Travel the world for $30 a day, $50 a day, $20 a day. It’s so hard to know how much you really need until you get out there. But, that’s little consolation while you’re still at home, at work, trying to make sure you have enough put aside.
My goal in this post isn’t to tell you how much you need. For all I know, you ¨need¨ a 4-star hotel every night and you will refuse to take a local bus. So, I will attempt to give you a laundry list of the things you might spend money on while you travel. Also, don’t forget that I wrote a review about Budget Your Trip and their budgeting tool can give you some real traveler data. Also, my friends Warren and Betsy from Married With Luggage have been tracking and reporting on what they’ve actually spent from their worldwide travels. Also soon I’ll be reviewing the new e-book, Dream. Save. Do.
In creating this part of your budget, you need two expense categories: the first captures on-the-road expenses and the second captures your at-home expenses. At home expenses? Yup! Are you keeping your house/apartment? Are you going to be storing your stuff while you’re away? While your goal should be to minimize your financial responsibilities back home, you will likely still have a few. So, plan and budget accordingly.
Factors Influencing Your Career Break Travel Budget
As you try to figure out how much to budget per day while you’re on the road, here are a few factors to take into consideration.
- How much of a budget traveler are you, really? Everyone is on a budget when they travel. And, most people I’ve met think they are a budget traveler. But, there’s budget travel and then there’s real budget travel. For some, staying at a 2 start hotel is what they are willing to do while others are going to couchsurf the whole way. Whatever kind of traveler you are, be honest and budget accordingly.
- How much financial responsibility at home can you leave behind? Your goal is to minimize as much of your responsibility back home as possible. It will minimize your worry and what you have to budget for. Don’t leave a lot of financial obligations behind.
- Your dining habits: You’ll no doubt be eating out while you’re traveling. It’s unavoidable and one of the great pleasures of travel. But, if you can cook a few meals for yourself, you’ll save on the road.
- What type of accommodation will you be using? As a good friend of mine who had taken a career break told me before I left, ¨Jeff, sometimes you’re going to want a hotel.¨ But, for the vast majority of the time, will you be in a hostel, renting an apartment, couchsurfing, camping?
- Once you get on the road, how will you get from place to place? Will you tend to rely on overland transportation or flying? Tip: the more overland transport you can take, the cheaper it will be. The biggest problem here is that bus and train prices can be harder to research ahead of time than flights. A couple of tips about foreign airlines
- Not all foreign airlines have pricing structures that cause the price to go up closer to the departure date. You can sometimes still get a good deal at the last minute.
- Beware budget airlines. The cheapest ticket isn’t always the cheapest flight if there are a lot of ancillary fees. I flew RyanAir once. It cost me a fortune when it was all said and done.
- What kind of bank fees will you incur? Have you selected a bank that will minimize your ATM fees? What about foreign transaction fees? These will add up over time. So, choose wisely.
- How will you plan to get around in the cities and towns you’re in? Maximizing the use of local transportation and minimizing taxi use will stretch your budget. And, walking, when possible, costs nothing.
Travel Budget While You’re Traveling
Here is your tickler list of budget items that you should be thinking about. What did I leave out?
One-the-Road Budget Items
- In-country/cross-country transport
- Daily transport
- Medicine, Dr visits
- Internet cafes
- SIM cards: Phone and/or internet
- Visa fees (yes some countries still charge)
- Baggage fees
- ATM fees
- Money exchange fees
- Credit card foreign transaction fees
- Books, magazines, newspapers
- Market Shopping
- Travel guides
- Music, movies
- Replacement clothes
- Emergency finds
- Monthly banking fees
- Health Insurance – if not already accounted for in your Pre-Takeoff Budget.
Back At-Home Travel Budget Items
- Insurance: home, car
- Debt, loans
- Credit card and other banking fees