2019 in review – how much did we spend?

Well, it’s the end of another year and time to review our travel budget and travel costs for the year just gone.
I’ve crunched the numbers and would you believe that we traversed 11 countries across the globe this year for only $33,088.26 – that’s just $90.56 a day for 2 people.

Read on to see the breakdown of our travel budget and how we achieved this. We’re hoping that you’ll see just how affordable a roving retirement can be!

At the start of 2019 I decided to post a review of our expenses each quarter. I’ve previously published our expenses for the first three quarters here – first quarter, second quarter, and third quarter.
This final post will cover the last 3 months of calendar 2019 and then we’ll summarise the whole year.

Where were we in October to December

During October we completed one house sit in the UK and one in Malaysia. Whilst in Malaysia we also took a short 4 day break in Langkawi to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We then flew ‘home’ to Australia for all of November and December for a few house sits with a little free time thrown in too.

October – England, Langkawi and Penang

The first two weeks of October saw us doing a repeat house sit in the small Essex village of Widdington in the UK. The liquid sunshine of Spring had arrived early in England so we were happy to head to the warmer climes of Malaysia for the remainder of the month.

Our wedding anniversary was at the end of the month and we usually try and organise something special to celebrate. We were scheduled for a house sit in Penang for late October so we brought our celebrations forward with a 4 night stay in a high-end beachfront hotel complex in Langkawi.

Following our relaxing short break, we boarded a short flight to Penang to care for a lovey Boxer named Holly for an ex-pat Australian couple in the north of the island. We then rounded off October spending a few nights with friends who had moved to Penang.

November – back home in Melbourne, Australia

One of Melbourne’s famous trams

On November 1st we set foot back on home soil after an 18 month absence. Our flight home was with Scoot Airlines – the budget version of Singapore Airlines. This was our first time using this budget carrier and we were pleasantly surprised with our 2 flights – Penang to Singapore and Singapore to Melbourne with a 5 hour transit in Singapore.

Changi Airport in Singapore is rated as one of the best in the world and there is certainly plenty to do to fill in a transit stop. However, as our flights were such good value we decided to pay extra to use an airport lounge, through Lounge Buddy, for $55 each.
It was definitely money well spent with access to plenty of food, beer, wine and spirits as well as shower facilities, comfy chairs and newspapers in a relaxed and quiet environment. We’ll definitely do this again if the opportunity arises.

Our overnight, 8 hour, low-cost flight to Melbourne was made all the more comfortable as Jacqueline and I each had 3 seats. We took advantage of a feature called ‘MaxYourSpace’ where you can request additional seats for a fee ($97 each for two extra seats). You are advised 12 hours before the flight if there is availability and payment is deducted from your credit card. The plane was pretty full but we both scored the extra seats so had a relaxing sleep stretched out on our 3 seats!!

Albert Park and Mornington

The first week ‘back home’ was spent doing a house sit in Albert Park – a beachside suburb, very close to the Melbourne CBD and home of the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix. It also provided the opportunity for us to pop into the ABC Radio studios for an interview that we’d been asked to do many months earlier. It was a fun experience and we were happy with the end result – take a look and listen –> Radio Interview.

Glenn and Jacqueline being interviewed on ABC radio. Part of our talk covered our travel costs and travel budget
Recording the radio interview

We had an enjoyable time exploring Albert Park and the city before moving down to Mornington for another 1 week house sit. Mornington is a lovely town on Port Phillip Bay that we know quite well as it’s only a 15 minute drive from our old home in Somerville. Living somewhere is very different to just visiting so we took advantage of the great location to explore and learn more about this historic bayside town.

In mid-November we started our 2 month house sit further down the Mornington Peninsula at Bittern. Due to a change in the home owners plans (which we were aware of) they returned home after a week and then stayed for 10 days. We took this opportunity to spend the last 2 days of the month with a friend that had renovated a local cottage into a beautiful bed and breakfast.

December – more time in Melbourne

Melbourne skyline viewed from the Shrine of Remembrance. It's free and won't affect your travel costs or travel budget
Melbourne’s skyline viewed from the Shrine of Remembrance

We had thoroughly enjoyed being so close to Melbourne’s CBD during our Albert Park house sit in November. As our homeowner was still back in the house during early December we took the opportunity to stay close to the city again with a 5 day Airbnb stay in the inner suburb of Prahran.
It is a true-ism that visitors/tourists see more of where you live than you do. So we filled our 5 days with doing things that have been on our doorstep our whole lives. As a result we gained a new appreciation for our home town.
On our travels we always make the most of everywhere we visit and now, taking the same approach here, we saw how wonderful Melbourne really is.
Of course, being ‘home’ also enabled us to spend Christmas with our families so that provided us with some special memories.

Meeting Santa in Melbourne

So what were our 2019 travel costs for the last quarter?

NOTE: all costs are in Australian Dollars

Our total expenses for the quarter were $7,793.51

This comprised:
Airfares (5 flights) – $2,779.98
General expenses* – $1,679.77
Paid accommodation (Airbnb and hotels) – $1,574.07
Groceries – $1,186.41
Transport (trains, taxi & bus) – $216.96
Fuel – $282.49
Phone plans (2 phones) – $73.83

*General expenses include anything not already allocated eg. food, drink, alcohol, entertainment, eating out, entrance fees to attractions, etc

During this 3 month period our accommodation was split as follows:
76 days (83%) house sitting (5 house sits)
11 days (12%) in paid accommodation (2 countries) and
5 days (5%) with friends.

Monthly breakdown

October travel costs screenshot - our travel budget
November travel costs screenshot - our travel budget
December travel costs screenshot - our travel budget

How did we do against our travel budget?

