Planning Your Travel Budget (Part 1 of 4)

Creative Commons License photo credit: Leonid Mamchenkov

Figuring out a budget can be one of the most stressful things about planning a trip,  especially if  math makes you dizzy. Even so, it is one of the most important things you need to do before you can take off adventuring. Finding out you’ve run out of money on the other side of the world is even less fun than doing math.

I’ve come up with a list of 8 important things to consider when trying to put together a comprehensive price tag for your trip. Whether you are going abroad for a month or a year, these are all important things to consider. Over the next two weeks I will be explaining them in depth. The first two deal with pre-departure costs:

  1. Start-up Costs- It would be nice if you could just buy your plane tickets and take off, but there are costs to be accounted for right from the get-go. You’ll need to budget for all equipment you’ll have to purchase prior to departure. Do you need a heavy-duty backpack, a camera or even a new bikini? If you’re traveling to the third world you’ll  need to get some immunizations or malaria pills. Create a special section of your trip budget containing all of these items. Consider all equipment, clothing, medical prescriptions and technology you will need to invest in.
  2. If you are moving to another country you will also need to consider the costs of setting up somewhere new, like shipping, airline overweight costs, and all of the many things that go into setting up an apartment (first months rent, deposit etc.).

  1. Administrative fees– You also need to take into account whether you need to apply for a passport or any travel visas. A US passport will set you back $65, more if you need to expedite it. You may not be able to get all of your visas before you go but some simple research should tell you how much they will cost.
  2. Insurance is a good idea for most trips abroad, so be sure to factor in this cost as well. You can check out World Nomads or Insure My Trip for an estimate.

These costs are easy to forget about when creating your budget but they can seriously cut into your bottom line. Next up: transportation costs.

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14 thoughts on “Planning Your Travel Budget (Part 1 of 4)”

  1. I stumbled upon this blog on Lonely Planet. It’s fantastic! Thanks so much for all the helpful info!! I’m planning a mostly solo trip to Europe next month for a couple of weeks (visiting friends for a few days of it – so excited!!) and had a quick question about travel insurance. What’s your take on what’s offered by travel credit cards? Thanks.

  2. A US passport now cost $110 to renew and $135 for an initial passport.

    I’ve taken a lot of good information with me from this blog.

  3. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  4. Yes, deposits. When I rented an Apt in Buenos Aires, it was $500 for the month (in Palermo Viejo). To get the keys, I needed one month and a deposit. Wouch. I had to hit the ATM three days in a row because of limits on withdrawals and the cash only policy. It all worked out.

    And yes, it was worth it.
    stay adventurous,

    1. Craig, I had that same issue when I moved into my flat in London. Had to pay something like 900 pounds in first month rent and deposit- close to $2000!

      Still worth it though, and it was pretty sweet to get that deposit back when I left.

  5. People usually do a poor job of budgeting because they try to be as accurate as possible, then go over budget when they actually go travel. I like to make very conservative estimates (double, triple) what you think you’ll need because there are always additional costs.

    1. That is very true Anil, you definitely want to give yourself a generous budget that leaves room for mistakes, extras and the unknown.

  6. This is an area where I screwed up on my first big multi-country trip two summers ago. It was my first overseas trip without my family paying for everything, and I didn’t realize how much gear I had to buy before even leaving! I didn’t even factor it into my travel budget, which was a mistake because I ended up leaving with less money for my travels than I had planned. Had to purchase a good backpack, light/quick-drying clothing, a good pair of walking shoes, power converter, etc. The good news is that most of the purchases were for durable goods, so I was able to reuse almost everything for my big trip this summer!

    1. A lot of the things I wrote in this series are based on mistakes I’ve made before. There are just so many things you have to account for when you go abroad!

      You are right though, luckily once you buy this equipment you will have it around for next time. I got a good backpack as a graduation present from college and it’s been a terrific investment.

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