When you’re travelling, there’s a lot to plan to ensure you see everything you want to see and don’t run out of money in the process. I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you with budgeting.
If you know me, you’ll know I’m a tad obsessive about my budgeting spreadsheet. Planning a year-long trip requires a serious budget. We saved approximately £25k for the year between us (based on reading other blogs, this seemed an achievable amount to live on for a year). I also continued to freelance, so that figure increased somewhat, but we spent in total around £35k due to changing some flights and splurging on a few excursions.
I set up a spreadsheet to calculate how much we spent on average per day, how much that equated to for the number of days we had left, and how much was left in the budget. If you need help budgeting or spread-sheeting (not a verb, I know, but it should be!) your budget, then give me a shout.
Here’s some quick, general tips on budgeting…
Before you leave
- Have in mind an ideal grand total you’d like to take with you. If you bank with Natwest, their online banking lets you set up savings goals and tells you whether you’ll achieve them or need to save more.
- Sell anything you don’t need beforehand to increase your savings using sites like eBay, Preloved, Gumtree, or Amazon, the Shpock app, or even car boot sales. The added bonus is it’ll mean less storage space required for your stuff while you’re away.
- If you own a house, rent it out to tenants. You can get an estate agent to manage the letting for you and arrange landlord cover through companies like HomeServe to cover any emergencies while you’re away. It’ll pay your mortgage and maybe even earn you a profit. The .gov website tells you what’s tax-deductible.
- Find out whether you can get a working visa for the countries you’re visiting. For example, you can get a working visa for Australia until you’re 30, but it’s less easy to get one for Canada and the USA. This means you can work while you’re away to fund your travels.
- If you have a skill you can do online and will have access to the Internet, sign up to freelancing websites such as PeoplePerHour or oDesk as you can bid to work on projects or sell “hourlies” where people buy an hour of your time for a project. For example, I do freelance proofreading and editing through these sites.
- Get a worldwide travel card that you can preload with money and manage via an online account. STA provide a Cashflex card that doesn’t charge you for transactions but charges you £2.50 for cash withdrawals. Travelex offer a similar card. If you’re clever, you can combine them to reduce your charges. Just make sure you regularly check the online accounts and transfer enough money on to them so that you don’t run out.
- Take out a back-up emergency credit card. If you’re using a credit card, check the T&Cs to see whether they charge to pay for something in a different currency than your own.
- Look for local public transport from airports rather than the shuttle services, transfers, or taxis. They take longer but they’re much cheaper.
- If you’re hiring a car, use comparison sites to check prices such as Skyscanner. Watch out for Km limits as companies charge you for every Km you drive over their limit. Also watch out for companies deducting bonds from your card rather than just taking an imprint of your card – they’ll refund the bond at the end (as long as you return the car in the same condition you hired it in), but you need to have enough money on your card initially to cover it. Also thoroughly check the car for damages when you collect it and take photos of any damage in case they try to blame you for it when you return it.
- When buying insurance for car or campervan rentals, the cover offered by most companies is expensive and doesn’t cover much. Check out rentalcover.com for cheaper and better cover.
- If you hire a campervan from one of the big companies, they often have a “swap shelf” where other customers leave stuff they don’t need like coffee, washing up liquid, etc.
- Book all major purchases such as accommodation, fuel, excursions, and flights using a rewards credit card. The American Express card provides Avios air miles, so with enough purchases, your flight home will be free. The added benefit is that if anything goes wrong with your purchase, your money is protected.
- Buy a couple of litre water bottles and keep filling them up at water fountains as bottled water is expensive.
- Shop at big supermarkets and buy their own brand stuff where possible. Things like pasta, bolognese, chilli, and noodles are cheap and easy to cook.
- In the words of my friend Claire who embarked on a similar adventure, “Remember that man can’t live on Super Noodles alone”. Look for local daily deals like Cheap Tuesdays at cinemas and all you can eat days at restaurants.
- You can save money on accommodation using websites and iPhone apps such as:
- Airbnb – you pay to stay in people’s spare rooms or sometimes even whole apartments, but it’s a lot cheaper than hotel rooms and generally nicer than hostels
- Couchsurfing – people let you stay in their spare rooms or on sofas for free
- Trusted Housesitters – you look after people’s homes and pets while they’re away, again for free
- Check which hotels and hostels are the cheapest using Hotels Combined . It’s a comparison engine that searches most of the major booking sites to see who’s offering the cheapest rates.
- Then when you actually come to book the accommodation, find the relevant site by searching on cashback websites such as Quidco.com and accessing the booking site through them. You get cashback for sites like hostelbookers and hotel club. You generally get 5%-10% cashback, so after a few bookings you’ll have enough cash back for a free night!
- If you’re camping/campervanning, download the WikiCamps app, which is particularly amazing for Australia (though not as good for America or Canada). It shows you all the free and cheap campsites across the country, as well as other useful points of interest. In Aus, you can find free rest stops at the side of most highways where you can camp for a night or two. In America and Canada, you can campervan for free at truck stops and petrol stations (particularly Huskies in Canada) – just pop in and ask the staff. Some of them even have diners!