Photo By kokorowashinjin

Photo By kokorowashinjin

Picture this. You are sitting back in your all inclusive hotel and relaxing in the sun when you notice an exclusive snorkeling excursion offered that will take you around the island, provide you with a romantic dinner, and show you a number of exclusive sights that normal tourists do not get to see.

 
Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

 
The problem is that the opportunity is only going to be perfect if you planned to have enough money to make it happen.

 
And that isn’t always as simple as we thought.

 
The last thing you want after a big vacation is to feel like you missed out on something, have any regrets, or be dealing with credit crunching debt. This is especially true if you end up traveling somewhere in a group and all your friends can afford an excursion while you can’t.

 
For many, the days of traveling on a bare bones budget with barely enough to survive are over. Living off of food scraps, sleeping in seedy accommodations and skipping out on luxuries used to be the epitome of a good time.
Things certainly do change over time don’t they?

 
Thankfully, it is possible to have your cake and eat it to when it comes to budgeting and traveling for pleasure. If you plan ahead, search for bargains, and cut out some overpriced tourist luxuries, then there are ways to afford an excellent vacation on a reasonable budget.

 
All you need to realize is that budgets aren’t always as much of a downer as people think. Do it right and the rewards far outweigh the drawbacks.

 
So let’s get our travel budget done.

 
Not All Destinations are Equal

 
If we want to create a travel budget properly then the first thing we have to do is accept the fact that not all destinations are equal, or even affordable. One week in certain destinations in Europe can cost exponentially more than an entire month in a South American destination. The fact that most of South and Central America is more affordable makes planning a little bit easier, but there are still noticeable variables all around.

 
To budget properly for a vacation means to be prepared. While your dream may be to sit in a quaint coffee shop in Paris and watch the sunset, you need to ask yourself whether you would rather pay the same price for a cup of coffee in France as you could for an entire night’s stay in a Latin American hotel.

 
While traveling is all about personal preference and choice, you need to really think about the global financial situation. Back in the 1960’s Europe was easy to do and see on less than $5 USD a day. Now you would be lucky to find one, classy alcoholic beverage for less than $15. This price difference is especially glaring if you have a flair for luxury. You can settle down in a 3 or even 4 star hotel in places like India and Argentina for $50 a night. However, if you walked into a hotel in Madrid and slapped down a $50 bill you would be laughed out of town.

 
Thus, the best way to begin a budget is to figure out how much you can spend, and then compare what that money will get you in different places of the world. If your budget is $1,000 and it means you can only stay in a place like Norway for 2-3 days maximum is it really worth it?

 
Starting your Travel Budget like a True Financial Expert

 
Start off planning your budget by sitting down and figuring out the maximum amount of money that you would be ok with spending on your vacation. The good news here is that you can usually bump that figure up a bit because of all the money you are saving by not being at home. For example, food costs, utilities, your phone bill, and so on.
So if you decide that you have a maximum of $2,000 to spend on your vacation, then you begin by subtracting the price of airfare from your budget. If your flight costs $800 then you have $1,200 to spend while you are in the chosen destination. If you plan on spending two weeks away from home, then you now have just over $85 to spend per day including food and accommodations.

 
That is more than enough cash for some places, but far from enough in others. You may notice that some destinations you seemed “destined” to see just are not meant to be. Does this mean that you are forced to sit at home and do nothing again this winter?

 
Absolutely not.

 
The Dreamer’s Budget

 
This is the style of budget for people who simply want to make things happen. If you want it bad enough there are always ways to get it.

 
Sit down and look at your dream destination and try to calculate how long you will need to stay there. How long will it take to see everything you want to see and do everything you want to do? Next, figure out how much it is going to cost to see and do all of those things and stay in your destination for X amount of days.

 
All that is left to do is to convince yourself to spend that much money. If you simply cannot come up with the money, then try to lower your expectations for accommodations or plan the trip in the offseason. Even try cutting down on costs at home for a month or two beforehand. If you want that vacation bad enough, you will find a way to get it.

