How To Travel The World: Part Three
How To Travel The World: Part Three
Set Your Budget and Start Saving
Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.
“How much money will I need?” is probably the most puzzled-over question when it comes to travelling. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer as it will depend entirely on your individual preferences. To make it easier, you can split your expenses into two types: initial and daily expenses.
• Airline tickets
This will be your main expense. A major thing to consider is whether you would be best off with a RTW (Round The World) ticket or a series of one-way tickets. Here is a fantastic, short video by Kristen at Hopscotch the Globe on choosing the best option for you: Round The World VS One Way Flights. I had already decided on one-way tickets a while ago but watching this video reassured me that I had made the right choice 🙂
If you are under 26, a student or a teacher, I would recommend STA Travel for flights. I saved a decent sum of money by using them!
• Backpack and other necessary equipment
There are a number of suggested packing lists online. Try searching for a few and compare them to see what’s missing on one or the other, then decide whether or not you need those extras. Remember: Pack light! A quick search for the items online will give you an idea of how much you might spend.
Wise words by Susan Heller: When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.
• Vaccinations (if needed)
Vaccinations are a necessary evil, depending where in the world you plan to travel. Some people will tell you only to bother with the mandatory shots but I would personally rather be safe than sorry. I can tell you that here in Ireland, I spent just over €400 on them. I had looked into going over to the UK to get them done as well but it worked out to be roughly the same price. I got all of them done at Tropical Medical Bureau and the fee included a consultation with a doctor who gave me a lot of great advice, all the prescriptions I needed and also some information about dealing with a particular skin condition I have while on the road. They get a big thumbs up from me!
You should be able to find out information about which visas you need and how much they will cost on each embassy’s website. As noted in my recent post (The Art of Getting Your Indian Visa in Dublin), do be aware whether the visa is valid from date of issue or arrival as this could affect your travel plans.
These will be a good deal harder to calculate than the initial expenses. You will need to account for:
How much you spend on accommodation will ultimately be decided by the level of comfort you are happy to pay for. Are you the sort who requires a private room and spotless bathroom? Or are you up for sharing a dorm room and a cold shower? Once you have thought about this, you can start looking up price ranges online (TripAdvisor is fantastic for this). I found that determining a budget for accommodation in India was a little harder to do on the mainstream sites and so turned to some friends of mine who had recently visited, as well as online forums, for advice. Opinion will differ but it is always best to budget more than less.
• Food and Drink
Again, forums are your friend. I stand by Thorn Tree and Travellers Point which I have mentioned in previous posts. Buying your food in supermarkets and cooking in open kitchens at hostels will significantly reduce your food costs.
Walking is a great habit to get into but of course you can’t do this all the time. When I first moved to Dublin I was so nervous about figuring out the public transport system that I walked everywhere for the first month; it meant I had great calves by the end of the month but I couldn’t go everywhere I wanted 😉 Use public transport where it is safe for you to do so and research day/week passes as these may offer a cheaper rate.
• Sight-seeing / Entertainment
You probably won’t be paying out for museums and attractions on a daily basis. If you research the places you want to visit, you should be able to find entrance fees online and split the total amount over the number of days you will be there, perhaps adding 50% of that total on for places you find out about along the way.
There are a few travel budget calculators online (such as this) but I don’t find them to be very accurate. The plus side is that they tend to offer a much higher daily average than you would actually need, so that could mean you will be pleasantly surprised. On the downside, however, you don’t want to get disheartened before you have even begun saving.
To give a more concrete figure, I am budgeting roughly €2000 for two months in India. From the research I have done, half that amount should get me by but I would much rather feel a bit freer with what I am spending than constantly counting the pennies while I am there. As for Africa, I am allowing myself roughly €2000 to cover daily expenses and about the same again for all the activites I want to do along the way. It may seem like a lot but that includes things like a permit to trek to see the mountain gorillas, skydiving, etc.
Researching your budget is going to take time but if you are going to spend time doing anything, this is the most important thing you need to do. Once you have a basic idea of how much money you are going to need, it’s time to get to the hard bit: saving. I wrote a detailed post about this some time ago: Saving for World Travel, in which I give a strategy for setting yourself a monthly budget which will allow you to save what you need over a period of time. It’s not easy but it is all about getting your priorities straight and being disciplined.
Next step: Patience. Most of us are not privileged enough to have enough money to travel the world overnight. I have personally been saving for my travels for over a year and a half. It’s not easy and, I’ll admit, I haven’t done as well as I wish I had some months but as I near D-Day, I am mostly set to go. The sooner you start, the sooner you can be on your merry way to Elsewhere.