This is a tricky one because no one is doing the same trip. Having said that budgeting can be straight forward for anyone. I can only explain through my own experiences. Certainly at the start of my travels I was the ultimate budget backpacker. These days I’m more of a flash packer!
When I first started thinking about what my budget should to be, I honestly had no idea of what I needed to save. I looked online and I was overwhelmed. £10k a year, £500 a month, £40k a year. What? So confused. I decided I would budget £1000 a month. I was going on what I could live off at home. I assumed England was the most expensive place in the world, would be a good bench mark, right? Well, let’s just say you only learn by doing.
When I first got to Asia I was super conscious about what I was spending. It wasn’t a good feeling watching your funds go lower and lower by the day. I was staying in guest houses which only cost £3 a night. Eating street food for £1 a meal. I would barter for Tuk Tuk rides and market handbags until even the locals would give in to my persistence. I made my money stretch so far for my first 5 months in Asia, I actually barely dented my savings. That’s when I decided to continue my South East Asian adventure for another 5 months, this time splashing out. Staying at 5 star hotels, going on superb excursions, paying for rounds of drinks and so on.
My flight to Australia soon rolled around and as I had a working visa lined up I wasn’t too worried about my savings anymore. This was a mistake. I didn’t think about the fact it might be more expensive in Australia or the fact I might not even find a job. I arrived with barely enough money to get me by. I almost had to start working the day I landed. I was lucky to find something so quickly. I still had some savings but I wanted to save more.
Needless to say I went from one extreme to the other and it’s good to find a balance. Had I only had one year to travel (which was my original plan) my budgeting would of been a complete failure. Luckily I was hooked on traveling and changed my plans to stay longer. I was also now a pro at saving so I knew I could boost up my funds quick enough. Everywhere I have traveled since Asia, I have been able to work and save for short periods of time. Which has been good to keep a steady income.
You can go through companies like STA Travel and they will book almost your entire trip before you leave. Then you don’t have to think about budget too much. I think this option is possibly only any good if you only plan to travel for a few months. It is so important to have your freedom and I personally prefer to go with the flow. I know some people like to have more control but it is much more fun not sticking to a schedule.
Budgeting comes down to a few things. How long are you going for? Where are you going to visit? What type of traveler are you? What do you plan to do?
For me I decided I was going for 1 year. I was going to visit 8 countries. I am a budget backpacker. I plan to go by bus from country to country in Asia. I plan to see as much as possible and try and visit free places. So, I needed to break down what I needed to save for;
Flights (England – Thailand, Indonesia to Australia & Australia – New Zealand) = £1200
Insurance (1 Year – extreme sports) = £500
Accommodation (Approx £10 per night Asia, £20 per night Australia & NZ) = £5320
Food = £3000
Vaccines = £100
Visas = (Australia, NZ, Cambodia, Laos) = £380
Travel gear = (Backpack, trekking boots, trekking clothes, camera etc) = £500
Extras = (trips, alcohol, internet cafes etc) £4000
So now I know what I need to save for, I need to stick with it and save as much as I could as close to this amount as possible. Everyone’s budget will look different. It depends on many factors but it is most important to have your budget written down. I have read on other blogs how people got by on the bare minimum, sometimes just leaving their home countries with just the clothes on their backs and a few coins. I wouldn’t recommend doing this unless you want to end up like Alexander Supertramp! We want to make sure you are having the time of your life not wondering where the next meal is coming from! Be smart!
You have to be ruthless. Only buy things you need. It is hard but it’s worth it. Traveling is the ultimate freedom but only the determined will experience it. Budgets can be adapted, I have changed mine many times but I usually always stick by it and are sensible with my purchases.
I also had emergency funds in a separate account with £300 as a back up which is always a good idea.
As I always say, you learn by doing and you need to give it a try. Learn what is achievable for you.People assume traveling is for the rich only and think this dream is too unrealistic for them. Now more than ever international travel has become more and more achievable and accessible.
Give it a go!