Travelling on a Budget – Part 2. Planning.
Whilst I can’t share with you knowledge of taking a year out and packing up your life, job and saying goodbye to your loved ones and setting off with your round the world ticket. I can share a few personal notes on how you can see the world without saying goodbye to all your precious pennies. I am bound by my career at the moment, as much as I would love to become a nomad it just isn’t practical right now. Our trips are usually what we can fit into annual leave and weekends leave. So for us it always works out that little bit more expensive as we cannot hop from place to place, we have to come home in between.
I find it hard to put a price on ‘budget’, it’s so personal and I can’t put a numerical figure on it. My budget is a nurse’s wages, my partner is student income and we meet in the middle when we travel. Budget also depends on the country, I found Australia so so so expensive, where as China was really cheap. Jordan was of a similar price to my homeland (UK). Also, it depends on your hobbies and your expectations. The purpose of my travel is to experience culture and natural beauty.
The most important part of saving those pennies on your trip is PLANNING. I can plan anything to death. My plans are flexible but practical.
Remember the P’s – Proper prior planning prevents p**s poor performance.
In no particular order, some things to ponder over whilst planning your next trip.
The sometimes ‘forgotten’ expenses – Right. You’ve booked your flight, now you need a visa. Obviously, Visa requirements vary depending on your country of origin and destination but the important thing is, the cost. For a Brit, a China Visa can cost around £90 compared to an Australian Tourist visa which is free! You don’t want to find you’ve spent £400 on a flight and now have to fork out an extra £90 for a visa. Research your visas before you book those flights or you may fall short on your actual trip.
Entry and departure taxes can also trip you up, are they included in the airfare? Are they not? How do I know? If you’re flying with a big airline then more than likely they are included in your ticket cost but if you’re on an Easy Jet to Amman then you are looking at an extra £40 in departure tax!
Admission prices is something that we could have researched more before our trip to Jordan last summer. The main one being Petra, Jordanians 1JOD (£1), international visitors, a whopping £55! If you know in advance your entry costs you can save a few extra pounds but once your there you’re stuck!
Those ‘Oh, S**t’ moments – You’ve dropped your smartphone in the ocean, you think you’ve got Malaria and someone’s nicked your passport. Your trip of a lifetime could turn into a disaster. 1. Find some insurance, before you leave. 2. Do I need anti-malarial tablets, and for that matter any other inoculations? Look at this in good time, you may need courses of jabs. Have a chat with a practice nurse for the low down. 3. Good job you’d photocopied and backed-up online copies of all your ID.
Look for alternatives – If you’re a lone traveler or want to do something more meaningful with your time whilst still enjoying the culture then maybe try volunteering. You don’t just have to be a teacher or a healthcare worker. You just need to show a willingness and sometimes get your hands dirty. Building school blocks, water pumps, and if you’re not into humans than there’s plenty of animal conservation work. It may not be glamorous and the hair dryer will need to stay at home!
(Ghana Voluntary Work 2008 – School Block, Me second from bottom :))
Meet the experts – There are tons of destination experts out there that are on standby ready to help you plan your trip, whether it is help with an itinerary, transport and accommodation, where to eat, anything really. Someone will have the answer. Trip adviser forum, lonely planet forum, personal blogs etc. If you know at least one decent restaurant on the same street as your hotel before you go then that’s a start, having an idea of local buses and trains, scams and tourist traps, the best snorkeling spots. All saves you finding out the hard way.
Travel in the ‘Off Season’ – I wouldn’t suggest going to somewhere in the midst of the monsoon rains or in the lows of -30 Degrees Celsius but sometimes going in the off season gives low air fares and accommodations and best of all you get most attractions to yourself. Obviously research in depth before you commit to an off season holiday. Ramadan in the Middle East may not lend itself to a westerner but having the Great Wall of China to yourself is most definitely a bonus!
Gold star if you managed to read to the end, I thought by having 4 wisdom teeth that would have imparted some wisdom on me, but this is as good as it gets. There you have it, Allies top tips to help you see the world on a budget.