Manage Travel Money

We were slowly starting to save money for our travel plans. The next obvious step was to come up with a plan for spending it as well.

manage travel money
Source: http://cupegraf.com

Our confirmed itinerary (post coming soon) included 17 different currencies  across Hong Kong, Nepal, India, Europe (Scandinavian countries, UK & Ireland, EU region, Turkey), possibly Dubai, South America (Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Columbia) and finally US. We definitely needed a plan to manage travel money.

We researched travel cards that hold multiple currencies such as Qantas Cash Card, Aus Post Prepaid Card, Travelex Card and others from various financial institutes. After reviewing the charges and transaction fee involved (which btw is $0), we decided to go with Qantas Card Card for Hong Kong, Europe (all regions), Dubai ad US. While we are spending with this card, we will also be accumulating points as we go! In theory, it is a win win situation. We started watching the exchange rates and when the time was right, we loaded the card with our travel funds.

For Nepal and India we will be relying on my ICICI Bank Debit Card. We have transferred the allocated funds to my bank account to avoid any recurring transfer fee.

The South American region is a tough one. After loads of research we decided to rely on cash with large amount withdrawals using our Citibank Debit Card. As most of our transaction with be involved around accommodation, transport and meals we assume that card transcations can be tough to be fulfilled, thus the decision of using cash.

We will also be carrying our Citibank Credit Card as a backup / emergency option. Using the credit card will incur large fee so we will aim to keep the usage to minimum.

Do watch for our posts from the road as we document our learnings along the journey.

Saving For Travel

Taking one year off to travel needs lot of planning and discipline. As soon as we decided to travel, we went on budget mode and started saving as much as we could.

saving for travel

Here are some quick win tips we followed for saving for travel –

  • We ditch that morning coffee from a cafe. Instead Manish made his at home while I rotated between nescafe coffee and milo at work.
  • We stopped buying cafe brekky every morning. Making eggs, toast or oats porridge for brekky at home doesn’t take much time. I am not an early riser, so I bought instant oats mix and bread for work. Otherwise, you can also make smoothies with yogurt / milk, fruits and nuts in the morning or the night before.
  • Lunches aren’t cheap in Australia, I was usually spending at least $10 per day. I started getting lunch from home and rotated the menu so I won’t get bored.
  • Avoid taking taxis where possible. The public transport is cheap and available. We started to plan your trips so we can avoid paying high taxi fares, this included late night bus from city after a night out.
  • We started planning our week’s food schedule and hitting the local supermarket. We cooked a larger portion for dinner so we could pack it for lunch the next day. If you aren’t into daily cooking, you can use the weekend to plan and prepare your brekky and lunch for the week.
  • We reviewed our phone bill, internet and TV plan to identify any cost efficiencies. Downgrading mobile plan or unsubscribing a channel we hardly watched resulted in recurring savings.
  • We reviewed our gym, swimming pool and club membership that we weren’t using regularly. We cancelled some of them and started use public facilities where possible. Most suburbs have parks with basic gym facility and track for runs.
  • Tried to make full use of Cheap Tuesdays. We planned our date nights on tuesdays so we could still enjoy movies and dinner.
  • We started renting movies from Hyotts kiosk and making popcorn at home :)
  • Avoided massive parties or drinking sessions. Alcohol is cheaper at retail stores than at restaurants, bars or clubs. We started picking BYO restaurant so we could still enjoy a glass of wine without hurting our wallet.
  • We tapped onto loyalty programmes such as Qantas Frequent Flyer, Everday Rewards and used Citibank Credit Card. We planned our grocery shopping very week which helped us earn savings on our bill and simultaneously gain points. We can now pay for part of our Roumd The World flight tickets with accumulated points.

Saving for travel does not mean you need to give up your lifestyle and stay home. It means you need to be tactical about your expenses. Start by reviewing your past month bank statements and start identifying areas where you can potentially save. Be disciplined and continously remind yourself why you are doing it. Traveling is a great motivation.