How to Budget Smarter for Long Term Travel

Have you ever thought about traveling for more than your allotted two weeks of annual vacation?
It can be daunting to plan for long term travel and budgeting for an extended backpacking trip is very different from a short vacation, especially if you’re not receiving a paycheck during or after the trip!
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when planning out your finances for a long term trip:

Cost of Living

The cost of living is an undeniable element to consider when budgeting for your long term trip. The two things you need to ask yourself are:

  • Which countries will you be visiting? 
  • What will your daily expenses average? 

In some countries you’ll spend five bucks for a 10-minute taxi ride, whereas in other countries it could be 20! Check out popular travel forums and guidebooks to research what other travelers have experienced for their average daily cost of living in each of the countries you plan to spend time in.

The Big Three & You

One of the biggest factors of your travel budget is you! No matter the cost of living, if you want to find ways to spend money, you can. Figure out where your style is on the backpacking-to-luxury-vacation spectrum of travel. Consider these three big factors:

  • Housing: Do you prefer private, air-conditioned rooms or is camping more your style?
  • Transport: Will you cover long distances with buses and trains or pay a little extra for a flight? Don’t forget to account for the cost of any known long haul flights.
  • Food: Will you want to go to the hottest restaurant or will ramen noodles satisfy for three meals a day?

Most likely you will find your style while traveling, but it is a good factor to understand. Once you find your style, you can always budget for an occasional splurge!


Another aspect of your travel style is how you want to balance quality versus quantity during your trip. Review your itinerary and find out:

  • How many places will you be visiting?
  • How fast will you be traveling to cover it all?

Slow travel can provide the time for incredibly deep and rewarding experiences with locals, however, you will see fewer destinations. If you’d like to visit a lot of sites, you can move to a new location every few days, however it typically costs more to travel that quickly. Again, it all comes down to balance.

Activities, Extras & Padding

Everyone travels for different reasons, from outdoor adrenaline adventures to spa and medical treatments. Do you have any big splurges planned? Make sure to account for any activities or experiences you want to include.

Are there any extra costs you could account for now? Here are a few smaller costs that could add up quickly: vaccinations, visa fees, buying souvenirs, mailing packages home and travel insurance.

How will you cover any emergency costs? Will you have money in your account when you return home? Consider including some budget for any medical issues or emergencies. If you’re leaving home without a job or house to return to, its also a good idea to include a financial cushion to help you re-establish your life when you return.

Though there are many other small costs you could plan for, the bulk of your budget will come from your traveling style, itinerary and the big three mentioned earlier. Once you get a handle on these, you can break it down into a monthly, weekly or daily budget that can be easily tracked and managed when you’re on the road.

Are you planning an extended trip abroad? What other concerns do you have? 


About Author

Sherry is a life-long learner that loves challenging experiences that push her comfort boundaries, open her heart and expand her brain! She is passionate about meaningful travel, photography, social entrepreneurship, women's rights and gender equality. She is currently following her passions by traveling for 17 months around the world through Latin America, Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia to discover how her skills and passions can best intersect to create positive change. You can read about her travels on Grassy and Wanting Wear or get her latest tweets via @Soulowist.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.