Getting Started: How much money do I need to travel?

It may be overwhelming deciding how much money you need to travel.

Will it cost $10,000 for a year? $1000 for a week? How much do I actually need to travel?


Here is a step-by-step guide to walk you through figuring out the golden number.

1. Travel Itinerary. Decide on what kind of travel you’re looking for.  You want to take a trip around the world, but do you want to see cities, rural areas or go to the middle of nowhere?  Are you planning to fly?  How will you travel within countries?  Get an idea of what you want to see.

2. Cost. Now that you’ve figured out where you want to go, get some real-life estimates on what travel in those areas costs.  You may be surprised to find that although traveling in the developing world may be inexpensive, visas are not.  Factor in unavoidable costs like visas and registration stamps in addition to lodging, food, souvenirs and transportation.

3. Re-evaluate your Itinerary. Now that you’ve seen how much things cost, you’re probably experiencing a bit of sticker shock.  Take a step back and think about why you want to go to those areas.  Are there countries that are less expensive that will give you the same experience?  For example, if you want to go to Europe and experience the cities, what about switching out some of the expensive countries in western Europe for those in eastern Europe?  You’ll save a few euros and can have a similar experience.

4. Time. How long do you want to travel for?  Traveling for a three months requires a different type of budgeting than wanting to spend 10 years overseas.  Are you planning to come home after your trip? Are you planning to have a working holiday?  Are you under time constraints (a one year sabbatical limit from work, or a friend’s wedding?)

5. Re-evaluate your Itinerary. Yup, there it is again.  Now that you’ve thought about time, you’re probably looking at your itinerary wondering if you can fit it all in.  Sure you can, but honestly do you want to be on the move all the time? Prioritize and cut back.

6. Show me the money. Hopefully at this point you’ve followed some of our making a budget tips and have already taken a good account of how much you spend each month.  What’s a feasible amount to put aside?  Can you cut back any expenses right now to save more money for your trip?  Take a hard look at your current financial situation and make a plan.

7. Money makes the world go around. Now that you’ve planned an itinerary, done your homework, tracked your spending and  hopefully found some areas you should be in a place where you have a good idea of how much money it will take to achieve your goal.

One last piece of advice…

Save more, spend more. Once you get into the swing of things, saving can be easy.  You’ll be thankful that you saved extra money when you’re thinking about taking that dive trip in Egypt you swore you could do without, or wrestling with laying out the money for that special, but expensive safari you promised yourself you didn’t need.  Plan for more money than you need, you’ll be glad you did.

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