• Home >
  • RTW  >
Author: Sean Keener

35 Long-Term Travel Budgeting Tips

RTW 30 courses
Do you like tips? Well we got plenty of ’em.

Check out the following 35 tips on all things budget for a RTW trip

Set Aside Some of Your Paycheck: 

  1. To help save some dough for the road, create a ‘travel kitty’ and pay into it every paycheck. Then, DON’T TOUCH IT. Creating a separate savings account specifically for travel is especially helpful.

Base Your Purchase on Use, Not Value: 

  1. When bargaining for an item, don’t base your purchase on how much lower you got the vender to go. Base it on how much you’ll use it, not how good the deal is.

Bulk Buying

  1. Bulk buying will save you money on groceries. When possible, cut down on some of the packaging and advertising and buy no-name pasta, trail mix, etc.

Buy Jugs of Water

  1. If you’re travelling through areas where purchasing bottled water is recommended, buy large jugs and keep them in your room. Save money by using them to fill up smaller, more portable bottles.

Ask for Going Rates

  1. At the hostel, ask seasoned backpackers (or someone who looks like they’ve been there a while) or hostel workers/owners what the going rate for a taxi/t-shirt/dinner is, so you’re less likely to get ripped off.

Send Home by Sea

  1. The cheapest way to send anything of quantity is by sea. Chances are, it won’t matter if a box of souvenirs takes three months to arrive home…you’ll still be on the road anyway! Send the important, need-to-get-there and should-be-insured items by slow mail.

Car Rental Coverage on Credit Cards

  1. If you use certain Mastercard or Visa credit cards to pay for the car, you may not need to pick up the insurance, as the credit card company does that for you. Ask with your card carrier before you travel.

Renting Mopeds and Motorbikes

  1. Motorbikes and mopeds can be considerably cheaper options versus renting a car, and they’re lots of fun, too. Be safe and use caution when renting for the first time, and regardless of that countries’ laws, always wear a helmet.

Don’t be Embarrassed by Your Budget

  1. Don’t be embarrassed by your budget: chances are there is always someone trying to do it for less. Don’t allow yourself to be talked into extras that you don’t need.

Pay With Cash When Booking Trips

  1. Pay with cash when booking trips and you can sometimes save yourself a small percentage of 2-3% that may be tacked on to credit card purchases. This is particularly true in developing countries.

Get Cards That Give Back

  1. Apply for credit cards that give you something back, and start putting all your purchases on that card (make sure to pay it off every month!). Cards offer a variety of incentives: airline miles, cash back, gift certificates, etc., and if you’re saving/planning for months/years, you can build up a lot of rewards before your trip.

Low Interest Rate Credit Cards

  1. When applying for credit cards and/or debating which ones to bring on your trip, pay particular attention to the interest rates. If a low-introductory interest rate grabs your eye, find out how long it’s offered – and what it jumps up to after that time period is up.

Stretch Your Moolah

  1. If you have a low budget, be sure to seek out cheap to travel in regions like Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, and Latin America. Your dollars will go much further in a country like Cambodia than it will anywhere in Europe or North America.

Churched Out?

  1. After awhile, a lot of the churches begin to look the same. If you notice yourself spending less and less time in them, save yourself the fees and see if you can walk in to the front of the church where you pay. Most of the time, you can see in, and if it’s something you want to study closer, pay the fee and walk in. Otherwise, snap and picture and go find something else to do.

grand palace bangkok
The Same Goes for Museums, Temples, etc.

  1. After a while, the normal sight-seeing gets old, and you may want to forego museums and temples. Make sure to look for days when museum entrance is free or discounted. Many museums open their doors for free one day a week. And if you don’t feel like visiting any museums, churches, or temples anymore, that’s OK.

Yeah for VAT

  1. If you plan on dropping a bit of dosh in one specific country, inquire about Value Added Tax or V.A.T. V.A.T. is a tax that governments levy on large purchases and MAY BE REFUNDABLE. Check with the tourism board for more info. Make sure to keep your receipts.

Overnight Trains/Buses

  1. If you’re rushed for travel time, consider taking an overnight train or bus. They’ll get you where you want to go and you won’t have to waste a day looking out of a window at farmland. It will also save you a night’s accommodation.

Eurail Passes on RTW

  1. If heading to Europe, invest in a Eurail pass. They work best for long-distance and longer-term travel, two things usually on the list for RTWers.

It’s Cheaper than you Think

  1. “I spent $8000 in 7 months! That’s less than most people’s rent in San Francisco.” – Tutti Taychakhoonavudh

Budget Carefully

  1. “Budget more carefully than I did! I ended up working more than I would have liked at the beginning of my trip, because I kept blowing money in Japan. Japan is really expensive!” – Angela Weller

How Much to Budget?

