To expand our "Practical" section, here is a dedicated subject aboutbudget.
How to forecast and manage budget.
How to optimise the spending, advice and tips.
The first thing we considered when planing our adventure was, of course, money.
Trying to evaluate a budget before even deciding if you’re leaving or not will probably make you stop the adventure right there. Better to have your priorities
set up, maybe a vague idea of your itinerary, and only then, start counting.
With the help of blogs and the countries’ consumption index you get a general idea of what to expect. Be on the generous side just to be sure, and hurray! you have won
the right to wonder where the hell you will find that kind of money.
Learning to detach yourself from the prominent materialistic view of our western society will save you a lot of money. Yes, I know, you just can’t live with all these
nice objects supposedly defining who you are, but life is too short to fall in love with inanimate junk you won’t be taking with you in your final voyage in the afterlife.
Travels, experiences, feelings...maybe?
I’m not trying to convince you to abandon your cats and dogs all of a sudden (for the simple and obvious reason that they aren’t objects), but rather to try and help you
let go of the things you don’t really need, if you’re set on leaving. (You’ll understand later!)
Yes, the best way to fun your trip may seem a bit dumb since it’s so obvious, but it’s working a lot a few years before leaving and of course saving where you can.
Delphine, who was used to save her money since she was a child (and who had anguish fits when her bank account got lower than 1000€ when I met her), is a good exampleof that mindset. Being a couple helps too (or not...). Again stating the obvious, but it has to be said.
2 Stop smoking! !
As I did, 5 years prior to the trip, and kept saving the cigarette money, while accounting for tobacco price inflation over the years. That’s 10 000€ right there for me.
Yes, you’ve read that correctly.
Cancel all your automated bill debit. If you’re living in a rental, vacate it.
As far as bills go, we kept our 2 blocked phone plans (10€ each). Just a precaution.
If you own your place, great! Rent it.
4 Flea markets
Next step is easy: sell the car. The one after, not so much: sell the motorcycles. We then sell the trailer, the kitchenware, we hit the flea markets.
Keep in mind, nothing is too cheap to sell! 0.2€ will get you something to eat in some part of Asia, so sell away.
Well have fun with this one! Our bank wanted to give us...a gourd and a disposable rain poncho.
We still managed to get a precious help from our webdesigner Zapilou and from "MOO" for our business cards MOO.
5 Be creative
I sold organic stone milled fire baked bread to restaurants and friends/family.
Here’s a diagram of our spending after 6 months in Asia:
1 About planes
Yes, plane tickets is where most of your hard earned money will go. So Let’s take a closer look.
Unless you are short on time, it’s advisable to avoid travelling by plane in Asia. Buses, taxis and hitch-hike are -a LOT- cheaper.
Our travelling ratio between planes and ground transportation is about the same by the way, but clearly isn’t on the expenditure diagram. Another advantage of buses or train: if you choose to travel by night, you’ll save a night at an hotel or a guest-house.
profite moins du paysage !
We tried to gather more infos on the matter back in France, with a so called travel agency, specialized in multi destinations plane tickets, as they claimed.
The best we got out of them is a verbal "Around 10 000€ for 11 destinations" and a lot of silence even after calling them back 3 times. That’s when we took matters
into our own hand.
6 months later, we’re totalling 1975€/person for 10 destination across all of Asia.
Another way to do it: avoid planes completely, like our Russian friend Igor Shozik did, hitch-hiking for 6 months straight without a cent in his pocket, living off his harmonica
Another one of our acquaintance, François chooses to travel exclusively on land.
2 Make good use of compare websites
We ourselves chose the plane a few times, so we checked Skyscanner,quite often.There’s a nifty trick to the insanely long wait in between flights to get the lower possible price.
Then, instead of Lyon -> Sri Lanka, with a stop in Rome, we did Lyon -> Rome, stayed there for 2 days, and then did Rome -> Sri Lanka, for exactly the same price.
Just pick the same flights with with a 2 days delay. These stops then become real parts of our trip: we managed to stay 2 days in Rome, Dubaï and Istambul.
Keep in mind though, some visa for these countries don’t come for free.
Watch out when sometimes a paying visa is required !
An other website can provide the lowest fares on flights you already know: Darjeelin.
3 Low cost companies
Low cost generally means that you’ll travel dry: consider yourself lucky if a free glass of water is given during your flight.
Also, minimalist travelling helped us a lot: with a restriction of 7 to 9kg of luggage (electronic equipment not included), better start packing lightly!
If your bag weighs 12 kg but your electronic equipment weighs 4kg, they usual let you get away with it.
Otherwise, get ready to spend 20 to 50$ on the fine, and no, you -still- can’t ask for water during the flight.
Thankfully, we always managed to avoid the fine even with 14 and 9kg bags.
If we had known beforehand, we would both have left with 5000€ in our backpack instead of paying unnecessary fees.
Yes, you’re taking a risk, because getting robbed or mugged is always a possibility, but minimalist travelling is, again, an advantage here, as you usually don’t attract
unwanted attention with simple backpacks. (that you can use as pillows!)
5. Spreadsheet your expenses
Spreadsheets are very helpful to track where you are in your budget. Linking expenses to a precise date and a precise activity is invaluable.
You can then safely plan ahead, take "off-days" where you’ll try to spend less than x€, but also removes the fear of overspending. Information is key.
Then you can adapt the actual exchange rate shown on your bank account and fees you got on a transaction
You just can’t avoid those. We try to stay longer in countries where visas are charged for. Here’s an important tip: Count the days left until your departure flight. Even
if a travel agency handled your tickets, do it. (We ended up paying 40€ per person in Madagascar because of that.)
Added days can become very costly if you don’t watch out, and it happens easily. For example, when you’re looking for a plane for the 8th and pick a night flight. You realize the flight
leaves at 3 am. The 9th...We paid a 30€ for the both of us in Bali because of that.
Entrance can be free in some countries, but be mindful of the entrance point, like in Indonesia. (See below for details)
Thailand entrance visa used to be of various length depending of whether you entered by land or air, but now both have been brought back down to 30 days.
7.Picking a bank
Here’s a silly mistake: Joint bank account. Just keep it separated, to enjoy twice the goodies, and free credit card for each.
I admit it was harder than expected, but we managed to change banks mid-trip, because of how expensive ours was.
Online banking has a few nice perks for cheap, like account management, online consulting and even free credit cards.
Try and take the time to let your bank know of your destinations and dates of arrival (a basic email is enough), to avoid unfortunate card blocking due to security measures depending on the country you are in.
Also make sure to ask for an exceptional credit card limit set at 1500€ per card, per week. Yes, even if it’s a "normal" card (aka not "Gold" / "Infinite" or others).
That way we managed to sometimes enjoy more freedom than our friends paying 10€/month for their cards. Like say buy a vehicle in 2 or 3 withdrawals, or more commonly to avoid unnecessary ATM fees.
This is very important: Keep a limited roaming phone plan (roaming can usually be freely activated by your MNO)
Delphine uses a double SIM card phone, to cover our local number needs.
Too many times have we seen friends coming across issues for not having a phone, like say for a green light sms from the bank in case of some purchases. Online plane ticket, booking a rental car, or just to order things for your close ones while you are away.
When reaching a country, trying to delve into the culture and currency is very important: Stop thinking in euros or dollars (except for you budget at start).
An easy step to understand prices and living standards is to go to the local convenience store, check the prices on common products, check what people tend to buy, and also find a gas station to check the prices.
11.Eating local and vegetarian helps
"Local?" Well yes, I can hear you from here dear reader, scoffing at the obviousness of my statement. Actually, after 6 months in Asia? Not so obvious. In Bali for example, a restaurant can cost you ten times the price of a local snack.
Contrary to Europe (where a vegetarian dish can cost you twice the usual price), eating vegetarian in Asia helps your wallet...and your stomach: they’re so afraid you’ll go hungry, they even double your portions! The price of the meal is (nearly) the price of the meat only, with the vegetables and side dishes included. Great deal for us!
Eating veg’ can be less risky in some places though !
12.Negotiating. More and a right, a duty
Negotiation are pretty much a set rule in some countries, and you have to play along. See it that way: each time you don’t manage to pay as cheap as the locals, you threaten their lifestyle by risking a price raise. For example in Jaipur (India), tuk tuk driver don’t want to drive for locals anymore, but favor tourists who pay thrice the usual price. When negotiating, Indians manage to lower it to "only" twice the usual.
