Nobody likes to budget – of this much I’m certain. Well, okay, maybe there are some people out there who enjoy the challenge of doing as much as they can with limitations, knowing they are more clever than others and hating those who squeezed out more like it’s some sort of game (I, on the other hand, like real games). But I think if given the option between figuring out what can be done and being able to do whatever you want, most people would take the whatever option.
Long term travellers have to be especially careful of how much they spend because unless they get a job or have someone topping up their cash stash, they have a finite amount to spend and an almost infinite list of things to spend it on. One of the reasons you travel long term is to experience as much as you can and meet as many new people as possible – so why would you want to limit that by being that person who says no all the time?
Well, you don’t have to be the person who says no all the time if you have a solid budget and stick to it. There are sneaky ways to trim your expenses that at first may seem like nothing but do add up, greatly extending your good times. Here are a few ways below.
Keeping in Touch
If you’re travelling long term, you’re likely to run into people who are at various points of their travels or else you’re moving on and they’re staying put – but you want to stay in touch! Oh, and those people back home that care about you… don’t forget about them! In the age of social media, it’s easy to think you’re going to always be in contact but this can quite often be fleeting as status updates don’t count as ‘staying in touch’ – you have to do more! This is where things like email, postcards, webcam chats and phone calls really go a long way towards turning a chance encounter into a friendship you can honestly tell people that you have friends all over the world.
This can be expensive if you don’t do it properly. Try to stay in accommodation with free WiFi access that will allow you to talk over messaging services while keeping up to date on things in the world. Consider getting a data and calling plan if you need to be more mobile but don’t want to rack up outrageous roaming charges. Finally, a simple postcard that will cost you a dollar or so can go much further than electronic communication ever would, as many people keep these as mementos of the thought you put into talking to them.
Food is super expensive if you don’t plan out properly but even if you don’t eat a ton or dine in decadence, food sometimes sneaks up on you as expense. This is particularly true in places where food is super cheap because you may have the tendency to eat (and drink) to excess and misjudge your funds. Dinners with friends or drinks at the pub can really add up.
Instead of making every night party night, plan responsibly. If it’s important to you to go out at night, even every night, cut back on food during the day or those days where you find yourself alone. Aim to make as much food as you can yourself and eat out only where necessary – have people over to your flat or chill out in a park picnic where everyone brings something small. Chances are, others have to budget as well and will be thankful of your frugality! By cutting back on some days, it will let you spend more on other days – and who doesn’t want that?
You may get bored of sandwiches or pasta but you have to decide what is important to you. Sometimes depriving yourself of delicacies makes enjoying those things when you can have them all the better. Gelato is amazing but three times a day will make it less enjoyable after a week of that (not to mention on your waistline!). Absence makes the tastebuds grow fonder!