I’m coming upon the end of my first year of mini-retirement, traveling the world… and I decided to share yet another spending recap with you!
You’ll recall, at the end of 2021, at age 36, I quit my job — and participated in the great resignation/financial independence retire early (FIRE) movement. After leaving my career, my goal for my semi-retirement was to take back my time, energy, and creativity for MYSELF, vs. my employer… and to get the most out of my travels sans the demands of a 9-5.
In 2022, I first spent six months in Mexico, then traveled across the pond for four months to Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Croatia. To hear about my trip, visit this blog, 16 Weeks in Europe Recap: My “Best of” List. Then, in November of 2022, I returned to the states to prepare my Mexican residency documents, and to get ready to spend most of 2023 in Mexico and South America.
So, how much did my sabbatical cost me in year one?
Now that my first year “on sabbatical” is coming to a close, here’s my total spending (as a solo, unemployed person spending five-sixths of the year traveling): $27,014.26 for the year, $2,251 a month, or $74 a day.
|Travel||Air travel, hotel/lodging, train & ferry||$7,185.41||26.6%|
|Food & Dining||Groceries, restaurants, alcohol & bars, coffee shops||$5,616.53||20.8%|
|Auto & Transport||Auto insurance, auto registration, gas & fuel, service & parts, tolls, public transportation, ride share||$3,022.22||11.2%|
|Health & Fitness||Health insurance, doctor, dentist, gym, pharmacy||$2,431.19||9%|
|Shopping||Clothing, cosmetics, electronics||$1,766.50||6.5%|
|Personal Care||Hair, massage, nails, laundry||$1,521.86||5.6%|
|Entertainment||Music, movies, tours, amusement||$998.41||3.7%|
|Bills & Utilities||Mobile phone, renter’s insurance||$812.15||3%|
|Pets||Veterinary, pet food & supplies||$777.48||2.9%|
|Gifts & Donations||Charity and gifts||$719.75||2.7%|
|Business Services||Website hosting, domains, storage, advertising||$707.06||2.6%|
|Education||Classes, lessons, tutoring||$398.00||1.5%|
|Taxes||Tax software, state & federal tax||$113.16||0.4%|
|Fees & Charges||Service fees, ATM fees||$50.21||0.2%|
I spent $600 a month on sleeping accommodations (including utilities), and getting from destination A to destination B (hotels, vacation rentals, air travel, and long-distance buses, trains, and ferries). As a full-time nomad, as you might imagine, this is my biggest spending category.
I budgeted for, and expected, to spend a little more on lodging during this year, but I had the tremendous fortune to be invited to stay with friends, friends of friends, and even via Couchsurfing. The people I meet are probably THE best thing about traveling!
- I spent about $6K on hotels, hostels, and Airbnbs. I would say I’m evenly split between hotels/hostels and Airbnbs… it really depends on the length of my trip
- The rest of my travel spending was on air travel ($607; I redeemed a lot of airline points in 2022) and long-distance trains, buses, and ferries ($574)
- The rest of my spending was my sailing trip in Turkey and a few other miscellaneous travel expenses
- I cashed in $1,585* in redemptions through the points and benefits on my Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I definitely made good use of the rewards… it’s well-worth the $95 yearly fee!
If you’re looking for a new travel credit card, I love my Chase Sapphire. If you’re someone who uses their credit card for most purchases and spends at least $2K per month, the points add up fast. *I received two referral bonuses this year, valued at $150 each. Thank you for applying; I hope you’re loving the card as much as I am!
»If you want to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, use my referral link to make my day — I get bonus points!
Food & Dining: $5,617
Food was my next biggest expense and includes restaurants, groceries, coffee shops, and alcohol & bars. I spent about $468 per month, which is just over $15 a day; I eat out typically1-2 times each day and I drink alcohol. FYI: after spending most of the year abroad, I clock a “nice” dinner meal at $15 out the door (entrée, beverage, tip). The same standard would cost at least twice as much in the U.S.!
Let’s break it down a bit more. I spent:
- $288.69 on restaurants and coffee shops per month (case in point, scroll up to the top of this page… in Athens, I scored these incredible gyros for €3 each!)
- $110. 49 on groceries per month
- $68.87 on alcohol per month
I also tend to treat the friends I stay with (if they let me), so some of the spending in this category accounts for them. You guys are the best! 💖
Auto & Transport: $3,022
Even with a fully paid-off car, I spent three grand on “Auto & Transport” this year, which is 11% of my yearly spending — a big chunk! While it’s really nice to have the freedom and flexibility of my own transportation in Mexico, when factoring in gas & fuel, auto insurance (when I’m out of the country, I suspend my USA collision coverage), service & parts, tolls, registration… it really adds up. In the future, I may drop the car completely. Fellow nomads who’ve gotten rid of their wheels — thoughts?
