Working out the cost of a RTW trip is for many people little more than an exercise in guesswork. There are so many unknowns about a trip that it’s easy to give up on budgeting before you start. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a few simple steps to help you work out roughly how much you’re likely to spend before you go.
How quickly will you be moving from place to place? If you’re paying for buses and trains on a daily basis then this needs to be included in your costs. In many countries this will be the biggest chunk of your daily spending.
One man’s slum is another man’s palace. Try to be realistic about what standards of accommodation you’re going to accept and budget accordingly. If you’re going to hate being without a private bathroom or you want to spread your things in your room as if you were at home that’s fine; just don’t set aside £5 a night for a bed in a large hostel dorm.
Most travellers will splurge on a decent meal once in a while during a long trip; a diet of non-stop pizza and burgers is not healthy by any measure. But knowing just how often you are going to shun the two dollar dinners and choose a pick-me-up treat can make a big difference to how much you will spend.
All careful budgeting can be undone by a few reckless hours in a local bar. You may congratulate yourself for finding a bed in a great $10 hostel but if you then blow $30 on alcohol then your daily spend has suddenly doesn’t look so small. That’s not to say of course that you should sacrifice a good time for the sake of spending as little as possible. It’s more a case of being realistic, knowing how much you’re likely to drink on a typical night and including that in your budget.
Tours, admission fees
Every trip has its big ticket items. It might be a safari, an over-night luxury train or a multi-day hike. All of these activities are likely to make a big dent in your budget. The same applies to a lesser extent with museum entrance fees, bungee jumps or boat rides. Knowing in advance the costs of the attractions and activities you want to see and do will mean you can better plan your finances and avoid a nasty surprise during your trip.
Above all be flexible about the budget for your trip. Plan how much you think you’ll spend each day, add another 20% for unforeseen items (you’ll almost certainly spend it) and then go and enjoy yourself. Some days will be over budget while on others you’ll hardly spend a thing. Plan ahead and you won’t have to miss doing those things you’ll remember years later as the highlights of your RTW trip.