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How To Make A Budget For A Trip

Posted by Jen King on 2/15/16 8:37 AM

ILP Mexico

Set to be living in a foreign country? You better set a budget so you don't run out of money and miss out on a vacation in Bali or some other dreamy destination.

Seriously, come see places like Bali — this guide called Traveling On A Budget is full of tips (like how to get emails about cheap flights). 

Running out of money really happens. When I was living in Europe for a semester, me and my ILP group (we were all volunteering in Lithuania) wanted to take a long weekend trip up to Sweden .... but half of our group couldn't go because they simply couldn't afford it! They hadn't budgeted enough money and at the end of their trip they had to miss out.

Don't let that be you — use these tips to plan and travel on a budget: 

Set A Goal Amount 

Do some research and come up with a number to save up for. If you're an ILP volunteer, you can go on the ILP Facebook groups and ask alumni in your country how much they spent and what they recommend. 

Just remember, this amount really depends on your spending habits. One person might only spend $1,000 over a four month period because they're really great at bargain shopping (use these tips to bargain) and don't buy lots of gelato or tacos. 

Keep in mind what part of the world you're living in as well. If you're going to live in Europe, don't ask someone who lived in China how much they spent. It's incredibly cheaper to live in China than it is in Europe! Do some research online for costs of living in different countries (That might even change your mind about where you want to go abroad).

ILP Russia

Budget for a little extra

You ALWAYS spend more than you planned on. Just plan on that in the first place, and you'll be okay. 

Budget for the most important things first 

Look at your semester abroad — Do you have vacations or time off scheduled? Any flights or train tickets you need to purchase yourself? Personally, I'd rather make sure that I can go on a vacation versus making sure I have money to buy souvenirs. 

Think about activities you want to do — Maybe you think it would be the coolest thing to camp on the Great Wall of China instead of just visiting for a day. Maybe skip out on a bit of souvenir shopping so you can afford to do that bucketlist adventure.

Then, break it all down — If $1,500 is your total budget for spending money while living abroad, and you decide you want to set aside $1,000 for your vacations, then you have $500 for the rest your trip. Maybe spent $300 for souvenirs that last, and $200 on eating out.

Evaluate where you're at the halfway point

 It's really easy to over spend at the start of your trip because you're excited and wanting to get out there, do everything you can, eat everything you can, and experience everything you can.

If you find that you're overspending, see how you can scale back. Maybe start splitting meals to save money or walk instead of taking a taxi. 

A Few Other Tips For Travelers On A Budget: 

Don't buy souvenirs at the start of your semester. 

This might be the biggest tip I can give you. Seriously.  Wait to buy things until you've lived there for about a month — you'll see the same souvenirs all over which means you can shop around for the best price (touristy places will have the highest prices!). Plus, once you've been abroad for a while, you'll be more familiar with the exchange rate and will know what a good price is for those cute nesting Russian dolls. 

Also, you'll want to buy everything when you first get there ... but after a while, you'll realize what items are really important and you won't waste your money on things you don't really want. 

Set aside a budget specifically for eating out (or whatever your biggest temptation is).

If you're living in China, a yummy dinner is only going to set you back about $1.50. Amazing! So amazing that it's really easy to say, "Let's go eat out!" Every. Single. Night.  Pretty soon those really cheap purchases add up without you ever realizing it.


Get more saving money tips from International Language Programs — and get a bit more info about our program, right here. We're a non-profit organization who sends volunteer abroad to teach English and travel for a semester in countries all over the world. Oh and did we mention that your program fee includes roundtrip airfare, housing and meals? 

Interested in learning a bit more about living in Poland or spending a semester in Thailand? Come talk to an ILP rep! 

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Topics: Saving Money

Exploring The World For Over 25 Years

Hi! We are ILP, a non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. Check out our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

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