 
Putting Together your Travel Budget

 
Once you have decided where you are going, and have a good idea of how much you have to spend, it is time to get into the actual budgeting.

 
It may not be fun and it may not be easy, but it is the best way to make sure you make the most out of your dream getaway.

 
Here is how you can come up with the total cost of what you think your vacation is going to end up setting you back. (Or forward if you are a positive thinker)

 
1- Pre-Vacation Costs

 
These are the costs of everything that you will be purchasing before the vacation. This includes any visas you need to get, new clothes, sunscreen, a new camera, or anything you may be investing in to make the trip that much better.

 
2- Air Travel

 
Look online and come up with an approximate cost for airfare for the specific time of year you are traveling. Be sure to sign up with a site such as Yapta.com to ensure you get the best deals.

 
3- Miscellaneous Transportation

 
This part of the trip cost includes taxis, buses and other ways of getting around that you will be using for your trip. You can utilize guidebooks to give you a good idea of cost and the itinerary of the attractions you want to see will give you information on what transportation you will be using.

 
4- Accommodations and Meals

 
The best way to estimate the cost of your accommodations and food over the course of your vacation is to use the internet and up to date guidebooks. While it is pretty impossible to come up with exact figures, there is more than enough information out there to give you an excellent guesstimate.

 
Keep in mind that there may be fluctuation in pricing while you are there and since other tourists have been there. If you plan something such as $50 a night for accommodations for 2 weeks, be sure to add about 10-15 percent to keep you safe in case there have been changes. So if you calculated that 2 weeks for accommodations will be $700 be sure to $100 just to be safe.

 
The same goes for meals.

 
5- Extra Activities

 
If you do not plan ahead and budget for extra excursions and fun activities then they can destroy your budget. These experiences are things such as sailing, rafting, snorkeling, fishing, and so on. Chances are that these opportunities are going to be all around you and you won’t even know you can do them until you get there.

 
So once again to be on the safe side you should check guidebooks and the internet as well as call travel agents to see what sort of activities are abound in the area. These resources can give you a good idea of what different excursions will cost and which you are interested in. However, it is also a good idea to always budget a little extra for this part of your trip as you never know what opportunities you will come across or what sort of deals you will stumble upon.

 
6- Miscellaneous Purchases

 
This is the category of your travel budget that you want to add a little extra money to. This will cover things like any clothing or souvenirs you buy, beverages, postcards, tips and a whole host of other things. Whatever you think is an appropriate number to add into this section, add at least 25% more to it.

 
Putting it All Together

 
The key when it comes to budgeting for travel is to overestimate. One of the safest ways to budget is to add up all of the money in these categories and then once again add an additional 10% to 15%. When you are not at home you simply never know when unexpected expenses will arise, or what temptations may surface.

 
You are far better off over exaggerating your travel budget than underestimating it. If you end up coming home from your dream vacation with extra money in your pocket, that will be a definite bonus. However if you come home from your dream vacation to an unbearable credit card bill, then your wonderful vacation memories can often fade.

 
If you have finished creating your budget and find that the grand total is out of your reach it doesn’t have to mean the end of your vacation plans. The principle of a budget is to figure out what you have and what you can afford. If it looks like your trip is going to shift your bank account into overdraft then reconsider a few purchases, items or attractions. You still have time to cut down on costs and alter the plan to fit your lifestyle and your budget.

 
Lastly, avoid budgets that take into account only the basics. Not only will you often have less fun but you will often end up spending far more money than you originally planned to. Take into account what you can afford, leave some room for leeway, and make your dream vacation happen.

 
If you want it that badly, you will find a way to get it.

Photo By Permanently Scattered

Photo By Permanently Scattered

While there are an infinite number of challenges to face when it comes to moving abroad, the truth is that many of us make it more complicated than it needs to be.

