“Tara, how do you afford to travel so much?”
The number one question I constantly get asked. Well, for starters, I work a full-time job. Okay, I lied. I actually only work 3 days a week, but they’re long days, so I’m still gonna call this full-time. Secondly, this might come as a huge shock, but I still live with my parents. And you can say what you want about a 26-year-old still living at home, but you’re gonna have to say it to my back as I’m hopping on that next plane to Europe. Byyyeee, haters.
So think about that for a second. Then think about what you pay in rent for 2 months, and you’re gonna end up with all the extra money I have available for a trip. But when you add in an uncontrollable habit for shoe shopping, (like other people I know.. totally not talking ’bout myself here), a financial plan still needs to come into place.
Over time I’ve built a simple guide I use to create my budget as I’m preparing for my next adventure, and so far, it hasn’t failed me — aside from the time I overspent while buying shoes in Italy…I mean, the time my friend bought those shoes.
Airfare: (Flight price + Round up to nearest 100) + Any connecting flights = Total
Hotel: $130 x (Number of Nights) / 2 = Total
Spending Money: $100 x (Number of Days Traveling) = Total
Phone Bill: $10 x (Number of Days out of country) = Total*
*This is based off Verizon Travel Pass. Check with your cell provider’s international coverage charges for accurate total.
If you’re taking more than one flight, list a price for each flight. The reason I round up is to cover any additional baggage or seat costs that some airlines charge. I do a super basic search of flights to find these prices. Meaning, I don’t do any of this, or try to find the cheapest airport, the cheapest flight time, or the cheapest day to leave. This way I have a starting base price to budget for, and if I find the flight cheaper when I actually go to book, then score!
Over the years of booking hotels, I’ve found that $130 typically seems to be the average cost I’ve paid. I really don’t remember how I came to this number as a conclusion, but since I’ve started using it as the budget number, it’s worked, so I’m not gonna question it. I divide the total by 2 since I’m always sharing a hotel room with someone else, but even when I’m sharing with more than 1 person, I leave the budget the same. Better to save more than scramble for extra cash in the end.
When I first started traveling, I would take all the cash I had saved with me to spend while gone, and this one particular time that I went to NYC, it averaged out to $100 a day. By the end of the trip, I came home with around $5 left, and with how expensive New York can be — and my spending included shopping and drinking every night — this seemed like a good amount to budget off of. Now, disclaimer: this budget always fails me. I usually overspend by $200 – $300 depending on where I went and whether I shopped more or decided to add a skydiving ticket on to the trip — or both… Hello, the summer I went to Italy and Croatia. But having the majority saved before I leave takes a lot of stress off of me — and my credit card bill — for once I get home.
This one is pretty straight forward. Verizon charges me $10 a day to use my phone out of the country, so I save $10 for every day I’m gone. Duh!
Here’s an example for reference from a recent trip…
Airfare: 1st Flight $500 + 2nd Flight $100 = $600
Hotel: $130 x 8 Nights / 2 = $520
Spending: $100 x 10 Days Traveling = $1,000
Phone Bill: $10 x 8 Days out of country = $80
Budget Total: $2,200
Typically, I’ll start planning my budget as soon as we start talking about the next trip — aka the day my plane lands at home from the last adventure — so I can divide up the total as much as possible throughout the paydays I have coming between now and the trip. In my case, this ends up being weekly (i.e. $2,200 divided by 10 weeks). In the end, I spent about $200 less than what I budgeted for hotels and airfare, allowing me to have extra money available for spending while away, on top of what I saved already. Yasss! (Side note: Malaysia ended up being so inexpensive that I had enough left over from my budget to cover my flight for a last minute trip to Hawaii the following month. Are you starting to understand how I do this so often? Always staying 2 trips ahead.)
So I hope as you start to plan your next adventure, these tips will help make your dream vacations seem more obtainable, as they have made traveling for me. There’s a great beautiful world to explore, and I know I won’t be stopping until I’ve seen it all.