Expenses, October 2012 – Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand


One month of travel and we have gone WAY over budget.  We wanted to stay under $2000 per month and we have more than doubled that in our first month.

There are a few things to blame:

  • Hong Kong was ridiculously expensive.  We knew that going in but seeing the numbers in black and white is shocking.  We could have done it cheaper of course but I was so sick with jet lag and we all needed familiarity in our short time there.  We ate at nicer restaurants and ordered western food which was comparable if not more expensive than eating out back home.
  • Mike and I forgot our prescription sunglasses at home and had to purchase new ones.
  • We traveled to three different countries…moving between places adds up fast!
  • We are still getting our Asian legs.  We routinely ordered too much food for our family, we splurged on drinks because they are so much cheaper than back home, and we splurged on our accommodation here in Thailand.

I am hoping we can come under budget next month.  Fingers crossed!  We now know what cheap food we like at the market, we know what is expensive and what is reasonable at a restaurant, we have water delivery instead of buying expensive single serve containers, and our kitchen is stocked with plenty of food for the days we feel like eating at home!

Here is the breakdown for October:


Hong Kong (5 Nights)
Accomodation 636
Fun 210
Food 380
Transport 100
Flight to Penang 436


Penang, Malaysia (6 nights)
Accomodation 200
Fun 30
Food 91.05
Internet 30
Transport 20
Transport to Thailand 190


Nai Yang , Thailand (20 nights)
Accomodation* 233.31
Park Entrance 20
Groceries/eating out/alcohol/incidentals* 1014.4
Car Rental 150
Motorbike Rental 29.12
Gas 50
Tshirts/toys/dress 20
Glasses 340
Visa Extention 123


Bank Fees ($5 per transaction. Ouch!) 50



*Note* We stayed with friends for two weeks in Thailand which is why the accommodation looks so cheap here.  When we were staying with them we tried to pay for a lot of the meals where we ate in restaurants so we were buying for 10 people instead of four which is why the food costs seem expensive.

I track our monthly spending at home as well. It helps me to see just where our money is going and to make adjustments to our spending before it’s too late.  I’m a numbers kind of gal.

My goal for next month is to be under $2000.  Wish us luck!


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  1. Sarah says:

    Is$5 per transaction fee normal? That’s insane.

    1. worldschooled says:

      Before we left I checked all the Canadian banks and they all had this fee! There are a few American banks with no fees but it doesn’t help us at all as we are Canadian.

  2. Daniel - Life With A Mission says:

    Wow, the difference in price between the Hong Kong accommodations and the Thailand accommodations are shocking!

    Are you posting your expenses in CAD or USD?

    1. worldschooled says:

      Daniel, I posted the costs in CAD but the Canadian and the US dollar are pretty much on par right now so these costs are about the same for each currency.

  3. Alyson says:

    Wow, that’s a LOT! Guess we’ll be avoiding Hong Kong,
    I used to keep detailed notes like that when we did our first RTW, our daily budget was $5 each in India, including accommodation and beer! We always knew that doing it with the kids would cost more, but that is big money.
    This sort of information is so great for us still in the planning phase. Thank you!

    1. worldschooled says:

      $5 a day in India? So cheap! You could definitely travel here for cheaper than what we have done so far. We are still learning about how to keep the costs down and we are on Phuket which is one of the most expensive places in Thailand.

  4. Christina @ Interest-Led Learning says:

    I think I’m a little nerdy because I love reading budget posts! My husband and I have a budget, too. We have a database where we list how we spend every penny. It can be a bit of a pain sometimes, but it’s actually more feeing for us. We know how much we want to spend in each category, so sometimes if we want to spend a little more in one category, we know we need to spend a little less in another and everything works out. We can also buy things without guessing if we have enough money to cover other bills. Anyway, you know all that stuff!

    I’m so looking forward to reading these posts from you every month. It gives me a better idea of where we can find inexpensive places to travel. Malaysia sounds so inexpensive! I know you stayed with another family while you were there. Is that why it was only $200 for accomodations? And where did you eat to have the food be that inexpensive? Thailand also sounds like it could be done inexpensively, too.

    1. worldschooled says:

      When we were in Malaysia we split an apartment with another family. It was three bedrooms so they took the master bedroom and had an extra mattress on the floor and we took the other two. It worked out really well for us! We ate food at a few different restaurants and at the hawkers market. We ate breakfast at the apartment and also cooked a few meals for ourselves.

      I think that Thailand is much less expensive than Malaysia. We are spending a lot more money here because Phuket is really overpriced compared to the rest of Thailand. I’m pretty sure this month we will get our spending under control and once we go up to Chiang Mai that will be even easier….although there is so much to do in Chiang Mai so our fun category will definitely go up!

  5. Renee says:

    Thank you. I love budget posts, and they are so helpful for other travelers. I’ve been meaning to do a breakdown for our Europe trip since we got back (actually since we arrived in Europe, hehe). Also for our life here in Mexico.

    Mark (Lord of all spreadsheets) keeps telling me he’s going to give me the expense details but I’m still waiting… 🙂

  6. Heidi Wagoner says:

    Hi, I just happened upon your site and love reading it. We are a USA family that is currently in Spain. We have been here for about 2 1/2 months. I just drafted some finance and budget posts for our blog, but wasn’t sure if anyone would have interest. But I DO… because I love yours. Because if we decide to go to Asia, this will be helpful. So at a minimum, I think it can help people that want to go to the same place. We are trying to stay under $3000 US a month in Spain, including side travel here and there. Thanks for sharing.

    1. worldschooled says:

      I love budget posts too which is why I like to do them. I figure those that aren’t interested will just glaze over it but there will be some people that I am helping and that makes it worthwhile!

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