woman with shocked look on face seeing these tips to plan a year of travel

3 Simple Steps to Start Planning One Year of Travel

27 Oct, 2023

author profile picture

Eva Mitchell

You have finally made the decision to do it! You are going to take a year off work to travel the world but where do you even start when planning an entire year of travel? Don’t panic! Let me run you through how Tim and I started to plan our year of travel.

Planning one year of travel is no easy feat but trust me, it is totally worth it! Luckily, I love planning and I love to travel so have enjoyed the process of planning out our one year of travel. It helps to break down your travel planning into simple logical steps. I would suggest starting with these three simple steps to kick off your travel planning.

Disclaimer: This post contains links to our preferred travel products and services. When you purchase through these links, your purchases can generate a small profit for us, without any added cost to you. This helps us to continue offering top-notch travel advice and savvy savings tips on how you can make cents of travel. Rest assured, we only share links to products and services that we personally love to use.

Chapters

Identify Your Budget

How much does it cost to travel for a year?

This is the big question that everyone wants to know but unfortunately it is harder to answer than you may think. Everyone has different expectations from travel which means the answer is going to vary greatly from one person to the next. Let me explain the best way for you to figure out how much to budget for your one year of travel.

A year is such a long time to budget for, even in our day to day working lives and often we are only budgeting for weeks to months at a time. There are multiple things to consider when you are deciding on a budget for your one year of travel. Of course, we would all love a million dollars to work with but unfortunately most of us aren’t quite in the millionaire’s club yet! In saying that you don’t have to be ‘rich’ to travel. The main two things you need to ask yourself to be able to identify a realistic budget for your trip are:

1. How much can you actually afford to save in your desired timeframe?
2. How much money do you need to really enjoy your travels?

How much money can you realistically save in the time you have allowed? 

Start by figuring out how much money would be a reasonable amount for you to save in a set time frame. Have you allowed yourself one year to save or six months? How strict are you prepared to be with your savings? You may be able to save $100 a week or you may be able to save $500 a week. Consider how you can adjust your lifestyle to maximise your savings.

If you are interested in boosting your savings potential, I have outlined a number of easy ways we changed our lifestyle to increase our travel savings in the blog below.

Read:

10 Easy Ways To Save Money For Travel (2023)

Once Tim and I decided we were going to travel for a year, we made the move from New Zealand to Melbourne to pursue higher paying jobs that would fund our travels. The move resulted in an increase in our combined salary by approximately 40% which gave our saving a huge boost. We began the process of travel planning by setting a savings goal when we first moved abroad and then re-evaluated as the year went on.


When we first moved to Melbourne we found it difficult to achieve our savings goal because we were tempted by the big city life in Melbourne that was new to us. Once we knuckled down and took our savings goals more seriously we managed to save roughly 50% of our income while still indulging in the odd dinner out and enjoying new experiences in Melbourne like attending Hamilton at the theatre (amazing by the way!) and road tripping the Great Ocean Road.

×
Start of the Great Ocen Road, Victoria, Australia

If you are extremely disciplined, you should be able to save a larger portion of your income and save quicker than we did. We originally planned to stay in Melbourne for roughly a year before commencing our one year of travel. As it worked out, we lived in Melbourne for 15 months before embarking on our one year of travel and we plan to return to Melbourne when our travels come to an end.

How much money do you need to be able to enjoy your travel?

The million-dollar question! This is a difficult question to answer because there is no golden number. Everyone has differing levels of what we consider comfortable while traveling. The amount of money you need to travel will vary significantly depending on the locations you choose to visit and your travel style.

When travel planning for an entire year, it is important to think about your expectations of travel and what you want to achieve by travelling for a year. There are people who have travelled South East Asia for a year with only $20k aud and then there are others travelling Europe for a year with over $100k aud. The amount of money you need to travel for one year is very person dependent.

When we were planning our year-long adventure, we knew we didn’t want to stay in dorm rooms in backpacker hostels as this is not a travel style that would make us feel happy or comfortable. During our travel planning phase, we based our accommodation costs on low cost hotels, and equivalent airbnb’s. 

Read:

Our 3 month Europe trip budget breakdown

I would estimate our accommodation cost would be halved if we stayed in dorm room style backpackers but that was not a compromise we were willing to make, especially when travelling for a whole year we knew we'd want our own space.

Once you've estimated your potential savings, the next logical step is to ensure your savings can cover your entire year of travel. If you figure out that your savings will not be enough to match your travel expectations, you might need to consider extending your savings timeline or adjusting your expectations to fit within your budget.

