Given how much time and effort I have spent in the last few years increasing my financial knowledge and working to pay off my debt, I knew that if I didn’t use that much effort in the cost of planning my upcoming trip then I was doomed from the start. To date I have probably modified my trip budget 1589 times – but lets start from the beginning.
I had absolutely no idea where to start. So to get a jumping off point I decided to set my date and location parameters, had an idea of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do and mocked up a dream itinerary and started ball parking the costs of flights, accommodations, activities, food and miscellaneous. I went online and typed in flights, browsed hotels and wrote down costs. After mapping it all out I added it all up. Given no limitations other then common sense and a bit of day dreaming that first budget for a month long trip, overall came to $10k.
Visas, Insurance & Misc $800
Total = $10,000
Well that price of course made me balk.
I clearly wasn’t going to spend 10k in one month. So, now was the time to look at where cuts could be made. The first thing I realized was that for the amount of places I wanted to see and the investment that I was going to be making, one month wasn’t long enough. I pushed my boundaries as far as they could go and realized I could make two months work. I started at the beginning with flights. Looking into different airlines, days to travel and cities to travel into I shopped around until I could find the most cost effective. Instead of taking domestic flights I decided on overland travel of trains and busses.
Next thing to cut down was the accommodations. For my first ballpark figure I looked at small hotels with personal safes, in centrally located areas and since it was going to be hot – swimming pools. Given each location the prices were coming back with $50-$60/night. Now I am an introvert who needs my own space so the idea of a dorm style hostel with shared bathrooms isn’t my cup of tea even at the price of $10/night. I looked into AirBnB, which I know friends who’ve had great success with them. The places looked great but again many were on par with the cost of hotels I was looking at. As I read more about long-term stays I saw the options of guesthouses. Guest houses were a fairly new concept to me but the more I saw them the more appealing they became. I didn’t need much. A private room with a double bed and mattress (not just a foam pad) a bathroom with a western toilet and a balcony or access to a terrace. Seems reasonable that by the time I travel (early 2015) I’ll be able to find nice accommodations that I’m happy with for roughly $20/night. The bonus of most of these guesthouses is that a breakfast is included. One meal a day provided for me would surely cut down on my food budget as well.
Speaking of food I had originally considered around $25/day for meals. I’m not really one to go out and get drunk but an occasional drink once in a while isn’t going to break the bank. I prefer street food to restaurants and would rather eat small meals more often and snack on whatever I see then sit down for a big meal by myself. I also took into account days when I’d be in transit (I don’t usually eat much on the road), meals provided on planes and times when I may be able to eat leftovers. I drastically cut my food budget down to just over $8/day.
Activities were something I wasn’t willing to budge too much on. These are the experiences that are my favourite when travelling. Renting a bike and paying for a ticket to visit ancient ruins, snorkeling and boats on the water and visiting markets and bazaars. I trimmed excesses where I could but there are some costs I was willing to foot the bill.
Lastly costs like Visas, travel insurnace and other miscellaneous expenses. I had overestimated this amount originally just wanting to be safe but I think with a bit of back-up and an emergency credit card with me I’m feeling more confident not needing such a huge buffer with me while I travel.
After really cutting back and paring it down I ended
up with a more realistic budget.
Visas, Insurance & Misc $300
Total = $4,000
Given some careful planning and realistic attitude I was able to double the length of my trip AND cut my original budget by more than half. $4k still sounds like a lot but given nearly two months overseas and the majority of the cost landing on getting me there and back (flights from Canada are unfortunately quite pricey) it really only ends up being roughly $40/day to live comfortably and enjoy everything I can.
Also having started to plan this trip nearly a year in advance it’s given me a lot of time to pick-up extra work, pinch every penny and with a pay raise I was able to get this year it’s allowed me to save for my trip without effecting my current debt repayment plan. This ended up being the icing on the cake knowing that we’re still on target to be debt free and my choice to take this trip isn’t hurting us financially. I’m excited to do a round-up post after my adventure to see how it all pans out in the end!