Friends and family may assume because I am a seasoned traveller that I simply rock up at an airport, drop off my bag, glide through security before heading to an airport lounge to drink champagne – while waiting for my plane to depart. Well, I can ensure you that this wasn’t the case when I first started travelling internationally.
Just like you, I use to get really stressed before travelling. I’d ask myself over and over again have I done that, should I pack this, or have I budgeted correctly. Those difficult pre-travel days are all behind me, and I now enjoy every aspect of travel planning including budgeting for travel!
Make Room In Your Budget for Travel
If I received a dollar for every time, I am asked how I can afford to travel so much, I’d be a rich woman sitting on a beach drinking Pina Coladas. From an early age, my father taught and instilled in me the importance of saving and budgeting. Learning how to save and knowing the value of money has allowed me to create the life I want. It’s no secret that you need savings to be able to travel. Creating a travel budget was one of the first tips I learned and took on board.
Before you make any budget changes, it is imperative you analyse your expenses, know how much you owe and earn each week or month. Many people spend more than they earn and end up in all sorts of debt, all because they don’t have a true understanding of the value of money, don’t prioritise their spending or save for a rainy day.
1. Travel On Budget | Steps To Travel Budgeting
Budgeting for Travel
The first step is to identify your overall goal and implement steps to enable you to reach it within a set time frame. Having a budget or spending plan will keep you out of debt and help you to reach your goals sooner, whether that be to travel more or for the extras that make life enjoyable along the way.
Creating your first budget will take time but once you have all your expenses at your fingertips, you will find it easy to keep track of your finances and spending. Set your goals and start with a 6-month budget; that way you will give yourself time to see results.
You may have a number of bills that come in at the same time. It is worth reaching out to these companies to see whether they offer payment options such as weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annually and annually. That way, you can spread your expenses over 12 months rather than have them arrive all at once. Learning how to travel on budget can be an rewarding and gratifying experience.
2. Travel Research And Budget Planning
Learning how to save, researching, planning and setting an annual travel budget can help you to travel longer and avoid the common pitfalls that can send you home sooner than you want. Create a realistic travel budget template that includes air travel, transportation, accommodation, visas, vaccinations, insurance, food and drink, activities plus a ‘buffer’ for that rainy day.
Become a smarter traveller, more money conscious and you will be less inclined to waste money on things you don’t need. If you know you want to eat out every day, then establish a daily spend and incorporate that into your travel budget.
Keep a journal of your daily expenses to make sure you are sticking to the plan. If you exceed your daily spend then cut back until you’re back on track. Unforeseen circumstances can happen anywhere, anytime. That’s why it’s important that you have a ‘buffer’ to fall back on. Having some surplus funds will get you out of all sorts of strife like missed flights, dodgy accommodation, lost passport and unsafe situations. Be prepared and save for a rainy day because it will happen!
3. Destination Search Tools and Travel Apps
Travel App and Budgeting Tools
Budget Your Trip offers a free destination search tool that allows travellers to learn more about the travel prices for places they are planning to visit. The Budget Your Trip travel cost widget can be used by travellers as a guide to the average daily travel costs for a particular country or even a city. The calculated costs then enables you to estimate your own travel budget.The site also provide travel tips, accommodation options, tour reviews, and other helpful budget travel information.
Budgeting apps like Trail Wallet were specifically created for travellers to keep track of their expenses. Trail Wallet is used by over 150,000 travellers and is endorsed by many travel bloggers including Nomadic Matt, the guru of budget travel. The app has also been featured on Lonely Planet, Huffington Post, Qantas and other leading travel sites.
It is simple and easy to use. You can set a daily budget and record your purchases which are tallied up daily, weekly or at the end of your trip. You can also see what you are spending your money on and whether you are on budget. Keeping track of your spending will allow you to make simple adjustments to ensure your travel budget doesn’t blow out and send you home earlier.
