Planning Guides

Guide To Creating A Travel Budget

Travel Budget Dollars

As somebody who isn’t very good at saving the thought of quitting my job and living a life of wanderlust for a year was, and still is fairly intimidating.

When Jake and I planned Inca to Inuit we sat with the back of a napkin and tried to work through what this trip of a lifetime would cost. Back then we wanted to drive from Argentina to Alaska, picking up a cheap car in Argentina and driving as far North as we could. We Googled what the average cost of fuel was across a number of different countries on our route multiplied it by 20,000 miles. We then roughly estimated what we thought we’d need per day to live and added it on. I think it came out at £10,000 each for a year.

Driving To Alaska

Now clearly that’s not the way to plan your travel budget, much more time and attention needs to be paid to it. A couple of months ago Jake and I sat in bed with our endless Lonely Planet guides and went through the 34 countries we plan to visit one by one jotting down the average cost for standard accommodation and meal costs. Not having a plan of how long we’re going to be in each country for made scaling our costs pretty difficult but again we put our fingers in the air and began to imagine our route and how long it would take to get from A to B.

The cost came out at £15,000 each for a year. Quite different to the £10,000 we had originally had in mind.

It is worth pointing out at this point that a years travelling can be done on more of a shoestring budget, however our penchant for a comfy bed and a good bottle of wine meant that when budgeting we ensured we factored in a little more than is needed for a ‘shoestring’.

In the end it was going through these steps that helped me to get to the most accurate and flexible travel budget:

Agree on a time scale

Try and pin down in your mind the number of months you’ll be away for and account for a couple of months of flexibility should you not need to rush home. Always better to have accounted for some extra time than be forced to go home because you’ve run out of money

List out the countries you’ll be visiting

I use Google Sheets to build lists and sheets that Jake and I can both login to wherever we are and whatever device we are on. My template can be accessed here

List out the costs

Within your spreadsheet research the cost for Food, Accommodation, travel and where applicable tours and sightseeing.

I found the quickest way to do this was using Numbeo’s cost per living calculator. Number allows you to look at the average cost of everything from

Restaurants, Market produce, Transport and rent (if you’re planning on staying in one place for a couple of months).

There is also a handy cost of a living calculator which allows you to compare what your current cost per living in your domestic country would get you elsewhere. Well worth checking out.

Having all of your costs in one spreadsheet will allow you to amend and revise your budget depending on how long you’ll be in a certain place, making your budget as flexible as your trip.

Keep track of your pre-trip expenses

Pre-travel costs can be a forgotten expense. Paying for flights, immunisations, Visas, clothing, pre-arranged tours etc can leave a hefty dent in your bank account before you even set off. In order to keep track of this, I use a simple google sheet doc which I update every time I pay for something Inca to Inuit related. This allows me to keep on top of what I’ve spent and budget accordingly.

Set yourself a savings goal

A number of banks now have an online service that enables you to make a savings goal. Make a TRIP OF A LIFETIME goal and watch your progress in real time as you make your way closer and closer to your goal.

Make your savings work hard for you

Saving can be a long hard slog, but there is nothing more rewarding that seeing your money grow over time. To sweeten your savings look to keep them in a high-interest saving account so they accumulate interest whilst you continue to save. It may be only £5-£10 a month but its better than nothing and in some places that’s a nights accommodation.

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