Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How to Research and Plan Your International Trip: Budgeting

This is a four part series where we'll explore:
1.  Choosing Your Destination
2.  Researching it Out
3. Budgeting for your Trip
4.  Building a Rough Itinerary

Budgeting for Your Trip
BEFORE THE TRIP:  We have had many friends ask us how we can afford to travel, or say "You must be rich!" or "I didn't know you are rich!"  Talk about awkward...   My most memorable comment was when a close friend said "How can you afford to travel so much?  I thought you guys were poor!  You often share meals when we go out to eat, and you two never order dessert..."  In my nicest attitude possible, I tried to explain, "This is exactly why we can travel!  We save our money so we can spend it on what is really important to us."  Would I love to shop at Baby Gap?  Absolutely!  Would I like a specialty drink when we're out with friends?  Of course!  But I have decided that I want to travel more.  So, we make sacrifices throughout normal life in order to make our travel dreams a reality.  Are we rich?  No way!  But we do choose to spend our money on travel, instead of fast food, expensive outings, the latest technology and new furniture (these last two are really where we save the big bucks!).

Our friends the Petersens still use flip phones and drive cars that are 15 years old to save money for travel.  Saving isn't always glamorous, but it is always worth it (for me).  

Before your trip, try to brainstorm ideas about how to save on food and hotels.  I like to bring along dried fruit, trail mix, beef jerky and granola bars. The other justification I use when travelling is that we would have eaten at home- so food money spent doesn't count against the trip total...?  Does that make sense to anyone else?? :)

DURING THE TRIP:  I would hate to get all the way to Thailand, then not be able to pay for an elephant ride!  How awful would that be?!?! We definitely travel on a budget, but we're not so tight that we don't do what we came to do.  I think we save most of our money by staying in cheaper places.  You stay in a $30 place instead of a $55 hotel, and you've just saved $25 in a single night! 

(L: Hostel in Taman Negara, Malaysia R: Singapore, this goes down as our worst sleeping experience abroad)

It completely depends on where you are travelling, but while in SE Asia, we spent an average of $15/night for both of us together.  While in Eastern Europe, it was more like $50/night... totally depends.
We eat a lot of street food (only gotten sick once or twice!) and we grocery shop/picnic for many breakfasts/lunches.  Depending on what region of the world you're visiting, many places offer breakfast with the hotel/hostel. Another thing to consider is your location: If you're on a tight budget, go to South America instead of Switzerland!

AFTER THE TRIP:  Start saving so you can go again :)

The biggest take away for me with budgeting, is to make the choice beforehand about where your money will go.  Then, when you're out to dinner you don't have to debate over that drink or dessert- you've already made your choice. 

The choice to live your dream!
 (Photo: Malaysian Jungle boat ride)


Tara said...

You guys are awesome! Way to go for spending money doing what you really want to do.

kp said...

After reading this, I understand even more why we're friends. It's exactly how I live/think.

Deah said...

I love your tips!

Melanie said...

I have a line in my budget each month for travel and that money goes into its own savings account. When I'm travelling or planning a trip, I know exactly how much I have to spend.

Noelle said...

What's the app you use to write on your pics again?

Heather said...

great explanation. Love your hair in the "WATER" picture.