4. Budget Accommodation
Budget Accommodation Options
Hostels Today Are For Every Type Of Traveller. Accommodation and eating out can be expensive, and you may want to research budget stays in hostels or consider Couchsurfing. Hostels today aren’t just for backpack-sweaty teenagers. Baby-boomers are travelling more and for longer. Many hostels have private rooms with their own ensuite. Couples and middle-aged travellers are embracing these comforts and bringing a new demographic to hostels.
Hostels have fully-equipped kitchens and communal areas where you can store food, cook meals and eat with others. While you may be tempted to grab a burger, put your efforts in to cooking in a hostel kitchen and it’s more than likely you will make new travel friends and save money at the same time.
Budget travellers rely on the goodness of others through global sites like Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing website is a community of over 14 million like-minded travellers that connect with members to find a place to stay for free. It is the perfect way to meet locals, make lifelong friends and discover new cities. You can repay the favour and become a Couchsurfing host when you return home.
New members to Couchsurfing may find it a little difficult to get started. A Couchsurfing host relies on member reviews. Until you build up your profile, it is wise to attend a local Couchsurfing hook-up before you leave home to connect with other Couchsurfers who will add you to their profiles and vouch for you within the network. With over 200,000 cities offering Couchsurfing around the globe, there are many cities that run weekly Couchsurfing dances and language classes, dinners and other activities through its global network.
Pro Tip: “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Unknown.
5. Save More, Travel More
Frugal Money Saving Tips
Here are some simple frugal living tips to help grow your bank account and kick start your travel fund. Let me show you how I travel more and for longer.
Firstly, if you haven’t given up smoking, quit today. Your health and wallet will love you for it! Know how much you are spending on booze and cut back a little. Your liver could do with a rest!
Cut Back On Coffee and Bottled Water
These days most of us enjoy a daily barista coffee or two. Calculate how many coffees you buy a week and half it. You’ll be surprised how much money you will save. Stop buying water and drink from the tap. It is unlikely that you live in a third world country where fresh water isn’t available. Dine at home on budget homemade meals and give up your favourite snacks like sushi and chocolate bars.
If you live alone and have a spare room, rent it out and share the living costs. Make sure your new tenant also likes to cook and there will be less need to dine out. Cook double the amount and have leftovers for lunch or the next dinner.
Owning A Car Vs Public Transport
Weigh-up the benefits and costs of owning a car. If you live near public transport sell your car and embrace public transport like you do when you are travelling. If you live in an apartment block and have a spare garage or storage space, place an ad in your building as often tenants are looking to hire an additional carpark.
Stop all your monthly subscriptions including Netflix and Spotify and watch free programs online. A smartphone is an excellent travel buddy however the plan that it keeps company with can be very expensive.
Cheaper Mobile Plans
Review your mobile plan, there are big savings out there. My Telstra plan was costing $100 + a month. Over a year ago, I switched to a Kogan Mobile 365 Days Pre-Paid Plan (Vodaphone provider) that includes unlimited standard calls and text plus 40GB data over 30 days for $315.10. That’s only $25.90 per 30 days. My annual mobile expense went from $1,200+ to $315.10 per annum, a saving of $884.90.
Keep an eye out for a great mobile deal like this one, they often pop-up. Kogan operates under the Vodaphone coverage which has been good and Kogan’s online service is brilliant. No one needs a landline these days, ditch it!
6. Utilise Your Skills and Earn $$$$
7. No Transaction Fee Credit Cards
Travel Credit Cards
Cut up your credit card and live within your means is the best advice anyone can give you. But, in saying that I wouldn’t travel overseas without a credit card. The travel credit card I use is 28 Degrees. There are no foreign transaction fees on purchases when travelling or purchases online, currency conversion fees or an annual fee. One of the best 28 Degrees features is it comes with free global wi-fi to more than 1 million hotspots around the world.
8. The Green Trip | Conscious Travel
Learning how to reduce, reuse and recycle will teach you how to save and will have a positive effect on the environment. Buy only the food you need, choose products with less packaging, repurpose what you have rather than buy a new replacement.
