Budgeting for Major Trips

For those who know me you know that travel is among my favourite pass times. For those of you who don’t I am an avid adventurer and world traveler. I am trying my best to see as much of the world as I can. This is a real challenge though, for years I have been in school and have had minimal income. By minimal I do mean minimum wage. Working part time offers the advantages of flexible schedules but sadly doesn’t provide a lot of cash to spare.

Scaling the  Roman walls in Istanbul, TurkeyOne thing I have learned from my travels is that if something is important to you, no matter what the project, you have to plan to accommodate it.  It may appear to be a big commitment with low returns for some. My advice? Great experiences or projects come at a cost: time and money but projects that are important to us are worth the cost.

CLAS390 was probably my favourite class in my entire career as a student.  My classical history classes were always among my favourites; I never had a problem getting up early for Roman Society or staying awake for Greek Lit like I did for say, accounting. CLAS390 was more than class though; it was an experience. Treading through long abandoned ancient cities, once home to the civilizations on the pages of my textbooks, provided a whole new understanding of the content and the people.  The pictures and rhetoric in even the best text books don’t provide the same perspective as receiving a lecture standing in the presence of an Olympian temple.

CLAS 390 was an amazing experience and it gave me a deeper connection to the material I loved.  I don’t for a minute regret the expense, what I do regret is not planning appropriately for it.  Since that trip to Turkey in 2010 I have been refining my trip planning skills.  My last adventure was a two month trip to the southern hemisphere.  So how does one travel around for 2 months? Well I didn’t just pick up and head south.  It took me a year to save for this trip and build a budget that would allow me to do all the awesome things.  There were three parts to my financial planning that were important to ensuring this

Budget SheetFirst, my saving budget was built to help me save when I also had to worry about rent, groceries, and here and now expenses of the pre-trip.  Figure out how much incoming money you will have before your planned trip and the best way for you to track it. I am an excel junky so my weapon of choice has always been a good spread sheet. You want to fill in all the things you need, and remember to include some of the things you don’t need so much but that make life a little better.  You might want to cut back on your late nights out but you don’t have to cut out a few drinks with friends every so often just to go on vacation.

The second budget was designed to get the most out of the trip without saddling me with a mountain of debt.  As it turns out you cannot travel without thinking about the numbers, unless you are unbelievable rich, which I am not.  I broke this trip down to every detail with my trusty Excel spreadsheets I crunched the numbers for accommodation, transportation, food and fun.  It is not as boring as it sounds and it will help you, trust me. Now your limits for each of these things will vary based on how successfully you save. It is important to give you self-room to splurge, there is no point heading to Australia and not diving on the Great Barrier Reef or to France and not trying a fancy French restaurant at least once.

Dr. Hardiman Lecturing in Roman Ruins, TurkeyThe last thing was my will power.  I dutifully saved but could I stick to the budget? It was tough at times, balancing indulgent tendencies with my carefully laid out game plan.  I did end up going a bit over but not unreasonably so.  During my trip to Turkey & Europe two years ago I had no game plan and while the trip was fantastic my wallet took a big hit. I was paying off my trip long after it ended and that is the last thing you want. Building a solid financial plan is less of a headache and will help you get a lot more fun out of you trip, trust me.

Well once you have yourself a budget to help you make the most of your vacation you are ready to go.   All of this is not meant to hinder your exploration of new worlds.  The purpose is to help you with your primary goal of your travels: having a great time.  The trick is not to overdo it. You want responsible financing but not suffocating rules. With a little fore thought you can make the most of you experience and the least of you stress.  Now get out there and have an adventure.

Laura Thurston is a world traveler, blogger, and recent graduate of the Masters of Digital Experience Innovation program at UW. Find out more about her amazing journeys and how to plan for your own by talking with her on Twitter






Leave a Reply