A friend in Jaipur was forced to buy a moped because of such practice.
A perfect way to meet new people, we have to admit it’s also one of the greatest asset to save money once to reach Malaysia and Singapore. Some options, like workaway, let you trade your stay for a (small) amount of work, a bit like wwoofing.Sometimes we encountered backpackers explaining how much this can be abusive on wor hours or conditions. Some websites are becoming to rate the work places. Example: SavvyGypsy.
We did a bit of advertising and French baking training at the Swiss Lanna Lodge in Thailand, in exchange of an unforgettable stay.
14. Alcohol and tobacco
If you’re a drinker, a smoker, or both, you can’t escape the universal fact that, despite being cheaper than in Europe, both of these products tend to make our bill lean on the heavier side, mainly due to taxes, and often unreasonable consumption due to cheaper prices.
Try to keep it to a bare minimum: in India for the price of a beer, you get 7.5 Tchaï, or 4 lassis, or a full meal for 2 persons. Yes, again, you read that right.
15. Our tourist friends
It’s not uncommon for us to come across and befriend European or American tourists. If they’re on vacation for 10 days at most, they may have some currencies left, so it may be interesting for you to trade these for the same amount with an easy bank transfer. We made good use of our French checks!
So you can figure out the logo of the legend
Here the budget summary:
Avoid the Safari tour at a grand 45€ each. If you want to enjoy the wilderness, try Kenya or Australia. Landscape and culture is where it’s at in Sri Lanka.
Try booking your nights via the app 4 to 5 days prior if you’re using a foreign credit card, to avoid bad surprises.
Always haggle for towels, and soap even, if need be.
Take a look at several hotels in the neighbourhood, ask to visit the room you’ll be staying in, it’s common practice across Asia. sur son smartphone.
Be aware: any kind of trekking will be done with a guide: There’s a pretty effective policy in place of mis-information or lack thereof of the nice places to visit. Dig around to find free trekking itineraries (forums, acquaintance)
Bangkok commotion free: Bangkok can become overwhelming really fast, so try the Thewet district on Si Ayuattaya Road instead of Kao San Road. You’ll find a few cheap guest-houses, a daily local market not far, and a 15 Baht boat trip to the city across the river.
Don’t bother bringing "unfolded dollar notes", it’s an urban myth now, there are ATMs everywhere, and the exchange rate + taxes is far from unreasonable.
3G communications work really well and are quite cheap: 0.75€/Gig’
The Kecil Island was the more interesting part of the Perenthian Islands. Besar is filled to the brim with pollution, and even more expensive for less.
Kuala Lumpur is a nice city, with loads of free activities to enjoy, if you’re willing to walk the extra mile, literally.
- Arriving by bus from Malaysia is a good option.
If your budget is tight, 2 choices: Find a kind cheap/free host, or shorten the length of your trip in Singapore. It seems there are a few youth hostels where you can sleep for 10€/night , but far from the city center.
Link for the Give what you feel Indian Restaurant Annalakshmi.
Transportation isn’t cheap in Bali, so consider renting a scooter, it might only cost you 3€/day in the long term.
Avoid calling for a cab in the Denpasar airport that, incidentally, isn’t in Denpasar, but in Kuta, a mere 25 mins walk from the city center and 35 minutes away from the beach its costly hotels.
The average budget per person and per day, overall, is 18.51€, so less than 3500€/ person for an all inclusive 7 months trip so far.
To compare with our home-town back in France, Chambéry, someone living alone in a 48m² flat in the city center would end up paying 570€ a month, or 19€/day, on rent alone. Add water, electricity, taxes, insurances, food, etc.
Being a couple, of course, helps in some cases: A well served one person dish halves the price, room rates are more interesting for two. It’s also more convenient to avoid packing double of everything if you’re alone.
On the contrary though, for all the rest, everything is doubled (Visa, transportation, etc.). In the end, travelling alone or as a couple creates two very different view on budgetary constraints.
Many articles already exist about it online, so we tried to point out some new aspects, hope that can help some of you !