 
Yes there are different ways to live, of course people have different ideas of the lifestyle they want, and obviously general rules are not going to apply to everybody. However, if you respect your new country and use common sense you will find the transition abroad is often far easier than other people make it sound.

 
Here are 2 basic rules for living abroad that can do wonders and help you avoid culture shock and getting home sick.

 
Rule for Living Abroad #1- Make an Honest Effort to Learn the Language

 
There is a wide range of expats in the world and it is impossible to group them altogether. However, as you will notice when traveling, there are quite a few expats who will complain about racism, unfairness, paying more than locals for goods, and the attitude they get in certain situations.

 
While this does not apply to everybody, in most cases these people have run into these situations because they do not respect their new country or the people within it. Many Canadians, Americans and Europeans will whine and complain if immigrants come to their country without learning the local language, yet they are more than willing to do the same in return.

 
By practicing the language, engaging in basic conversation with locals and simply proving you respect the culture and the people, your transition into the community will be made far easier.

 
Even if you cannot grasp the language at all, the effort alone makes a very impressive point to the people around you.

 
Rule for Living Abroad #2- Live like the Locals

 
Many expats wonder why they get dirty looks from locals in their new country, or are forced to pay more for certain items like groceries. Yet, these are often the people driving around in supped up SUV’s, living in mansions, and spending frivolously.

 
If you turn your nose up at the lifestyle of the locals, then chances are you can expect them to do the same to yours.

 
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t live an affluent life abroad if you have the money, it just means you still have to appreciate the people around you. There is no need to flaunt wealth, drive through local farms with your SUV or mock local food and instead head to McDonald’s.

 
Simply be aware of your surroundings and engage in the local culture, flavors and activities. Dance to the local music, sing out loud to the local songs, and attend local festivals and parties.

 
Living abroad is all about the experience and not always about sustenance. Remember that and your entire transition will be made much easier.

 

Respect those around you, whether you are broke or a king, try to blend in with the culture, no matter how weird it seems, and show that you are sincere about the country you are heading to.

 
If you make it obvious that you are only there for the tax breaks or cheap rent, then you shouldn’t be surprised if you are treating like an outsider.

Viking Cave Photo By Fitri.Agung

Viking Cave Photo By Fitri.Agung

Simply put, the cost of living in Thailand is astronomically lower than the majority of cities within Europe, North America and most of the world. There are an exponential amount of expats that are finding out how easy it is to get by on as little as $10 a day. The better news is that if you take advantage of these tips for living cheap in Thailand you may even be able to live on even less than that. Sounds like the perfect escape doesn’t it?

 
Well it can be.

 
This type of living isn’t for everyone, and there are many people in Thailand that spend an incredible amount of money per month in order to live affluently. However, if you are considering moving abroad to save money or are interested in finding an affordable vacation then this is the article for you. All you need to do is use common sense and cut a few corners here and there, and you may save more money than you even realize.

 
Where and When to Visit Thailand

 
One of the best ways to save money when traveling to Thailand is to plan your trip according to the low season. This is between May and November and means that prices for absolutely everything from airfare to hotels and even food at classy restaurants are a lot cheaper. You can even rent scooters for a better price and get discounts on attractions, drinks and shows.

 

An added advantage to the low season in Thailand is the fact that there are fewer tourists in the area, which means better access to a number of places and events for you. On top of that most business owners will be dropping prices and throwing in amenities and bonuses in order to compete for your valued money.

 
Steer Clear of Touristy Areas

 
Places such as Phuket and Ko Samui are known as top tourist destinations in Thailand, which means they come with extreme prices and are full of merchants looking to take the most money out of your pocket as possible. If you want to save money and connect with the “real” Thailand then try and head to the South and North Eastern parts of the country.

 
Cut Down on Island Living

 
The islands of Thailand are incredibly impressive and well worth a visit, but expenses can really stack up in these areas. Everything in the area needs to be imported which means prices for food, drinks and even services are much higher than on the mainland. You will definitely want to tour the islands, but leave your wallet at home and stick to souvenirs and restaurants in cheaper areas.