  1. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you how much money to budget. However, we can give you a good piece of advice: Europe is the most expensive continent in the world, and the rest of the Western countries aren’t far behind. If you’re tight on cash, skip these parts of the world and stretch your dollar in places like Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, and Latin America.

RTW Ticket Deals

  1. Keep your eye out for RTW airfare specials by signing up to receive our twice-monthly highlight of the best RTW deals out there – Round the World Ticket Watch

When Not to Fly

  1. Avoid flying on days that are popular with business travelers such as Friday, Sunday and Monday. Tickets tend to be more expensive on those days. Look for Tuesday or Wednesday travel dates for the cheapest air ticket prices. Book your RTW ticket now!

Where to Get Fake Student Cards

  1. Not a student but want the discounts? Heading to Asia on your RTW? Check out backpacker central Kho San Road in Bangkok and pick up a fake student card for less than 5 bucks.

Watch Spending When Traveling With Others

  1. If you’re traveling solo, chances are your daily spending with increase when you pick up a partner-in-crime. You’re more likely to go out to eat at local restaurants, drink more, and do different activities that you never would have done on your own. Remember you can say no if you start traveling with others.

Be Diligent About Budgeting

  1. There are a number of factors to consider when looking at your budget. Will you be staying in hostels or 5-star hotels? Do you like to eat out? Are you paying for all of your flights and transportation expenses ahead of time? Are there any pricey ‘extras’ such as a safari or skydiving that will cut into your on-the-road budget? Will you be spending more time in Africa or Western Europe? Think of as many factors as you can before you figure out how much you should be saving.

Set Aside a Slush Fund

  1. In addition to your everyday budget, keep a slush or miscellaneous fund for activities that you really want to do that don’t full under your daily guidelines. Examples are wine tours, rafting, skydiving, etc. These larger purchases are more palatable when you’ve already set aside some cash.

Keep Your Budget In Line

  1. Every night, write out exactly what you spent that day and compare it to your budget. Don’t leave out anything: this includes the $1.50 soda and $10 you lost at the park. If you are going dramatically over budget, look at the list and figure out your weaknesses -– an expensive coffee, beers at a bar, etc. – and cut them out or adjust accordingly.

Credit Card Conversion Fees and Rates

  1. When you buy a purchase overseas and use a credit card or debit card to pay, the bank automatically gives you the current going exchange rate. Ask your credit card company if they charge a conversion fee on overseas purchases. If they do, this is usually a nominal amount. There are certain cards who don’t charge any international conversion fee like Capital One, so do your homework and get the card that’s right for you.

Store Conversion Rates

  1. Some high-class establishments can convert items into U.S. dollars before your card is charged. There is no reason to do this, as you are always given the going exchange rate on your card. However, if you do want your items to be converted, make sure the rate they give you is a fair one.

Automatic, Paperless Statements

  1. Before you leave, sign up with your bank to receive automatic, paperless statements that you can view online. This way you have access to the most recent and accurate account information, no matter where you are in the world.

Enroll in Automatic Bill Pay

  1. Most companies now offer automatic bill-pay, where your charges are automatically deducted from your checking account. Examples include phone bills, insurance, student loan payments, etc. If you will be required to make any of these payments overseas, arrange to have it done automatically. It will save you a lot of hassle later.

Warn Your Credit Card Company Before Traveling Overseas

  1. Call your credit card company before you go and tell them you will be traveling overseas for an extended period of time, especially if you’re taking cards you rarely use. Credit card companies have elaborate fraud-protection systems in place and they utilize your credit history. If you never use your card and you’re suddenly making $500 purchases, while overseas at that, there is high probability that your card will be denied until they can ascertain that it hasn’t been stolen. Save the company – and more importantly, yourself – the trouble and let them know in advance. Make sure you have all the international toll free numbers written down/saved somewhere easily accessible.

Know Your Bank Exchange Rate

  1. Before you hit the road, know how much your bank charges for foreign withdrawals. Chances are, they won’t be free, but that 2-dollar fee is worth getting the exact current exchange rate on $300.

Know Your ATM Fees

  1. In the United States, if you withdraw money from an ATM not associated with your bank, there are often two fees charged: one from the ATM, the other from your bank. You will most likely be charged an international conversion fee. Check with your bank and shop around for the best deal.

Never Exchange Money at an Airport or Hotel

  1. The worst exchange rates are always at the airport or hotel. Always.

Skip the Traveler’s Checks

  1. Traveler’s checks are a real pain. Even if they’re in local currency, many places won’t take them. They are outdated and unnecessary in 99% of the situations nowadays.

What tips would you add to this list? Comment below to share your expertise!
Read more about budgeting for your big trip: