If you have been following me on my YouTube channel or read my post about my expenses in New York City than you know that I love frugal living. I thrive on living in accordance with my values and spending my money accordingly. In New York City I adhered to a $1,300/month budget and I was absolutely loving it. As you may know if you’ve ever lived in New York City, it can be pretty pricey and because I’ll be primarily exploring Europe and Asia I set myself a monthly budget of $1,000. Now dependent on where you are located and what your level of income is you’ll perceive this as a lot or not much at all. Regardless of where you are coming from, setting up a budget is useful when traveling and whenever you are living somewhere for a longer period of time.
What is a budget?
Per definition a budget is “an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time”. I like to think of a budget as a permission to spend. There are various ways how you can go about setting your budget and my favorite method consists of two steps. 1) Based on your spending habits define your spending categories such as shelter, food, transportation and whatever it is that you can think of that you are spending money on. It can be a regular expense, such as food or a more irregular expense such as expenses for hobbies. 2) Go through each category and define how much you are going to be spending the upcoming month for every single one of them.
Today I’d like to give you a rough breakdown of where my money is going and how my $1,000 per month travel budget is set up. Please bear in mind, budgeting is something very personal and the budget that you will come up with will be dependent on 1) how you like to travel 2) where you’ll be going and 3) how long you’ll be traveling for.
I am a lover of renting apartments through Airbnb and have been traveling like this ever since I first found out about it a couple of years ago. Whenever I am traveling alone or with a friend I also enjoy staying at someone else’s place through Couchsurfing. On this trip I am traveling with my partner and will therefore mostly be staying in Airbnb’s. The budget I set myself in this category is between $300-$400/month and for the purpose of making it simply we’ll stick with $400. Whenever I am living somewhere rent is accounted for in “shelter” and vacation rentals go into “accommodation”.
2. Food (Groceries + Eating out)
I love food. I love shopping for it, I love cooking it, I love devouring it. I love everything about it. In New York City my budget for groceries was $200/month and my budget for eating out was $50/month and therefore $250 for food in total. Granted, New York City is a pretty expensive place and the budget I set myself while living there felt just right. For my year long trip I decided to go with $200/month, $150 for groceries and $50 for eating out. That’s not to say that I’ll be spending this much every single month however, I feel comfortable knowing that I can. Please bear in mind, your food budget is largely dependent on what you enjoy eating and to which places you’ll be traveling to. I thrive on a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, I love my greens, beans, grains and oats and wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am thinking about deleting this category as I sometimes struggle with adding the correct items to it. Initially I thought of this category as a place where I can budget for things such as fancy chocolate cakes, vegan ice cream – you get the idea. Oftentimes these exact items end up in my “Eating out” budget and I oftentimes forget to separate it. My monthly budget for this category is $15. If you treat yourself to something special more often than I do, then consider this category an option.
In this category falls everything related to transportation such as public transportation tickets, car rentals, bus tickets and plane tickets. I walk a lot, greatly enjoy taking public transportation and only plan on taking a handful of flights while on the road. I therefore set myself a budget of $300/month. That’s not to say that I’ll be spending $300 every month however, I feel good knowing that pricey plane tickets can be bought with ease as these types of expenses have been budgeted for.
Right now I have everything that I need for my one year long trip around the world and I don’t plan on buying anything. However, should an item of clothing need replacing while on the road I will do so and budgeted $20/month for this. That’s $240 for the whole duration of my trip which is plenty of money. Considering how affordable thrift stores can be I can travel and wear what I have with ease and replace things that are worn down as I go.
In New York City I only spent $10/month on my phone plan. I had a phone plan from US mobile that suited my needs and worked perfectly for me. Traveling a lot can mean having to buy a bunch of sim cards and luckily that’s no longer really necessary now that Google’s project FI is around. Project FI is a phone plan that works in 140+ countries and costs as little as $20/month. My partner signed up for it, he and I are sharing a phone plan and it comes out to be about $15/month for me. Sign up using this link and get $20 off.
This is where I simplified A LOT. My personal budget consists of 17 categories and most months nothing ends up in miscellaneous. When everything is planned for there is no such thing as an expense that can not be put into a category. Of course, sometimes it does happen and expenses come up that I didn’t plan for and that don’t quite fit into any of my categories and that’s when this one comes in handy. However, ideally you’d want as little as possible in this category. My budget for this category, which in reality are lots of categories (utilities, wifi, accommodation, transportation, gear, health, toiletries, piercings, hobbies and gifts), is $50/month.
That’s it for my monthly traveling around the world budget. As mentioned earlier, budgeting is something really personal and it’s up to you to see what works and what doesn’t. That’s the fun part, you can make it work for you, your needs and your travels 🙂
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