How To Budget For Your Long-Haul Trip

If you have been dreaming about going on a long-haul trip around the world or staying in one continent to give yourself enough time to explore the culture and maybe learn the language, you will need to find a way to fund your travel. Most people don’t go on holiday because they simply cannot afford to. Getting into debt over seeing the world is something you should avoid. Just imagine paying the high interest and feeling guilty over taking time off work and ruining your financial stability! Is it really worth it? Here are some creative ways to travel for long when you don’t have that kind of money:

Get Your Finances In Order

Image sponsored by Boxed Water Is Better
Image sponsored by Boxed Water Is Better

Before you can start making plans about traveling the world and engaging in globetrotting, you will have to find a way to balance your books when it comes to your personal finances. If you are planning on staying out of the country for a couple of months, you can let your home out to friends or through an agency, maybe sign up for AirBnB, so you will have an income when you are not working. Consolidate your credit to reduce your monthly outgoings, and free up money for your getaway.

Create A Residual Income Stream

Whether you are running a freelance business or are a blogger, you will need to make the most out of your earnings. If you don’t know where your next paycheck is coming from, it might be time to take a step back from your business and find a way to generate some regular income that will give you a sense of security. There are several ways you can add a residual income stream to your business, such as starting affiliate marketing or CPA networks. You can also consider selling your advertising spaces to other businesses to have regular money coming in while you are away.

Shop Around For Deals

It is crucial that you don’t stretch your holiday budget further than you need to. If you have a location in mind and know what you would like to learn or do while you are traveling the world, you should start shopping around for deals. Package deals might not be an option if you are working with a limited budget, but you can certainly find separate offers for a hotel, apartment, and plane that will work for your goals. Research across various travel websites, so you can get alerts on price reductions and deals.

Find Cheap Flights

When you’re planning a long-haul holiday, the sooner you buy your flight tickets, the better price you are likely to get, unless you’re looking for some last minute inspiration. You will have to take advantage of the discount club offers, and maybe join a loyalty program to make the most out of your budget. Check whether your credit card offers a discount or not, and download various apps that will let you know about the best time to book.

Make The Most Of The Exchange Rates

When you are traveling abroad, the money you get for your currency will determine how far you can go, and make the difference between a three-star and a five-star accommodation. You have to give your bank a call to find out whether or not you will get charged every time you take money out, and explore the different travelers’ check options available in the country. Avoid changing your money at the airport and in busy tourist hubs, as you are likely to lose out.

Long Term Rental

Image via Annie Spratt

When you have the budget and time to stay longer than a couple of weeks, perhaps if you’ve found a job or an apprenticeship, you will need to consider the option of renting an apartment in a residential area, instead of staying in the popular tourist locations. For instance, if you are looking to explore Singapore, you can find an HDB 3 room rental price guide online and find a way to work out whether or not you can make substantial savings on your travel.

Bring A Friend Along

To reduce the cost of travel and stay, you can also ask some of your friends to go and stay with you. Even if they cannot afford to stay for the entire time, you can share the cost of accommodation and food, and this will help you manage your budget better. Planning a long-haul vacation is not without challenges. You will need to make the most of your budget by exploring alternative ways of traveling, choosing locations, and creating a residual income to keep you going.

Think you can afford a long-haul trip now?

Got other tips to share with us?

Let me know through your comments below. 🙂

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How To Travel Smart And Stop Spending Unnecessarily

The biggest question travellers ask themselves is arguably “How do I stop myself from going bankrupt?” The rate at which most of us full-time travellers head overseas (read – Travelling Does Not Mean Saying Goodbye To Earnings) can be mind-boggling to most. Even if you don’t travel very frequently, today’s article on travelling smart will save you some precious bucks when you next jet off! Let’s start with the basics:-

#1: Hunt For Flights Before The Hunting Season

My Virgin Atlantic flight waits for me in London.

My Virgin Atlantic flight waits for me in London.

Last year, I clocked more air miles than the Managing Director of my erstwhile organization!! As crazy as that sounds, I probably spent less than 10% on the flights than he did. Your goal should be to plan early and keep scouting for good deals online before you rush to book. Join Mr. Rebates to get cash back on every purchase you make. Signing up is free and you will also get a $5 BONUS when you shop for the first time. Last minute flight bookings can be quite expensive, not to mention, stressful. And this is where a little bit of pre-planning comes in handy.

#2: Stay With Locals (If Hostels Are Not Your Thing)

Trips are better when your hotel/hostel feels like home.

Trips are better when your hotel/hostel feels like home.

I personally find hotels extremely boring and cold. So my favourite choices are homestays and hostels (read – Dorm Etiquette For Frequent Backpackers). I know, some of you don’t like the idea of sharing your room with strangers, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to shell out a bomb to live in a foreign country. Check out warm hosts on Airbnb or Couchsurfing. If you’d rather have your semi-luxurious stay at a hotel, save some extra bucks by using my referral link to make your hotel bookings through Mr. Rebates.

#3: Drive Down Instead of ‘Ubering’ Your Way

Driving down to Woodward Park in the USA.

Driving down to Woodward Park in the USA.

When I lived in India, radio taxis seemed so affordable. But that’s not the case in expensive countries such as USA. Taking Uber everywhere can burn a big hole in your pocket. If you are in a big city with a well connected public transport system (I love New York for this!), you are good. But what when you explore little hamlets with no humans in sight for several miles? That’s when it really helps to self-drive. Mr. Rebates has tie-ups with several car rental sites (Alamo Rent A Car, for instance) where you will actually be able to earn some cash back (into your Paypal account or opt for a check payment or a gift card) when you book your mean machine.

#4: Choose Your Food Haunts Wisely

Many of us tend to waste a lot of money eating trash at posh restaurants, without really trying out anything unique or local. Eating out takes a little bit of strategizing. You cannot just step out and randomly walk into a place, hoping to have your mind blown. It pays to know what you want and how much you are willing to pay. Do your research online on interesting places which offer experiences instead of just plating out food (read – Vegetarian Food In Sharjah – What Nobody Tells You About Emirati Cuisine). I was able to enjoy some live teppanyaki in California without paying through the nose just by picking a weekday afternoon instead of walking in for some a-la-carte on a Friday night.

#5: Shop When The Big Sales Are On

I have the Millerton Lake behind me on my drive to Friant in California.

I have the Millerton Lake behind me on my drive to Friant in California.

No matter how much you control yourself, you are bound to buy a bag full of nonsense on your next trip abroad (read – When A Traveller Takes A Holiday). Because it’s impossible to reign in your impulses, the least you can do is shop during shopping festivals or holiday seasons. I’m currently holidaying in The States and I think I’m going to need another suitcase just to fit all the stuff I bought on Black Friday!

Do you have any travel tips you’d like to share?

Are you guilty of spending unnecessarily on your vacations?

Write your comments below! 🙂

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Forex Tips for your Overseas Travel

For most casual travelers, planning any foreign trip involves a checklist which more or less covers the following:-

  1. Air tickets
  2. Accommodation
  3. Visa
  4. Mini lists of things to do/see/eat/drink
  5. Foreign exchange
  6. International calling

Money Matters

Once you have your flights and visa figured out, you should map out your finances for the trip. All the other things on the list above can be figured out on the fly. But foreign currency is something that you need to arrange for before you leave the country. We Indians, especially, are at a disadvantage as the rupee is not a reserve currency, and those paper bills are little more than souvenirs to your foreign hosts. I remember having to carry cash in dollars and euros on my short trip to Sri Lanka (read: First Impressions of Sri Lanka) as not even our neighboring country would accept the Indian rupee! You can forget about exchanging rupees in faraway continents such as Europe or the Americas.

We all dream of pretty castles we'll visit on that Eurotrip

We all dream of pretty castles we’ll visit on that Eurotrip (a snap of Trakai Castle from my Lithuania trip)

For flashpackers and last minute travelers, the burden of arranging for Forex makes spontaneity less exciting. I remember when my friend went on his first international backpacking trip to Canada, and realized a few hours before he was to catch his flight that he had no currency bills except a couple of thousand rupees! He had to exchange his notes at the Mumbai airport at the worst rate possible! (He was later able to arrange for sufficient Canadian dollars with the help of his hosts, but only after a lot of hassle.)

Forex Solutions?

It is for such situations that you need a convenient foreign currency and money exchange solution. When IndusInd Bank told me about their newly launched IndusForex.com, I was curious to know if it would help travelers like me. So, I got on a call with their Retail Banking Head to have my queries answered.

Foreign trips don't mean you have to lug around your treasure chest!

Foreign trips don’t mean you have to lug around your treasure chest (plenty of which you can buy in UAE)!

I picked his brains on their multi-currency exchange portal to gauge if it was comprehensive enough to be a one-stop-shop for my Forex needs. The site primarily lets you buy and sell Forex, send money abroad in 16 currencies, and reload your Forex card in 8 currencies. Which brings me to my first tip:-

Tip-1: Get a Forex Card!

It is the simplest and most secure method of carrying money on a foreign trip. I have used Forex cards on each of my 3 trips to Europe so far (read: Lleida – A Reminiscence). There are certain things you must keep in mind with a Forex card:-

  1. It works as a debit card, so you can withdraw cash in your destination country’s local currency at any ATM.
  2. You need to remember a PIN (obviously!)
  3. You lose nothing when you lose the card, because you can easily call up the issuing institution, ask them to block the card you lost, and ask for a replacement / addon card. Without your secret PIN, the Forex card is only a piece of plastic.
  4. You can shop and pay your restaurant bills without carrying credit cards with you (which levy a significant Forex conversion fee and can be misused if lost as many countries don’t need a PIN / two-factor authentication).

It is easier to enjoy your al fresco lunch when you know how you will be paying

It is easier to enjoy your al fresco lunch when you know how you will be paying (picture from Riga)

IndusInd Bank’s new Visa Forex card additionally promises some features, most of which I haven’t seen on such cards by other banks / Forex card companies:-

  1. No currency conversion charges even if you are converting among the 8 available currency-options in the card. This means, if you are just back from USA, and are prepping for your next trip to Singapore, you can convert your balance US dollars into SG dollars at no extra fee!
  2. No processing fee when you order and load your card for the first time.
  3. No ATM withdrawal fee. (With other cards, I’ve always lost a couple of Euros with each withdrawal, which has prompted me to take out excess cash just to avoid being charged for frequent ATM visits.)
  4. Fully paperless application process. The site lets you upload your supporting documents (passport and PAN) online, and dispatches the card via courier (if you don’t wish to collect it physically).

Cash is just as important as digital currency when you are on the road

Cash is just as important as digital currency when you are on the road

Tip-2: Carry Cash in Multiple Stashes

Despite all the cards you have with you, it helps to have cash for a few reasons:-

  1. Not all places accept digital money (think: roadside kiosks famous for local street food you just cannot miss)
  2. You may not have access to an ATM everywhere, especially in sparsely populated hamlets situated away from the cities.
  3. You will need some emergency cash in the event of your cards getting stolen (even if you have no notional loss).

For all foreign travel, I always split my cash into at least 3 parts.

  • One part is hidden somewhere in my check-in luggage.
  • The second part is usually tucked away in my carry-on bag.
  • The third stash is always on my person (in a waist-pouch or money-belt). Any thief will literally have to get into a deadly combat with me to get to the 3rd part.

When you keep money in multiple locations, you always have some even if one part is stolen or lost. Also, if one of your bags is lost/delayed in transit, it doesn’t spoil all of your vacation.

It's easy to smile when you know your money is safe, even though your hair is in disarray

It’s easy to smile when you know your money is safe, even though your hair is in disarray (that’s me in Budapest)

I’ve given you 2 of my biggest money-tips for your next trip abroad! Do you have some more of your own that you’d like to share? Let my readers (and me) know through your comments below! 🙂

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