Travelling costs us half as much as living a 9 – 5 lifestyle did: Our budget breakdown for June

Dave and I felt as though we made the most of every moment in June and yet it was one of our cheapest months on the road to date.

In fact, if we hadn’t have forked out US$900 for Spanish lessons, we’d have only spent US$1240.78 over the month.

Which would’ve set a new personal record.

Yesterday I read an article on the current cost of living in different cities around the world. Our hometown of Perth, Australia came in at number 13.

Perth is the 13th most expensive city out of all the cities in the world.

It’s more expensive to live there than it costs to live in Paris, London and New York.

Beach in Guadeloupe Double-Barrelled Travel

Looks like Perth… but here Dave’s on a beach in Guadeloupe

I’m appreciative that I come from the ‘lucky country’ but it’s so expensive there right now that it’s starting not to feel so lucky. It’s okay if you earn $100k a year in Perth (you can get by but you’re still not extremely wealthy) but for Dave and I – who’ve recently set up our business – we’d have to be earning twice as much as we currently are to live comfortably back in Perth.

But I admit we have no right to complain. We might be priced out of our home town at the moment but we can still easily afford to travel the world.

A couple of years ago, not even in my wildest dreams, would I have ever expected it to be cheaper for us to travel than to live a hum-drum 9 to 5 existence.

But it’s a reality for us now.

For example, when we were living in London, each month we roughly forked out £1,200 for rent, £300 on bills, £600 on groceries, £200 on public transport and £600 on going out. This is a total of £2,900 or nearly US$5,000 a month. And this doesn’t even include the extra things we might have bought, like a food processor for the kitchen or a train ticket to Brighton for the weekend.

This month living in Ecuador we spent just US$2,140 in living costs.

Ecuador World Cup win with friends Double-Barrelled Travel

Having fun with friends watching the World Cup in Ecuador

This is less than half of what we paid in London, when we were working twice the amount of hours we are now for only a fraction more of the salary we’re currently pulling.

So when people tell us that they don’t travel as much as they like because they can’t afford it, we can’t help but think this is just an excuse. It’s an excuse they tell themselves – and a reason they truly believe – as to why they can’t do what they really desire. (That is, if they’re passionate about travel.)

Our present day society has been designed in such a way that you automatically believe long-term travel is an expensive past time that’s completely out of reach.

But it’s not. It’s often more affordable than living a life of travel than one where you stay in one place. You don’t have to pay any bills, you often don’t own a car, and rent and mortgage are non-existent. Yes, you still have to pay for accommodation, but there are clever ways to get around this too.

Slack lining in Guadeloupe Double-Barrelled Travel

Dave slack-lining in Guadeloupe

And yet one of the main reasons turning people off from long-term travel is the thought that they won’t be making as much money (if any) and that their costs will be much, much higher than what they’re currently spending.

But the truth is that when you earn more, you spend more. Because when you have less time to enjoy life (i.e. you work 40 hours a week in a job you hate) you end up splurging in your free time because you believe you deserve to spend your hard earned cash.

And I’m not saying that people don’t deserve to spend what they’ve earned.

However, the longer we’ve travelled for the more we’ve realised that material stuff is just… stuff. (Massive breakthrough on that one.) Added to this the fact that we have more free time on our hands for creative projects than we’ve ever had before, and suddenly new experiences become much more important to us than buying a house.

When you’re on your death bed 60 years from now, are you going to say, “I’m so glad I own a four bedroomed, two bathroomed house in the suburbs.” ?

Or will you say, “I’m so glad I have people around me who I love and with whom I got to share so many extraordinary experiences with.” ?

I’ll bet you’ll be saying the latter.

Niagara Falls at night Double-Barrelled Travel

Me and Dave at Niagara Falls at night time last year

And yet the sad fact of the matter is that when many people die, the things they regret the most are working too much, travelling too little, not spending enough time with loved ones, and not following their life-long passions.

No one ever regrets the missed opportunity to buy the plasma TV they saw on sale.

And yet so many of us (myself included sometimes) dream for material things.

We tell ourselves, “If only I had a bigger house, if only I could afford a nicer car, if only I could purchase that designer dress for the party, if only, if only, if only…”

Because somehow we relate material possessions to our success. A big house (albeit mortgaged) means you have your act together. A fancy car means you must have a high-paying job. A designer dress means you’re fashionable.

But do these things really prove your success?

To me, a sign of success is happiness. It’s all well and good having the Porche in the garage and the marble floor in the bathroom, but does it give you real, lasting happiness?

It’s all well and good having a powerful job where people work below you, but is your job really your passion?

Seattle space needle Double-Barrelled Travel

Being silly in Seattle last year

What I’ve come to realise lately is that I don’t care at all if my future son or daughter is an astronaut or a rubbish collector.

I only care if they’re living the lives the way they want to. A way that gives them joy.

Because all the mansions in the world can’t make you smile. Your happiness comes from being true to who you are – and this begins by being true to yourself about what makes you happy.

Don’t let corporate marketing and consumerism make you think otherwise.

Ecuador scores Double-Barrelled Travel

With my Dutch friend Jeltje, celebrating Ecuador’s victory over Honduras

So… what makes you happy?

Apologies that this post was slightly off topic, but talking about our monthly expenses always makes me reflect on how much our lives have changed in the past 12 months.

Here’s a breakdown of our spending in June:

(US dollars)

Public transport (buses and taxis)




Eating out












Bank fees


Spanish lessons






* Flowers for the house, a manicure, contact lens cleaner, Spanish books and other random bits.

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About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

6 comments on “Travelling costs us half as much as living a 9 – 5 lifestyle did: Our budget breakdown for June”

  1. Nick Laing Reply

    Have enjoyed your blog Carmen and hell jel jel of your lifestyle.

    Our oldies know each other through the Mccormicks. My parents have been the biggest influencer on trying to stop me spending all my money on travelling, meanwhile as I fail to save for a house i am spending near 100k salary house sharing and paying the bills perth style, so SUX.

    Finally told my olds ‘not buying, cant afford to pay $500k for a shitbox in rockingham’ and i’m joining Dirk in NY. Have you guys lived in North America yet?

    Keep up the good work! You write well!

    • Carmen Allan-Petale Reply

      Thanks Nick! Of course I remember you 🙂
      That’s great you’re moving to NYC – we’d love to live there! We lived in the US for six months last year but we moved around a lot. We explored a lot of the country via a van we bought and didn’t have a homebase. It’s beautiful; we really enjoyed our time there.
      I agree – I think the houses in Australia are extremely overpriced and it’s just not affordable right now.
      I’d rather spend my money elsewhere, and that’s cool you think that too… so many people feel it’s essential to buy a house these days.
      Glad you’re enjoying the blog!

  2. Marc Reply

    Very interesting and I really don’t think people believe that they can’t travel full time now. There are so many blog posts like this telling people that can travel and have fun too. I am on the road with my two babies and wife 6 months at a time and we enjoyed this nomadic lifestyle like no other besides we do not want to settle at all. When we decide maybe in 30 years we might consider. We can’t live in one place more than 6 months seriously.
    Marc recently posted…A Stroll along Cannery RowMy Profile

    • Carmen Allan-Petale Reply

      That is so inspiring that you’re travelling with your children. What a great way to live! I know exactly what yo mean when you say you struggle to live in one place for more than six months – we feel the same!
      Thanks for your comment,

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