RTW costs

 

 

Unfortunately, your flight ticket isn’t the only thing you’re going to have to fork out for if you are planning a round the world adventure. You’d better make room in your budget for the sort of this little lot, too... 

 

 

Getting to and from the airport

Your adventure starts at the airport, but you’ve got to get to the airport first. And given the delightful state of the British public transport system, that can be rather expensive. If you’re going for a long time, driving there and leaving the car in the long term car park is prohibitively expensive, whilst train tickets bought on the day can be ludicrously overpriced. The best bet is to either cajole someone into giving you a lift, taking the tube (if you live in London) or buying your train tickets at least three weeks in advance (if you live elsewhere). Also bear in mind that if your flight leaves in the morning, you may need to get an airport hotel the night before.

 

 

Ground transport

The travelling part doesn’t miraculously stop as soon as you get off the plane. Even if you’re staying in one city, then buses, trains, trams and taxis start to seriously add up (not to mention the fact that many places sting you for getting to and from the airport). In a big city, it’s usually not practical to walk everywhere, so expect to pay to get around. And as for getting around a country, well that can seriously add up. Australia, for example, is enormous. If you’re planning to travel around it, then a bit of pre-trip research into bus passes, car hire and domestic flight options is advisable.

 

 

Booze

Let’s not beat around the bush here. Most people on round the world tickets are probably going away to have a good time. For many, ‘a good time’ tends to involve drinking and travellers never seem to adequately budget for their booze intake. Unless you’re teetotal or unsociable, a formidable percentage of your ready cash will end up going to the barman. You can minimise the outlay by pre-game warm-ups where you’re staying (ie. case of beers from the supermarket between six of you in the hostel) and going native wherever possible. The local beer is almost always cheaper than the comforting brand you’ve heard of before.

 

 

Soft drinks

It’s not just alcoholic drinks that rack up. You’re not sat in the office next to a watercooler or at home next to a tap most of the time – when you’re travelling you tend to spend a lot more time outdoors. And, particularly in a hot climate, all that walking around can be thirsty work. This generally ends up with you buying lots of bottles of water and soft drinks to slake your thirst – and that ends up getting surprisingly expensive. Try and keep the costs (and your environmental impact) down by refilling bottles from a tap wherever possible.

 

 

Spurious taxes

Some countries don’t get the whole inclusive pricing thing. Our friends in America are particularly bad for it, and you’ll often end up paying around 15% more than originally quoted once hotel, state, sales, resort and city taxes are added on. It sucks, and there’s no way of avoiding it – just make sure you know whether the price is inclusive of tax from the outset, and then budget for being stiffed over afterwards. Some countries also apply a departure tax for everyone leaving. Usually this is factored into the cost of the plane ticket, but when it isn’t it can be hugely annoying. The usual story is that you cleverly spend the last of your currency on Toblerone and stuffed monkeys, then realise you’re going to have to make another bank charge-ridden trip to the cash machine in order to pay the tax.

 

 

Mobile phone

Once you leave Europe, mobile phone companies feel they have a carte blanche to charge whatever the hell they like for texts and calls. If you’re the sort that likes to keep in touch, then you could be in for a brutal shock once you get back and look through the bills. The obvious way to cut your costs down is to use your mobile strictly when absolutely necessary – switch to the likes of Skype and e-mail to stay in touch instead. But if you plan on using it with any degree of regularity, buy a pre-paid SIM card in the country you’re in – the savings can be enormous.

 

 

Internet

Of course, switching to e-mail as a method of communication isn’t going to save you much money if you insist on spending two hours a day in an internet café, trying to upload photos to Facebook or catching up on your favourite blogs. Web junkies are well advised to try and scale back their habits while travelling –after all, you can sit at a computer all day at home. If you do like to keep your digital umbilical cord, consider bringing your laptop with you and only using it when there’s a free WiFi connection. As for using the net on your phone, don’t go there – the data download charges are disgustingly steep.

 

 

Travel insurance

Look, if you don’t get it, you’re an idiot. The cost of getting a policy is a fraction of the potential cost of not getting one. Proper cover won’t bankrupt you, but having to be flown home on an emergency flight attached to a drip after a few weeks in hospital almost certainly will.

 

 

Buying work clothes

This one only applies to travellers who are planning to fund their travels by working for a few months (probably in Australia or New Zealand). Often, to get work, you’ll need to look presentable. And I’m afraid that pair of shorts isn’t going to cut it. Instead of making a begrudging trip to a cheap and nasty shop to get a work outfit, it might be worth bringing one pair of black trousers and one collared white shirt with you in the first place. They’ll just have to make do as a tertiary set of going out clothes...

 

 

Visas

Many countries require you to have a visa in order to enter. Some of these can be got at the airport, some have to be applied for in advance. They’re rarely free though. India, for example, charges £30 plus a £9.05 service fee. For China it’s £60.25 all up, and Vietnam it’s £46. And for those planning to work in Australia, the fee for the popular working holiday visa currently stands at AU$235 (about £146 at the current exchange rate).

 

 

Inoculations and tablets

The dreaded jabs are, unfortunately, a necessity if you’re travelling to certain parts of the world. They may be unpleasant and an annoying extra cost, but they’re better than dying in a rainforest. Malaria tablets can also be pricy little accompaniments to the packing list and there are some areas decreed as malarial where you can probably get away without taking them. How much do you want to place your faith in ‘probably’ though?