Travel Budget: How much did I spend on travel in 2017?

Travel Budget: How much did I spend on travel in 2017

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve been an advocate of finding a career that goes hand in hand with exploring the world.

I never liked the idea that I had to work hard at a job I don’t like, saving up leave and money until I had just enough for one trip per year. That concept was never enough for me. I didn’t want work and travel to be separate – I wanted them to be one and the same.

I feel like I’ve been building up to this ideal lifestyle for years, and my efforts are paying off. In 2017, I managed to work with 2 tourism boards on promoting destinations, and be the official photographer for a major travel festival in NYC, and work on various travel-related projects with Matador Network! Booyah!

Robert has also been working towards this work and travel lifestyle, though in a slightly different way. He managed to get a free trip to Portland, Oregon, to attend a work conference, and when our US visas were due to expire, he managed to get his company to send us both to Ireland (on company money!) to renew our visas.

A few months ago, he managed to take it one step further by scoring a remote job, which means that he can now work from anywhere in the world. We’ll definitely be taking advantage of this situation by spending time working abroad in the future.

Even with all this work-related travel, we still spent a large sum of our own money on travel throughout 2017. It was an expensive year, but boy, was it a good one! Here’s a breakdown of our travel budget stating exactly how much money we spent on travel in 2017.

2017 Travel Map

Where exactly did we go in 2017?

Total travel days:

This one was a little tricky to figure out as we had spent time living in various cities and travelling to places that I would consider one of my many “homes” (like NYC, Sydney, and Hobart), so I didn’t count travel to those places as travel days.

I had a total of 86 travel days, and Rob had 74 travel days. That’s more than 20 extra days of travel for each of us compared to 2016!

Big Sky, Montana

Our winter ski trip to Montana in March

How much did it cost?

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): $6838
  • Accommodation costs: $5303
  • Other travel costs (day tours, etc): $3301

Total: $15,442 USD
Total per person: $7721 USD

As I mentioned in last year’s budget, 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.

Now for the complicated math! Rob and I travelled for a total of 160 days between the two of us. If you take away the 40 days that I consider ‘work trips’ (ie. travel days that were completely sponsored or paid for by someone else), that’s 120 days of travel.

$15,442 / 120 days = $129 per person, per day

This number is actually slightly more than we spent on average in 2016, but that’s not entirely surprising considering we did our most expensive trip ever at $5246 USD for 8 days of travel in Montana!

Atlantis, Bahamas

Exploring The Bahamas on a press trip in May

Other offsets and bonuses

Last year we started renting out our apartment through Airbnb for the days that we were travelling, which worked a treat for raising our travel funds! Unfortunately due to changes in local laws and our circumstances, we weren’t able to do this for most of 2017, so the amount we raised through AirBnB was much less.

I took part in 2 press trips this year, to the UK in March, and The Bahamas in May, which accounted for 11 of my travel days. I also went on assignment with Matador Network to the Adirondacks, which accounted for 6 travel days. These trips were entirely free for me (including transport and meals).

A few other freebies I received were 4 free nights of accommodation split between Los Angeles and Canberra, and 2 seats on a half-day sightseeing cruise in Port Arthur, Tasmania.

  • Airbnb hosting: $1986 USD
  • Press trips approx value:  $6630 USD
  • Free accommodation in LA + Canberra: $198 USD + $370 AUD
  • Free sightseeing cruise in Port Arthur: $270 AUD

Total offsets/bonuses: $9302 USD

Travel hacking:

2017 was the first year that we ever tried travel hacking. You can read about my travel hacking experience for all the details, but the short version is that we managed to save $1795 USD ($897 USD per person) on our trip to Colombia by using credit card points and travel rewards programs!

We also received frequent flyer miles and travel credits from a cancelled flight on our Australia trip in February to book a free flight from NYC to Denver, and a $400 discount on our flights from LA to Australia in September!

10 things you have to do in Cartagena, Colombia

Exploring Cartagena, Colombia in September

We keep intending to limit our annual travel spending to $10,000 USD but it’s obviously not happening. We seem to enjoy travel too much!

Our travel plans for 2018 aren’t entirely clear just yet, but there will definitely be more travel throughout Australia (including a Queensland trip in February) and possibly somewhere international later in the year. We’ll hopefully stay closer to our annual budget this time! Wish us luck.

Where did you travel to in 2017? And did you go over budget or did you travel cheaply? Share your experiences with us in the comments!

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4 Responses to “Travel Budget: How much did I spend on travel in 2017?”

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Charmaine! It has been an excellent year 🙂 I hope you had a positive year, too!

  1. Terra @

    I loved this look into your travel budget for the year. I don’t know why, but I always love seeing how much others spend on their various travel adventures.

    Also, three cheers for travel hacking! This year, I got an airline-related credit card that gave me a bunch of bonus points and then had a travel mess-up coming back from Italy that resulted in a full refund of our flights, which I got back in air miles. So far, those miles have covered three trips this year and I still have miles left that I’ll use in 2018. It’s just so awesome to have the airfare part of a trip covered.

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Oh wow, it sounds like you really took advantage of those points, Terra! I feel like the airfare is often half the cost of a trip, so if you can get that for free, then you’re doing very well. I hope that you continue your travel hacking success in 2018 😀


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