Travel budget


That’s it, you have decided to jump in and plan to go on a long trip. Or even for a «around the world trip” but you are not sure you didn’t forget something regarding your travel budget?
You’ll find here our tips and advices. Lessons we learned from previous trips or stories of fellow travelers.


How to prepare your travel budget and how much will cost your travel? This is a question we cannot simply answer without some clarification:

  • The country or countries you’ll visit,
  • duration of your trip,
  • the way you travel (roots, comfort, luxury),
  • the material you want to have, and finally,
  • hidden costs.

As you can understand, based on these criteria, your trip will not cost the same, which makes sense!

Add the price of your plane ticket when preparing your travel budget


1.1/ Bug expenses

  • Airline ticket(s)
    • Is it worth to pay a € 1,500 ticket for only one week.  When you know that today some companies offer “round the world” tickets for little more than that amount? You have to decide depending on your travel budget. If you can, try to take your days off according the best ticket prices you find, and not vice versa.
  • The cost of the destination and duration
    • First, check that the country you want is consistent with your budget. If not, 2 solutions: either you decide to stay on your choice, then it will need to review the length or delay your trip to save more money. Either you decide to change your mind. If yes, do not hesitate to visit websites such as It gives average daily cost per country. So that, you can adapt your trip on your budget. Be careful, it is often the average price when traveling with a basic comfort.
    • Personal suggestions for trips with small travel budget: Philippines (30 €/day), Peru (25 €/day), Bolivia (20 €/day), Chile (35 €/day), Argentina (40 €/day), Brazil (40 €/day) … These prices correspond with a typical day including: transportation, food, lodging, moderate activities. Of course when we did not plan to sleep with the local.
  • Mode of travel
    • Once you have your airplane tickets, accommodation and transportation are the most important costs of your travel budget.For smaller budgets, opt for guesthouses, youth hostels, campsites. For transports: bus, local transportation, and even hitchhiking depending on the country and observing the safety rules.
    • Regarding us, we’re rather adventurous and travel simply. We pay attention to our spending on certain items (food, accommodation, transport with the minimum comfort) in order to enjoy the rest of the time (activities, trips).
Exception : travel with car or van

Motorized or not? Usually we go backpacking mode, bus, hitchhiking, but you can also:

  • Rent a car: there are rental fees and gasoline, but you save on transportation costs and are totally free to go. (Mozambique and Tenerife )
  • Purchase a vehicle (car, van): if you really go longer, this may be very interesting. Despite the initial investment, fuel and insurance costs, the purchase of a van saves you the cost of travel and accommodation. Which is not negligible (look our future road trip in Europe).

For a middle travel budget, think about car or van rental

1.2/ Beware of hidden costs

Once big expenses are considered (plane ticket, daily cost of the country, transportation, lodging…) we sometimes forget small expenses, more modest. Whereas, together, there are not negligible.

Here are the hidden costs that must not be forgotten by calculating your travel budget.

FYI, amounts we give as examples are those for our 3 months trip in South America (late 2013).

Hidden costs you must add to your travel budget
  • Administrative: the cost of the passport differs from a French department to another (86 € in Reunion Island in September 2016).
  • Health:
    • Vaccines and drugs. Depending on the countries visited, vaccines and prescription can be numerous. Ex: 200 € /pers. (depends on your mutual fund).
    • Insurance: travel insurance is not mandatory. But after a big misfortune that happened to a couple of friends in Costa Rica (over € 30,000 lend by their insurance), we take out a travel insurance for long journeys. Ex: 160 € /pers. (Marco Polo insurance).
  • Bank charges. 2 to 4% on any withdrawal AND payment by credit card if you have not subscribed to any international option. To reduce this amount, inform yourself on international options available in your bank. Some globetrotters even open a new bank account before leaving for a long trip if they find the “good international option”. Ex: We saved over € 600, less € 290 invested (Sciete Generale bank internationale option cost + percentage on each transaction) = a real economy of € 310 over 3 months.
  • Visas, border crossings and airport fees. Depending on the country. Ex: nothing in South America, but airport fees at Philippines’ national airports.
  • Phone plan overruns. Check your package or turn it off before your departure. It could explode your travel budget.
  • Equipment: according to your trip “hot or cold” country, you will not need the same material, there it is up to you. Look our advices about how to pack.
    • Electronics: camera, backup battery, go pro, solar charger, headlamp…
    • Hiking: bag, tent, sleeping bag, shoes …
      5 years ago, for our first “long” trip, so totally inexperienced and unequipped, our visit to Decathlon cost us a whopping € 800!!! It’s now totally amortized, but at the time, it was hard to stomach.

