Plan your travel budget like a pro.
What kind of budget is needed to travel? This is the ultimate question for anyone who is in the process of planning their next trip. There are so many factors that can influence the amount of money required to go abroad. However, before you release your calculator and Excel table, there are some things to consider that will help in budget planning.
There are two approaches when it comes to thinking about your next trip. For those who are more of the type to dream about a specific destination and who are ready to do anything to make this dream come true, you will have to build your budget according to the chosen destination. On the other hand, for people with more flexibility, it is possible to determine a budget in advance and then select a destination that is compatible with that budget.
WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU START PLANNING
- Duration of the trip:
Whether it is for a long weekend or a long term trip, the costs will obviously vary. Based on a basic rule for travel budgets, particularly for independent travellers (e.g. backpackers), one can expect to spend a minimum of $1,000 per month. This is about $35/day.
- Time of the year:
For those who are flexible with their schedule, it is recommended to take advantage of the off-season to travel. Not only is it less crowded, but prices will be much lower than in the high season. This information is generally easy to find in travel guides. Summer holidays and the holiday season should be avoided, as everything is drastically more expensive.
- Destinations :
Developing countries are much more affordable than Western countries. You can expect to get much more for your money by choosing destinations in South America, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe compared to North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Scandinavian countries.
- Specialized activities :
The practice of certain activities requires a special budget because of the costs associated with them. Surfing a wave costs nothing, especially when compared to the price of a ski lift ticket. It is the same situation for snorkeling as for scuba diving with a bomb. It is important to think about the types of activities you want to participate in when planning your budget.
- Travel style:
What kind of traveller are you? If independent travel is a possible option, staying in hostels and using local transport will be considerably cheaper than choosing a luxury holiday.
Once these factors have been assessed, it will be easier to form an idea of the type of trip to plan. The next steps are to determine which fixed costs should be covered before the major departure. To get a general idea of the budget to allocate for a trip, it is best to start your research in advance.
- Flights :
The best time to buy your flight ticket is about six weeks before departure to get the best price available. Sites such as Flytripper and Yulair (for flights departing from Canada) send a newsletter to stay informed of flight discounts. On sites such as Kayak, Skyscanner and Flighthub, it is possible to activate an alert to be informed when the price of a flight decreases. For domestic travel within the country, it may be interesting to check the costs of domestic flights with low-cost airlines.
- Travel insurance:
Often overlooked by travellers, travel insurance is undoubtedly the most important purchase to consider. No one should go on a trip without travel insurance, except to have peace of mind during their vacation. With a selection of coverage types available including medical insurance, trip cancellation and theft/loss protection, options are available for all situations. Don’t forget to get travel insurance.
- Visa :
A good starting point to find out if a visa is required to visit a country is the government’s Foreign Affairs website. For Canadians, there are up to 101 countries that can be visited without a visa. It is important to include these costs in your budget, but also to plan the right currency to pay for the visa if it is only available once it has arrived at its destination.
- Travel equipment:
This could potentially take up a significant part of the travel budget if you have little or no equipment. For a first trip, determine if you need a suitcase or backpack and get a good pair of walking shoes, light and comfortable clothing and any other specific items.
Now it’s time for the big start! At this point, the only expenses will be:
- Accommodation (unless you have already booked)
It is possible to book online on sites such as Booking.com or Agoda, which offer a huge selection of choices for all budgets. Airbnb is also another option to book accommodation.
The choices are unlimited! You can choose to hitchhike or hire a private driver. To minimize costs, why not familiarize yourself with the public transit system? Carpooling is also very popular in North America and Europe.
- Food and drink
An important part of discovering a new culture is through food. It is possible to save money by cooking on your own, but you have to allow yourself a few treats with local specialities. In some countries, street food is the ideal way to save a few dollars.
Unless you want to stay in a cottage in the middle of the forest or just sunbathe on the beach, it is better to keep a small portion of the budget for guided tours, activities, entrance fees or even classes.
Of course, buying souvenirs is not mandatory! On the other hand, for those who wish to bring home a portion of their paradise, a small amount will have to be included in their budget for this purpose.
It is recommended to hide money in different bags and luggage compartments in case of theft or loss. In addition, the emergency fund may be useful for a “one-time experience” that was not initially included in the budget.
These few guidelines will help to establish a good basic budget for the preparation of a future trip. The key to success is flexibility. It is good to stick to your budget most of the time, but it is also acceptable to spoil yourself occasionally. This holiday should not be a source of stress, but rather a source of joy at the thought of discovering the world.