Money is one of the biggest factors for travelling. You obviously need money to afford everything on your trip. I always make a budget but in the end, I always end up spending more. Like Leonard Snart from The Flash says “Make the plan. Execute the plan. Expect the plan to go off the rails. Throw away the plan.”
Experience helps to improve my budgeting. Here are some of my tips on keeping the balance between an epic trip and staying on budget.
#1. Make a realistic budget
There’s no point making a budget if it’s not realistic. If your trip is 7 days in Paris, your budget should consider the days you’re in Paris and the cost of things in Paris. This includes doing your research on how much the travel passes, average prices on the restaurants you’re planning to eat in, tickets to the museums or activities you’re planning to go to etc. Also, consider adding extra for spontaneous and unexpected things. I’ve been to a lot of situations where I find something awesome and spend on things that I didn’t take into account on my budget.
#2. Buy long-lasting but affordable travel gears
I bought a Deuter Futura 32L bag back in 2015. It has a hefty price tag but I’ve saved up for it. I was planning to buy a good bag that I know I can use for a long time. I used this as my cabin bag for my 18hour flight from Manila to London, 6-hour return trip from London to Barcelona and a coach ride from London to Belgium. It’s an amazing bag. I can pack a lot into it and it has nice support so it’s still comfortable even though it’s packing a lot of stuff inside.
I also bought a Xiaomi Action Camera mid-2015. I still use this to date and is still amazing. It’s no Go Pro but I’ve taken a lot of amazing photos and videos with it. From amazing sceneries, mountains, underwear and aerial. The case and monopod is a bit rusty now – mainly because I forget to rinse it with clean water after dunking it on salt water for hours. Maintenance of gears is also important!
#3 Groceries are your friend
I’m always prepared to try local delicacies and have a fancy meal at a top-rated restaurant. I, however, don’t always have the budget for this. I just go for the absolutely must-tries and most recommended ones.
For some breakfasts and dinners, I buy food from the groceries. My go-to’s are biscuits, bread, fruits and pot noodles if I have access to a kettle or microwave. Most hostels have this so it’s rarely a problem. Some people I’ve met in hostels actually buy rice, pasta, meat etc and cook it on the hostel if they allow cooking. They said it’s common for youth hostels and they’ve done it loads of times. It helps them save more than half of what they’ll normally spend on a restaurant. I haven’t tried this yet but I’m gonna make this as one of my challenges for next year.
#4 Go for hostels
If you’re a solo traveller, hotels can be quite pricey. Most Airbnb rooms are also priced for two people so it’s quite hard to find a good deal. Hostels can save you a lot of money – if you’re not bothered by sleeping in the same room with strangers. Getting the top bunk bed is also an issue for some people.
I’ve stayed in hostels a few times already and didn’t have that much problems. I’ve actually met a few people and travelled with them, shared a taxi fare and became my travel buddies for some trips.
#5 Consider travelling via coach
Travelling via coach is also something I’ve tried a few times. I travelled via coach to get from Livepool to London (and vice versa) while I was in uni so it wasn’t a big deal for me. The cost is also a lot cheaper compared to train and airplane. It also cuts the cost of getting a ride from London city centre to far away airports like Gatwick and Luton.
I always get an overnight ride. I depart at around 9pm (after I’ve had my dinner and ready to sleep) then arrive in the morning. I just sleep through the ride at night. Be aware though that some coaches crossing Dover to Calais go via a ferry. This means you have to get off the coach and into the passenger areas of the ferry. This has a duty free, restaurants, Starbucks and couches to sleep in. I find this very inconvenient as I can’t sleep properly.
You also need to stop a few times for passport checks and security checks on your luggage.
If you have other tips to stay on budget, please don’t hesitate to post them in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!
Budget is important but having fun and making memories is the still the goal. I’ve had experiences where I skipped some activities because I want to save my money for something else. These moments always bother me and regret not doing it. I can always earn money but I can’t always have the opportunity to experience those moments again. Lessons learned. Not gonna let it happen again.