You know that I don’t think it’s ‘luck’ that allows a person to travel. I think you have to have your eye on the prize, be willing to make sacrifices, and save, save, save!
Travel doesn’t have to be expensive; and saving for travel doesn’t have to be painful.
The cost of a trip varies greatly depending on where you want to go. Europe is notoriously expensive but I’ve heard that bargains can be found in northern Italy and Spain. We found Vietnam and Laos to be as cheap as legend says they are but we’re expecting Japan to cost us a pretty penny.
Overall, long term travel is cheaper than short term vacations. Distances between even major destinations are much shorter than traveling from ‘home’ and back every time. Local air carriers can be used and even ground transportation is possible. Mindset is different for long term travel also; without the need to do it all while you’re on vacation, you can relax and take things at a slower, less expensive, pace.
Figuring out a budget can be the hardest part but there is plenty of information out there now to help you figure out a typical budget:
Warren and Betsy of Married With Luggage run the RTW Expenses site solely to provide information on what it has cost them to travel long term.
Lauren of Never Ending Footsteps also posts a monthly summary of her finances on the road. Mostly Asia so far but I know she has recently been in Europe and is currently in Africa!
Jeremy of Living The Dream has a detailed account of every dime he spent while traveling. With lots of Asia and Europe in his travel resume he gives some great balance to the budget.
The Aussie Nomad focuses on Europe in this series of daily budget posts.
There is often plenty of information on Europe and Asia whereas South America and Africa budget posts are harder to come by. Simon and Erin have a great round up from their time in South America.
I also have budget series from our RTW trip as well as a detailed spreadsheet of what we spent in the 14 countries we visited. I’m planning the same kind of detail for Japan; I’ll be sure to post it once we’re back!
It’s important, when visiting these sites, to not just read the budget posts. You need to get a sense of who is spending this money; are they uber-budget-backpackers who would happily sleep in a 13 person dorm room, or luxury travellers for whom 3 star hotels are an abomination? I always get to know the writer and make sure that they travel in a way that is comfortable for me.
Which brings up probably the most important point; be honest about how you are willing to travel. Don’t plan on a backpacker budget if that’s not really how you travel – you’ll be miserable on $25/day and will begrudge every dollar over that you spend. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to travel but it’s worth saving what you’ll need to travel happily.
Here are some of my own travel saving tips:
- Open a dedicated savings account. Name it. Our current one is called OneGiantStep Goes To Japan.
- Think about what you’re spending. Those two beers tonight? That’ll easily pay for a bungalow for a night on a Thai beach.
- Put all ‘extra’ money into the account. Pocket change, birthday money, pennies from the couch, anything extra. It all adds up.
- Get a side job . Paper route? Barista? Slinging beers? Freelance writing? Whatever talent you have – pimp it!
- Connect to the saving. Keep that trip forefront in your mind – post pictures, use screensavers, read articles/blogs- it’s easier to save if you are always thinking of the end goal.
- Know how much it’s going to cost. You have to know the goal!
- Sell stuff. What is in that spare room anyway? Do you really need that second set of golf clubs? What about that pile of books? That snowboard you didn’t use at all last year?
- Keep track of what you make AND what you spend NOW, before you go. It’s much easier to keep track of what you’re spending while travelling if you’re in the habit of doing it before you leave. We’ve traditionally used spreadsheets for this but recently have started using Mint.com – it’s integrated with your banking and credit cards to help track and categorize spending. You can set budgets with it and know if you’re overspending in a certain area – it’s a great tool to get a handle on where all those dollars are actually going as opposed to where you think they’re going.And don’t forget about the free tax software that’s available too – remember, every penny counts!!
If you plan properly and honestly, put some effort into saving, and sacrifice just once in a while, you too can be ‘lucky’ in travel!
Share your saving-for-travel tips below…how are you getting lucky?
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk