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Category Archives: Travel Budget
Money, money, money! Wanna know how much baht I spent during my two months in Thailand? Read on for a little insight into my wallet...
Thailand: Our Itinerary
- 3 nights Krabi town
- 2 nights Ao Nang
- 30 nights Koh Samui (training Muay Thai)
- 3 nights Koh Tao
- 1 night Surat Thani
- 7 nights Chiang Mai
- 3 nights Pai
- 3 nights Sukhothai
- 1 night Phitsanulok
- 5 nights Bangkok
Before we left New Zealand we got 60-day Thailand tourist visas (we sent our passports to the Thailand Embassy in Wellington). We squeezed out nearly every day of those visas, staying a total of 58 nights.
Though we had our visas before we left, we didn't have a plan of what we would do in Thailand at the beginning. It was while we were in Singapore that we took the plunge and booked in a month at Superpro Samui. I was also keen to see some of the north as I had never visited that part of the country before and heard amazing things (yup, its true!).
I loved having an entire month in one place - we had a little studio apartment of our own on Koh Samui and did normal things like go grocery shopping and go to the movies and other fun stuff like that. I love travelling but its no secret that this little island has become dear to my heart and I'm already dreaming of going back!
Thailand: Travel Budget Breakdown
Please note these costs are in New Zealand dollars (NZD), unless otherwise stated.
Total we spent over 59 days for two people: $5,025 ($2,512.50 per person)
Daily average per person: $42.60 (we try to average less than $50 each overall)
Category Breakdown (Note these costs are for two people and I have rounded to the nearest dollar):
- Accommodation: $1,907
- Food and drink: $1690
- Transport: $688
- Entertainment/attractions: $181
- Visas: $50 each*
- Shopping: $495 (most of it was Muay Thai essentials!)
- Massage: $59
- Laundry: $5 (surprisingly low! We mostly hand-washed our clothes on Koh Samui so they were clean for training the next day)
*Not included in the cost summary as we got these before we departed New Zealand. Most nationalities get a visa-free 30 day entry, so if you're travelling for less than a month in Thailand you don't need to worry!
Our accommodation in Koh Samui was by far our biggest cost as it included training - we paid 1000 baht a night (about $40, or $20 each). We were meant to have a standard double room at Superpro but due to some plumbing issues we scored a free upgrade to a studio apartment which was amazing! We were really happy with the value of this, especially as it included our training, plus had facilities like a gym, swimming pool, yoga classes and more.
With our 30 nights at Superpro taken out of the equation, over the remaining 28 nights we spent an average of $26 per night ($13 each). We continued to use Agoda for most of our bookings because not only do we love a good deal, we love to pay in New Zealand dollars (no conversion fees, hooray!). As always, we stay in private double rooms of varying quality - though overall in Thailand I felt the standard was pretty good.
We spent about $29 a day on food and drink for both of us. I love Thai food to bits but because we were there for so long we definitely ate western food quite often, which is often a bit pricier. I usually try and find highly rated western restaurants on TripAdvisor first so that I know we'll be getting a good meal for your buck!
Of course, I can't go past a good Pad Thai, but I'm also very, very fond of a creamy Panang Curry. Lip-smackingly good! I also had a favourite place on Koh Samui where I felt very virtuous ordering their delicious tofu and cashew stir-fry on brown rice. Alan cursed me whenever I wanted to go there for lunch as it was a good half hour drive away on the far side of Lamai - but it was worth the effort! I still think my favourite meal in Thailand was the one we cooked in Ao Nang, followed a close second by Kalasea on Koh Samui - they get bonus points for ambience!
Naturally, mango smoothies continue to be a common occurrence. I'm addicted - even now, as I write this in Vietnam, I'm still sipping on one! Though admittedly, I did cheat on my love of mango smoothies with the BEST vanilla milkshake of my life at Cheeseburger Cheeseburger on Samui, so...my heart is torn!
