Traveling the world is an amazing, once in a lifetime experience. Going from country to country can open your mind to new experiences, and you can return home feeling like a changed person. But you can’t travel for free, so you need to watch your budget. Unless you have millions of dollars, you’ll probably have a set budget for how much you’re willing and able to spend. But staying within that budget is the hard part.
You may leave for your travels thinking that you have plenty of money, and then before you know it, you’re down to your last dollar. The key to making sure you don’t run out of cash is good planning. If you spend without a firm budget in mind, your money will trickle away from you faster than you expected. However, designate certain amounts of money for certain purposes and you’re more likely to keep yourself in food and accommodation.
Decide How You Want to Travel
Having a travel budget doesn’t necessarily mean being a budget traveler. By deciding what kind of traveler you want to be, you can work out how far your money will take you. Are you going to backpack, staying in hostels and trying to stretch your money as far as possible? Or do you need a bit more comfort while you travel, and would you rather plump for 2-star or 3-star hotels? Maybe you’re the type to travel in style, and you would prefer a shorter vacation in luxury to a longer one on a shoestring budget. You need to know how much you’re willing to sacrifice to save some money, so you can spend accordingly.
Research Your Destination
Before you plan your budget, you should research your destination. Your money will go a lot further in some countries than in others. What gets you a burger in Norway could get you a bed for the night in Peru. Researching accommodation costs is easy; all you need to do is look at booking websites. Check the prices at different times of the year and look at several different types of accommodation. It’s also quite easy to find the cost of travel by looking at official websites.
Working out how much food will cost you is a bit more difficult. Average prices will vary in different regions and of course in different establishments. If you want to find out the price of a restaurant meal, check some restaurant websites. Looking at a travel guide, either a book or website, will also give you a good indication of average food prices.
Draw Up an Itinerary
Before making any bookings, create an itinerary of where you’re going and what you’re doing. Doing this will help you work out some projected costs. Detail when you will arrive and leave different places, any activities or excursions you’ll be taking and how many times you’ll need to buy your own food on each day. You can even draft several itineraries with different options, so you can work out which one is cheapest.
Work Out the Major Pre-travel Expenses
Before drawing up a daily budget, work out what you’ll be paying for before you leave. These expenses could include flights and accommodation. Don’t forget to factor in anything you’ll need to buy, like equipment for sports or even a new suitcase. There might also be costs for vaccinations, visas and other paperwork. Once you know these figures, you can subtract them from your savings to get the amount you’ll have to spend while you travel.
Work Out a Daily Budget – Then Add to It
If you’ve researched your destination, you should now have a good idea of a minimum amount you’ll need for each day. Even if you want to travel on the tightest budget possible, don’t just use these minimum amounts. You should add at least a little bit of money to each estimate. That way you’ll have extra if you don’t spend it and if you do spend it, you won’t be out of pocket. And if you want to splash out a bit more, make sure you’ve researched the right price ranges for your desired travel.
Your daily budget should include food and drink, accommodation (if you haven’t already paid for it), travel and activities. It won’t necessarily be the same every day, which is why an itinerary is a good idea. One day you might be paying for a train journey across the country, while another day you might just be lounging around, spending almost nothing.
Emergency Funds and Backup Plans
If at all possible, you should have a plan for if you end up spending more than you intended. There will always be unexpected costs, and you can’t plan for everything. It’s best not to plan your budget so tightly that you need every single penny. You need to have some extra cash for any expenses that arise out of nowhere or expected expenses that end up being more than you thought.
Having a backup form of finance is a good idea too. If you can have a credit card for using in emergencies, it will give you peace of mind. And speaking of emergencies, don’t forget your all important insurance. Although you don’t want to think about it, plenty of things could go wrong and cost you money. From losing your luggage to missing a flight or even having an accident, you want to make sure you’re covered.
When you work out your budget, you don’t have to base it on the money you currently have. You can work out a budget and then save toward that amount, or you could even work as you travel. Don’t limit yourself because you can’t afford to travel at this very moment. Working out a budget can give you a concrete goal to work toward, instead of a vague goal of saving up to travel. With a firm amount in mind, you’ll know when you have enough to set off on your adventure.