Health & Fitness: $2,431
This is primarily my global health insurance that covers me both in the U.S. and abroad, but it also includes the out-of-pocket I had to pay when my policy did not cover my yearly wellness exam. GRRRR! I talk ALL about my experience with global health care in this comprehensive blog. I also had a $37USD teeth cleaning in Mexico, and I cough up for Orange Theory classes while I’m in the states.
The bulk of my “Shopping” in 2022 was my new Apple iPhone 13 Pro, $885 after my trade-in. This is definitely a bit of a splurge purchase, but it has its business and personal purposes. I also spent $410 on clothing and $300 on cosmetics and toiletries over the course of the year. As someone who used to spend hundreds of dollars on these types of purchases PER MONTH, I feel pretty good that I’ve cured the major shopping addiction that plagued me in my 20s!
Personal Care: $1,522
These are expenses like hair color & cut, massage, wax, the rare pedicure, and once or twice a year Botox. Again, I used to spend a lot more in this category, and now, I’m a lot more selective. And yes, this means I had: my hair colored in Mexico and Albania, a hair cut in Greece, a massage in Croatia, and waxing in Austria and Hungary. It can cost a lot less when you go elsewhere!
My “entertainment” for the year clocks in at $998, and includes expenses like tours, excursions, and park or museum entrance fees. Not bad to be entertained! Of course, my entire year was very entertaining, but what’s fun doesn’t necessarily have to cost money. 😊
Sorry, guys. This is cash from the ATM that I haven’t spent yet or tagged with a category. These are typically miscellaneous cash purchases or tips that I just don’t have time to keep track of… like my afternoon gelato in Europe or the once-a-day Topo Chico in Mexico.
Bills & Utilities: $812
Bills & Utilities includes my cellular plan and the “renter’s” insurance policy with Allstate that protects the items I store at my mom’s house and in my car.
I spent $641 on cellular in 2022 — in July I switched from an $82 a month AT&T plan to an international roaming T-Mobile plan, which costs me about $35 a month. However, like other nomads before me, T-Mobile didn’t appreciate me using the international roaming benefit and cut off my international use in late November. I’m still strategizing my next steps there, and will seek out another option in 2023.
This category includes veterinary care, flea & tick, and dog food for my pup, Penny. In Mexico, I took her in for blood work, vaccinations, and a teeth cleaning under anesthesia, costing $175USD — a steal! While I don’t have it here, I was charged a pet fee a handful of times at various hotels in Mexico (it’s built into the travel category). I also sent some cash to my mom for watching Penny while I was in Europe.
Gifts & Donations: $720
As a minimalist and a nomad, I’m trying not to collect things, so I’ve tried to break away from the gift exchange culture of my past, especially at Christmastime — but I am a fan of gifting cash and donating to worthy causes.
Business Services: $707
This is the cost of hosting my website, cloud storage, my email client, advertising, and other various business startup costs. At this point in time, I pay more for my website than I monetize. Although, that will hopefully change soon. 😊
In my role as a blogger, I did receive a few gifts or discounts on hotel stays, meals, and excursions during the year. Their approximate value was around $750. (Since these gifts were intangible, they’re not reflected in my breakdown.) Hopefully, I can work with more businesses in 2023!
I took four weeks of intensive Spanish lessons in Mexico City. I found a lot of value in it to improve my Spanish!
In summary: During my sabbatical, I lived on $74 a day, and I did it without my lifestyle suffering
The proof is in the pudding, right? I had the year-of-a-lifetime, living off my hard-earned savings. And while it’s easy (and subjective) for others to look at my spending and call it a little or a lot, life isn’t a contest on how much you earn and how much you spend, or how little you can spend or how much you can restrict yourself — it boils down to what you make of your spending choices, and whether they’re aligned with your values.
I don’t consider myself a “shoestring” traveler, BUT this is no grand luxurious round-the-world trip — I am aiming for SUSTAINABILITY, and to keep this going over the long run. That means being selective, among other moneysaving tactics I outline in MY MONEY MINDSET: HOW LIVING OFF SAVINGS HAS CHANGED MY THINKING.
And I just want to note, while inevitably there may be those “must be nice” comments, I do acknowledge my privilege. But, there’s also luck (I’ve had good and bad) and there’s choice. I say this because: we are not locked in, our lives are not set in stone, and there’s always a way; with PERSEVERANCE and TIME. If you had told me in 2017, almost five months into my layoff, down to my last $1.5K in savings, while on unemployment benefits that didn’t even cover my mortgage… that five years later I would be doing this? I wouldn’t have believed it possible!
You can choose and change your future. And in my future, more travel, adventure, and exploration is ahead. 💖
Interested in seeing my spending as a nomad traveling within the U.S. (with a job)? I broke it all down in this blog entry from 2021: MY 2021 BUDGET BREAKDOWN AS A SOLO NOMAD IN THE U.S. Spoiler alert… I spent twice as much. Considering that the U.S. is one of the most expensive countries in the world, I like to say that I can’t afford NOT to travel!! Check out all my spending recaps here.
⭐ I held a webinar and Q&A where I dug deep into budgeting, spending, and my best travel tips. Catch the reply below!