Our apartment on Superpro had a big fridge but no cooking facilities, so when we wanted to eat in we chowed down on plenty of filled rolls and peanut butter sandwiches. We always made breakfast in our apartment and it was so nice to put together my own muesli, fruit and yoghurt just the way I like it! I enjoyed being able to grocery shop at Tescos, but in fact eating out is often cheaper so we did plenty of both.
I should have been focussing on my fitness, but hey, you only live once so a few fun nights were thrown in there! Probably the most memorable were my 25th birthday where I was surprised with a cake and sung happy birthday at the Lamai Kickboxing, and the other highlight being our final night where we had a bit of a leaving shindig - I may have enjoyed a few too many wine coolers and come *this* close to getting my upper-ear pierced...hey at least it wasn't a tattoo! Alan hasn't let me live that one down yet.
We came from Langkawi in Malaysia, and simply took a ferry from Langkawi to Satun on the Thai mainland where we checked through very basic immigration point, then took a shuttle onwards to Krabi. We travelled overland by bus for the rest of our journeys (except by ferry to and between the islands, of course!), bar one flight we splurged on between Surat Thani and Chiang Mai. An hour in a place versus two overnight busses/trains? Yeah...
We rented a Scoopy-i 110cc scooter on Koh Samui, which cost us 3000 baht for the month (about NZ$4 a day). Originally we got a pink one because it was all they had available, they told us to come back the next day to switch. I didn't mind the pink but since Alan was mostly driving it probably wasn't that great for his image haha. We went back most days for nearly two weeks until we were able to switch to a blue one!
We also rented scooters on Koh Tao and in Pai, both places I think its pretty essential to have some wheels in order to explore. Not that we were really in the mood to do so while we were in Chiang Mai, but I think having a scooter there would have made a big difference in the way we were feeling - unfortunately we didn't have our passports (they were at the Consulate getting our China visas) which are used as your 'deposit' for rental. So we used our feet mainly, I don't know about yours but my feet prefer scooters.
And how could I forget - we also cycled plenty around Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai!
We loved our time in Thailand and I'm comfortable with the amount we spent (you could easily travel way cheaper by staying in dorms, fan rooms and eating less western food and more street food). I'm already hatching a plan to go back - wait and see if we are able to make a second round at Koh Samui happen this year!
Have you travelled to Thailand? Did you visit on a backpackers budget, or go all out?
Oh hey there! Its time to talk money again! Specifically, what we spent in Malaysia during our five weeks there.
Before we get into the dollars again (here's the first budget post I wrote on our month in Indonesia), the best way to describe our travel style is not uber-cheap - we are travellers on a budget, that like good value and comfort, and I'm sure our spending reflects that.
The reason I am sharing this information is because, like I mentioned in my last budget post, if this can inspire just one reader to realise that living your travel dream is financially possible - and not as scary as it looks - then this will all be worth it!
Right, let's get started.
Malaysia: Our Itinerary
…interlude as we hopped over to Singapore for 5 nights, before returning to Malaysia…
- 5 nights Perhentian Islands
- 6 nights Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands
- 7 nights Georgetown, Penang
- 9 nights Pantai Cenang, Langkawi
As New Zealand citizens we received a 90-day visa on arrival into Malaysia (we flew from Jakarta, Indonesia to Kuala Lumpur). We stayed in Malaysia for 34 nights.
In the beauty of hindsight, had we factored Singapore into our itinerary earlier on, we could have saved a chunk of money by flying from Jakarta into Singapore and then working our way up the island, instead of flying from Singapore to Kota Bahru (the jumping off point for the Perhentian Islands). However we had booked the Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur flight back in New Zealand before we left and it was a budget-conscious decision at the time. You live and you learn, right!
Especially in the second half of our time in Malaysia, we relished in moving more slowly and staying in places for at least a week. I loved travelling a bit slower, as it gave us time to unpack a little, settle in, get our bearings, find and frequent some of our favourite restaurants etc.
We considered travelling to Borneo, however after splurging in Singapore and in favour of travelling more slowly throughout Peninsular Malaysia, we decided we will visit Borneo on another occasion when we have more time and money!
Malaysia: Travel Budget Breakdown
Please note these costs are in New Zealand dollars (NZD), unless otherwise stated.
Total we spent over 34 days for two people: $2,916 ($1,458 per person)
Daily average per person: $42.90 (our daily budget is $50 each)
We came in 19% under our maximum budget.
Category Breakdown (Note these costs are for two people and I have rounded to the nearest dollar):
- Accommodation: $918
- Food and drink: $968
- Transport: $679 (this includes a rather expensive last minute Air Asia flight from Singapore to Kota Bahru)
- Entertainment/attractions: $189
- Visas: VOA is free!
- Shopping: $145 (seemingly lots of little things like some multi-vitamins, sunblock, paracetamol, toiletries, sunglasses & too many snacks!)
- Laundry: $17
On average we spent $27 per night on accommodation ($13.50 each). Though we probably could have stayed in places a bit cheaper sometimes, Malaysia budget accommodation on-the-whole is definitely priced slightly on the higher side, with less value for money. We continued to use Agoda for most of our bookings because not only do we love a good deal, we love to pay in New Zealand dollars (no conversion fees, hooray!). We still tried to book rooms with breakfast included, however do read my comment on food further below…these breakfasts were typically nothing special! We continued to stay in private double rooms, though often had shared bathrooms - these are pretty common throughout Malaysia - with varying levels of luxury and cleanliness.
We spent about $28 a day on food and drink for both of us - again slightly on the higher side, however we stayed in quite a few places where breakfast was not included which pushed that price up. Also, food on more remote places like the Perhentian Islands tended to be more expensive.
I loved the variety of food on offer in Malaysia! Indian, Malay, Chinese, Western, and sometimes a combination of them all. Coming from Indonesia where the food was ‘just okay’ to me, Malaysia literally blew my mind with diversity and food options! In Penang, known as a foodie’s heaven, there is a pamphlet you can pickup from most guesthouses with all of the local specialties (and there are a lot!), we had fun trying many of these and ticking them off the list. Some we liked, some we didn’t like so much - but thats the exciting part!
Unfortunately “included” guesthouse breakfasts typically lacked variety, usually consisting of just toast and jam…boring! Though I must make special mention to our accommodation in Kuala Lumpur, Matahari Lodge, where they had quite possibly the most delicious peanut butter in the world. A thick lather of that was enough to get you through to lunchtime!
I may have kicked my cornetto habit, unfortunately in favour of the odd oreo mcflurry…I had far too many of these in Malaysia! I justified it by saying I would simply burn it off come our month of Muay Thai training in Thailand…but I’m not sure that justified the cost. Oh well, we can’t all be perfect, can we!
Alcohol took a backseat in Malaysia, as it is very expensive (i.e. on par with what you would pay for a beer back home in New Zealand, $6-8 a pop). We had just a handful of beers throughout our time there, until we reached duty-free Langkawi and beer was once again a bargain. One or two enjoyed on our little porch most evenings became the norm, though Langkawi certainly isn’t a party island at all (which is fine by me!).
Scooter rental was more expensive in Malaysia than in Indonesia, so we only rented a scooter in Langkawi, and even then we didn’t hire one for our entire stay. Our scooter rental there cost us almost $10 a day, which was on the higher side but also super convenient as we rented directly through our accommodation so returning it was a breeze.
We had hoped to use trains in Malaysia, however unfortunately our route was not very harmonious with the railway system! So busses it was, most of the way. Malaysia’s roads are amazing, and their busses very efficient and affordable, so travelling by bus wasn’t a problem at all. We bussed from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca, then onwards to Singapore - both which were very comfortable and spacious. We then flew from Singapore to Kota Bahru (a 1.5 hour flight versus a 2-day bus/train journey…um yeah), and shared a taxi with some fellow travellers to Kuala Besut pier before catching a boat to the Perhentian Islands. After the Perhentian Islands we took a tourist minivan to the Cameron Highlands (local busses on that route are either non-existent or few and far between), and again took a tourist minivan onwards to the island of Penang. Finally, it was just a couple of hours on a ferry from Penang through to our final stop, the paradise of Langkawi!
Overall, despite coming under budget our spending in Malaysia was quite high. We could have probably done it a bit cheaper, but at the end of the day this is our lifestyle for the time being and we don’t mind spending extra on a few comforts! Malaysia has the reputation of being one of South East Asia’a more expensive destinations, so I’m perfectly happy that we came out under budget.
Have you travelled to Malaysia? Is it a country you would be interested in visiting?
POSTED IN: adventure, Asia, Backpacking, budget, inspiration, life, Malaysia, Money, travel
So here it comes, the first of many travel budget posts, in which I disclose exactly how much money we have spent in each country we travel through.
I've been umm-ing and aah-ing over whether or not to write these kinds of posts. Talking about money is a very private subject and I worry about being judged about our style of travel by others - while we consider ourselves budget travellers, we certainly do not rough it. Some will read this and scoff that we could have done it a lot cheaper (yes, its true!), whereas others will wonder how it is possible to spend so little on a month long trip for two people!
However, I have decided to go ahead divulge exactly what we are spending on the road, as Alan and I found these kinds of posts by a number of different bloggers insanely helpful while planning how much money we needed to make this trip possible. If this can inspire just one reader to realise that living your travel dream is financially possible - and not as scary as it looks - then this will all be worth it!
Indonesia: Our Itinerary
- 3 nights Kuta, Bali
- 5 nights Ubud, Bali
- 3 nights Gili Air
- 1 night Sanur, Bali
- 3 nights Nusa Lembongan
- 2 nights Lovina, Bali
- 1 night overnight bus to Probolinggo (Mount Bromo), Java
- 5 nights Yogyakarta, Java
- 3 nights Pangandaran, Java
- 2 nights Jarkata, Java
As New Zealand citizens, we received a 30 day visa on arrival into Indonesia (we flew into Denpasar, Bali). We stayed in Indonesia for 28 nights, and visited a grand total of four islands. Indonesia consists of more than 17,000 islands, so we barely scratched the surface!
Indonesia: Travel Budget Breakdown
Please note these costs are in New Zealand dollars (NZD), unless otherwise stated.
Total we spent over 29 days for two people: $2,307.45 ($1,153.73 per person)
Daily average per person: $39.80 (our daily budget is $50 each)
We came in 20% under our maximum budget - hooray! How about a category breakdown? Note these costs are for two people and I have rounded to the nearest dollar.
- Accommodation: $710
- Food and drink: $700
- Transport: $520
- Entertainment/attractions: $201
- Visas: USD$70 ($35 each for visa on arrival)
- Shopping: $50 (this includes items like shampoo and soap, but is very high for Indonesia because we purchased our Southeast Asia on a Shoestring Lonely Planet on the way to Bali!)
- Massages: $47
- Laundry: $10
On average we spent about $25 per night on accommodation ($12.50 each), however some places came in well under $20 a night and others we splurged on $30 or more a night - its all about balance, right?
We use Agoda for the majority of our bookings as they have great value 'insider' deals, and most importantly it means we can pay in New Zealand dollars via credit card, which saves us in both currency conversion fees and ATM withdrawal fees!
We always try and book accommodation that includes breakfast, to help offset the cost of food. All but two of our accommodations in Indonesia included breakfast.
We stayed in private double rooms, mostly at guesthouse style accommodations. Private bathrooms (as in, adjoined to your room and not shared) are common in Indonesia, and all of our rooms had them.
On average we spent about $25 a day on food and drink, for both of us. Mostly, this included lunch and dinner, as breakfast was usually included with the accommodation. Some of our cheapest meals were $2 for both of us (crazy cheap!), whereas our more expensive ones were western food and hovered between $15 and $20 for two (mainly Yogyakarta and Ubud). An average meal of a plate of noodles or rice-based dish with a smoothie at a sit down restaurant, cost about $8 for both of us.
