This time we want to talk about our budget and how well we’ve been sticking to it. When we started planning for the trip we struggled a lot with how much to budget and how strict we should try to make it. We decided we didn’t want a very strict budget because we wanted to be able to roll with the punches and have the flexibility to go do things and enjoy experiences as they came up, but we needed some plan in order to make sure we wouldn’t go broke in a month. We used a lot of guidebooks and other blogs/websites to gauge how much we might spend in a country, and so far, we have been under budget.
We booked all our flights for Europe and nearly all our lodging before we left the States, so we knew most of the costs in those areas. One thing that has helped us some with our budget was the Brexit vote, while most of the people we have met around Europe and in the UK aren’t very happy about it, it has dropped the Euro and the British Pound, so the currency conversion is a little more in our favor. Cara and I want to make this trip last as long as we can, and since we’re not used a lavish lifestyle, it’s pretty easy for us to do things on the cheap while we travel.
Using guidebooks (Lonely Planet, Frommers, etc.) can give you a good estimate of how much you’ll spend dining out, but that is still the expensive way to go. Cara and I do a lot of cooking for ourselves (and we’ll have another post on ways to save money), but we aren’t afraid to go out to eat some. We just try to limit the number of times that we do it, and if we go out somewhere a little nicer, we wait a little longer until we do it again. Since we don’t have a rigid budget on what we are spending each day, we can feel free to go out to eat and pay for some museums or tours all in the same day, we just know that the next day we need to do the free stuff and eat at our home base or pack food with us. We also haven’t made budgets for places where we have free lodging, like England and Ireland, as lodging is normally the largest expense and we aren’t worried about that there. We just track the day to day expenses and try to keep them low.
A good reference has been our daily average for the trip, which is automatically calculated in our expense spreadsheet. We also know that based on our starting budget of $50,000 and that we want to travel for a year, we can average ~$135 a day. The average has been in the $90s for most of the trip, although that will drop by the end of our time in Ireland as we won’t have paid for lodging for about 2 months (with a few nights of exceptions). We know that Europe is expensive overall, so we have tried hard here to cut costs. We also know that the next leg of our trip in Africa will be relatively expensive as we are planning on climbing Kilimanjaro and doing a safari, but as we plan on spending a couple months in southeast Asia after that, we should bring the cost down again. If we can get out of Africa with the whole trip average around the ~$135 mark, we’ll be in really good shape for the rest of the trip.
For the most part we have stuck to free tours and museums, but when one of us wants to see something or go somewhere, we go. This trip is all about experiences for us, so we’re not sitting on a couch just because that’s free. We are also looking for ways to save on things we want to do, so we’re always looking for a deal. Cara found us 9 day foreign visitor passes to the English Heritage run sites which includes Dover Castle (which was awesome) and Stonehenge, both of which we wanted to go to and if those are the only things we see, we’re still saving money over paying both admissions separately. We used it close to where we’re staying to visit a fort that we wouldn’t have otherwise, as well as some places on the western coast when we visited there. Keeping your eye out for deals is a great way to stay under budget.
Next time we’ll talk more about ways we have been saving money and still feeling like we’re getting the experiences we want.