Logistics of RTW travel – part 4: Tracking your bookings (& saving your sanity)

If you need to catch up before we get started…

Ok, so we’ve worked out where and when to go. We’ve worked out roughly how much it’s going to cost. And we’ve worked out a plan to save the funds. Now that’s all done, it’s time to get booking!

But if you’re taking a trip like ours, there’s going to be a lot to book. Flights, trains, hire cars, hotels, Airbnbs, insurance and visas, tickets to sports games and museums and cooking classes… When you have 4 months worth of bookings, you’ll want to be able to keep tabs on things quickly and easily. You don’t need fancy accounting programs or booking-tracker apps; you literally just need a simple spreadsheet.

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This is basically how mine is set up, in a note on my trusty Evernote app:
TRANSPORT:
FLIGHT DETAILS BUDGET ACTUAL COST & DATE PAID BOOKED WITH BOOKING
NUMBER
NOTES
01 Jan: MEL – LAX $2400.00 $2285.00 paid via credit card 18.02.17 Qantas website 18.02.17 XXX88X Saved email in RTW folder
02 Jan: LAX – YYC $600.00 $629.00 paid via PayPal 24.02.17 American Airlines website 24.02.17 XX55XX
08 Jan: YYC – KTN $800.00 $784.00 paid via credit card 02.03.17 Alaska Airlines website 02.03.17 XXXX98
ACCOMMODATION:
HOTEL
DETAILS
BUDGET ACTUAL COST & DATE PAID BOOKED WITH BOOKING NUMBER NOTES
01 – 02 Jan: Los Angeles hotel $150.00 USD$85.00 to be paid on arrival Booking.com 05.03.17 ABCDEF Double room, non-smoking
02 – 08 Jan: Calgary hotel $800.00
08 – 12 Jan: Ketchikan hotel $500
OTHER:
DETAILS BUDGET ACTUAL COST & DATE PAID BOOKED WITH BOOKING
NUMBER
NOTES
Travel insurance $400.00
Canadian National Parks pass $150.00
Ketchikan city tour $50.00

And that’s about it. The way I use this is:

1. I started by filling in the first column of the travel plans that needed to be booked.

2. I filled in the second column with the amount we budgeted for each item.

 

Once we actually started getting things booked in:

3. I filled in the third column with the actual amount we ended up spending and the date it was paid

4. The fourth column was who I booked with, be in via email, website, third party, whatever, and the date they confirmed the booking.

5. In column five, I just put the booking confirmation number.

6. And the last column is just any notes.

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This has been SO much easier that trying to write down details, keep track of receipts, dealing with piles of paperwork I’ve printed. Because pretty much everything is done online these days, I’ve been able to have all confirmations and payment receipts emailed to me, and if I need to find them, I just need to copy and paste the reservation number from that spreadsheet into my email inbox search function! it’s also been a really great tool for keeping on top of how closely we’ve been sticking to our budget – realising how far under we actually were, we even decided to splurge on a gorgeous 4 star beach-side resort in Koh Samui for the end of our trip instead of our usual 2-star standard!
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Logistics of RTW travel – part 3: How to create your savings budget

Now that you know how much money you’re going to actually need for your trip, creating a savings budget is pretty simple (actually sticking to it may be another story…).

STEP ONE
Take your summary from STEP EIGHT when you did your spendings budget back out again:
TRANSPORT: $4,600
ACCOMMODATION: $2,850
SPENDING: $2,400
INSURANCE: $400
COSTS AT HOME: $1,700
TOTAL FOR TRIP: $11,950
STEP TWO
Work out what cash flow you already have going towards your trip. For example, you may have already started saving a bit, you may be entitled to some holiday pay while you’re away, or maybe you know that you’re going to be getting a half decent tax return.
NEED: $11,950
MINUS:
Annual leave pay $2,000
Already saved $1,500
Tax return $500 (approx)
TOTAL: $4,000
STEP THREE
Easy maths: how much do you need between now and when you want to start your trip?
Currently: January 2017
Travel starts: January 2018
Need: $7,950
STEP FOUR
Break it down to less scary numbers:
1. Need $330 per person, per month for 12 months
2. We both get paid fortnightly, so we each need to put away $165 per pay
And that’s pretty much all there is to this part! Like I said, once you know roughly how much you’re expecting to spend on your trip, it’s super easy to work out what to save. Sticking to the budget can be hard, but one of the best things I’ve ever done was to open a separate travel bank account. Now, every pay day, whatever I need for my next trip goes straight into that separate account, not to be touched until I start booking and paying for it!

Logistics of RTW travel – part 2: How to create your spendings budget

Happy new year! Just like that it’s 2017… and if you’re like most people who make New Year’s resolutions, chances are that you’re in the high percentage who vow to live a fuller life (yes, you can Google stats on resolutions). And further to that, for a lot of people these days, living life to its fullest involves adventure and exploration and travel, myself included.

For better of worse, once I get a dream into my head, it can quickly escalate into an idea, and a pretty concrete plan on how to turn it from dream to reality follows shortly thereafter. I’m an auburn-haired Italian Scorpio – all of the traits for being head-strong/stubborn are with me. That’s why I wanted to start my 2017 blogging with something practical and helpful for the other adventurers and dreamers out there; the next part in my how to travel series 🙂

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Now that you know where you’re going and how long for, its time to start on the budget. Yes, its tedious. Yes, it can take a bit of the romance and spontaneity out of travelling. And yes, some people can get away without it. But when you’re planning to travel for 4 months while keeping up with your mortgage repayments and bills back at home, not taking out a personal bank loan, and not using a credit card so you return completely debt free (and you’re not rich), you have to budget.

This is a daunting task, and unfortunately the point at which most people give up on their travel dreams. That annoys me because while it may be a little time consuming, it’s actually not that difficult. There are a lot of different methods people use to budget for travel, be it short or long trips, but this is the method I use.

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It’s a two-parter, working out first how much money you’re going to need for your trip, and then how you’ll save it in time. Today, we’ll start with part one (duh). Again, this was all done using my Evernote app, which I highly recommend – alternatively, open up a new word document to get planning!

*** Before you start reading, please note that I’ve used a quick, three week example rather than my own itinerary, because it’s way too long, and I’m also basing this all on a 2 person trip. Adjust as needed 🙂

 

STEP ONE
The first step is to set out a template that you’ll be able to fill in – there are obviously several ways to do this, but here’s how I set mine up:

*** TRANSPORT ***
FLIGHTS:
01 January : Melbourne – Los Angeles
02 January : Los Angeles – Calgary
08 January : Calgary – Ketchikan
12 January : Ketchikan – New York City

HIRE CAR:
7 days hire Calgary (02 – 08 January)
TRANSPORT TOTAL:

 

*** ACCOMMODATION & SPENDING ***
LOS ANGELES (01-02 Jan)
– Accommodation:
– Sightseeing:
– Food:
– Other spending:

CALGARY (02-08 Jan)
– Accommodation:
– Sightseeing:
– Food:
– Other spending:

KETCHIKAN (08-12 Jan)
– Accommodation:
– Sightseeing:
– Food:
– Other spending:

NEW YORK CITY (12-20 Jan)
– Accommodation:
– Sightseeing:
– Food:
– Other spending:

ACCOMMODATION TOTAL:
SPENDING TOTAL:

 

*** INSURANCE & VISAS ***
Insurance:
Visas:

TOTAL:

 

*** COSTS AT HOME FOR 3 WEEKS ***
Mortgage/rent:
Utilities (gas/water/electricity):
Insurance (home/car/health):
Phone:
Other:

TOTAL:

 

STEP TWO
Now that you have your template, the hard work begins. With the flights, I’m fortunate enough to be able to do it all myself, given that I’ve worked as a travel consultant for several years and know exactly what I’m looking for. I know this is obviously not going to be as simple for others, so there are two ways to approach this:

1. For the bigger international flights (for example, our big ones will be Melbourne to Los Angeles, New York to London, Rome to Osaka, Bangkok to Melbourne), enlist the help of a travel agent. Shop around until you find one you are comfortable with and trust, because its a mammoth task, and the right partner can make it a hell of a lot easier and fun, rather than stressful.

