Don’t Break the Travel Budget

2015-12-01 09.07.47

Duty Free its a spending trap avoid at all costs

So how much do you spend where you are on vacation? For most people it is in well excess of what you spend outside of your normal daily life because its you damn vacation.

In North America where the average person gets 2 weeks a year it is where a lot of money is saved up for. So it is no surprise that budgeting takes a back seat when you are in vacation mode abroad.

When you are traveling for a few months or longer than that changes everything. It means doing all those cool things from paragliding to scuba diving are a cost benefit analysis.

Traveling on a budget according to trip advisor at least on where to sleep is about $30 USD a night although this is dependent on the countries and the exchange rate.

I’ve found that while apps are great to track spending it is your habits that will decide whether you can stick to a budget. In my almost 3 years of travel I’ve kept a running account of my daily spending.

By simply writing everything down I am more aware of what I spend and that can begin to change how you approach your journey and the costs.

I just keep travel of everything I spend, in the beginning I used a spreadsheet but that quickly vanished when my notebook computer was stolen (it was my stupid fault but that is another story involving me, a thai girl and beer pong).

Then I started keeping track of my spending the old fashion way by writing it down in a notebook. After a few months that got chaotic because over time it just begins to feel like scribbles, basically it was a mess.

So I found out that Google had something called Google Keep which was basic note taking app. It was simple, visual, allowed you to create lists and colour code notes.

I thought it was perfect for me, I had an Android smart phone so it was simple to use and it made it easier to scan through my spending. I don’t keep track of my spending beyond the day-to-day because it is basically about minimizing it.

Since I am traveling for an extended time I really don’t want to know how much I am spending overall but looking at it day-to-day I can see where I am spending and what I can cut out or reduce.

I don’t spend money on alcohol which saves me ton, I’ve gone from 3 meals a day to two, transport is mostly on foot or in Thailand I did it by bike and I focus my time on doing one thing (in Thailand it was muay thai) and only one thing.

Writing what you spend keeps you honest, by spending less day-to-day I’ve saved a lot and been able to cover expenses when emergencies arise without it having a huge impact on my monetary situation.

Getting an app with categories and that can do conversion would be great but in the end the FX rates change so often the longer I’ve traveled the less important it becomes.

Being frugal helps me to take the hit on the exchange and even though I can’t do all the cool things that a lot of travelers do, It means I can keep my journey up for months or even years longer than many others and until I can find my path, my way through the chaos that trumps all.

I don’t have a set amount I’ve put to spend daily mostly because it is about seeing how low I can get it. If I put a number to what I can spend I would keep under it but then I would get used to it.

Sometimes I spend nothing, other times I spend more but by being flexible I’ve been able to keep it well below the daily spending that trip advisor and not have rarely felt like I was missing out on anything in any significant way.

I know that is the only reason why I will be able to travel for years instead of months and that to me is worth the time and a relief to my wallet. This isn’t probably meant for those who can afford it but I’ve found that discipline and consistency are keys.

For me personally I would call them my superpower and ones I will exploit to their absolute limit because it means I can keep going awhile longer and that is worth the effort and the knowledge gained by just writing what I spend down every day.