days minus 8 for press trips (more on that coming up) and Rob travelled for 48, that means we had 105 total travel days. That equals approximately $118 per person, per travel day.

Total spent for me: $6,768 USD
Total spent for Rob: $5,700 USD

P.S. Did I mention that Rob gets just 3 weeks of paid leave each year? He managed to double that in travel days by taking advantage of all the long weekends and holidays! Awesome, huh.

Boston Common

Boston, January 2016

Other Offsets + bonuses

This is the first time that I’ve been able to get some freebies from blogging, which means that the total cost of our travels doesn’t include some accommodation that we would have paid for otherwise. I ended up getting 6 free nights from my friends at Hostelling International in exchange for honest reviews in blog posts and social media promotion.

I also took part in 2 press trips: One to Rhode Island in June, and one to Aland and the Finnish Archipelago in July. These press trips were entirely free for me (including transport and meals) and accounted for 8 of my travel days.

One last thing to factor in to our travel budget is that we hosted on Airbnb during most of the trips that Rob and I did together this year, which means we made back some of the money that we spent on travel.

  • Free nights: Approx $620
  • Press trips value: Approx $1,750
  • Airbnb revenue: $5,570

Total bonuses: $7,940 USD

I’m honestly guessing at how much the press trips are worth as you can’t really put a dollar value on them. They also can’t really be considered “free travel” as bloggers are expected to work while we’re on the trip and produce content afterwards.

Also, I know the money we got from Airbnb looks like a buttload, but it’s important to know that New York City rents are insane, so the profit margin is not as high as you think it might be!

The Signature Room, Chicago

Chicago, September 2016

This year we have actually been more liberal with our travel budget than we used to be. When we backpacked through Europe 3 years ago, we were staying in hostels most of the time and cooking our own meals to save money. Now that we aren’t on such a tight budget, we’re a little embarrassed to admit that we haven’t been so strict about how much we’re spending.

We definitely haven’t started travelling in luxury. No way. We still stay in basic hotels or hostels, and try to get the best possible deal on flights. It’s just that our budget isn’t quite as constrained as it used to be. We finally feel like we’re able to sleep in private rooms instead of dorms, and eat out rather than stay in.

If there’s one thing that has allowed us to do all this travel, it’s our minimalist lifestyle. We chose to live in a compact 4th floor walk up apartment in one of the cheapest suburbs in Manhattan. We don’t buy excessive amounts of clothing. We don’t own a car. We don’t pay for cable TV or fancy electronics (though Rob does enjoy splurging on the odd Apple product).

Basically, we live a minimalist lifestyle that allows us to save more money for travel. It’s not hard for us to forego the luxuries that other people grow accustomed to having, because travel is more important than having material things or conveniences.

Pensar Syd, Turku archipelago, Finland

Turku archipelago, Finland, July 2016

As with most people who are travel addicted, we can’t resist planning more. We’ve already booked a trip to visit our friends and family in Australia in February, and a rather expensive Montana ski trip in March. We’ll also possibly be doing a visa renewal trip at some stage.

One thing that we’ll be doing differently next year is using points for travel. We haven’t been able to try travel hacking until now, as without a US credit history, we never qualified for any of the credit cards that would get us points. We managed to get our first travel credit card (the Chase Sapphire card) in October, which means in a few months we’ll have nice bundle of points to use!

I’m looking forward to another year of exploring more of North America, and maybe some of Europe or South America as well. That is the primary reason that we moved to the opposite side of the globe, after all.

Where did you travel to in 2016? And what are your travel plans for the coming year? Share them with us in the comments!

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14 Responses to “Travel Budget: How much money did I spend on travel in 2016?”

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Indeed, we feel very happy about how much travel we managed to fit in this year 😀 Thanks Charmaine, I’ll be sure to keep you posted on my upcoming trips!

  1. frances

    That’s so amazing that you’ve been to so many places in 2016! I go on my first big trip in 2017 and find your blog super helpful!

  2. Maria

    Very interesting read! I’ve also started noting down everything I spend when I travel, it’s just so nice to know where the money actually went.
    Also, are you making a post about your budgeting and experiences in the South of USA? Looking very much forward to those as I’ll be hitting a lot of the same spots this spring 😛

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      It’s so good to keep track of these things – I feel like we’d be more likely to go over budget if we didn’t note down everything we spent!

      I wasn’t planning on any more budgeting posts, but I am definitely going to do some posts on the destinations and experiences I’ve had in the south! Is there anything in particular you’re interested in knowing about, Maria?

  3. Madi | Restless Worker

    I love this post. We pretty much spent as much as you on travel throughout the year without going away for so many days (unfortunately). Iceland was a major drop in our bucket when it came to spending money away – shame it can be such an expensive place to be! Love the way you broke this all down.

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Oh, I absolutely understand – there are certain destinations (like Iceland!) that will drain your budget much more quickly than others. Also, we’ve been pretty lucky to be earning US dollars this year which is currently fairly strong against many other currencies. If we’d been earning Australian dollars like we used to, we would have spent waaaaay more! There are a lot of circumstances that can make your travel budget swing higher or lower. I’m glad you found my post helpful, Madi 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      AirBnB has been very good to us this year! It really is too bad that we can’t continue using it to partially fund our trips 🙁 I’m glad you’ve had some success with the Chase card, we’re looking forward to using all our points 😀

  4. Charlotte

    Really great to read how much it all costs, given we’re hoping to move to NYC too! And wow about the amount you got back for Airbnb!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Ooh that’s exciting, Charlotte – NYC is a great place to live 😀 Yep, AirBnB was definitely the number 1 way that we saved money on travel this year. We figured that we may as well make some money from our fully furnished NYC apartment while we’re not using it!

  5. Agness of aTukTuk

    Wow! I admire your travel experiences, Ashley! Thanks for giving us an insight into the expenses, which are an important part of travel.

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Agness! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I think it’s important to be transparent about how much travel costs – it’s good to make comparisons on the cost of travel 🙂


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