Thursday, July 30, 2009

Around the World Travel Guide Part 2 [Budget / Culling]


Helpful Tips for Planning a Year Long Trip Around the World Part 2
[Budget / Culling]


So you have a list of all the many places you’d like to go do you? Unfortunately, unless you just won your local lottery’s ten million dollar jackpot, you probably don’t have the cash to see everything all at once. And this is quite possibly the most unfortunate thing about travel. You’ve made the time commitment, you’ve accepted you’ll be living out of bag for far longer than any normal individual ever would, and yet you’re restricted by something as trivial as money.

I know people who have toured the world very cheap by sneaking on cargo ships, or hopping on whatever flight came their way for courier services. But I do not recommend these options, and as such will not go into detail on them. The information is out there though.

Other people have worked their way around the world, which seems legitimate, provided you’re on the up and up and have the proper requirements. But, once again, I will not go into this either. If you’re planning to travel you’ll hardly have enough time to see what you can between sunup and sundown – add a work day into that, and you’ll find you’re just making money to get by, seeing very little.

Create a Budget
Step one is to create a budget. Now, I can not stress enough how important this is. I recommend opening up an excel spreadsheet, but a sheet of paper works just fine – it just becomes a lot messier after the third and fourth edit.

At the top of your spreadsheet write down two numbers. The first is the amount of money you’d like to spend on your trip, best case scenario. The second number in the most amount of money you’d be willing to spend. Be honest. If you’re not honest in your budgeting then the whole process is a waste.

If you want a one year trip, you can do it for as little as $20 000CAD (all prices are in Canadian Dollars, unless otherwise noted.) but if you plan on seeing all seven continents you might be looking at anywhere from $35 000 – $100 000 dollars.

Now look at that number, and look at the list of destinations you’ve created, imagine how many flights would be required to jump from place to place, imagine how many nights you’d need to spend in each location. Think about how much food you’ll eat. And now create a rough estimate of how much that will cost.

A good way to rough out your budget is as follows
Each Flight = 600 dollars
Food for a Day = 20 dollars
Place to Sleep = 250 dollars (good hotel) / 100 dollars (hotel) / 40 dollars (hostel)

So if you are planning a year long trip, and you’re looking to hostel that would run 14600 for the year, food would be 7300, and if you want to go to twenty countries that would run 12000 for a grand total of just under 34 000.

There are a few things to take into account here, because this is by no means a perfect list. In most cases it’s actually high balling the estimates.

Flights
Discount Flights exist everywhere, but Europe is notorious for them. A hop from one country to another might only cost you 100 dollars. If you get a really good deal you could find yourself flying from Paris to Greece for 50 dollars.

Unfortunately, some flights will take a chunk out of you. Keep in mind that prices of flights have very little to do with how far you’re travelling and more to do with a mystical alchemy, beyond the comprehension of mortal man or woman. The day you buy tickets, the time you buy them, how many other people have bought tickets – these things all come into play. I have seen a girl pay fifty dollars more than her boyfriend, because he was one person in line of her. By the time she got there, forty seconds later, the price had jumped.

There is a somewhat simple way to find a good deal though, get to know airline routes. If Air Canada only has two flights a week to South Africa, but Berlin Air has 20 – guess which will be cheaper?

I mention this, because until I found Berlin Air my flight to South Africa was looking to cost 2400. I’ve since cut that in half. Even still, you can see that that is far more than the 600 dollars you’ve roughed in.

By mixing expensive, and discount flights together, it should all work out.

Food
You know how much you eat. Perhaps you’ll be fine with a box of cereal for a week. If that’s the case your food budget will be far less. Perhaps you want to eat at a five star restaurant. If that’s the case you’ll need to budget more. And think about the destinations. You can eat well in South East Asia for 3.00 a day. You can get by in North America for about 10.00 a day, if you know where to go. Europe can run you 13.00 for a Big Mac meal at McDonalds – heaven forbid you want to eat three meals a day.

But depending on how long you spend in each area, the prices should even out to around 20.00 a day.

Roof Over Head
Do you want to stay in a hotel or a hostel? This will be discussed more in a future article – but for now, it’s important to know that these prices differ tremendously from one town to the next, let alone one continent to the next.

If you’re planning on staying in North America or Europe (in major city centres) a hostel will run about 40 dollars a night. But in South East Asia you can get a hotel for 10 dollars.

The best idea is to look at some prices, and further rough that information in where you can. Be aware prices will shift depending on who you book through, when you book, if you book online, etc.

Culling the List
Now that you know how much you want to spend, and how much it will cost to see all the many places it’s time to make some tough choices. Unless, of course, you find your estimate, and your budget match up. In which case that’s fantastic! Time to move on to the next step.

But for most people, some places will need to be cut.

Do not just cut the most expensive place. That might seem obvious, but if that’s the one destination in the world you want to see, then leave it in! Cut three others, instead.

Look at your destination list, and put a star beside the “MUST VISIT” locations. Then rank all others from 1 – 5. Once you’ve put the thought into what really matters, think about how long you’d like to stay in each location. Once you’re armed with this information you can get a better estimate of how much sleeping arrangements, food, and transportation will cost. Perhaps you’ll find the trip will be far less expensive than you thought only moments before, and you can start adding some back.

Just do not cut the must sees. Even if they cost a quarter of your budget, for just three weeks, leave them in. This is your trip – and it will cost a fortune regardless. Make sure you see everything you want.

Next up
In the next part we’ll look at the difference between hotels and hostels. The pros and cons of each will be listed. Perhaps you’ll find yourself drawn from one to the other, or learn a little something more about the benefits of where you choose to lay your head for the night.

Jump to other Parts
0. Index / Summary
1. Planning Destinations
2. Budget / Culling
3. Hotels vs Hostels
4. Internet Research
5. Tour Groups / Solo Travel
6. Important Travel Gear
7. Packs / Packing
8. Medical Requirements
9. Saying Goodbye / Staying Connected
10. No Fear Travel
Bonus: Overlooked Travel Tips and Tricks

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