This category also includes beer, which we would have most days (often one with dinner, sometimes a couple more), plus our unhealthy obsession with pringles and cornetto ice creams which is a bad habit that we are working on! Beers typically cost about 20,000 - 30,000 rupiah each ($2-3). We also had quite an unnecessary splurge on Starbucks at Jakarta airport on our final morning, ridding our wallets of our remaining rupiah.
We hired a scooter in Ubud, Nusa Lembongan and Lovina, costing us between $5-8 a day. We love the independence of having a scooter!
We used tourist buses to get from place to place in Bali, and a mixture of local and minibuses throughout Java. We wanted to catch trains but unfortunately our route didn't really make much sense to take the railway, we would have had to combine with bus travel making it more expensive and more complicated. Long, sticky bus journeys were the best way round for us.
We were really pleased with ourselves for coming in well under budget in Indonesia - so much so that we splurged much of what we had saved on visiting Universal Studios in Singapore! Because, um, YOLO. But thats a story for another time.
Tell me what you think - is it interesting to read about our travel budget? Are you surprised with how little (or how much) Indonesia cost us?
POSTED IN: adventure, Asia, Backpacking, Bali, budget, inspiration, Java, life, Money, travel, Ubud
Please note this post is my own personal opinion and is not compensated. Trail Wallet is simply an app I have discovered and love!
Travelling for a year is a scary prospect, especially when you have worked so hard to save up so much money and all of a sudden you are going to be blowing just about all of it, albeit on the travel experience of a lifetime!
To make our hard-earned money go as far as we can on our travels, we need to be tight on our budget and manage our money wisely.
We have set ourselves a maximum budget of NZD $50 per day each (essentially $100 a day for the both of us). Having done plenty of research we know this is a feasible number to base our spending on, especially considering our travel plans are primarily within Asia, which is known to be significantly cheaper than Europe for backpackers (in most cases, anyway!).
We know that some days we are going to splurge on once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and other days we are going to get by on the bare minimum. Sometimes all we will need to pay for is a bed and something to eat, other days we will be paying for buses, trains, planes and expensive activities. Its all a balancing act!
The question in my mind was: how on earth are we going to track our spending to ensure that we are staying within our budget? I couldn’t think of anything worse than returning home early with my tail between my legs, having run out of money because we were too lazy to track our spending.
Well, thankfully we found an app that we have been using since the beginning of our backpacking adventure (three weeks now!) that is making this seriously easy for us.
Enter: Trail Wallet.
Trail Wallet is amazing, efficient, and very simple to use.
You start by creating ‘trips’, so we are creating a trip for each of the countries we go to. You simply enter in the dates you are going to be there, and your daily budget. We create our trips as we go.
From there, you simply enter in any expenses you have during the day. We have the app on Alan’s iPhone 5 (because apparently I live in the dark ages with my iPhone 4!), which comes with us just about everywhere so we usually enter it on the spot, however others may prefer to jot down notes of what they have spent during the day and enter it in each evening - up to you. It only takes about 5 seconds!
There are many great things about Trail Wallet:
- You can select the currencies you wish to use, for example our Indonesia trip was set up for NZ Dollar and Indonesian Rupiah. That way we can see every day exactly how much we are spending both in the local currency and our home currency!
- When you enter your expenses you allocate it into a category, e.g. food, accommodation, transport, entertainment, etc. You can add categories as you wish, for example we have set up extra categories for Laundry, Massage and Visas. It is interesting to see the breakdown of your spend! Trail Wallet shows you a pie graph of your expenses so you can see what proportion of your spending are going where. Ours is a constant battle between food and accommodation.
- You can spread expenses across multiple days, or input them in for a future (or past) date. For example, with accommodation you can split a total across three nights and it will automatically split it for you, or for renting a scooter you can split it across the amount of days you are renting for. When we book transport, we usually put it in for the day we are travelling itself, rather than they day we booked.
