Of all the excitement involved in planning a trip, the best part never seems to be determining how much money you need to travel. Whether taking a short trip or traveling around the world, you really do have to ask yourself a series of important questions. So often, many travelers get in the habit of comparing themselves to others or try to plan out their own trip based on the trips that other travelers have taken. You may ask a fellow traveler how much they spent on their trip or for how long did they travel and then quickly assume that this is what they can expect. This is far from a starting point. All of the financial aspects of your trip will depend on you and only you, not someone else. Sure, the travels of someone else’s trip may help guide you as to the costs you could assume on the exact same trip but when will you ever have the exact same trip? Lets run through some questions you’ll want to ask yourself when determine how much money you’ll need for your trip…
First of all, lets start with the obvious
You first need to determine where it is you are traveling to! Believe it or not, a lot of travelers don’t quite have this figured out yet when trying to estimate their travel budget. I think this is actually more important than the length of your trip as some places can cost five times as much per day more than other places. For instance, it can cost $40 USD per day for a hostel in London vs. as a little as $5 per day for a guesthouse in Cambodia. When you look at the bigger picture of costs relative to the places you travel such as that previous example, it could cost you as much to travel in Cambodia for one month as it would for about 7-8 days worth of travel in London. Without covering the ‘daily cost’ in each of the 196 countries of the world, try to determine the ones you want to visit most and break them up into regions if necessary. Once you’ve done this, you can then begin your research into figuring out a daily cost to expect which is of course determined by other factors such as where you want to stay, how you plan to get around within a city, etc.
Is Hong Kong on your list? How about Toyko or Singapore?
Next up, group yourself into one of the following 3 categories
This will help In determining how you want to travel and how much you could expect to pay as a daily cost…
Group A, which will be those travelers that will not mind spending more money per day to enjoy conveniences and comfort. They may also prefer to party more often or shop more often. In other words, they will be the loosest with money and not plan to be as stringent with a daily budget. If this description is likely to fit you, put yourself in the ‘A’ category.
Group ‘B’ category will be a bit more frugal with their money and will try to stick to a daily budget but will also do their best to enjoy themselves everyday even when it means spending money they hadn’t planned on. They will aim to be on a tight budget on the whole but realize that they may only travel to a place once in their lifetime and will decide to spend money on things or experiences they hadn’t planned on as a result but for the most part, will be very stringent at all other times with their daily budget.
Then you have Group ‘C’. These folks love to travel just for the sake of travel and may care less about seeing certain places or having certain experiences in any one country vs. maximizing their time on the road. This could mean skipping meals, forgoing drinks out with fellow travelers, sleeping on the cheapest of the cheap whenever possible or walking and hitchhiking vs. grabbing a bus or train. After meeting hundreds or travelers across the world, people seemed to fall into one of these three categories. So why group yourself? Well, when doing your research on a daily budget for a particular country or city and it says between $15-30 USD per day, Group A will spend around $30, Group B somewhere in between and Group C will be at $15 or less. This will help give you a much more accurate picture of what to expect based on where you want to go and for how long. Which brings me to the next question…
Travel through Europe will be more expensive on the whole though there are many ways to trim your budget…
For how long do you really want to travel?
Is it more important to you that you spend a minimum numbers of days or weeks in any one place or do you really just want to make it for a month, 3 months or even a year traveling the globe? As a rule of thumb, I decided I would never spend less than 3 days in any one place. My reasons for this are many but the most important was the fact that I felt you just can’t appreciate or experience a destination without spending a little bit of time there. After all, travel is much more than just ‘checking off’ places on your destination list. When I set out, I knew I wanted to travel for at least 6 months. I wanted to dedicate time away from my home country for this amount of time and thought, if I was still enjoying myself and could afford to go longer, I would. By committing yourself to a pre-determined length of travel, it will help you in deciding the number of places you want to see, how long to stay in each and then what your budget would have to be in order to do so.
Do you plan to live on an island in Thailand for a while? Or would you rather hop country to country and see as much as possible?
Next up is determining how you want to get around
When determining how much money you need to travel, it is crucial to think about how you want to get around. This applies to both local travel as well as travel country to country. Do you want to fly? If so, you should look into buddy passes, flying stand by, frequent flyer miles and even round the world plane tickets. This can save you a lot of money. If you prefer to go by land, are all the countries you plan to visit somewhat close or in line geographically? And once you look into this, think about local travel within a town or city. Will you spend money on taxis? Do you see yourself taking buses and metros most of the time? Or do you want to maximize your money and just walk or hitchhike most of the time? This will all help in giving you an estimate for what will cut into your budget the most… Transportation. Coming from the US, I don’t recommend hitchhiking as general practice although I’ve done it a few times and I know many travelers that make it a standard practice. Before doing so in a country, I’d ask a local you can trust what to expect. In some countries, it may not even be recognized as something people do.
Discovered Your Traveler Type Yet?
Finding the true answers to these questions may be difficult, especially if you either haven’t traveled much before and know what to expect or if you don’t really have a plan or time-frame laid out. However, finding the answers to these questions is really going to help you determine just how much money you’ll think you’ll need. This is the very reason that one person may be able to travel for 3 months through certain countries while another person can only travel 2 weeks on the same amount of money. When you have this figured out, then its just a matter of researching each country or city you plan to go to and estimating the costs of food, lodging and transportation. And researching the ‘traveler budget ranges’ you find on each individual country can be a great starting point. So now lets hear from you… how long are you planning to travel for? Are you in Group A, B, or C? Did you make it as long as you had hoped on your budget? Tell us about your trip!!
For more travel advice for your trip, check out my Planning page!