How to conquer round-the-world travel on a budget

View of Capetown

Henrik Jeppesen left his hometown in Denmark at the age of 17 with the aim of travelling the world and has visited every country in the world (all 195 of them!). This budget-savvy globetrotter shares his secret to visiting every corner of the globe, without breaking the bank.

You’ve been to every country in the world – quite an achievement! What are your top tips for planning a round-the-world trip?

Low-cost airlines and buses and staying with local people for free are the three best tips for travelling over a long period of time with very little money. There are many low-cost buses in Western countries that can save you money, while in a lot of developing countries you can travel inexpensively on public transport.

How do you plan a budget for a round-the-world trip?

I don’t think I plan a budget per se, but I try to make wise decisions with money. I would recommend focusing on value and the importance of getting certain things that will make your journey easier and more enjoyable. For example, it’s not worth hitchhiking in many places anymore after the introduction of Uber.

View of W Retreat and Spa Maldives from seaplane
View of the W Retreat and Spa Maldives from the seaplane (Credit: Henrik Jeppesen)

What are your top three budget destinations and why?

My top three would probably be Estonia, South Africa and Laos. Estonia feels similar to the rest of northern Europe and very unlike other ex-Soviet countries. While other northern European countries are expensive, Estonia has much lower prices on many services and has one of the best capital cities in the world (Tallinn). It’s unique and charming.

South Africa’s currency is not the strongest and tourists can benefit from excellent exchange rates, making it even more affordable to experience an already affordable destination. Many services, such as accommodation, transport (Uber rides start at 20 Rand!) and gourmet restaurants, are fantastic value for money and can be many times cheaper than similar services in Europe.

Laos is one of my favourite countries in Southeast Asia, a whole region with great value if you go to the right places. Eating out in Luang Prabang was especially good value.

View of Capetown
Capetown is one of Henrik’s picks for most affordable destination (Credit: Henrik Jeppesen)

What are your top tips for saving on flights, ground transportation and accommodation?

It is possible to get a free miles (flight points), hotel bonus points and of course good deals on travel. I recommend following well-known industry accounts for updates on great deals: The Points Guy, InsideflyerUK, Lifehacker, Million Miles Secrets, Deals We Like and Frugal Travel Guy are my favourites.

I would suggest signing up for newsletters from low-cost airlines and booking cheap deals when you see them. Low-cost buses are the cheapest way to travel on the ground, while Couchsurfing for free accommodation and using Airbnb for cheap rentals is a good way to save money.

What are the most unique travel experiences you’ve had?

It would have to be visiting Syria as a tourist during the war, after doing much research on travelling safely in the area. Meeting the Libyan Prime Minister in Tripoli at a press conference is a close second.

Marcus Aurelius Arch in Tripoli
The Arch of Marcus Aurelius in Tripoli, Libya (Credit: Henrik Jeppesen)

What’s the most memorable journey you have taken?

The seaplane ride I took when leaving the W Retreat & Spa in the Maldives was such an amazing experience. It was the first time I stayed at one of the best private island resorts in the Maldives. The island was stunning, service was impeccable and the water villa was outstanding.

Since then, I have stayed in more than 50 private island resorts in the Maldives and it’s just not the same as that first extraordinary experience.

South Georgia Island in the Atlantic Ocean is another standout. The cruise to get there may be expensive, but it is an incredible experience getting up close with penguins and the beauty of the place itself is mind-blowing. The village of Grytviken was so picturesque!

What are your top tips for surviving long-haul travel?

Get a window seat, be very tired, bring some earplugs and an eye mask. Alternatively, wake up a few hours before your flight lands and have multiple devices with you to work, play games or watch movies to pass the time.

South Georgia Island
Making penguin friends on South Georgia Island (Credit: Henrik Jeppesen)

What tools do you use to navigate your way around new cities and countries?

Google Maps is my preferred option.

What’s the biggest misconception about round-the-world travel?

By far, that it’s super expensive. It can be if you want the comfort of great hotels, taxis and nice restaurants, but there is an inexpensive alternative that can give you equally great experiences.

Street art in Damascus
Street art in Damascus (Credit: Henrik Jeppesen)

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Henrik Jeppesen photo

About the author
Henrik Jeppesen visited every country in the world before his 28th birthday. He is now hoping to visit every territory in the world. When he’s not travelling, he focuses on public speaking. Find out more at hjeppesen.com.

Rome2rio, based in Melbourne, Australia, is organising the world’s transport information. We offer a multi-modal, door-to-door travel search engine that returns itineraries for air, train, coach, ferry, mass transit and driving options to and from any location. Discover the possibilities at rome2rio.com