In 22 days I will be leaving to travel around the world. A lot of my friends have said “that’s going to cost a fortune” or are merely just curious as to how much I will actually be spending on this trip. I will be gone for 20 weeks, 12 of which I will be volunteering abroad. When I started planning this trip I decided that I wanted to have all of my flights, accommodations, and any other travel expenses paid off before I even left. I know many travelers only like to book the first night or two of accommodation sometimes when they are visiting somewhere new, that way it gives them the option to check out different areas and they just pay for other rooms and places to stay as they go. I, on the other hand, am not that type of traveler. I like having things set in stone so I don’t have to worry about having to find a place to stay somewhere last minute. I also figured that if I had all my flights and accommodations booked before leaving, it’s just that much less to worry about while I’m away.
Another reason I wanted to have everything booked in advance was so I could leave for my trip already debt free, and will only have to worry about purchasing food or booking any type of excursion or entrance fees or whatever else I might feel like doing. Overall, I feel as though my expenses so far for this trip aren’t too bad – especially considering how long I will be abroad for. As of right now, I have spent just under $10,000 USD. It seems a bit high, but it really isn’t. For example, Ryan is coming out to be with me for a week in Europe and is paying a little over $1,300 USD for just one week. I will be abroad for 20 weeks and have only spent $10,000 for all my flights, accommodations, volunteering program fees, etc. Yes, I will still have to pay for food while I am abroad, however 12 of those weeks I will be in volunteer placement programs and the program fees I paid include housing and food accommodations. That is 12 weeks where I don’t have to spend money on food if I don’t really want to.
I also could have saved some money on hotels/hostels if I decided to book the cheapest options. However, at a hostel I’m really not too eager to share a room with 10+ people just to save a bit each night – my budget isn’t quite that strict. There are a couple nights where I booked a hostel room where I might be sharing a room with 4 or 6 other girls (because I’m also not keen on sharing a room with a bunch of guys I’ve never met before either). There are a couple of hostels where I decided to just book a single room as well, but for the most part I stuck to booking hotels when I could if they weren’t crazy expensive each night in the area I was looking at staying. Another way some of the hotels cost me more are on the couple of occasions where I will be meeting up with people. When Ryan comes out to visit in July, we decided to book places that were not expensive but not the lowest of the low. And my friend Jenni is meeting me out in Hawaii where we booked a studio hotel room, which really wasn’t too bad of a cost with the two of us splitting it, but it is Hawaii.
Another thing I wish I knew more on was when the best time to book flights out of the country were. Most of the flights I booked were more than likely the cheapest prices I was going to get, but a couple I definitely could have gotten cheaper if I had either waited to book or if I had booked it right when I saw it. I had found some really good flight deals going from Bangkok to several locations in Europe at one point – I’m talking less than $300 for a one way ticket – but waited too long and ended up booking a flight from Bangkok to Stockholm for a little over $400. For my round trip ticket down to Merida, Mexico, I kept seeing a constant price of $420ish so I finally decided to just book it – only to find out a week ago that had I waited I could have gotten a ticket for $250ish instead. But oh well, easy come easy go I suppose.
For those of you that are curious as to how much I spent under each travel category:
Travel Insurance: $291.00
Out of this $9,992.89, I technically only paid $9,382.36. Back in December, I decided to open up a Capital One Venture Card. I already had the Capital One Venture One card and really liked it, so I decided to apply for the Capital One Venture Card as well. By opening this, I was able to gain $400 of free travel reward points (hello flight to Hawaii!) and gained 2 points for every dollar I spent. Since opening it – including the free $400 – I’ve used $580.53 of travel rewards, and still have around $100 to use towards travel purchases between my Venture and Venture One cards. I also book a lot of stuff through Expedia, and recently had enough Expedia points saved up to take $30 off of my next hotel booking, which I used towards the hostel I booked in Barcelona.
It’s a pretty good feeling to know I’ve managed to pay off almost $10,000 of travel expenses before I even leave, because it is $10,000 less that I have to worry about paying while abroad!