Seasonal migrations are used by diverse animal taxa, yet the costs and benefits of migrating have rarely been empirically examined. The aim of this study was to determine how migration influences two ecological currencies, energy expenditure and time allocated towards different behaviors, in a full annual cycle context. We compare these currencies among lesser black-backed gulls that range from short- (< 250 km) to long-distance (> 4500 km) migrants. Daily time-activity budgets were reconstructed from tri-axial acceleration and GPS, which, in conjunction with a bioenergetics model to estimate thermoregulatory costs, enabled us to estimate daily energy expenditure throughout the year. We found that migration strategy had no effect on annual energy expenditure, however, energy expenditure through time deviated more from the annual average as migration distance increased. Patterns in time-activity budgets were similar across strategies, suggesting migration strategy does not limit behavioral adjustments required for other annual cycle stages (breeding, molt, wintering). Variation among individuals using the same strategy was high, suggesting that daily behavioral decisions (e.g. foraging strategy) contribute more towards energy expenditure than an individual’s migration strategy. These findings provide unprecedented new understanding regarding the relative importance of fine versus broad-scale behavioral strategies towards annual energy expenditures.