Sell anything you no longer like or need on Buy and Sell sites on Facebook, Gumtree and Craigslist Buy. There are hundreds of items online that people are giving away for free. Think before you buy, look for second-hand goods, last minute deals, coupons and special offers. Every little bit helps to achieve your overall goal and get you travelling sooner.
Live Like A Local | Be An Environment Friend
It is much easier to live and eat like a local when your accommodation has all the mod cons as at home. There’s something very alluring about visiting a farmer’s market when you are on holiday. Shopping at local produce markets is where you will fall in love with the local foods and get to talk directly to the farmers about their produce and farming in the region. Sampling mouth-watering locally grown and produced foods is a travel must. Don’t forget to bring a reusable bag for purchases.
Did you know when you choose to partake in earth friendly green activities when travelling such as yoga, snorkelling, scuba diving, paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming, hiking, cycling and nature watching that you are helping that country’s environment. The best tours are usually the ones that employ local guides.
9. Slow Travel Benefits
Become A Tortoise Traveller
Travelling can be exhausting particularly if you are moving from one country to another. Seasoned travellers know the benefits of mindful, low-impact, ‘Slow Travel’. The short definition or principles of ‘Slow Travel’ or ‘Slow Living’ is the art of pacing and immersing yourself with people, culture, food and everything else.
Slow travel is more about the ‘journey’ rather than a traditional busy travel itinerary which will have you racing to see everything. There’s nothing right or wrong about Fast or Slow travel, however there is something to be said about taking the slow route. The slower traveller takes time to enjoy each destination and is open to experiencing the wonderful things each place offers. Spending more time in one place allows you to thoroughly explore and connect with an area without having to move accommodation or transport your luggage.
10. Stopover Destinations
Take Your Time To Get There
There are many ways to find the cheapest Europe flights. One option is a long layover or stopover in another country without incurring any extra flight costs. Taking the longest transit stops often are the cheapest flights. You can use a stopover to break up long-haul flights and treat yourself to a few days of rest and relaxation before your next connecting flight.
11. Save With Holiday Packages
Travel Search Engine Vacation Bundles
Slow travel often works out cheaper as travellers tend to opt for more cost-efficient flights and accommodation like apartments, Airbnb and holiday rentals. When booking flights consider purchasing a holiday packages that includes flights, accommodation and car hire. There can be big savings to be made by taking up these type of offers with travel companies such as Expedia.
Another advantage of slow travel is you can plan your accommodation around your laundry days. Staying a few days in one place will allow you enough time to wash and dry your clothes which also means you can pack less.
12. Researching Airfares
Learn How and When To Book Flights
Buying a plane ticket can be exciting, frustrating and time consuming. The price of your ticket will vary of your level of patience and the time you have to research fares. There are hundreds of ways to book an air-ticket based and this will depend on your level of travel experience and knowledge of the travel industry.
13. How To Book International Flights
My go-to-booking-site is Skyscanner or directly through my preferred airlines. Occasionally, I purchase an awesome deal and take advantage of it, if my calendar permits. If you must fly within certain dates, then it’s a good idea to book between two to four weeks before your departure date. Aim to travel outside of high seasons and major events like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year to avoid crazy holiday travellers, busy airports and the risk of being bumped off over booked flights.
Sites like Skyscanner, Webjet, Momondo, Expedia and Google Flights are considered reliable online travel websites. Travel booking sites like these are easy to use and will prompt you to enter your specific dates and multiple destinations. From the information you enter, a list of airlines, times and prices will appear on the screen for you to choose from. Prices vary based on date, departing airports and the number of stops made.
Skyscanner is my favourite airline search engine for booking both my domestic and international flights.
9. Bonus Tips to Booking Cheaper International Flights in 2020
1. Know When to Book!
The time frame for booking the cheapest international flights often depends on your destination. Generally, airline fares around the globe are best booked closer to your departure date. Air tickets are most often cheaper two weeks before the departure date.
