Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Travel Tips Series : 1 - How to budget your travel expenses

For those new to travel planning, leaving it all up to a travel agent might seem like the way to go. But if you have a bit of patience and the will to do extensive research before your trip, you might be able to go to your dream destinations well within your budget.

In this post I shall talk about the basics of travel budget. In posts that follow I shall focus on some specific cities/countries to give you an idea of how I plan my expenses.

Travelling on a budget does not necessarily mean being cheap. It is meant to allow you to get the most value out of your expenses. Before you even begin to make your budget, you should have a clear idea about your travel plans. Where do you want to go and what is the duration of the stay at each destination?



Breakdown of expenses:

1. The fixed expenses:
The fixed expenses involve all things that are required just to be in your destination, that is what you will spend even if you do not eat anything or visit a single attraction.
These would be:
a. The flight/train tickets to and from your home city, including all intercity transfers.
b.  For international travel, cost of visa, insurance, immunization requirements, etc.
c. Accommodation.
When I use the term 'fixed', I do not use it in the sense that the amount is constant. No. Flight tickets and in many countries, train tickets may be obtained much cheaper if bought well in advance. Usually return flights are cheaper than two one way flights. Accommodation costs will also vary greatly depending on the location and category of your choice. I use the term 'fixed' in the sense that these are the expenses that you will have to consider when you decide to take a vacation.

2. The daily expenses:
The daily expenses include
a. Intracity transfers, like going from your hotel to an attraction or from one attraction to the next.
b. Entry fees and tour costs.
c. Food.
This is where your background research will come in handy. Many city have tourist cards that offer great bargains to visitors. Often, choosing an accommodation that offers free breakfast allows you to save on food costs. Researching good cheap eats on the internet prior to you visit is also a great way to discovering good local restaurants where you will get better value for your money than at the more touristy places.

3. Miscellaneous expenses:
These can include anything from buying required toiletries or an umbrella to shopping for souvenirs.
While it is nice to set aside a budget for shopping, other expenses under this head can be reduced by planning ahead. Do a background check on what the weather is like at your destination at the time of your visit. Do you need a jacket? An umbrella? What kind of shoes and clothing? If the tap water is safe to drink, carrying a water bottle with you will help you save the cost of buying packaged water each time. Pack a medicine kit and a toiletries kit. Not only might these things be expensive at your destination, they might not even stock the brands you use. I once pulled a back muscle from running around with my backpack and had to go into a German pharmacy where I not only ended up paying a lot more than what I pay for sprain medication in India but the ointment burned on my skin and was generally terribly uncomfortable to use.

These are the heads I always consider while planning my travel expenditure.

Till next time,
Happy Travelling.

What are your budget tips? How do you plan out your expenses? Share in the comments below.


Travel Tips Series: