Financial planning tips for your nomadic life around the world
In short vacation planning, the financial aspect is limited to booking hotels, renting cars or booking shows. When planning for a travel around the world, the focus however shifts from activity planning towards financial planning. The latter is crucial not only because all the bookings for hotels, restaurants, etc. cannot be made a year in advance but also because you do not want to run out of money in a foreign country or maybe even in the wild. So the question is how to do financial planning?
1. (Get to) know your travel style
While in our minds we can all create some image of what it may look like to travel the world, this picture is not the same. Traveling has many facets: backpacking, cruises, city hopping, couchsurfing, all-inclusive-travel, guided travel, solo travel, luxury travel to name a few. All these are ways to make your way around the world. It’s up to you which one you utilize to get around the planet.
“Most people travel the world to get to know themselves. Our advice is to get to know yourself before traveling the world (and then get to know yourself better as you go)”
So how do you find out what travel style suits you best? While listening to your inner voice may be an easy way, we believe there are others which are more practical and give more reliable results:
Derive your travel style from your everyday life. Assume you are a fitness freak and cannot do without going to gym every day after work. If going to gym is an essential part of your chosen daily routine, it is wise to consider that you should also not refrain from it when traveling. Hence, your travel style should make it possible for you to regularly go to the gym. Staying in hotels with fitness facilities or staying at the same place for a few weeks to subscribe to a studio will be better options for you than backpacking in the wild.
Try out different lifestyles over a few weeks. This one is also more of an indirect approach to finding out your travel style but at the same time a fun one. For a period of two to four weeks each, try out different lifestyles. While for the first period you try out a minimalistic life, you go for a more luxurious life in the second. Figure out which lifestyle is going to give you more happiness and joy in the long term. This will give you a good idea of how to travel around the globe.
Get practical and try out different travel styles in short trips. This approach provides the most realistic simulation of your long-term travel. Simply test out travel styles on weekend-trips. Before Nicole, one of our team members, decided to backpack around the world, took three days off from work and wild camped in the forests of Rhineland-Palatinate, covering around 25km per day by foot. Although her equipment at that time was very rudimental and didn’t give her the actual comfort she would have with her professional backpacks when traveling the world, it showed her that she can get along well with a minimalist lifestyle.
No matter which of the methods above you apply to define your travel style, always keep in mind that the more clarity you have about your travel style, the more you will enjoy your actual world trip.
2. Know where to go (always take your weather with you
Many roads can take you around the world. While some people consider booking a RTW-airline-ticket as the most convenient way to get around the globe, it is not only high-priced but it also limits your number of possible itineraries as those tickets often include conditions on the sequence of countries, directions, number of continents to be covered and of course the time-frame. Independent travelers therefore often prefer going around the globe on their own itineraries including long-cuts and unforeseen stops. No matter which approach you take, when planning where to go, consider the following tips:
Sit down with a globe and mark the countries and places from your bucketlist which you consider a must-visit during your journey. Dreamed of becoming an archaeologist as a child? Now it’s time to visit the Pyramids of Giza! Once done, draw a line from your home around the globe connecting all the countries marked before. That’s your milestone map. Now you can explore the countries in between and decide whether or not you would also like to explore them or skip them by taking a flight between any two bucketlist countries.
Don’t have any bucketlist to fall back on? Don’t worry. As with finding out your travel style, you can take into consideration your interests, hobbies and preferences to select some destinations. Are you into the Lord of the Rings? Why not travel to New Zealand, pardon Middle-earth and explore Frodo’s neighborhood. A great help for Nicole was to select her destinations based on her holiday preferences. Since she prefers beaches over mountains, it was clear to her to not spend a lot of time in landlocked countries.
One more advice from a local’s perspective. Unfortunately, we regularly hear about and see travelers which behave badly towards the local population. It should be a matter of course to respect locals, their culture and traditions. When making your list of countries, only consider those which you can respect or are in line with your personal values. Don’t travel anywhere as a missionary.
Not worth to say but sometimes not that obvious: avoid traveling to warzones and politically unstable countries as your beloved ones want to welcome you back healthy after you went across the globe.
