Ok, the moment of truth. Your bank account is here. You have been floating on your little travel cloud so far and seeing the world through palm tree lined glasses and sipping drinks with little umbrellas in them. Be prepared for the fall!
Here’s a plaster. And the bitter medicine: you could have totally seen it coming. Oh, did I forget spoonful of sugar? You’re in luck, I have one for you and it is a big one to keep you all safe and sound for the next time.
Here’s how you can avoid stupid yet common travel budget mistakes:
Not Writing Down Expenses
It might be an annoying and unpleasant thing to see your wallet grow empty but it’s even worse when you have to type out each and every purchase every single day, you will rethink your spending pattern. Once you see it all in black and white and in real time (as opposed to once a month on your bank statement), you will develop both the insight and drive to make the change. If you’ve overspent on one day, the negative feeling you get will keep you in check the next time you are in danger.
Buying on impulses
Here’s a confession. I generally don’t buy from street vendors, especially the ones that scream scam. And yet I did once. And I still feel guilty. It was in Sicily and a man pretended to make a paper Sponge Bob dance to music. Once he stopped the record, the doll stopped .There were no visible strings and when I decided to walk back and have a second look, he was gone. The minute I saw him again I bought the thing to investigate. It had strings. Lots of them. It was all obviously fake. So don’t ever buy on impulses.
Resist Peer Pressure
So you set a budget for the night and then suddenly you’ve met this nice group at the bar and before you know it, you are in the maelstrom of bar hopping and your money has gone down the drain. Set your limits for each day and stick with it. You can have fun without copying everyone else (yes, even without alcohol involved). Don’t even try to explain yourself too much, stand your ground. The more you explain, the more uncertain you seem and the easier you are to persuade.
Not Investing in a Smart Credit Card
Credit card fees are viscous. I therefore try to avoid them entirely. The card I am using has zero withdrawal fees, which allows me to pay in the local currency (and avoid tourist currency exchange rates) and to keep track on how much money I am actually spending as my wallet will painfully demonstrate through its increasing emptiness. Therefore, invest in a good credit card. Also make sure to always have enough money transferred onto it and maybe sign up for one that allows you to collect miles and cashback points.
Being a Cheapskate
I am guilty as charged. And I stand here to bring testimony of it not adding to your happiness. Walking for three hours through the outskirts of Tokyo and getting lost at dusk all to save $2 is not advisable. And no, walking everywhere does not always have the benefit of seeing more. Living just off instant noodles and later suffering from stomach pains is not worth it either. Never forget to invests in your health (and sanity) as well! Plus, at one point you might be so fed up with it all, you end up on a spending binge that will destroy all your hard effort.
Forgetting the Little Things
So you need snacks along the way? You know you develop a sweet tooth at exactly 3pm or you cannot for the life of you resist a foot massage. You need to be aware of your spending even with the little things. They add up quickly! Sometimes you can reduce them and at other times you know you just absolutely don’t want to. I can’t live without chocolate no matter how hard I try and so I put aside a budget for that. Don’t judge me.
Anticipate the Straying off
Things go wrong all the time, so you might up being scammed, missing that flight or having to buy an upgrade after all. This might be none of your fault and it might as well have been but it doesn’t change the fact that you have to pay for it. Literally. To make the pain less sharp, always set a security budget in advance, which will not be touched for the holiday unless absolutely necessary. And in case you overspent a little (sometimes you have to take that once-in-a-lifetime jungle trip you never saw coming), you have covered your bases.
Any more tips?
Now that was an overload of sugar wasn’t it? So many things you might be doing and you might be doing better next time. After all, there’s nothing better than feeling great. And regret never feels great.
If you find it hard to be converted to a perfect little budget angel just yet, don’t worry. It takes time, it takes practice and sadly willpower (which does waver at the worst times). To help you change your travel mindset to enjoy your next trip guilt free and with total budget control, here are some good news.
I have created a ten day email crash course in travel planning – from budget to booking hacks tested and tried over the course of my two year travels. It works and I saved $1000 in my third month already. But I thought since we’re all in this boat of wanting to see the world and travelling as much as we can, I’d share my knowledge.