A Lesson in Budgeting

In thinking about a year-long trip, we had to come up with some sort of budget early on. In order to do that, however, we had to decide where in the world we were heading. We looked up some statistics on where our money would go the furthest and, hands down, it was Southeast Asia. Initially we plan on spending several months in countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. After that we will head to India and Nepal, followed by Eastern Europe and Ghana if the money holds out!

I found a web site that specializes in budgeting your RTW trip. In addition to a straightforward guide to planning your RTW trip, Budget Your Trip also has a breakdown of expenses by country that include costs for accommodation, food, water, souvenirs, transportation, alcohol, and even scams — all wrapped up in an average daily cost per person. The country-specific pages also include Practical Information, Top Tourist Attractions, Popular Food, Travel Tips and US Embassy information.

After deciding on our RTW route, we compiled information using this site and came up with a working budget of around $35,000 by taking the average daily cost per person times four travelers times the number of days expected in each country. I left in the alcohol expense for the kids figuring that Ray and I could drink their share.

Next we had to figure out a way to track everything and thankfully, we are not alone in that desire. I swear you can find anything on Google! With some additional searching, I found a great travel spreadsheet to keep track of expenses by country at A Little Adrift,  a travel blog focused on long-term travel. The spreadsheet includes a tab for each country and breaks down expenses into categories such as lodging, food, entertainment, transportation, miscellaneous, internet, and visas. You can enter the exchange rate so you can see a total of your expenses in both the local currency as well as the U.S. dollar. All of the expenses are tallied and displayed on a Final Stats page.

So who is going to be responsible for filling out the spreadsheet? The kids, of course — since they’ll be sober. One of the ways we plan to teach the kids about budgeting (with a little math and spreadsheet design thrown in) is to have them be in charge of the expenses spreadsheet. We will walk them through how the spreadsheet is put together and how to watch our budget as a whole. Good life skills in action!

Setting up the budget was definitely the easy part — with a lot of help from some great blogs! Sticking to the budget and the tracking expenses at every turn is going to be the hard part. But what could possibly go wrong with two teenage boys in charge of the budget?


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