If you are like me, and travelling is one of your top priorities, you will know all too well that this little hobby is not cheap. Previously, I used to simply go with the flow. If I felt like taking a weekend trip somewhere, I would wait to get paid and book my flights and accommodation the very same day. I had no budget in place. In all honesty, I had no idea how to budget in the first place. I would pay my bills first, and whatever was left of my salary I would simply spend. In the past two years, it was mostly on travelling.
I knew that if I ever wanted to take a big trip, I had to learn how to save because big trips are expensive. I also knew that I wanted to take a big trip for my 30th birthday, but I didn’t have a plan in place. I imagined this would just happen, without any efforts from my side. With less than a year left to go before my 30th birthday, it finally occurred to me that I need a plan. The plan is quite simple – to save. Since I first decide on a destination and only then budget for my trip, I followed these steps to create a travel budget.
SELECT YOUR DESTINATION
There are places in this world that I really want to go to. In fact, I have a list of places that I really want to go to. I go by my list. I don’t care how much it will cost me. Travelling is not a cheap hobby, and if you are not willing to pay for it, you are not into travelling as much as you thought you were. Although I like a nice relaxing holiday, I am not into all-inclusive holidays to beach resorts. I am also not interested in taking one two-week holiday per year and go to the very same place I visited last year…and the year before that. Things like that make me cringe (no judgement, this simply is not for me). If a trip to South America is going to cost me £2,000, so be it! Because this is where I want to go, and I will make an effort, save a bit of cash and be sure to enjoy myself while travelling.
ESTIMATE YOUR TRAVEL COSTS
Once I knew where I wanted to go, I started shopping around for air fares. Having researched what seemed like all possible options, I budgeted around £800 for my flights to South America. My next step was to shop around for accommodation. I must say that I have never stayed in a hostel during my travels. I am not comfortable to share my bedroom with total strangers. What I realised, though, is that if I want to dedicate a year or two of my life to travelling (something that I really want to do), staying at hotels is not very economical. Also, if you are a solo traveller, staying in hostels is a great way to meet people. I decided to give it a try and budgeted around £300 for accommodation for 14 nights (note: I will spend one night flying and one night on a bus). Yep, £300! Staying in hotels would cost me three times more!
ADD YOUR TRAVEL EXTRAS
Once you know the cost of your flights and accommodation, add such extras as airport transfers and local transportation to your calculations. These little things that we usually don’t think about can quickly add up. For instance, when I went to Southern Italy in July, I spent over £50 on local transport for 8 days. This may not seem like a lot, but when I added my airport transfers in London and upon arrival in Italy, the amount was well over £100! I have estimated £200 (including an overnight bus from Buenos Aires to Iguassu Falls) for all these travel extras.
DON’T FORGET YOUR POCKET MONEY
Unless you are going to an all-inclusive resort (which I am not), you will need money to spend on food, dining, entertainment, souvenirs and other fun things. During my travels around Europe, I have come to realise that EUR50 per day is more than enough for me to have a good time. I know that South America is slightly cheaper than Europe and prices there can be compared to those in post-Soviet and Eastern Europe (think the Czech Republic, Estonia, Romania) so I allocated roughly £600 on this. This doesn’t mean that I will spend all of this allocation if I don’t need to. To comfortably enjoy my holiday, I need some money for lunch and dinner (as breakfast is typically included in accommodation price) as well as theatre tickets, entry to museums and other admission charges.
SAVE, SAVE, SAVE
Now that I know my 17-day trip to South America will cost me in the region of £1,900 all included, I have to make sure I have enough money to pay for it. Since I started budgeting for this trip back in June and I am not leaving before February next year, I had 7 months to save for my trip. The easiest thing to do was to divide the total cost of the trip by 7 to see how much cash I should be saving each month. However, I wanted to buy my flights well in advance to keep the price down, so I saved up just under £750 in 2 months and bought my flights at the end of August. First, I am going to New York for 3 nights (yes, I am finally going!). I will then fly over to Buenos Aires for 4 nights, take a night bus to Iguassu Falls and stay there for 2 nights, before making my way to Rio de Janeiro for 5 nights. Having paid for my flights and saved another £100 (accommodation is to be paid locally, so not until February), I have just over £1,000 left to save. I have got four months (and four salaries) left to go, so I will be saving £250 from each paycheck to have the remaining £1,000 saved up by the end of January.
How do you budget for expensive hobbies, be it travelling or something else? I am curious to know.