Our notional quarterly travel budget is $9,000 and, for the third time, we were under budget. this time by $1,206.49 (or $402.16 per month).

This was an excellent result given we spent 2 months in Australia which is generally an expensive country to live in. We also pushed the “boat out” and spent much more on our 4 nights accommodation in Langkawi than we normally would. But that’s one of the benefits of this lifestyle – money saved elsewhere can then be used for special experiences.
One-way flights from London to Malaysia and then to Australia also added a big chunk to our costs.

The whole year

Here’s the picture for the entire year – it clearly shows variability and ups and downs in each month’s expenses. These variations are influenced by the country and location where we spent the majority of time during each month.

2019 travel costs screenshot - our travel budget

We’re very pleased with the total of our 2019 travel costs being $33,088.

It’s a great figure considering we spent time in 11 countries – Mexico, USA, Portugal (the Azores), Gibraltar, Spain, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Croatia, Malaysia and Australia.

Our 2018 costs totalled $40,747 so 2019 was a major reduction. However, we never had a grand plan to travel more cheaply – it’s just how the year turned out.

Important note

It’s important to understand that we were already in Mexico at the start of 2019 so there were no flight costs to get there in this years totals. They were included in our 2018 costs.

Also, our annual travel insurance policy expired in April so we took the risk and travelled “un-insured” from then until our return to Australia in November. We did buy a travel insurance policy for our 4 weeks in the USA in September and that has been included. (We would NEVER visit the USA without travel insurance).

Currency comparison in US Dollars and British Pounds

We understand that not all of our readers are from Australia so have included some comparison figures in other major currencies.

AUD $33,088 (AUD $90.65 per day)

USD $23,162 (USD $63.46 per day)

GBP £18,198 (GBP £49.85
per day)

Exchange rate: USD $1 = AUD $0.70, GBP £1 = AUD $0.55

That’s a wrap

We do hope that you’ve found this information and the other travel cost posts we’ve published interesting and beneficial. Their sole purpose is to illustrate that travelling the world full time doesn’t have to cost the earth.

We’ve found that we’re spending way less than if we stayed at home living a ‘normal’ life. The added bonus is that our savings and nest egg are reducing at a slower rate.

Add to that the amazing places we’ve seen, interesting people we’ve met and wonderful animals we’ve cared for and we can’t see any reason why we would stop living this lifestyle.

We really do hope that our experience opens a door to new thinking on how you can spend and enjoy your retirement.

This will be the last post we’ll publish about our travel costs – it’s time to spend more time enjoying and less time tracking……

Other information

We wrote a post in August 2018 that covered our first full year of travelling for the period April 2017 to April 2018.
If you’re interested in reading it then click here – Travel the World full time for less than $100 per day

If you’re retired (or not) there is a way to have an exciting life with the world as your oyster. We’re proof that it can be done.
If you want to learn more about how we achieve this feel free to contact us or take a look at our Introduction to House Sitting page.

If you’ve found this post useful or interesting then please leave a comment or LIKE the post.
Feel free to share this post too so more people can be aware that there are alternative ways to spend your retirement. Glenn & Jacqueline


  1. How amazing you were able to visit many wonderful (and sometimes expensive) countries so inexpensively. I love your recaps so a bit sad this is the last one. I don’t want to curb you from living life to the fullest so I’ll be happy to peek in the past few years. Happy 2020 to you both. Hope we see you on the road soon!


    1. Thanks Amy, it truly is amazing how affordable it is to travel all over the world!!! Until we did it ourselves we never would have believed it is this cheap. Looking forward to meeting up again with yourself and Tim on the road ‘somewhere’!!!
      As you know there’s a fair bit of time and effort in tracking our costs, collating the info and then putting together a post. We’ve done it for the past few years so time to take a break. I imagine that I’ll probably do one for 2020 BUT it won’t be that detailed. So, something to look forward to – perhaps……


  2. Hi there, very interesting to read. We have also been travelling full time since June 2017, approx 3 months in Oz, then 3 away etc. Only just started housesitting last August so that makes a difference. Without housesitting we were spending $3-5,000 a month, now we’re around $3,000 a month. We also fit cruises in as you can get great last minute deals for about $50pp a day. My question to you is about the annual travel insurance. We only come back after 3 months as there’s no insurer we’ve found in Oz that lets you go away for more than 90 days on the annual plan. How did you manage that? We find travel insurance handy to cover the rental car excess. Cheers Lynda & Denzil

    p.s. we just run a FB travel diary group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/247266752879482/


    1. Hi Lynda, thanks for dropping by the blog.

      I think the travel insurance policy that you are using is an annual multi-trip policy. Those ones do have a 90 day limit. We just purchase a single policy (not multi-trip) for one year. If you are returning to Oz every 3 months then that’s a different scenario to us. We leave and then are away for an undetermined period of time (usually greater than 12 months).

      Using house sitting you can easily average $3000 per month – well done.

      We’ve also used cruises and last year did a Transatlantic re-positioning cruise from Florida to Rome. From memory it cost us about $75 pp a day.

      We’ll take a look at your FB page. We also have one that runs in parallel with the blog – https://www.facebook.com/lambiestravels/ To keep up to date with our adventures just LIKE the page.

      Enjoy your travels.


  3. Hi Glenn and Jacqueline,
    What a fabulous year you’ve had! Thanks again for publishing your expenses data. Enjoy next adventures!


    1. Hi Debbie, your welcome.
      Yes, it has been another memorable year for us.
      Looking forward to seeing what this year has in store for us. 🙂
      Glenn & Jacqueline


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