 
Overnight Traveling

 
Hotels and accommodations are probably going to be the most expensive part of your stay in Thailand, but you can eliminate part of that cost by taking overnight buses and trains. You can travel to an all new part of Thailand and get a decent sleep as many of the trains in the country are quite comfortable. While there are a number of overnight buses, trains are considered to be quite a lot safer, and far more comfortable.

 
Dining and Sleeping in Thailand

 
A good tip for traveling in Thailand is to never feel bad when locals, or anyone for that matter, offer you free things. Many Thai families are more than willing to share what they have and it is a part of their culture to display their kindness and ability to host. Turning down an invite to dinner may seem ruder than simply accepting and counting your blessings. Who knows, a family dinner may even lead to a free place to crash for the night. Now that’s what we call traveling cheap.

 
While you may not need to fork over any money, you should always be willing to give what you can when dining in someone else’s home or crashing on their couch. Simply offering to do the dishes or run some errands can go along way, and help you feel more welcome during your stay.

 
Find Free Water

 
You may not realize how expensive purchasing bottled water every day can get, especially when you are used to your Brita filter or just drinking from the tap. Instead, give this idea a try. Purchase large bottles of water, which are cheaper in the long run anyways, and then feel free to refill them in your hotel lobby before you head out for the day. It is quite a common occurrence for people to do so and you will not get the weird glances in your direction like you may if you did the same at home.

 
Fight your Urge to Tip

 
A lot of people see a lack of tipping as rude, but that is simply not the case in Thailand. While a lot of us have been raised and taught to tip based on good service, it is simply not expected in Thailand. Locals do not tip and foreigners are not relied upon to either. In fact, in some instances tipping is seen as a rude and unnecessary display of wealth.

 
Indulge in Local Cuisine

 
Surely you have had your fill of western food before heading to Thailand. To be honest, the imported foreign food in Thailand does not even taste the same or as good as the stuff at home, so why not just skip out on it altogether?
Thai food is delicious, cheap and diverse. The best part is that you will never be more than 5 minutes away from a food cart or a cheap restaurant where you can grab a quick bite to eat.

 
Leave the Alcohol in the Mini Fridge

 
There is more than enough whisky and beer available at the supermarket and it is extremely cheap when compared to bars and the mini fridge at your hotel. If you really want to cut down on costs then you can stick to cheap Thai Whisky, but it may leave you useless for the whole day after.

 
Added Tips about Thailand Law

 
Police in Thailand are more than willing to dish out fines for people not wearing seatbelts on the road and motorcyclists who opt not to wear a helmet. Just because the locals do it doesn’t mean that you are going to get away with it either.

 
Littering is taken pretty seriously in Thailand and a tossed cigarette or throwing an empty beer bottle in the street can lead to a fine if the police see you do it. This is another law that locals tend to get away with breaking but where foreigners and expats are fined all the time. Thai people may be welcoming and friendly, but they do not want tourists coming in and making a mess of their streets or beaches.

 
Employment in Thailand

 
There are quite a few jobs that are available where you can get paid under the table in Thailand, however it is illegal. Teachers and anyone planning on doing business within the country should make sure they go through the Visa process and fill out all the right paperwork. If you want to simply earn a little cash on the side while touring the area by all means go for it, but be aware that there are consequences for breaking the law if you are caught.

 
Thailand has always been a popular vacation destination and it is quickly becoming one of the most popular places where expats head to in order to work abroad and save money. However, just like with any other destination in the world it is possible to blow all of your cash here if you try to live a certain way. Use common sense, try to keep tabs on your spending and make a budget, and get caught up in the local flavours and culture.

 
The Land of Smiles has become the Land of Opportunity for many, whether they are looking for a brief getaway or a new life abroad in Thailand. It is up to you to make the most of this unique and dazzling paradise and these tips should help you along the way.

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