6 Tips To Budget for International Travel
Creating an international budget can seem like a real headache. There’s foreign currencies, first-time costs, and a heap of unknowns to contend with. Where do you begin? Create a customized budget for your international journey by downloading the Guide on Creating a Budget for International Travel and completing steps 1-6.
Step 1: Identify costs.
Write down estimated fixed and variable costs for your international travel experience (or download the international budget and walk through step by step). A fixed cost is a set cost that is known in advance, like round trip airfare or international health insurance. Variable costs change, like food, souvenirs and ground transportation. If traveling through a university or organization, they will often provide a budget with both fixed and variable costs. However, be sure you understand what is and is not included in any pre-published budget. A ‘program fee’, for example, may say that it includes ‘some meals.’ That means you need to budget for the meals that are not included.
Step 2: Research to make informed cost estimates. Be realistic!
Unless you want to waste your time and money, do not randomly estimate costs without doing your homework. A budget is only useful if you accurately predict how much money you will need. You might say, “But I don’t know how much a sandwich or taxi costs in Johannesburg!” You might not know, but someone else does. Connect with program alumni via your international office or social media. Research how much food, housing, transportation, and entertainment costs in the cities you will be visiting. If you are traveling through a university or organization, contact the program organizer or advisor to discuss budgeting in person. Additionally, travel blogs, official tourism and embassy websites, and Twitter searches (search #city, or #country) are excellent ways to access current information. Insider information and tips can be found on sites such as WikiTravel , MatadorNetwork, and Unanchor.com. Recently published guidebooks* can also be handy on-site when you cannot access a computer or smartphone or for researching estimated ‘cost per day’ information in advance. For a general overview on cost of living, visit websites such as Xpatulator, Expatistan or Numbeo.
Step 3: Factor in Fees.
Fees, especially the unexpected sort, add up fast and can throw a monkey-wrench in an otherwise sound budget. Some of the most common fees for international travelers are passport and visa fees, checked luggage fees, banking fees and tips. Check with your bank to see what you will be charged every time you withdraw money from an ATM or use your credit card. If the rate is super high, you may want to consider opening an account with a bank or company that charges lower fees. To avoid recurring ATM fees, withdraw a larger amount of money fewer times during your trip and use the cash for day-to-day expenses.