Asking someone how much they earn or how much they paid for something might seem rude to some and I was a bit hesitant to delve into this topic to make it a blog post, but unfortunately money makes the world go around and for world travellers that is especially true.
Some people may want to just get up and go and figure it out along the way. We found that creating a structured budget ultimately allowed us to factor in many more places than we thought possible; but it does take more time and effort to prepare and also means we are not as flexible with our itinerary once we hit the road. Anyway, the below steps helped us with our budgeting, so here we go.
We did not come up with this all by ourselves so please take note where we have linked other people’s work!
TAKE STOCK OF YOUR SITUATION
Savings vs Overall Spend
There are many questions you need to ask yourself before you even start planning your budget.
- How much can you really afford to spend?
- What running costs will you have while you’re away?
- Will you have a job to come back to and what money will you need when you get back?
- Maybe you can find ways to earn money along the way – if so how reliable will that income be?
- Can you afford to set off immediately or should you really stay put for a few more months so you can grow your savings?
- What sort of trip do you want to go on? Are you happy to go rough or do you need to have a private room and an on-suite everywhere you go?
Consider how much time you will be away after having worked out the base budget.
- Can you take a year off?
- Could you go away a few times a year instead?
- Do you get long service leave or can you take a sabbatical?
- How long will your money last?
Having a timeline will help you figure out how much money you will need for your journey.
If you want to do a world trip, check out the average cost of such an adventure just to get an initial idea. If you know what countries or cities you want to explore, check out the average spend in those places and how much experienced travellers think you should budget.
This may make you rethink about where you want to go before you dive into transport and accommodation costs. For example, we wanted to see Scandinavia but after comparing how much we’d most likely spend on a daily basis, we scrapped it and are set to explore Eastern Europe instead.
Links to help you out:
- A Little Adrift is AMAZING and we used her spreadsheet to put together our overall budget
- Budget Your Trip helps you with your daily spending / average for a lot of countries and cities
- For trips and tricks on where and how to travel on the cheap check out Indietraveller
PUT TOGETHER A TRAVEL PLAN
Once you’ve done a bit of research and you have a rough idea of when and where you want to go we suggest putting together a basic travel plan. This is really just a schedule for your trip and helps put everything in perspective.
When we put this into our travel plan it looks a little like this.
CREATING THE BUDGET
To make it easier for yourself, use an existing template to structure your budget. As mentioned before we found a great template and this is what we used as a base to build our budget. Warning: You’ll need some basic excel skills for this.
Make sure you don’t under budget but rather keep a little bit of cushioning – you don’t want to be stranded somewhere because you ran out of money after having one too many big nights out!
Here is a snapshot of our Argentina/Brazil sheet to give you an idea:
It might seem like a ridiculous amount of detail to go into but you’ll find as you plan the budget pretty much builds itself. In the end it’s up to you how in depth you want your budget to be. As you can see we like to be prepared… 🙂
Before you book anything we would suggest finding a good travel agent or specialist to help start your hunt for good deals on airfares.
Our friend Alyssa is simply amazing and has helped us heaps! She has so much experience professionally and as an international traveller, having been to pretty much all the places we want to see! Plus it’s a big relief knowing that we have someone to talk to in Oz if things go wrong.
Again we are blessed to have a great travel agent but it’s not always that easy. Challenge the options you are given and find something what works for YOU. Chances are, this is your one big trip in which you are sinking a lot of your savings. You need the flights, tours and accommodation options to fit your itinerary, NOT the other way around.
In regards to the RTW fare this can save you a lot of money in international travel, but the various options out there have varying levels of flexibility too. We initially looked at a Oneworld fare that included almost all our flights. This might seem less flexible but in fact having a fare set up like this can make it easier and cheaper to make changes to your itinerary as you only pay for a single change request, regardless of how many flights are impacted. The problem with this is there are numerous restrictions on how, when and with who you travel.
In the end we (Alyssa) found a great deal with Lufthansa (yay the Germans!) which covers our intercontinental flights and fits in perfectly with our travel plan. While this RTW fare covers most of our long distance flights we still need to travel extensively within the various countries and continents, so it meant a lot more research and hunting for additional flight deals and travel options.
We used Rome2Rio and SkyScanner to find out the quickest and cheapest ways to travel and we compared these to the options we were provided with. Rome2Rio gives you an amazing overview of how to get from A to B with multiple transport options. SkyScanner allows you to adjust the dates to find out the cheapest flights if you are not dead set on dates yet.
All the independent flights and travel options has meant a significant amount of additional planning effort, but on the plus side we saved about $4,000 AUD on our overall flight plan. Woohoo!
- Make sure you check your flights: is luggage included, what layover times to expect, is food provided, are the airports in and out of a city matching, etc.
- Check what is the safest most economical way to get to and from the airport beforehand
- If you plan to book a rental car make provision for fuel costs and take into consideration one-way fees (some rental companies in the US don’t have these for certain major cities)
- Catching a bus in South America is apparently a very comfortable way to travel and can save you travel costs as well as a night (or two!) of accommodation
- Before booking a cheap ticket with an unknown airline check out the airline’s rating on a website like Skytrax – we do not fly certain airlines because we some’ve had really bad experiences.
[Just some memories of a stress free vacation in Etosha, Namibia]
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Be flexible and open to changes.
While some of our destinations have been meticulously planned; including daily activities, other parts have been left to figure out when we get there. The Eastern European cities we want to see have a very similar average spend and are easy to get to by multiple transport options. That said, we will probably look into the various options when we are on the road, but I doubt that we will fuss too much over the details until we arrive in Albania.
Till next time!!