Tips from The Travelling Twin – The importance of a budget

Ashley wrote in:

“hey michelle i read your blog and i adore your passion for travelling, i too one day would love to travel the world… i’d have to save up a lot though. any tips?! :)”

A lot of people ask me this question: any tips, so here we go, the first of what I’m sure will be many installments of Tips from The Travelling Twin.

My number one tip would be to budget.  It’s one of the most important things when you’re on the road, and it’s equally as important before you go.

Try to sit down and figure out how much money you need for daily life, ie. life while you’re still at home.  Don’t be too frugal, as you need to have fun before you go as well!  I usually make categories, such as: Food, Gas, Clothing and Gifts, Rent, Entertainment and Other.  Set aside either a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly amount for each and STICK TO IT!  You can always borrow from one category for another if you’re a bit stuck, but try to save up for what you want.

In addition to these life categories, always have three more: Emergency, Long-term Savings, and Travel.  Throw about $20-$50 a month into the Emergency one, which comes in handy when your car breaks down or you run into some trouble.  Long-term Savings is of course always a good idea, and if you can start an RRSP early, you will be able to travel into retirement! < Can you tell I work in a financial institution?!

And then of course, Travel.  Try to decide what kind of a trip you’d like to take, how much money you will need to save, and how long you think you will need to save up for it.

I’ve personally been on a budget since 2006.  One might ask how it’s possible to stay on a budget for so long, and why in God’s name would anyone want to sacrifice so many nights out, weekends with friends, new pairs of shoes . . . well, I reply: do you have a few thousand ways to have fun sitting in your bank account?

It’s worth it.  There will be moments when you feel like you will never get on a plane, never get to dust off your passport, never get to leave town, and I don’t deny those moments are brutal.  But give yourself the occasional break.  There’s nothing wrong with taking $200-$400 out of your travel account to go away for a weekend here or there, it will help you get to the ultimate goal of a bigger and better trip.  Your psyche (and your friends, who have to put up with your miserable moaning) will thank you.  Always keep the final goal in mind though, whether it’s two weeks in Cuba, 3 months in Europe, a year circumnavigating the globe on a round-the-world ticket, or a lifetime of question marks, make sure you know what you’re aiming for, and always aim high.

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