Around the world,  Budget,  During the World Tour,  TDM,  Tips,  Travel Cheap

Round the world budget (2/3): Spend smart during the trip, Earn money & Security

We have seen how to put aside money and manage his payment cards for the world tour, we continue this series of articles with the management of money during the world tour.

During the round-the-world trip, you can (1) continue to earn some money, but most importantly (2) spend it wisely and (3) protect your money.

I’m sure you already know most of these tips, but there’s no harm in listing them here.

Part 1: How to keep making money

  • As a freelancer
  • By applying for working holiday visas and/or doing small jobs (fluency in the local language is obviously a strong point)
  • By giving language courses: Anglophones have many more opportunities than Francophones in language schools; however, Francophones can give private lessons, especially in Asia, if they do well
  • Those who know their way around always have a small advantage over others. Houses are being built all over the world, aren’t they?
  • etc.

As for us, we chose the first option. We have jobs that allow us to work remotely. JB continues to work from time to time for his SEO missions (natural referencing). Of course, these are clients he already has before he went around the world (we explain how to find them here). He will never have time (nor a good Internet connection) to look for clients during the trip. This income will not be enough to finance the round-the-world trip, but at least it allows us not to rely only on our savings to travel.

According to our calculations, when the two of us get together and move around less (1 city per month), we will be able to live off our freelancer income in poorer countries (Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa). More info here

Note: Some of you may be receiving unemployment benefits as a result of your conventional termination. Be aware that there are always physical interviews at Pôle Emploi that you must attend and you can only be absent for a maximum of 1 month in the year while receiving benefits. In this case, it is better to postpone your rights and receive the allowances after your trip.

Part 2: How to spend wisely

I will categorize the expenses and give you some tips to save some money. I’m sorry if you already know the tips I’m quoting here, sometimes it makes sense.


If you have chosen a good credit card at a good bank, normally withdrawals/payments cost you 0 commission and 0 fees (unless the bank abroad charges you a small commission, that is another story). More info here

However, you need to know how much money to withdraw? If you have done your homework at home before the world tour, you already know the average amount for one day. Withdrawing just the right amount will save you from having to change money at the end of your stay.

If you have any left over, either spend it all at the airport (I often give the very last pennies to the maids at the airport) or keep it all until the next country. Go to an exchange office in a big city and don’t forget to compare rates beforehand. Don’t exchange money at the airport.

Exceptions apply to Nepalese rupees, Cuban convertibles and Argentine pesos. No country will buy Nepalese rupees from you. Due to high inflation, Argentine pesos are worthless abroad (to exchange the equivalent of 100€, I lose 20€!). Make the exchange before leaving Argentina and Nepal.

If withdrawal fees are huge (as in Burma, Chile and Argentina), going through Western Union or Azimo can be more economical. I’ll let you do the calculation according to the amount you want to withdraw.


If you tell your cab driver that you are looking for a hotel, he will drop you off at a “friend of a friend”‘s hotel on a commission basis. So always give an address to the cab and say that you have already booked (even if it isn’t true). What we often do is to find a cheap hotel with a good rating on TripAdvisor. We book the first night so that we don’t end up on the street. Then, if we like the hotel, we go down to the reception and we try to negotiate the price: we stay so many days, we pay you in cash without passing by Booking/Agoda/Hotels… What is your price? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t work. It’s up to you to decide if you change hotel or not. JB will explain you here how to save money on accommodation.

I know that many travelers do not book in advance and look for a hotel once they get there. If you have the motivation and energy to spare, why not? However, doing all the hotels in Old Delhi under 42°C, or in El Calafate at 11:45 pm in the middle of wild dogs, isn’t necessarily a good way to enjoy your trip.

I suggest you rather the intermediary: book the first night in a cheap and well rated hotel; then go around the hotels the next day to find a better alternative for the rest of your stay (if you find any). That way you discover the city, you enjoy the walk, you find your new hotel, without the weight of your bag on your back.

There is a very strange thing in Asia, that the price on Agoda/Booking can be cheaper than the price given by the reception. And when we show them the price on xxx, they answer “if it’s cheaper on xxx, book online! Sometimes, employees have no leeway on the price of rooms, in this case it is better to book online -> Always compare the price given by the reception vs. the price indicated on the booking sites. For Agoda, prices displayed on cell phones are often cheaper than on the computer. Download Agoda’s mobile app!

Don’t forget that the location of hotels (near restaurants or not) as well as the equipment (kitchen or not) have a direct influence on your wallet.

Airbnb isn’t my favorite option for the world tour. The check-in schedule is a bit abused (4pm for a check-out at 10am). It is also necessary to make an appointment with the host, which isn’t very practical if you stay only one or two nights. However, there are cities that lend themselves particularly well to this, such as Singapore or New York, where Airbnb is professionalized and automated (doors with codes, reservation validated automatically). The automatic validation of reservations and an early check-in (from 2pm) are two signs that recognize these professional Airbnb.

Then you’ll tell me: what’s the point of going through Airbnb if you don’t even meet the owners. Ah, that’s another debate, in this article, I’m only talking about the financial side. In Hong Kong, Macau, Osaka, Singapore or New York, Airbnb is really an option that will save you money.

Airbnb Sponsorship : Click here to receive 25€ discount for your 1st reservation on Airbnb


It goes without saying: restaurants full of locals are the best and cheapest. If TripAdvisor is a good site to find the right hotels, it isn’t the case for restaurants (bui-bui rarely have their page on Tripadvisor). I prefer to follow the recommendations of the receptionists, or walk around hoping to find a restaurant full of locals. I carefully avoid the addresses listed in the Lonely Planet/Routard. In South America, the central mercado is a must and will be your favorite eating place.

Another option to save money is to cook yourself, or make sandwiches. With eggs, sandwich bread, tomatoes and a little salt, you can make a whole bunch of dishes, for breakfast/lunch/dinner. There is another skill to acquire before the trip around the world: cooking rice with any kind of pot. It’s cheap, it’s consistent, it’s good! Asian rice isn’t cooked like spaghetti. I let you watch on YouTube how to make Asian rice with a pan.


In many countries, you can find prepaid cabs from the airport; or shuttles, or subways. Some hotels even offer free shuttle buses (inquire beforehand). Metered cabs should be your last option.

Uber exists in quite a few countries but they will find it difficult to pick you up at the airport. However, to drop you off at the airport, there is no problem. The Grab app is very well known and used in Asia, read more here.

The prices that the tuk-tuks give you will always be tourist prices. Check with your hotel to find out the real prices. Don’t get into a tuk tuk/taxi without a meter without asking (1) the price (2) for 2 people and with luggage (3) in local currency (because sometimes they will retort that the price given was in US dollars and for one person).

When considering moving from one city to another, consider all the options. It isn’t uncommon for air travel to be cheaper than bus/train. There are so many low-cost airlines now that you can travel for next to nothing.


After search/comparison on about ten dry flights during our world tour, I must admit that Google Flights, Kiwi and Matrix – ITA Software by Google are the best to find cheap flights.

And for good reason: the first two are able to combine flights from two different airlines and make a low cost trip, with a reasonable stopover… or not (between 1h and 26h lol). The last one (Matrix – ITA Software by Google) is terribly efficient for world travelers because it allows to find the cheapest route, when you hesitate between several departure cities for several arrival cities. As we know, the price of plane tickets isn’t always proportional to distances.

Here we explain how to use Matrix ITA Software and how to find the best airline tickets.

Then, sometimes it will cost you less to buy a return ticket than a one-way ticket. Always check!

Note: In some countries (especially Asia and South America), travel agencies may have a better price than on the Internet. Always check!


You will see, when you are on a world tour, it is impossible to visit all the points of interest (even the indispensable ones) of a city. When you travel 11 months in a row, you can’t have the same rhythm (of visits and expenses) as during a 15-day annual vacation. Save your money and define your priorities.

The Lonely Planet or the locals cannot know that you will see a more beautiful mountain/landscape in another country.

  • If we have visited the Perito Moreno Glacier, we will zap the Franz Josef in New Zealand
  • If we visited Angkor, we will skip the Champa temples in Vietnam
  • If we saw a whale/penguins in South Africa, we will skip the cruise to see whales in Australia/New Zealand/Tahiti
  • If we have already done some diving in Australia, we will skip diving in Thailand/Vietnam
  • If we have already visited Rotorua in New Zealand, we will zap the geysers in the Atacama Desert
  • If we have already visited the Uyuni Salt Flat, we will skip all the other salt deserts
  • etc.

Language Learning

Even though I really enjoyed spending a week in Sucre, Bolivia to learn Spanish (at $6 an hour), I find the podcasts just as effective and much cheaper, i.e. free. Type “Spanish” or “English” on your podcast app and you’ll find plenty of them, for free. These podcasts only charge you if you want to access the paper/pdf media. But podcasts are made to be listened to, so you won’t need any paper support. Moreover, you can download them offline and keep yourself busy during your long hours of transportation. The command of the local language will attract sympathy from the locals but will also help you avoid scams.

Learn more about learning Spanish in a month, Portuguese in a week and Italian


For practical and security reasons, we always buy a SIM card in each country we visit. 3G isn’t expensive in most countries. It is better to buy local SIMs instead of paying roaming, believe me!

However, there are also international SIM cards, which can help in case of emergency (more info here). Because you can’t always buy a local SIM card when you arrive at night.

