1. Beer, Bed, Basic Meal – The Cost of Living.
I gauge everything by the cost of a beer, a bed and a basic meal. If I have a maximum budget of £10 a night for a bed, then all I need to know is what the cost of a basic meal will be and a beer and then work out the cost of bus travel and any activities I want to do along the way. There’s my budget! The one thing that annoyed me about the guide books is that none of them told me how much a drink is likely to cost, or how much food will cost in the local supermarket. This site gives a pretty decent breakdown of cost of living, including how much items are likely to cost in the supermarket. It’s updated regularly as well:
I’m going to throw in CLOTHES at this point as well.
A light-weight, breathable rain coat is not enough, apparently. Well it depends, people have survived without it before but if you really want to stay warm and dry, you need GORE-TEX or some similar fibre. However, Gore-tex comes at a cost but you needn’t pay full whack for top brand items. Look out for special sales with companies such as Blacks, Cotswold or Kathmandu. I managed to get a rain coat for £90, reduced from £210.
Waterproof walking boots are essential for wherever you’re travelling to, as well as decent beachwear shoes that aren’t going to fall apart in a matter of weeks. It’s also worth investing in Merino Wool clothes. They’re light and keep you warm.
If you have time on your side just wait for these items to come down in price in the sales.
2. Tourist Visas.
If needed, tourist visas/cards often come at a cost, which is sometimes doubled if you are staying over a certain number of days in the country. Visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for more information and if you’re still in doubt contact the individual embassies for that country, in your city.
3. Departure tax.
Yes, some countries charge you for leaving. All information on entry requirements and taxes can be found here https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Carry dollars for departure taxes.
Prices do vary, so shop around the various travel clinics, specialist travel agencies and your GP/doctors surgery. I’ve written something a little more in depth on this topic in my ‘Top 5 Must Do’s Before You Leave.’
5. Bank charges and exchange rates.
Shop around with banks and find one that offers FREE cash withdrawals worldwide. Don’t just have one account. I have three; one for cash withdrawals – Norwich and Peterborough Building Society’s Gold Classic Current Account, which offers FREE cash withdrawals worldwide; one for my savings – HSBC (high interest), one with the lowest rate that can be used as a back-up, Metro Bank.
Always take cash out of a cash machine. More often than not, ATMs offer the best exchange rate. However, in some countries it may pay to take cash out in advance, especially for countries such as Cuba and Argentina as the individual ATM machines can charge anything up to 11%. Lonely Planet guides are a good reference for this sort of thing.
Take currency cheat sheets to help you get to grips with currency conversion.