I Have $6,000 For a Trip to Asia and the South Pacific. Any Tips?

Ask Rolf: Vagabonding traveler Rolf Potts answers your questions about travel

08.21.07 | 11:16 AM ET

Rolf Potts

Dear Rolf,

I plan on traveling for a month or two in and around Thailand, then moving on to the South Pacific, Australia, West Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand and then maybe South America. Is $6,000 enough to have a great trip? Any tips to keep expenses down? And any suggestions on when to book flights?

—Vanessa, Simi Valley, Calif.

Dear Vanessa,

Given that you have $6,000 (a nice sum, but not something you can travel on for years and years), I might focus your journey on one region. That is, I think you can find tons of amazing adventures on the Pacific Rim, and save South America for another journey (or vice versa). Trying to fit both in at once will deplete your budget at the expense of experience.

So I’d say fly on an open return round-trip ticket into Asia—Southeast Asia, say, Bangkok or Singapore or Kuala Lumpur—and travel overland from there until you get the itch to go someplace else. It’s quite possible you’ll spend several months (or a year) and all your money without ever leaving Southeast Asia—and that’s fine! The reason I’m not too wild about ‘round-the-world trips is that they limit flexibility and impair your ability to linger in places you enjoy.

If you’ve seen your fill of Southeast Asia and want to move on to India or Oceania, just get a cheap round-trip ticket to Bombay or Sydney or Perth, and make a trip-within-a-trip to India/Nepal/Sri Lanka or Australia/New Zealand/Fiji/Samoa. Then return to Southeast Asia and back to the United States the way you came.

I’ll admit that the South Pacific is not my area of expertise, so you might want to research flights there from Australia or New Zealand. In some cases, it might be cheaper to get a flight pass or multi-stop ticket for that part of the world.

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7 Comments for I Have $6,000 For a Trip to Asia and the South Pacific. Any Tips?

Tim Patterson 08.21.07 | 1:30 PM ET

Solid advice, Rolf - best to focus on one area and take it slow.  That way a traveler can save money and have a more rewarding experience.  I spent 5 months in Cambodia last year, spent about $1,000 and feel like I barely scratched the surface

Chris LaRoche 08.24.07 | 8:30 PM ET

I agree with you in general, Rolf, but I think you miss a major point: you can travel a long, long time on $6k in SE Asia; you’ll spend a fraction of the time on the same amount in Australia and once you start flying around the Pacific, your money will disappear quickly.  That should be a major consideration in your decision.  Furthermore, a flight from SE to India is cheap (though I can’t quote a price) while a ticket to Oz/Pacific is not so expensive.  Expounding on Tim’s tale, I’d say that you could theoretically could travel indefinitely in SE Asia/India for $6000.  That said, re-reading your original question (one or two months), I’d agree with Rolf: pick one place (I’d say Asia) and focus on having a quality voyage there rather than trying to make superficial stops all across the southern hemisphere.

Wally 08.26.07 | 3:06 PM ET

Re: Women with $6,000 wishing to streach the shrinking dollar. For travellers, especially backpackers there is little problem finding work in Australia or New Zealand if you are prepared to pick fruit or better still waitering for example. While not the main purpose of travel still good to know if money becomes tight.A couple of my friends while traveling downunder picked up nearly five grand in 3 months. Can’t do without it where ever you go.

Darren Craig 08.29.07 | 11:13 AM ET

If you head to the Pacific, check out the email newsletters of Pacific Blue, and find the other operators - like them all, they do some good sales now and again.
I’d say try places like Vanuatu etc in that area…although I never made it on my trip.
Having listened to many others before I went, and now suffering from ‘9-week-back’ blues I’d definitely say you are doing way too much if you try to fit all that in in 2 months!  You’ll get fed up moving on, and also it’s the moving on that costs the moolah!

Dave 08.29.07 | 9:08 PM ET

Good question by Vanessa, and I like Rolf’s advice.  Based on the planning for my upcoming RTW trip, South America would definitely be too costly and far to try an fit in.  I would think it more cost effective to stick to India and/or Nepal for the side trip.

Scratch 09.03.07 | 9:33 PM ET


What do you do for health insurance, both when traveling and during your stays at home, in the US?

jjlasne 09.23.07 | 7:44 PM ET

Good reply. Trying to fit in South America which is out of the way does not make sense. Best is to fly to Bangkok and travel from there. As for the South Pacific, there are plenty of flights that can be purchased in Bangkok for travel to Australia and on to New Zealand. New Zealand has one low cost airline offering flights to Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga and the Cooks.

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