- You do not need an internet connection to enter any of your spending data. The only thing you need the internet for is to initially download the app itself, occasionally check and update the exchange rates or if you want to share any of your data (you can send yourself a CSV file of it, share on Twitter or Facebook).
With Trail Wallet you can see right in front of you what you have spent for the day, the last few days, the last month, or your entire trip. It can help hold you back on unnecessary spending because you know you have overspent for the day, or perhaps if you know you haven't spent much that day you could indulge yourself in a massage!
I will be using our Trail Wallet data to divulge what we spent in each country with a bit of a breakdown of our costs, look out for Indonesia in the next couple of weeks! So far, I am pleased to say with Trail Wallet holding us accountable we are coming in well under our overall budget.
Trail Wallet is SO easy to use and SO helpful to track your spending on the road. I would recommend this to any traveller without a doubt!
How do you manage your budget on the road?
There are plenty of posts similar to this out there on the interwebs, just about every travel blogger has a post dedicated to the best tips and tricks of how to save money for travel.
I'm not going to lie, the way I have saved for travel is nothing new.
Here's my tips and tricks as to how I have saved enough money to travel for an entire year on a NZD $50 a day budget (you do the math!). While I've been saving I've also managed to fund a 10-day road-trip around New Zealand's South Island and a two week holiday in Costa Rica. For the record, I have a fairly entry-level marketing position i.e. I am certainly not raking in the big bucks.
1. I stopped spending money on unnecessary items. Yup, super basic. I stopped buying new clothes, new makeup, buying my lunch, basically anything that wasn't essential I have completely cut back on. I work in a department store, so this hasn't been easy! However, over the course of the year so far I'm surprised that I no longer feel any desire to buy anything new whatsoever. While I am now totally unfashionable and have no idea what the latest trends are, I'm pleased to not actually care at all which is a very freeing feeling!
2. Kind of an extension of #1, I started relating any spending to what I could buy when I was travelling with that amount of money. For example, why would I spend $4 on a coffee, when I could buy 10 pad thais on Bangkok's Khao San Road for the same amount? It really starts to put the expense of things into perspective. Why buy a $6 sandwich from the bakery when that could pay for an entire nights (or even two!) accommodation in Laos?
3. Selling all of our belongings. We (Alan, if I'm going to be honest) have been selling our belongings on TradeMe for weeks now (for non-New Zealand readers, TradeMe is NZ's equivalent of eBay). I'm honestly surprised as to how much we have been able to sell! Even if only for a few dollars, when you are thinking on terms like Tip #2, just a few more bucks can add an extra day or more to your trip! Xbox and games, Nintendo and games, random toys, old clothes, a box of timezone tickets (!?) all sold for a profit on TradeMe. We are also selling our "big" stuff (washing machine, fridge, etc), and are in the process of selling our cars. We plan to leave barely anything behind - which is a thought that I am very scared and nervous about but also extremely excited about the freedom that will come with it!
4. I made a budget and stuck to it. I planned out exactly where every dollar from my pay check would go each week (rent, supermarket, gym, petrol, power) and how much I could expect to save each week. Usually some sort of unexpected expense would arise however it definitely worked to give me a good gauge go where my money was going, and it definitely stopped any frivolous spending pretty quickly! I definitely think that the closer you are to your money makes you want to continue to keep it close and not spend it.
5. I got used to instant coffee instead of fancy, cafe coffee. In my office we have a morning tea break together each day, and I was stuck in the bad habit of buying a coffee as we sat in the cafe for our daily catch ups. Thats $4 per coffee, 5 days a week, every single week. It sure adds up! I simply brought a reusable takeaway cup from home and started making my own coffee in the staffroom instead (coffee = free). Yup, I'm the awkward person who brings their own coffee to a cafe and sits there with my muesli bar, but as long as I'm saving money I don't mind if I look silly!
With about six weeks to go before we head off, we still have plenty more belongings to sell, a few more pay cheques to bank and a few more lunches to pack from home for work, we are on the homeward straight now!
What are your top tips for saving money?