There are two main questions we get asked when we meet people on the road, bus, ferry, at the guest house etcetera. First question is "For how long are you traveling for?" The second question we get asked when we say that we are traveling indefinitely is "How can you afford to travel like this?" We answer this question by saying that we have a travel budget and we stick to it.
Everyone has a different style of traveling, some people like to stay in 5 stay hotels, others don't mind sharing a dorm room with 7 other people. We are very much in the middle. We love a private ensuited room in a guesthouse. The best of both worlds!
We planned for almost two years before we hopped on the plane to Kuala Lumpur to start our travels from KL to Japan via everywhere. During this time, we checked out the cost of hotels, apartments, guesthouses and hostels to get a rough idea of the cost per room per night that we would be looking at.
We then devoured many forums looking for the cost of living in the countries we are attempting to travel through, looking for ideas of meal prices, cost of milk and bread (if we wanted to buy any), the cost of bus / train / ferry transport between stop A and stop B.
There was a lot of researching. Thanks to Google and Tripadvisor we got nearly every one of our daily questions answered,and still do!
Our travel budget works out to be on a daily basis for two people in Australian Dollars:
$30 for accommodation
$30 for food, transportation, entertainment
$60 per day or $1825 per month or $21900 per year
We also have a separate stash of money just for emergencies. For example, if one of us has to go to hospital or we have to fly back home in a hurry. Therefore, we do not include money for emergencies in our travel budget.
Some days we are well under our daily expenditure and other days we are way over. It depends on how much our accommodation is, the cost of travel and of course if we are in need of a meal "from home" which can certainly eat away our budget.
The most important thing here is that you have a travel budget and, while its not the end of the world if you go over budget sometimes, that you do whatever you can to stick to this budget.
You will occasionally go over budget and that's ok. In November 2011, we went over our monthly budget by nearly $500 due to a few necessary purchases while in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.
We replaced our backpacks as our original ones were not comfortable to wear for long periods of time. At the same time, we purchased new sandals as ours were well past their prime. We also forked out to send a lot of unnecessary things we had brought with us back home. For example, clothes we weren't wearing, our old bags and other little things that were too good to just throw away.
Having gone over budget we have to try and claw that back. One way that we are able to save money to get back on our travel budget track is with accommodation. Our accommodation in Bangkok, Thailand last month was around $30 per night, so $900 for the month.
So, this month, we have moved to an apartment in Chiang Mai, Thailand that we have rented for a whole month. Our apartment with utilities works out to be $300 for the month which is far cheaper than if we stayed in hotels. That is a saving of $600 on the accommodation alone. Hopefully this month, we will be back on track!
Everyone's travel budgets will be different but making that budget is the first step to a long and prosperous travel experience.
Have fun budgeting!