9 Essential Tips For Traveling Around The World

Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
My fiancé and I have been living in the U.K. since December 2013, and we are about to embark on a trip around the world — in total, 14 weeks, 12 countries, and one heck of a big budget. So, where to start? Planning long-term travel means multiple spreadsheet tabs with complicated calculations, three savings accounts, one credit card, and various useful websites.

Honestly, the hardest part of it all was deciding to do it this way. Living in London has meant we’ve been able to travel around Europe on short breaks, and it’s been great. It’s super-cheap to fly to the European continent (or take the train), and there are huge savings to be made on accommodations and sightseeing, too.

So, why would we decide to pack up our lives and head off on an extremely extended holiday? We figured the world is not meant to be seen in bite-sized pieces. We could have stayed on our visas (and working) until December, but we have some other stuff in the pipeline (including our wedding — eek!) that means we needed to be home, in New Zealand, by then. So, we decided we wanted to take a decent break and see the world properly.

Here’s a breakdown of how we made this global trip a reality, and how we planned for it. Our system isn’t perfect or foolproof, but following it and focusing on these things really helped us plan intelligently and allowed us to embark on our journey knowing that everything was taken care of.


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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Where do you really want to go, and how much can you realistically spend? When you figure these things out, you can begin to decide what you can compromise on, and what you want to make sure happens. Could you have a layover, or do a different city than intended, or stay longer in a certain city? This will determine how long you can travel.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
This is only for your trip, mind you. Once you open the account, set up an automatic payment for a fixed amount every pay period. Then, cut down on every single little expense you can think of. I used to have a flat white every day. Now, I have them on Saturdays at brunch, which saves us $20 a week — a.k.a. $1000 a year.

It all adds up, so ask yourself: What could I live without? Once you decide the things that are not totally essential, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to painlessly save money.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
After you’ve figured out your “must-do items,” travel-wise, plan your big connecting flights and get on Skyscanner to set up alerts. This brilliant tool has saved us hundreds on the biggest expense of our trip.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Agree on a budget for accommodation per night, and stick to it. If you can get breakfast included, even better! We use Booking.com and Hostel World and reap the benefits of being regular users by getting additional discounts and secret deals — sometimes up to 50% off.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
We use ours to pay for flights and insurance (the big-ticket items), and our card gives us frequent-flyer miles. The money to pay those things off sits in the savings account (interest!) until the payment date, and then we pay it in full. If you are religious about paying your credit card debt and not maintaining a balance, it’s smart to get cards with points and miles and use them for as much as possible, so you’re essentially getting free money or airfare off the things you were already buying anyway.

Related: How You Can Stay On A Budget And Still Have Fun
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Start a spreadsheet, a notebook, Post-It notes on the kitchen wall — whatever works for you, do it. I have a spreadsheet with tabs for accommodation, flights, spending, transfers, and a summary of all our costs. It takes a bit to maintain, but you need to keep track of what’s been booked and paid; otherwise, double-ups can and do happen. Having all of your expenses laid out plainly in front of you is useful when it comes to setting a budget for your day-to-day activities.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
We recommend Travel Talk and Busabout for Europe. Tours break up long periods of travel, are an opportunity to meet new people, and give you the chance to relax; everything is done for you, you get taken door-to-door, and basically, you don’t have to think.

Some people give tours a bad rap, saying they’re boring and predictable boozefests. But, having been on a couple of them, I can safely say they are what you make of them.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Decide how important it is to you to have that "holiday tipple’" every night you are away. First, your liver (and your waistline) probably won’t thank you for it. Second, it adds up. We decided to only drink when we were on organized tours, which account for half our time traveling. We think we will save close to a grand with this choice. Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean you need to be drinking at all times — you can exercise moderation to save money, and enjoy the moments you do let loose all the more. This is especially true for long travel.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
There are too many horror stories to not have it. Get the best you can afford, but don’t skimp on inclusions just to save a few dollars. The thing about insurance is: You don’t think you need it until you desperately need it. When you’re hitting multiple countries where you don’t know anyone or speak the language, you want to be protected.

The money aspect of planning this type of trip is not fun — having the holiday of your dreams is the fun part! But knowing your budget means you get to enjoy every part of your trip, guilt-free and without worrying about all the terrifying “what ifs.” We feel confident and excited about our trip because we know we’ve taken care of every detail — and will have (fingers crossed) no debt to come home to. We’ll see how it goes!

Next: 6 Lessons From A Financially Disparate Relationship
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