We have had to make compromises a number of times during our travels and it is often difficult knowing that you can't do everything when you are travelling for one year.


couple running in Sahara Desert


A Strategy We Used To Reduce Our Travel Costs

Knowing accommodation was going to be a significant cost over our year of travel, we investigated ways to reduce our accommodation costs and came across Trusted House Sitters. House sitting has been an absolute game changer allowing us to extend our travels and stay and explore some beautiful areas. 


×


We were initially hesitant to sign up to Trusted House sitters as many reviews online stated how difficult it is to secure sits and it cost $159 AUD to sign up. After some umming and ahhing we decided to just give it a try, what did we have to lose!

We created a detailed profile with some cute pictures of us with our family pets and boom! We managed to secure the first sit we applied for! We couldn’t believe our eyes and now have been securing some incredible house sits at amazing locations all over the world.

Have a look at our article below on how we created a Standout Trusted Housesitters Profile that has changed our lives!

Read:

How to Write a Standout Trusted Housesitters Profile

We have loved every house sit we've done so far and will continue to apply for more as we travel the world. I would encourage you to sign up to Trusted House Sitters if you are an animal lover and are looking to keep your accommodation costs down while you travel.



×


Create a Rough Itinerary

No doubt you will have an endless list of places to travel to on your bucket list. I know we do and our list just keeps getting longer by the day! It can be tough to narrow it down to a manageable list of countries and cities to visit in just one year. These are the steps we took during our travel planning phase to create a rough itinerary for our one year of travel.

We breakdown our favourite planning apps in the article below that will help you with you planning!


Read:

The Best Travel Planning Apps You Should Know About in 2023



  • Identify places or activities you would be absolutely gutted to miss out on. Equally, try to identify places or events that you could accept skipping this time around. Maybe these are possible to cover on a holiday in the future. For us, an African Safari fell into this category. 
  • Get googling to figure out the best time of the year to visit each place on your list. The best time of the year for you to visit is going to depend on what you are expecting to experience there. For example, we are going to Germany in December to experience the Christmas markets and spent June in Italy experiencing a sweltering Italian summer. 


Here's a tip:

To help your budget go further consider travelling to popular destinations at a shoulder season. It'll typically be cheaper and won't be as over-run with other tourists!! 




  • You will now want to identify which places are near to each other or have cheap transport links between them. Identify flight paths that are cheap, sometimes just because locations are close together doesn’t mean they are cheap to fly between. Look for the hub airports like Madrid and London where the cheap airlines typically fly from or through. Some budget airlines to consider are Easyjet and Ryanair.  
couple running in Sahara Desert


I would highly recommend utilising the Skyscanner tool that allows you to select a departure airport and then select "everywhere" to help you identify cheap flight routes from that airport. Keep in mind that trains and buses, such as Flixbus, around Europe can offer exceptional value as an alternative to flying, especially as you'll be travelling long-term so time is less of an issue.  




Lesson learned: We got caught out when travel planning our journey from Greece to Turkey. We falsely assumed that it would be cheap to fly from one country to another as they are essentially right beside each other. We were WRONG! Luckily, we had travel credit from our AMEX credit card that we could use to lower the cost of the flights but it was still an expensive mistake!

 



  • Consider what locations tend to be more expensive and what locations are cheaper. You will likely want to create an itinerary that includes both expensive and less expensive locations and activities to guarantee your money will last the entire year. For us, that meant after we splurged in Italy for 5 weeks over the Summer, we then spent a significant portion of our time in July and August travelling through Turkey followed by Central/Eastern Europe to reduce our costs over the rest of the European summer peak season. 

Once you have compiled a list with ideal travel periods for each location, you should have a better idea of how you can narrow down where to visit during your year of travel.


×


Identify Your Priorities

Now that you have identified a rough itinerary and travel budget, the next step to effective travel planning is to identify your priorities. Does your travel budget match your travel itinerary? If not, consider what compromises you are willing to implement to be able to afford to travel for one year. Think about whether you would prefer to cut your travel time short by a couple months so you can experience more activities and stay in nicer accommodation. Alternatively, you could identify travel costs where you are happy to compromise, like staying in more cost effective accommodation, or staying longer in a country that is cheaper to travel.

There are four main costs you should consider when you are planning to travel the world for a year.

The first is accommodation. Ask yourself, am I happy to backpack the world and even work at a hostel for free accommodation or would I prefer to stay in hotels with my own space? What level of hotel are you comfortable with? Would you consider house-sitting? 



The second major cost you should consider is activities. Are you the sort of person who is happy to just be in a city or town people watching, enjoying walking tours, swimming at the beach, hiking the trails and admiring the stunning architecture. Or would you feel like you are missing out on experiencing the location to the fullest if you didn’t take the cooking class, sky dive over the Swiss mountains, Ski down the French alps and hot air balloon over Cappadocia. Only you know what makes you the happiest and only you understand the reason that you are travelling for.

When we were travel planning for our one year of travel, we knew we would have to juggle our activities budget between a few expensive bucket list activities like hot air ballooning in Cappadocia and saving our money in other locations by enjoying free or cheaper activities.

So far we have managed to do some epic activities' such as glamping in the Sahara Desert, cycling the Tuscan hills, and drink our way across the Rioja wine region in Spain, but have had to skip other activities during our travels to be able to afford these. 

×

The next major cost of travelling is food and drink. It is important to consider the cost of food when travel planning. Food can vary in price from place to place. Consider whether you plan on eating takeaway food often, alternatively do you prefer sit down restaurants or are you happy to grab supplies from the local supermarket to throw a meal together.

We have had to weigh up the types of meals we eat in each location depending on the general cost of food in that area. We love street food (which is lucky as it's normally cheaper than restaurants) so have mainly been eating street food or cooking our own meals when we have a kitchen. We still go to restaurants but try to pick more affordable options and make sure when we do it's going to b a quality meal rather than paying for a tourist trap!

Here's an example of how the cost of food changed in different areas of Italy when we were there in June 2023. We found we could grab a full margarita pizza for 5 euros in Naples whereas in the Cinque Terre 5 euros would only get us one slice of focaccia pizza. 


Here's a tip:

The best way to get an idea of the price of food is to google l

ocal restaurants in the area you will be staying and check their websites for the most up-to-date menus. If there is no menu on their website, most of the time someone will have posted a photo of the menu as part of their google review. Click the menu tab to view photos of the menu. 




Drinking alcohol can add up quickly over a whole year of travel. If you enjoy a cheeky beverage, make sure to account for the money you are prepared to spend on alcohol in your budget. Again, alcohol prices vary depending on where you go. In Paros we brought 1.5L of very drinkable house wine for a mere €3! (which surprisingly tasted better than a lot of $30aud Australian wines we brought! Controversial I know!) Then the next week in Turkey, we brought a 750ml Turkish bottle of red wine that was quite average for $13aud. 

×

Transport is the fourth major cost of travel. The first thing you need to consider is how you will get from A to B. Will you fly, take a bus, train, flag a cab or hire a car? We use all sorts of transport but mainly public transport when it was possible, despite this sometimes being a mission boarding with two large bags. The second thing you need to consider when travel planning is how often will you be travelling. Every time you move between cities or towns it will cost you money for transport. 


Keep in mind that it is completely normal for your travel priorities to change depending on the location you are visiting. For example, we are big foodies and made the most of the Italian, Turkish and Spanish cuisines whereas when we are in Iceland, we would rather eat basic food so we can spend a larger chunk of our budget on some of the epic adventurous activities Iceland has to offer like swimming between the tectonic plates. 


How Long Should You Spend in Each Location When Travelling For One Year?

When you have one year of travel, it is easy to jam-pack your itinerary with every single city and town on your bucket list. I would advise you to really think about reducing the number of places you visit as fast travel can get really tiring, really fast leading to burnout. When you travel too quickly just to tick a place off your list without truly exploring it, are you really getting to experience all of the culture, food, and experiences the place has to offer? 


Here's a tip:

We started one year of travel moving around quite quickly, in fact we did not stay in the same accommodation for more than 5 nights for the first 3 months. If you plan on travelling briskly like we did at the start, I would suggest splitting your one year of travel into sections where you travel fast then have a break period where you stay in one location for a bit longer to recuperate. 



It is nearly impossible to visit every single town, country and do every activity on your bucket list with just one year of travel. The world is such a huge and beautiful place to explore. The good news is there is no reason you can't do it all over again after your first year off and visit those places you missed the first time! 

Take this incredible opportunity to enjoy life on the road and experience the culture, food, people and just have fun! 

Good luck with your travel planning. Don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below if you have any questions about how to plan your one year of travel around the world. 


All Blogs Home

A word from the authors

Eva and Tim are the creators behind this world-class travel finance blog.

In 2021 they decided to travel the world for an entire year and begun implementing savings strategies to achieve their goal of long-term travel. By May 2023, they quit their jobs to embark on their year-long adventure, sharing their invaluable practical and achievable savings, planning and travel tips they learnt along the way/with the aim to help others Make Cents of Travel.

You can find Eva & Tim on Tiktok, Facebook and Instagram as Make Cents of Travel.

About Us

Hello, Hola, Ciao! We are Tim & Eva, a couple of kiwis who have spent the last few years saving for and planning our epic year-long adventure around the world. Our goal is to inspire fellow wanderlust souls (just like you!) to Make Cents Of Travel by sharing our experiences and strategies we used to turn our dream of long-term travel into a reality.

2 comments

Jossi

Wow amazing and informative information.

3mo

Reply

Eva

Thanks Jossi!

3mo

Reply

Leave a comment