Apart from planning where to go, it is also essential to know how much time you will spend in which country. While the time in most destinations will be limited by the validity of your visa, it is helpful to get a rough idea of your duration from the country’s size and your preferred means of transportation.
3. Budget your daily expenses
With your travel style, destinations and itinerary in hand, you should now have a sound imagination of how your travel around the world will look like. Now that you can imagine it, you can also financially plan it. For starters, we will only have a look at the cost side. Once clear about how much you are going to spend, you can look around for means of income while traveling.
Essentials: Start by budgeting the cost of essentials, i.e. accommodation, food and transportation. While for accommodation you might have a pretty good idea of your cost per month (especially if you live in a rented flat like Nicole did), knowing your expenses on food and transportation in your home country is not easy in case you do not track your monthly expenses. So how to then even know how much it will cost abroad? Luckily, thanks to the internet, you can find out local prices abroad from supermarket or railway websites and with the help of forex conversion rates, be able to get to know the cost in your home country’s currency. But let’s face it – this will be a vast online research! Even more, cost of living differ significantly among different countries and different travel styles, so taking a short cut is almost impossible. Here’s the relief: we did and keep on doing this exercise (actually not ourselves but the algorithms on our servers by regularly crawling the internet for cost of living at different travel destinations; all we do is hitting the start button J ). This way, we maintain a database of currently over 5,000,000 records of cost figures for hostels, mid-range hotels, luxury hotels, streetfood stalls, mid-level restaurants, gourmet temples, buses, metros, cabs, etc. With Leap, you have this vast database right at your fingertips. To make it easier for you, Leap comes with an interface that allows you to budget your essentials in only three clicks! You can download it from Play Store Leap - Travel The World On A Budget.
One-time expenses: All one-time expenses for a destination such as visa, insurance, vaccinations, etc. also need to be considered in the travel budget.
Activities: If you are going on a long-term travel, chances are high that you will not only learn about other cultures but also about yourself. In order to make the best of traveling to a new country you might also want to learn some form of art or culture for example learning Karate in Japan or meditation in India or Flamenco in Spain. If not an art form you might want to go on jungle safaris in Bhutan or ride on a camel in Morocco or climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. All these expenses need to be considered in your budget as well. These additional activities might increase your travel expenses and you might have to save a few months more but it will you give you feeling of freedom and joy knowing everything is well planned and covered.
Pocket money: Last but not least, in order to not be surprised during the travel, we recommend you to add some pocket money or extra budget per day into your calculation, as this gives you the freedom to buy souvenirs, give tips and give treat to yourself as you shouldn’t forget that you are on holidays.
4. Find out what you want to pack
Depending on your travel style, you might have to acquire new or additional gear for your world trip. In our case, after applying the tips to define your travel style mentioned above, we decided to go backpack the world. This, however, required us to purchase additional gear. As our luggage was limited to whatever fits inside a backpack and we are capable of carrying with us (in addition to 3 litres of water and food for the day), we had to wisely plan our gear packing list. Even then, we had to drop some gear on the way as it turned out was not giving us enough benefits considering its weight contribution. Here is what we learned from our world travel:
From your travel itinerary, consider in what season you will be where on the planet and create your packing list accordingly. If you plan to travel to countries with high temperatures only throughout the year, carrying one sweater and one wind breaker rain jacket is enough.
Take time to explore what is available so that later you don’t regret any purchase. The market for travel gear has been booming for the last couple of years with brands serving the needs of budget travelers, mid-range tourists to luxury travelers. Other streams within the travel gear market include sustainable travel gear, light-weight equipment, etc. Visit multiple stores and surf the internet before you make a decision on what items are good enough to accompany you on your world travel.