Prepare your travel equipment to finish your total budget


  • Before the trip:

    • Travel during low season. Easier when you have no child, I concede.
    • The choice of country. Asia and South America are often highlighted, but beware. It’s better to check country by country. For example, in South America, some countries may be very cheap (Bolivia, Peru …). While others can be compared to Europe (Argentina, Brazil).
    • Compare all options. Bank options, travel insurances, flights on price comparison websites. Then individual airline websites. It happens that their price is lower, this was the case for us in Asia with Asia Airline.
    • Watch your computer’s cookies. If you look back the same destination (or flight) from the same computer, do not forget to clean your cookies. Sometimes airlines increase their prices of the desired flight thanks to your history. Cookies are different from the history.
    • Beware of hours. Decidedly, again a trick of some tour operators. After cookies, now it’s the turn of operators’ fees. Their costs can vary depending on the time of day. Often cheaper off-peak hours between 2 and 7am.
    • Low Cost Flights. To continue in the Air serie, discount flights are known to show the lowest price possible. But you’ll certainly need to add extra costs (luggage, extra kilo, choosing your seat, food on board…). Consequently, it is not always the cheapest choice for your travel budget. 
    • The good idea only at first sight: buying used travel guides. Exchange rates have certainly changed. The phone number of the super cheap hostel does not exist anymore… (whether for the 1st or 2nd example we speak from experience!). But enough if it’s just to learn about the country’s best places!

Do not think we'll save money buying old touristic guides

  • During the trip:

Travel budget: Practical info
  • Buy a phone card. For long journeys in the same country, it is very convenient and economical. To book your hostel during your 10 hours of bus, prevent that you’re going to arrive late…
  • The exchange rate. Check it when arriving in the country, it can quickly evolve and play tricks on you. With a bad exchange rate, you can quickly exceed your travel budget.
  • Fix prices in advance, before boarding the transport like taxis, tuk-tuk, and tricycles. In South America, Philippines, Morocco and all countries where there is no kilometer reader in the vehicle… it is possible to negotiate prices. So do not hesitate to ask some locals what is the usual price for a specific fare. Then propose this amount to your driver. Be careful, depending on the country, trading is considered inappropriate, ask for details.
  • Couchsurfing. You can go to sleep contacting people registered on some websites who accept to receive travelers to their home. It’s pretty simple to find sites that offer these services.
  • Work during your travel. For once, we haven’t tested the «woofing» yet. But it is developing rather well. It is about to be housed and fed for a little help from you. So check, maybe it exists where you’re going.
Travel Budget: Way of life
  • To sleep with a local host (for free) you met during your trip. It will depend on your feeling, but nothing like to discover a country and its culture.
  • Eating on markets, and in general, live like a local. Inevitably, you will not have the tourist special price. So for small budget it is recommended. Of course, you need to respect basic hygiene rules depending the country (well-cooked meat, no water, refuse ice cube…)
  • To balance, a rule of common sense. If you have an average budget per week, and you lash out on something (day of skiing in Argentina, diving in the Philippines, trek in Amazon), be sure to compensate the days before and after by making the least possible expense. Choose hostels with a kitchen, you won’t have to eat outside. Take a drink with friends but not in a bar. Try to visit a town walking and avoid transport you will have to pay, you’ll have time to take beautiful pictures… everything is possible.

For a small travel budget, take local common transportation


To give you an idea of a travel budget depending on the destination and duration of your trip, here are 3 personal examples:

  • 3 months in South America (5 countries) :
    Roots style: received by locals, very cheap hostels, bus, eating in markets and some extravagances: trip in the Amazon, Uyuni Salar , day of skiing

    • 2 Tickets Paris > Lima + 2 tickets Rio de Janeiro> Reunion Island = 4,000 €
    • Lodging, food, transportation, activities = 5,000 € (55.5 € /day for 2 pers.)
    • Total = 9,000 €
  • 1 month in the Philippines:
    Roots style “comfort plus”: cheap hostels, eating on markets + small restaurants, attractions, activities, outdoor sports and extravagances: 2 good hotels, Tao Philippines trip…

    • 2 Tickets Reunion Island > Manila = 1,800 €
    • Lodging, food, transportation, activities = 2,000 € (66.5 € /day for 2 pers.)
    • Total = 3,800 €

And here, you can find advices about packing your travel backpack!

  • 8 days in Tenerife, Spain Island:
    Roots style “comfort plus”: car rental, cheap hostels, small restaurants, outings, sports activities outdoor…

    • 2 Tickets Paris > Tenerife = 140 €
    • Lodging, food, car rentals, activities = 640 € (80 € /day for 2 pers.)
    • Total = 780 €

We hope these information will be useful for you to prepare your travel budget. Feel free to share your tips with us.