After 1 month of working and hiking in Bansko, Bulgaria, it's time for the Review! Our detailed budget, our feelings about the coworking and much more
Welcome on our page dedicated to travel budgets! Budgets and me are a long story... I don't know, since I was a little girl I've always liked numbers and so it's only natural that from our very first trips I scrupulously started to track all our daily expenses.
Personally, I always like to know roughly what to expect in terms of budget before leaving on a trip. And that's precisely why I decided to share all our numbers.Not everyone travels the same way, so it is often difficult to make averages. But by being 100% transparent with you on our numbers but also on the type of trip it should help you to situate yourself.... You are ready to travel rather "cheap"? Remove a few percentages from our averages... and if on the contrary you want more comfort, add a little "bonus comfort" margin to our budgets ;)
Map of our travel budgets around the world
I have kept our travel budget in almost all our destinations and for the vast majority of them I have prepared country- or region-specific posts. On the map below you will find all the countries for which such articles exist.
Here is the map with the blog posts with all our travel budgets:
Why writing down your travel expenses is useful?
Writing down your expenses is by no means an obligation, but I have to admit that for me it has become an automatic process. In fact, it is not even just a "budgeting" but also simply a desire to know where we stand with our money.
When we go on holiday we often tend to indulge ourselves (and that's all right), but when we left on a round-the-world trip I was still damn happy to have tracked down the our expenses.... If we don't keep an eye on the budget we can quickly find ourselves making a little extra 10€. So I'll stop you right now, an extra 10€ is obviously not a big deal, but on the scale of an 18-month trip, 10€ extra every day represents more than 5000€ extra at the end of the trip.
Anyway, do you see where I' m going with this? Keeping a budget is by no means turning into a gripsou that pays attention to every penny, but it is rather a way to keep control by accepting that some days "we blow up the budget" for an activity that is important to us or a good meal, but that we may compensate by other days "quieter" in terms of costs.
Methods to keep track of your budget
There are many ways to stay in line with your travel budget.... And I must admit that at this level we are full of contrasts! In reality we are real small geeks and we love using apps (and even coding some ourselves) but strangely for the budget I stayed very... classic let's say! :)
A pen & a little notebook always with me and every evening (or when I think about it) I write it all down in an excel sheet...
What does this excel sheet look like? It hasn't changed much since the beginning, I must say!
Here is a screenshot of my sheet "round-the-world trip"
As you can see I have created a tab for each country.... At the top I put our "theoretical budget" (here 21€ per day and per person for Vietnam) and the rough equivalent in the country's currency.
Then we find for each day the different expenses in local currency and then the total in local currency. I convert it then into euros according to the current rate and I make the difference with "our theoretical budget".
Note: at the time of our world tour I was not yet separating the restaurants from the shopping... But I actually find it more practical.... More details below!
The main sources of travel expenses
When I keep my budget I told you I do this on Excel. In order to organize myself, I use the following categories in my daily routine:
- Accommodation: here I enter the price of our hostel, night at the camping, etc...
- Shopping: Our groceries and basic shopping. Here I count everything that can be bought roughly at the supermarket and market (food that we cook, fruits, snacks, shower gel, deodorant, etc...). This is usually a point in the budget on which we do not try to make any special savings... we like to eat well and especially eat fresh products!
- Resto/Bar: In our budgets I distinguish between shopping and eating out for the simple reason that, in our opinion, a restaurant or an aperitif falls into the small extras category. So if I see that we are a little above our total budget, it is on this point that we will generally try to save...
- Transport: In this category I put all our transport costs once in the country (understand that I usually count separately the price to arrive in the country). Here you will find local transport, car rentals, scooter rentals, gasoline or the rare taxis or tuk-tuk.
- Visits & Extra: The funky category where I put our museum admissions, the entrance to a national park or even my small souvenir purchases.
You want to know more about our way of traveling?
Feel free to take a look at our book "Destination Tour du Monde" published by Helvetiq. This book, published in the spring of 2018, is a concentrate of useful tips and anecdotes to help you prepare the trip of a lifetime... This special project was born after a year of hard work and we are very proud to be able to offer a real book ito future travellers! It also talks about travel budget of course ;)
The book is currently available in french and german but will soon be translated in english
9 tips to save money while traveling
Travel slower - like the locals
While travelling it is often the rule: the faster you want to go, the more you spend! Direct flights are more expensive than flights with stopovers, direct tourist buses between 2 destinations are more expensive than local buses, going through an agency for a visa in 2 clicks is more expensive than queuing up at the embassy, etc.... There are many examples! Of course, sometimes it's nice to not "waste time" but don't forget that you're on holiday or even on a long trip: you have more than enough time!
Eating in the streets is the best way to save money
It is not a scoop, but eating in the same places as the locals and especially the same products is infinitely cheaper than wanting to eat "like at home" at all costs. Going on a trip is also about opening your mind and mouth to new flavours!
