09 Mar Flying Forethought – A Budget-Friendly Breakdown For First-Time Travelers
There are very few occasions more exciting than planning your first big travel adventure. Whether you’re jetting off to the streets of Europe or looking for adventure in Asia, planning your journey out and budgeting thoroughly is an important part of the process.
Allow Yourself Wiggle Room
One of the hardest elements of planning your first big trip is deciding how to budget. Questions such as ‘how much money will I need’ and ‘how much money can I save’ are common, and are some of the most perplexing and hard to answer questions of all.
Some general advice given to prospective travellers is to budget twice as much as you think you will need – and it’s very solid advice. Things happen when you’re on holiday, whether it’s emergencies or cancellations, or you’ve got to stay an extra week in a location you’ve fallen in love with. Allowing yourself some wiggle room when it comes to money will give you more freedom to truly enjoy your travels.
If the process of saving money is beyond your ability, or if you’re in need of an extra boost, there are some excellent financing options (such as travel loans from Latitude) available to give you peace of mind. Having a set amount of budgeted funds and a timeline for finance can also be of help when it comes to deciding just how much you’re able to allot to individual elements of your trip (airfares, accommodation, transportation).
Stay Ahead Of The Game
If you’re looking to save some money and get your calendar in order, remember to book and plan well ahead of time. Airfares can be purchased up to a year ahead of when you’re intending to fly, and accommodation is also able to be booked well in advance.
Other than providing you with solid dates and times to plan around, booking in advance will quite frequently give you the cheapest available options, especially when it comes to trains and overland journeys. For these trips, bookings often open 90 days in advance of your outward journey – set yourself a calendar reminder to book tickets as soon as bookings for your dates open up.
Insurance is an optional add-on for your trip, but if you require it, it should be one of the first things you purchase. Seek out comprehensive insurance tailored to your destination or destinations, and make sure to read the policy information in detail.
Many premium credit cards also offer ‘complimentary’ travel insurance if you purchase a set amount of your trip using your credit card. To take advantage of this offer, you need to make sure that it’s valid for your particular situation, and that you activate it (if necessary) before beginning your journey.
Simply put, if you can’t afford to pay for any mishaps you might encounter on your travels, you can’t afford go without insurance.
Lighten Your Load
As the inverse to common advice given when budgeting for your trip, packing for your trip should focus on lightening your load. Where possible, pack half as many things as you think you will need. Other than giving you the ergonomic and organisational benefits of lighter luggage, you will also be less likely to be stung for excess baggage costs, and you will more likely have room for any purchases made while on your travels.
In general, people overestimate how many items are ‘essential’ for their travels. Other than a passport, medications, suitable footwear, and any specific cultural attire there aren’t many things which can’t be procured at your destination. A good mantra to practice while packing is ‘if in doubt, leave it out’.
The time of year (and even the time of day) you choose to travel in is also important when trying to budget for your trip. Peak seasons such as summer and winter holidays almost always incur charges which are avoidable if you plan your timing with more forethought.
Shoulder seasons such as May/June and September/October are usually reliable when you’re on the lookout for cheap airfares and accommodation. If you’re able to plan your trip around these times, you may find you save significant amounts of money.
Saving money and time while planning your adventure is easy once you’re familiar with a few straightforward ‘rules’; budget more than you think you will need, insure yourself, travel lightly, and pick your travel times wisely. The only other things you need to remember are to pack your passport – and to have fun!