Travelling the world for nearly a year cost a young family just $5000 more than a year living in the Bay.

If it wasn't for the eruption of a Balinese volcano forcing them to reroute to Australia, they might have hit their $85,000 budget.

The Austin family - Erin and Paul and their four children Britney, 11, Lulu, 8, Gus, 6, and Roy, 4 - arrived home from their epic adventure on January 24, 11 months and two weeks since they jetted off to the United States after selling their home and most of their belongings.

In that time they visited 13 countries across four continents, staying anywhere between a day to more than a month in each place and travelling with just 7kg of luggage.


Erin Austin said the year was "like a dream" with "less stress and more freedom".

"We loved every minute of it. I feel like we could make anywhere home."

The family became experts in travelling on the cheap. Photo/supplied
The family became experts in travelling on the cheap. Photo/supplied

The biggest shock returning home - they are staying with family in Bethlehem - had been how much more expensive life in New Zealand was.

"We've been home seven days, and we have already spent over $500 in petrol. I spend $100 every time I go into the supermarket.

"The whole family could eat for $12 in Kuala Lumpur ... but we got Turkish the other night for just three of us, and it cost $27."

The secret to travelling cheap was to find as many free activities as possible, she said.

The family skipped expensive, major tourist attractions in favour of public pools, parks and botanical gardens, exploring on foot or on bikes, and finding local activities.

"There are always free children's events in every city. We don't buy it, we do it."


It was not all Instagram-worthy: she had to get a rabies shot after being scratched by a monkey, and Gus had hospital visits after falling down stairs, getting heatstroke in the desert, being bitten by a tick and getting an abscess in his mouth.

She hoped the experience had increased the children's confidence and expanded their world view and understanding of what they could do with their lives.

A desert snapshot. Photo/supplied
A desert snapshot. Photo/supplied

There had been lots of joyful milestones to mark their return, including the children getting to open the box each of toys they left in storage and tearful reunions with best mates.

"The kids hadn't had toys in a year. They were so excited to open their boxes. It was like Christmas."

She was confident they would have no trouble getting back into the school routine and would catch up quickly. Paul was back at work at the small building company they owned within five hours of returning to Tauranga.

After such a long time living in each other's pockets, they were all happy to have their own spaces and stuff again.

Austin said they already ideas for their next trip and hoped to make international travel a regular part of their lives - maybe six months away, six months at home.

She had no regrets and did not feel the need to buy another house.

"We took a risk and an opportunity to do something different and not just what everyone out was doing."

The Austin family back in Tauranga. Photo/supplied
The Austin family back in Tauranga. Photo/supplied

13 countries, 50 weeks, 8 flights

- United States
- Germany
- Austria
- Italy
- France
- Croatia
- Slovenia
- Czech Republic
- Poland
- Dubai
- Thailand
- Singapore
- Malaysia
- Indonesia
- Australia