This a guest post courtesy of Deanna Gregorio of TravelCuts.
So, you’ve decided you want to (literally) see the world. From the penguins of Antarctica to the Inca ruins of Peru and the foodie treats of Europe, there’s no part of this great planet that you’re willing to miss. Awesome! It’s going to take effort and dedication (and savings), but if you want this, you can make it happen. Here are our tips to make the planning process go as smoothly as possible …
Money, money, money. No matter how you look at it, you’re going to have to be wise about how you save and spend your dollars if you want the trip of a lifetime. One of the best ways to make this easier is to participate in SWAP, so you can work AND travel. These are the destinations supported by SWAP, which we can help you book …
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
*These are specifically teaching positions
It depends on where you’re going, but a good rule of thumb is to budget about $100.00/day for Europe, Australia, & New Zealand; about $45.00/day for Asia; $35/day for South America (but this varies from country to country); and anywhere from $60-$100+/day in Africa, depending on where you are staying. These estimated budgets include your accommodation, activities, food, and transportation. Keep in mind that you can bring costs down if you have a friend or family member to stay with, or really inflate your costs by staying in luxury everywhere you go. Make sure you always pair your travel with an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), if you’re a student! It’s one of the best ways to save while travelling.
If you’re planning to work and travel, you should have about $6,000 saved up for Europe & Australia, and $4,500 saved up for Asia. SWAP requires you to have a specific amount of “support funds” saved before you leave; depending on exchange rates this may be less or more than our suggested amounts. Always be certain you have the required funds BEFORE leaving to participate in SWAP!
Besides working & travelling, there are a lot of ways to make your money go further. We’ve all heard the old adage about “the cost of a cup of coffee a day”, but it seriously makes an impact. If you take the $1.75 you’d normally spend on your daily coffee and put it into a travel fund instead, you could easily save $500 (or more, depending on your caffeine addiction) in a year. Want new clothes? Instead of going shopping, arrange a clothing swap with your friends and you can all refresh your wardrobes without spending a penny! Take this opportunity to do a few odd or freelance jobs for people you know. You’ll want to take loads of photos on your journey, so why not brush up on your photography skills by doing a few freelance gigs? The biggest tip we can give you is to invest the money you do make. Take a portion of every paycheque you get (even $100/month helps!) and invest it in a savings account. If you set up automatic deductions, you won’t even have a chance to miss the money you’re saving, and it will grow into a beautiful travel fund right before your eyes.
Where to Go
So you’ve saved up to traverse the world, but where do you start? This is a big world, and you need to have a plan if you’re going to make the most of your time abroad. Here are a few suggested routes from us …
- Start Europe, travelling West to East. Make your way to Russia and take the Trans-Mongolian train to China. From here, participate in a tour (or individual exploration) around South East Asia. From there, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump over to the South Pacific. When it’s time to head home, you can sleep on the long flight, full of memories from the trip of a lifetime.
- Start Australia, working abroad with SWAP. Travel over to South East Asia for a minimum of 3 months. Next, you’ll want to move on to the Middle East & Africa (if Safari is on YOUR bucket list, this is the place to do it!) before making your way to South America, and then back home. It’s only a 6-hour flight from SJO to YYZ!
- Start Costa Rica, and take a Spanish class with SWAP! Travel through South America (starting in Colombia and ending in Brazil), then jump over to western Africa and be sure to visit Morocco on your way to Europe!
Really, the most important thing is that you decide beforehand which countries are on your MUST-SEE list, and which you’re okay with missing. There’s often wiggle room during your trip, but absolutely have your start and end point decided and confirmed before you leave. A book like Rough Guides: Best Day on Earth can help you figure out where to go and what to do!
When to Book
Early is ALWAYS best. If you’re taking on a trip of great magnitude, you’ll want to save every possible penny. Booking your major flights at least 6 months ahead of time will get you the best fares. The closer you get to departure date, the more you will end up paying for your flights. If you’re in London and decide to take a last minute trip to Paris, booking that flight last minute won’t break the bank (although ideally, you’d book all flights well in advance to get the best price).
When you’re booking your flights, REMEMBER to also book your travel insurance! For a year’s coverage, travelcuts has travel insurance as low as $486*. It’s a minimal cost ($1.33 per day!) and oh-so-necessary when planning a big, multi-continent trip. If something happened while travelling and you had to end your trip early, that would be heartbreaking enough on its own. But imagine all your hard work to save up going to waste as well? That would be a real tragedy. So make sure you book your travel insurance before you leave!
You’ll also want to consider the time of year you travel. If you’re starting out in Australia, you may want to start your journey during Canadian Winter. Beginning in Europe, you may want to book for Fall as it’s a less popular season for travel (thus CHEAPER), and you can be around for the Christmas Markets in December. Decide before you leave how long you want to be abroad – and save accordingly. You’ll likely be spending a year or more away from home, but it’s definitely worth it for a trip of this magnitude.
travelcuts can help you make the most of your time and money, whether you’re taking on the whole world, or just a few countries! Check out travelcuts.com and get started.