A few years before my trip, I estimated the amount of money I would need to make my dream of visiting Australia happen. I came up with the round number $20,000. I looked through travel forums and found that most people were able to travel for about $100 – $130 a day on a low budget in Australia, and flights were generally around $3,000 return. I estimated that $10,000 would be a good amount to get me to Australia for a couple months. The remaining $10,000 was to cover my expenses at home, to have padding for unexpected expenses, and to buy necessary items for the trip. I also wanted the comfort of knowing that I would still have some money left after returning from the trip. This was a very broad estimate, but it was a great starting point.
If you have a dream destination in mind, take some time to do some research on flight costs, accommodation, excursions, and daily expenses, way in advance of when you want to go. You’ll also need to decide where you can compromise. This will help you to figure out roughly how much you should save.
Be sure to add about 25% extra for padding because, as we all know, unexpected costs can and do come up. For example, one night in Noosa, Australia, my bus trip to Agnes Water was cancelled due to flooding, but I didn’t find out until one hour before I was supposed to leave. All of the hostels were booked, so I ended up springing $150 for a motel room, and treating myself to some sushi at a great restaurant called Sushi Yah Man. Luckily I had some space in my budget to allow for this unexpected expense, and I actually really enjoyed the experience of staying in a quiet motel for a night.
Another cost to factor in is big-ticket items you would like to buy for the trip. For example, I knew that I wanted a new digital SLR camera, a laptop, and a good backpack. I also factored in the little things I needed to buy. I spent about $2,500 on those pre-trip expenses, so be sure to plan ahead so that you can save for those as well!
Research the costs
- Research flight costs for the time of year you would like to go. Kayak.com is a good site to use since it shows the average flight cost.
- Search in forums to see if anyone has recommended a daily budget for the country you’re going to. Try budgetyourtrip.com, trippy.com, and tripadvisor.com.
- Once you have an estimated daily cost, multiple that by the amount of days you would like to go for.
Average Cost x Days = Total Daily Costs
- If there are must-sees on your trip, look up the price for those excursions and add them to the total.
- Estimate the amount you will spend on items for the trip.
- Calculate the total and then add 25% padding.
Total x .25 = Padding
Once you have a general estimate of how much your dream trip will cost, you’ll be one step closer and will be able to start planning your savings timeline. Happy planning!