Budget your gear expenses to know what you want to buy and in which price range. Thinking of the fact that you will have to finance the essential cost of a long-term travel, you might underestimate the contribution of your travel gear to your overall travel budget. This holds especially true if you plan to carry along electronics you do not yet possess such as an action camera and a drone to capture your adventures. To estimate your travel gear expenses, you can search the internet or simply use Leap’s gear budget planner. In this, we regularly crawl the most popular online shops on the average prices for travel gear to give you an idea on the cost. You can also edit the price for a specific item in case you are already sure about the price point of the item of your choice. Last but not least you can also add further items which are not (yet) in our database to complete your gear shopping list.
Start by purchasing the most important items and make yourself to the end of your shipping list. This tip prevents you from packing too heavy things into your bag or suitcase. Carrying sport items for example might sound very tempting if your bag is almost empty and your goal is to improve your fitness but beware that every kilogram of additional weight will make you suffer on the way.
Avoid buying multiple items which serves the same purpose. Here we do not only speak of brands or manufacturers, but in terms of product categories. When packing your bag, you do not have to carry both a tent and a hammock.
With these tips in hand, you will be able to carry only what you really need while maintaining your budget.
5. Track your finances
After getting to know how much money you will need for traveling the world, it is time to take a look at your finances and, if necessary, optimize your monetary flows. Whether you decide to live entirely from your savings or have an income while traveling the world, the fact that you will change your lifestyle requires you to take a look at your current incomes and expenses.
If you already know well about your monthly finance flows that’s great. If not, now it’s the time to start tracking them.
Create categories of spending such as food, home, clothing, health, etc. Do not forget to include financial flows which occur quarterly or even only once per year for example car insurance. Also note down relevant expenses which might occur in future for example the pay-back of your student loan.
For regular expenses such as groceries, you won’t have to track the spending of an entire month. For now, it’s good enough to track them for one week and multiply by four. In the end of the process you should have a list comprising all your average monthly incomes and expenses and their financial value.
Identify which one of the expense categories you can reduce and calculate how much money in total you can keep aside for your travel each month before the trip start.
Last but not least, estimate incomes you might achieve from selling your furniture, car, etc. or you will receive from filing income tax-returns.
6. Find out when to start your trip
In this step we want to find out how long it will take until you have saved enough money for your travel.
First, evaluate which of your incomes and expenses from your list created in the last step will occur before the trip (“pre- trip”), during the trip (“in-trip”) or in both cases.
Finding out when you can start your trip is a simple exercise in case you finance your travel expenses entirely from your savings. Starting from the current month, note down which incomes and expenses will occur and extrapolate your total savings at the end of each month until your travel budget is met.
For those of us who want to explore the world with a passive income, however, the challenge is to start traveling the world as soon as possible, meaning before the entire travel budget is met. This way, only a portion of the travel budget has to be covered by your savings at trip start, while the majority of your travel expenses will be financed from your incomes during the travel. Calculating when you can start your trip in this scenario, however, requires a simulation of your finances for the entire time before and during the trip, especially because your expenses are not constant over your travel time but highly dependent on where you are in the world. This cannot be done with pen and paper anymore. Leap here considers the budget of every single destination of your world travel when simulating your finances along with your future incomes and other expenses. Leap thereby finds out when you can start your trip without running out of money at any stage during your trip.
7. Project your life until the start of your trip
Now that you have a travel itinerary and the travel budget along with the estimated trip start, all you need to do is to carry out your financial plan. To keep track of your progress towards financing your travel around the world, it is a good tip to set financial goals to achieve by the end of each month. You can use your financial forecast of the last step or Leap’s finance tracker for the same.
Make a schedule of what to do in the last three months before your intended start of the trip. This is the time during which you may want to end contracts and start selling parts of your inventory. Also you should book the flight and apply for visa for your first travel destination. Four weeks before the start of your travel, make a detailed schedule of what to do in each of the remaining weeks. Appointments with your landlord, a farewell party with friends and family, or the sale of your car should be noted down in this schedule.
We very much relate with our fellow travelers and want to make their travel an experience to be cherished for the lifetime. We have come up with an Android App Leap - Budget World Travel. It helps you in planning and budgeting for your long-term travel or world trip with just few clicks. Since it is developed by community of experienced travelers all possible needs are considered with the focus letting Leap do the hard work and make anticipation the best part of your journey.