Whether you’re looking to take a scenic Cape Town road trip or go on a romantic Parisian escape, you don’t want to be rummaging through your pockets for change as you go about your picture-perfect vacation. Your holiday should feel like a well-deserved treat, but it shouldn’t leave you broke and selling your car to pay off your debts when you get home either. Fortunately, this can be achieved by budgeting. Depending on your financial situation, this can be a little hard — but it’s important that you know that it is definitely possible.
Off the bat, it’s important to have an estimate of how much your vacation is going to set you back. Having a budget early on also keeps you from spending beyond your means, as you can treat it as a financial guide to go back to as you build your itinerary.
The first thing you’ll want to do is look up the costs of living in each of your destination options. Developing nations like those in Southeast Asia will be a lot more affordable than beau monde European countries. By visiting cheaper areas, you’ll have more money to spend. At the same time, it will allow you more flexibility to really get to know a place and perhaps even stay longer. With this in mind, your main expenses will be divided between accommodation, transportation, and food.
Listing all these expenses can be overwhelming, especially when thinking about how much you’ll have to shell out to have a good time. Some people think seeing the world before their 50s is a privilege reserved for celebrities or lottery winners.
Of course, winning the lottery certainly does help. Steve Tran, who won $429 million in 2014, told NBC news that the first two things he did after realizing he won the MegaMillions jackpot was to hug his wife and quit his job. Meanwhile, Leonard Peters of Calgary had dedicated his $6.1 million to traveling the world. For scale, Lottoland notes that MegaMillions jackpots tend to be some of the largest lottery prizes in the world, with the biggest amount clocking in at $845 million. That’s a whole lot of flights, hot air balloon trips across Cappadocia, and camel rides in the Sahara.
But we can’t all just sit around waiting to break the bank, can we? With proper planning, you, too, can tick a few destinations off your travel bucket list. We can’t guarantee you’ll have as many champagne bottles or Jacuzzi rooms at your disposal, but here are a few tips for traveling on a budget.
If you’re going overseas, airfare is usually the first and biggest expense. Thankfully, it’s easy to score the best deals on the market, if you dig around for them. Thrillist suggests online booking services for cheap flights, such as Skyscanner and Airfare Watchdog.
It doesn’t matter if your trip doesn’t include an adrenaline-fuelled surf session or whitewater rafting in Rio. Travel insurance is important nonetheless, and CNBC notes that it should be a requirement for international trips to remote places. Ideally, your policy should cover the duration of your entire trip, activities, medical expenses, damaged or stolen items, legal costs, and emergency-related cancellations.
Some countries have more extensive application costs and VISA requirements. Other cities also have entry fees, like Barcelona’s standard city tax, which is charged as soon as you arrive. To be sure, check with their respective embassies beforehand.
Related Post: How I Vacationed in Italy For Two Months On A Budget
If you don’t mind sharing a room, then hostels are the cheapest option. They also give you a chance to get to know fellow travelers. On the other hand, if you’re traveling with a group, then splitting a private room should be fine. You can also try your luck with hotels at the last minute, since many of them sell off their extra rooms for the night at a discount.
Remember: cheap accommodation might look appealing, but if the location is too far from all the attractions, then you will end up spending a lot on transportation anyway. Plus, you’ll end up spending the time you could have used exploring other places — and that’s something you can’t get back. Aim to stay in a central location where attractions are easily accessible.
Some countries rely heavily on private ride-booking platforms such as Uber or GrabTaxi, while other places like Japan are known for having the most exorbitant taxi rates in the world. Unsurprisingly, public transport is the most budget-friendly way to get around. Travel like the locals, even if it means hauling your luggage to the trains and back.
Let’s face it: Michelin-starred restaurants are experiences in their own right, but they’re tourist traps that you can do without. Chances are, there are many hole-in-the-wall places that offer unparalleled, authentic dining opportunities. Not only are their prices much friendlier, but you also get to avoid long lines. If your palate is feeling adventurous, you can scour the markets or street carts for a fresh, unique meal.
Additionally, if your accommodation comes with a kitchen, take advantage of it by self-catering. You can even make your own snacks for bringing along with you to save even more.
Tours save you the hassle of taking care of logistics, but they are often expensive. If you don’t have time, even a simple Google search will deliver you endless itineraries tried and tested by other travellers. If all else fails, there’s bound to be plenty of free or cheap entertainment options in whatever country you visit — whether it’s going museum-hopping, wandering around parks, climbing local mountains, or catching a free screening at an art cinema. It’s best to start with once-in-a-lifetime activities you absolutely want to do, and budget everything else accordingly. Just don’t forget to log all your expenses so you don’t lose track.
I know pre-planning every last detail and budgeting every penny can be a real drag. But if your dream is to travel more, you need to get good at figuring out all the logistics. Not only will this skill allow you to travel more, you won’t feel as pressed to live like a pauper in between vacations.
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