Just how much does it cost to travel abroad?
The short answer- it can be amazingly cheap, to ridiculously expensive, or, anywhere in between. It all depends on you, and what you’ll be doing.
What are your standards and limitations- Can you stay in a room with 8 other people?
Do you need hot water to be happy, or, can you go a few days without a shower at all?
Depending on whether you will be staying in one particular hotel, city, or Country during your travels can affect your budget greatly.
How about them vices? Daily coffee for example can quickly eat away at your budget, costing equal to, and up to, 4 times that of a single Thai meal from a street vendor. There are many choices for food, but you will always pay a premium for eating non local foods, like retail fast food or Indian food (while not in India). A few beers quickly adds up too, but then again, when does it not?
When I first did my research (having read a few blogs) into travelling abroad, I was entranced by the possibilities of how amazing one can live on such a small budget. A one bed room apartment, or tiny house can be had for around $300 per month if you shop around, or, don’t mind a room mate. Great tasting meals can be had from street vendors for $1. Transportation can be dirt cheap as well, if you stick to public transportation, and don’t mind 3rd class trains, which are perfectly fine.
Now before we go into all that, keep in mind that you first need to get to where your going. The prices of flights vary greatly, but generally from Toronto, Canada to Bangkok was around $1,300 One-way, being the low average price in December. If you book round trip, include hotel, you may also get some sort of discount.
Before the flight even takes place however, one must remember their immunitization shots, and any prophylaxis medications or antibiotics depending on the area, and season that you’re travelling in. This can drain your budget big-time even before your plane leaves the runway.
Health Insurance, everyone says it’s mandatory. Best advice is to shop around at every single place you can as prices vary greatly.
Medical appointments in Thailand are very affordable, $30 covered a doctors appointment, and medication. Your medical insurance will most likely reimburse you for expenses after your trip. So setting aside emergency money is important.
You can live like a king, or queen, at very little cost in parts of Asia. The trick is staying in one hotel, or house, for the long term. One to Six months will get you the great rates that are not possible when hotel hopping. Eating local foods is an excellent way to meet some locals, eat tasty meals, and save your hard earned money. Public transportation as mentioned before isn’t too bad once you get the hang of it, and will cut costs measurably. Try to find someone to help you with this, as large cities, crowds of people and a foreign language may intimidate you into sticking to English speaking taxi drivers.
Your first day from the airport should be the only time you take a taxi, as they tend to be crooks and liars no matter what country your in. The difference is, back home, your not a tourist.
Aside from say, a 7-11 convenience store, you can and should always haggle prices no matter the situation. If they give their lowest price, or refuse to budge, there are dozens of other vendors, drivers, stores selling the exact same thing just a stones throw away.
Want to go to an event, or day tour? Try the many different tour guides littered amoungst the streets. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount, and you can save a good deal of money shopping around.
It’s your adventure, and you should have fun first! Keep in mind though that dealing with strange currencys that have denominations that vary wildly from your own, can have a strange effect on your mind, like it’s not real money your dealing with. Knowing that everything is cheaper here can also be a curse. Example- buying many things because it’s all such a great deal. Before you know it, that $7 massage, $3 dollar meal, taxi ride to the beach, coffee, iced cream or the 3 tailored suits you drunkenly purchased… it all adds up in the long run.
So, what have I spent from beginning, to the end of one months travels?
Well, having no experience what-so-ever to travelling and the world in general, I knew the first month was going to be rough, cost wise, and sure enough…
-5 Months travel INS cost $300. Roughly half the next lowest competitors rates.
-Flexible as to the date, a 1-way air ticket cost $820. Although cashing in credit card points brought it down to around $480.
-Needle jabs (Twinrex, combo shots, various immunitizations and medications…. $1000. As if the constant needles in both arms wasn’t painful enough…
-Hotels, transportation, food, extra curricular activities, medical expenses for one month.
A guesstimate based on what cash I brought with me, how much ATM withdrawal since here, finally, subtracted from what I have left.
One Month’s total $1,600
Grand Total= roughy $3,400
I’ve had one hell of a time so far, but this is waaay too much. Being forced to spend much more by hotel hopping during the PEAK tourist holiday season has been the biggest culprit. Spending on fast foods, daily coffee, not knowing how much to pay for transportation, and staying in some tourist hotspots has cost me greatly as well.
So, this years resolution, is to still enjoy myself, but hang on to my colorful little Bahts as best I can… a little sacrifice here and there, and staying in an area for longer may just be what’s needed.
Awwww wait a minute. It’s my birthday tomorrow! And…. I’m in Patong Beach… Mmmm…. Let’s wait a few days before worrying to much about this budget thing ya?