2. Sign Up to Skyscanner Price Alerts
This free tool will send you the best flight deals and price alerts directly to your email box based on the flight routes you are monitoring. The tool lets you know when prices are lower or rising.
3. Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates
Purchasing cheaper flights can sometimes be as simple as changing your travel dates by a day or two. This can save you hundreds of dollars. The Skyscanner search engine panel allows you to search the whole month and will show you which days are the cheapest to fly
4. Search for Individual Flights Rather Than as a Couple or Group
Often there are cheaper flights available when single seats are vacant throughout an airplane. Purchase your individual tickets and at the checkout you will be given the opportunity to select your seats together. You may need to pay for your seat selection, but it is worth paying a little extra to get your preferred seat.
5. Know Where To Fly!
Travelling to a country with low currency is a popular choice for budget travellers. Who hasn’t typed into Google ‘cheapest country to visit’ for the answer! There are many affordable overseas destinations like Los Angeles, Sri Lanka, Poland, Baltic States, Athens and Rome. These are often as cheap as South East Asia and China. Setting up airline price alerts can help you snag a great flight deal.
6. Booking Your Tickets in Advance
To finalise your booking, you will be required to complete your personal details and pay the full amount by debit or credit card. Check that your name on your ID matches the name on your passport and ticket. After your purchase you will most likely receive an email confirmation to your nominated email address. Save your confirmation in your travel wallet app or in notes on your mobile phone. Some travellers prefer to print airline confirmations to present at the airline check-in counter.
7. Take Advantage of Red Eye Flights
Flights leaving after 9pm and arriving before 5am are called ‘Red Eye Flights’. Most passengers avoid red-eye flights preferring to get a good night’s sleep in their own beds. There are many reasons to consider red-eye flights the next time you fly. Tickets are often cheaper, planes are often under capacity and less busy, fewer passengers means more cabin and carry-on space.
8. Airline Bumping
If you are new to travel you most probably have not heard about ‘bumping’. When you purchase an airline ticket it does not guarantee you a seat on your booked flight. The majority of airlines overbook each plane to compensate for ‘no-show’ passengers. Although, you need to be aware that bumping does exists, it rarely happens. From decades of ticketing data, airlines are able to accurately predict how many tickets to sell per flight.
On rare occasions, this fails, and some passengers are denied boarding. When this does happen, the airline will seek out passengers to voluntarily give up their seat and switch to another flight. Should you consider volunteering your seat make sure you ask when the next flight is and how you are going to be compensated. This is especially important if you are required to stay overnight at a hotel. The airline should pick up the tab for your taxis, meals and accommodation.
9. Claim Compensation for Your Flight Cancellation or Delay
If no one puts up their hand the airline has the right to choose, and the bumped passengers are put on the next available flight to the same destination. Passengers delayed from travelling internationally, generally receive an airline travel voucher or some form of compensation. It is worth requesting cash as some travel vouchers are loaded with a number of terms and conditions. Some airlines offer lucrative rewards to bumped passengers such as upgrades to business or first class or entry to their airline lounge.
AirHelp, a company that assists passengers with airline compensation can help you in these sorts of circumstances including assistance if your flight is delayed or cancelled.
Travel Planning Resources
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Book Your Flight
Rent A Car
RentalCars.com is where you will find the right car in the right place at the right price. It’s the best car rental site for comparing prices and offers.
My go-to-online accommodation search engine is Booking.com. With over 830,000 hotels, apartments, villas, resorts, guest houses and B&Bs, you will be spoilt for choice. They offer great rates, *free cancellation, no reservation fees and best prices are guaranteed. Through the booking site you have access to customer reviews, special offers and great deals. Plus, each accommodation is shown by location and photos, so you know exactly what to expect.
Save $35 with this Airbnb coupon code and learn the best way to find cheap Airbnb accommodation around the world. Check my Go Travel eBook for more accommodation pro tips.
Protect You and Your Belongings
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