Before You Go: Budgeting and Saving for Travel

Amrita Evans is an expat and freelance travel blogger writing for HolidayHypermarket.co.uk. She is well acquainted with the ups and downs of moving and living abroad, and wouldn’t give up her nomadic lifestyle for anything.

Money is the most-cited concern of potential career-breakers, and with good reason – leaving your life for the great unknown is not an easy decision, even if you’re seeking a paid career break position, and in this economic climate it is crucial to make sure you’re prepared for a lifestyle change. Regardless of whether you’re walking away from a great job, or unemployed and hoping that a trip might get you back in the game, long-term travel is a huge financial commitment that should not be undertaken lightly.

However, as the saying goes, if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. As long as you’re prepared, your journey can be one of the biggest, most rewarding adventures of your life.

There is plenty of money advice out there, and it can be overwhelming; Meet, Plan, Go! alone has dozens of articles about saving, planning and making money. Let this starter guide be the beginning of a compendium – if you have a great idea or a tried-and-tested tip, leave it in the comments or tweet to @MeetPlanGo!

 

Planning Before You Go

Budgeting isn’t fun, but absolutely critical. Catch up on some excellent advice from experts before planning and creating a cost-per-day. These two fantastic spreadsheets from David Lee have been a lifesaving resource for many. Research may take time, and this may be the most daunting act of preparation you’ll have to undertake, but it will pay off on the road.

♦ Make sure to include preparation costs in your budget. Travel visas can be expensive, and include unexpected costs like extra birth certificates and documentation, possible notary fees, and travel to and from a consulate. The cost of travel insurance, immunization and storing your things while you’re away should be factored in as well.

♦ Open a savings account just for your career break, so you don’t fritter it away on other things in the meantime.

♦ Make sure you have enough money budgeted for a few months after your return, as it may take some time to find a job on your return.

Saving Before You Go

There are plenty of money-saving tips floating around the internet, but it’s worth noting that saving for a career break is a little bit different – rather than cutting corners for the long term, you may need to make large savings by taking a hatchet to your lifestyle. These compromises are usually temporary, which makes them easier to bear.

♦ Start tracking your expenses, so you can see where to make savings – Mint.com is a great resource for this. Take stock of your assets as well, including frequent flier miles.

♦ Go on a money diet – put a mental price tag on everything, as you might think about calories. A night out with friends, or two nights in a hostel? A new pair of shoes, or a week’s kayak rental in Sweden? Just like a diet, you will slip sometimes, but making this a habit is a great way to get excited about saving.

♦ Moving in with a friend or family member for the short term is the fastest way to save thousands of dollars. This is especially true if you live somewhere with high rent, like New York or California. If you’re about to travel around the world, sleeping in hostels and tents and campervans and under the stars, what’s a few months on a sofa bed?

♦ Take a long, hard look at your “essentials.” Do you really need a smartphone? Could you cut the cable and watch TV online, or read?

♦ Switch insurance providers or gas and electricity providers. Just a few hours’ research can save you hundreds of dollars – to make sure you take advantage of the savings, set up a monthly direct debit to your savings account for the difference.

♦ eBay and Gumtree are a great resource – sell anything that’s not nailed down, starting with that old rice cooker you got from Aunt Barbara and have never used. Then move on to clothes: beautiful dress that’s two sizes too small, or a week of meals?

♦ Flights are usually the biggest cost – see if you can get some money back to fly as a courier – you can be paid to escort someone else’s belongings.

♦ Consider slowing down: would you rather rather see more things shallowly, or less things more deeply? Sticking to a single landmass (North and South America, Australia, Africa, Eurasia) and buying a campervan can completely eliminate your flight and accommodation costs, and there is much to be said for a life on the road.

The thought of saving enough money to take a career break or sabbatical to travel may seem daunting, but following the tips above can get you on the right track in no time!

Images: mynameisharsha, quinn.anya, KSDigital

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Career Break Guide Table of Contents