To receive SMS messages on a French number (for the bank among others); we simply use the 2€ package at Free (more info here)

For phone calls to France, our Skype account is already credited with 10€. We had to use this credit for urgent calls to France: for example the time JB got bitten by a dog and had to call his doctor ASAP for advice. It is also useful for administrative problems that can only be solved by phone.

Part 3: How to protect your money during the round-the-world trip

Your look

Even if the dress doesn’t make the monk, your look is important. Don’t worry, after a few months, our faded or even punctured clothes will make you look like a penniless homeless person.

In order not to appear too rich, leave your jewelry in France. Or prefer white gold which looks a lot like silver. When I arrived in Colombia, I observed the locals and noticed that they were not wearing a necklace, so I put it away.

Souvenirs are cool, but avoid sewing the flags of all the countries visited on your bag. It will impress other travelers for sure but it will also attract thieves. JB rather buys stickers that he sticks on his computer (he only takes his computer out in safe places of course). Especially with a MacBook like this).

Credit Cards

I told you we have several cards. JB and I always have one card on us, a MasterCard and a Visa. The other cards are hidden in our bags left at the hotel. That way if someone steals everything from us, we can always come back to the hotel and withdraw money with the remaining cards.

On all our cards, we have erased/scratched the 3-digit security number. So even when stealing our cards, or making a copy of our numbers, thieves can’t even pay online. I’m especially afraid of paying online, I’m not afraid of withdrawal because the daily withdrawal amounts are capped.

Security numbers are of course either memorized or stored and encrypted in the cloud.

I only withdraw money from banks (or ATMs with opening/closing hours or guards). It goes without saying that I check the ATMs and hide the entry of my code even if there is no one there.

To limit fraud, my banker has to work hard. Every two weeks I send her an update of the countries visited and the dates. And as I often change the dates, the poor girl must hate me. As soon as I leave a country, all transactions from that country are blocked.

Every two days I check my account to verify transactions. And I only pay by credit card in places that I consider safe. As soon as a server leaves with my card, I am. As soon as someone starts writing my card number on the computer, I take it back immediately and pay in cash.

Update: Since 2018, we have an N26 card and a Revolut card. Withdrawals and online payments are blocked via the card application. We unblock them only when we need them, and the unblocking is instantaneous. This limits the risk of fraud.

JB has installed a VPN on our devices to secure our connections, including our online payments.

Cash in cash

Even though I love my money very much, I prefer to stay alive. And thieves don’t like to steal from people with empty pockets. You should always have something to give to thieves, just in case, but not too much.

Never put the eggs in the same basket. As soon as the money is withdrawn from the dispenser, it is divided in two: half at JB, half for me. In my pocket near my body, I put a big part of the money. In my zippered trouser pocket, easily accessible, I put the equivalent of 20€ in a small cut. That way I can quickly access my money to pay. In case of theft under threat, I always throw money away and not give money. When the other one bends down to pick up money, we run. JB does the same thing.

Some people walk around with fake wallets full of newspaper, but a disgruntled thief is a dangerous thief. It is better to lose 20€ than to lose your life.

When one pays, the other watches and stands by to minimize any risk of theft.

I notice that people like to look at the content of our portfolio. So we need a very discreet portfolio that doesn’t reveal the content. Here is an example of a rotten portfolio:

It is FORBIDDEN to show that you have dollars or euros. If your wallet is too rotten and you can see everything, wrap your dollars in a piece of newspaper or a bus ticket.

A good alternative to protect your money is to sew a pocket hidden in your scarf or pants. No one will think about stealing our clothes, right? The belt with a zipped pocket is also a good option.

Protect your belongings – on the street and on the bus

Precious goods (camera, computer…) should always be with you, in a small bag, and not in the hold. Several travellers have complained about thefts during night bus trips. Either they left their bags over their heads (beginners’ mistake) or they left the bags at their feet. But thieves even go under the seats to steal (even on buses, in daylight in South America), so when you arrive, breathe in the seats, see if there are spaces under the seats. If the bag is very heavy, block the bag between your legs (with a strap wrapped around your leg) and put a padlock if possible, especially if you travel at night. Otherwise, take your bag on your knees.

Reclosable car abiners: I love these carabiners that can be closed very easily via an ingenious system. I use them for all the zippers of my bags: in the case of the main bag, so that the zippers don’t open by themselves; and in the case of the daily backpack, so that no thief can open it easily. I use them both on the bus and on the street. The system seems very, very complicated, but if you know it, it’s super easy to open.

For small documents (passport, credit cards… and money), we carry a very small and discreet Eagle Creek pouch (which can even be hidden under a vest). We have tested other models of the same brand but it is this one that we like the most (be careful! it is the old model that you need!!). Moreover, it is anti-RFID

It’s a bit long to explain like that but these reflexes are acquired very quickly. See you soon for the last part of this series centered on the budget/money during the world tour.

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