Moreover, we sometimes hear that some people prefer to choose "Western" dishes, especially in Asia because they are afraid of being sick.... But believe me, statistically it's easier to get sick by eating non-local food! For example a pizza or pasta with cheese can be risky depending on where you are... Yes, cheese is not in local habits and therefore the sales flow is not necessarily very important... and the respect of the cold chain a little uncertain! In short, sticking to local products is good for the stomach AND the wallet!
For excursions try to meet people
With Benoit we are not big fans of group excursions.... In general, we prefer to do it ourselves alone and independently, but there are still some visits where having a guide is mandatory / highly recommended. In these cases, we try as often as possible to form "our group" in advance with other travellers we had a good contact with and to go "together" to book our tour. The more people there are, the bigger the "negotiating power".
Walk... a lot!
Walking is a great way to save money! When we visit a city it is not uncommon at all for us to walk more than 20km in a day! Avoid taking a bus, taxi or tuk-tuk for "short" trips (everyone will find their definition... but for us if a restaurant / museum / park is less than 5-7km from where we are, we usually choose to walk)
Of course it also works for long hikes ;)
Avoid banking fees!
This is especially true for long-distance or regular travellers, but it is really important too! Many "classic" banks tend to take a fairly high commission for withdrawals abroad (often between €3 and €8 per withdrawal). Knowing that in many countries there is a withdrawal limit at distributors you can quickly find yourself making many withdrawals... Each time you pay the commission! Over 2 weeks of holidays the impact is quite minimal but on a long trip it can quickly cost you!
There are now several solutions such as online banks. If you want to know more about it, we invite you to read our article about the neo bank N26
Never book everything in advance
It can be reassuring to know precisely where you are going to sleep, what you are going to do with your days, etc... But believe me: booking everything in advance is often MORE expensive. We do indeed know in advance how much we will spend, but the total amount is generally higher!
An example? The hotels! We often book accommodation online, but in some countries or if we know we have time, then we will always prefer to search directly on the spot. Many small guesthouses or hostels are not necessarily present on the internet or if they are, they quickly tend to increase the online price to limit the impact of commissions taken by the platforms.
Ok... this point I have to admit that it's not everyone's cup of tea (and I have to admit that I was not a big fan of camping a few years ago). But I swear to you that camping is an excellent way to spend less, but most importantly it allows you to spend the night in totally different places, where you don't really find hotels (in this case I obviously refer more to bivouac than to 5* campings ;) )
Monitor flight prices
When travelling, fixed costs in the country can often be controlled quite easily, but to reach the total budget you must of course first arrive in the country... For faraway destinations, flying is often the first choice (even if cycling, train or buses are also a great idea).
But here I will focus on the plane because it is the most widely used and above all it is the one with the most variations in prices. To buy your flight the rule is generally to stay flexible on the dates, consider other departure cities close to your home or other destination cities (for example to go to Burma it is often much cheaper to take a flight to Bangkok and then to reach Burma by bus).
To find a cheap flight, on of the best website is still Skyscanner. You can see prices at different dates, include different departure/arrival airports but also add price alerts.
This last advice is more a summary of everything above, but really I promise you that it is our best advice! Stay open to change, accept the unknown and the unexpected, develop your curiosity and above all: relax! :)
On a trip there is often a lot going on... and promised, even the "bad surprises" often end up in good memories (or at worst in crispy anecdotes) ;)
How to estimate your travel budget?
Ah là là, to estimate your budget... The key to success, especially on the first few trips! Personally I was totally unable to imagine how much we would spend during our round-the-world trip before we left... Of course I had read on blogs that "on average" travelers spend about 1000€ per month, but how would we know if we were going to spend a similar amount?
Budget for a round-the-world trip
To prepare your round the world trip you can of course take a look at our round the world trip budget. Our numbers should already help you to get a good idea of what you could spend.
But after that, THE reference in terms of budget is the planning tool a-contresens! Seriously, this site is just a PEPITE for future travelers. More than a site, it is in fact a planning tool that allows you to estimate your budget based on the figures entered by other travelers. We are big fans of this platform from the beginning (we had already used it in 2013 when we were preparing our world tour). 5 years later we still use it, we add all our budgets to the database and the founder of this site has even become a very good friend. :)
Budget for holidays
For a holiday I often find it a little easier.... The shorter duration makes it easier to plan ahead and, it is also possible to adapt the destination in function of the budget "available". Then I would say that overall we tend to spend a little more when we are on holiday than when we are on a world tour. We have realized in the last few years that for us the difference was small, but still present. In short, if we go on holiday mode and not long-distance travel, we generally try to add 15%-20% of the budget to our predictions in order to offer ourselves more little extras (activities, visits or good restaurants).