2. For the “smaller” domestic flights, like Los Angeles to Calgary and Calgary to Ketchikan, get on a website like SkyScanner, Kayak, Webjet etc, and check them out yourself. Flights are generally released 10 months or so in advance, so if your dates aren’t available, just compare a few random dates to get a rough price range.

If you have trains or hire cars, do the same for them, too.

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STEP THREE
Update that part of your template…

*** TRANSPORT ***
FLIGHTS:
01 January : Melbourne – Los Angeles
Emailed travel agent, $950-$1200 one way per person

02 January : Los Angeles – Calgary
Checked SkyScanner, $180-$300 pp

08 January : Calgary – Ketchikan
Checked SkyScanner, $290-$400 pp

12 January : Ketchikan – New York City
Checked SkyScanner, $350-$450 pp

HIRE CAR:
7 days hire Calgary (02 – 08 January)
Auto with aircon through Avis, approx $500
Plus gas

TRANSPORT TOTAL: approx. $4600

 

STEP FOUR
Research accommodation next. Again, don’t worry too much about the exact dates; you’re just looking for a rough price range. Use sites and apps like Airbnb or Booking.com to compare options, and fill in what you find.

 

STEP FIVE
Look at any anticipated sightseeing costs, as well as a guesstimate on what you might spend on food and other stuff (shopping, souvenirs, etc). The easiest way to guess at this would be working out how much per day you might spend on food (eg $30 per person per day) multiplied by how many days you’re away for. Again, it doesn’t need to be precise, just a rough estimate.

*** ACCOMMODATION & SPENDING *** for 2 people
LOS ANGELES (01-02 Jan)
– Accommodation: $150 (at airport)
– Sightseeing: –
– Food: $50
– Other spending: –

CALGARY (02-08 Jan)
– Accommodation: $800 (2 nights Calgary, 5 nights Banff)
– Sightseeing: $150 national parks pass
– Food: $200
– Other spending: $200

KETCHIKAN (08-12 Jan)
– Accommodation: $500
– Sightseeing: –
– Food: $250
– Other spending: $300

NEW YORK CITY (12-20 Jan)
– Accommodation: $1400
– Sightseeing: $40pp 7 day metro pass
$35pp Top of the Rock tickets
– Food: $500
– Other spending: $600

ACCOMMODATION TOTAL: $2850
SPENDING TOTAL: $2400

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STEP SIX
Factor in travel insurance! Get a few quotes, compare what they all cover you for, and add that in. Also, costs for any visas.

*** INSURANCE & VISAS ***
Insurance: $400
Visas: N/A

TOTAL: $400

 

STEP SEVEN
Lastly, some of you may still need to factor in costs at home. For my quick three week example, not so relevant, but absolutely necessary for our 4 month trip! It’s probably a safe assumption that most if us do the internet banking thing these days, so just check your last few debits, and add anything else that is applicable.

*** COSTS AT HOME FOR 3 WEEKS ***
Mortgage/rent: $1200
Utilities (gas/water/electricity): $250
Insurance (home/car/health): $250
Phone: $80pp
Other: –

TOTAL: $1700

 

STEP EIGHT
Now that you have all that information, put it all together in summary form:

TRANSPORT: $4,600
ACCOMMODATION: $2,850
SPENDING: $2,400
INSURANCE: $400
COSTS AT HOME: $1,700
TOTAL FOR TRIP: $11,950

 

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Hold onto all of that now, because you’ll need it for the next step of creating your savings budget!

Logistics of RTW travel – part 1: When & where are you going?

I mentioned a few weeks ago when I introduced our #👫WorldTour that I was going to put together a little series of posts to explore the logistics of organising a round the world trip and wanted to get started now. I figured with so much time between now and when we’re actually leaving, I’ll give you one every few weeks during the lead up, and the most logical place to start with that is to work out when and where you’re going!

They may seem like a simple enough questions, but actually, there can actually be a bit more thought that needs to go into the decision making process than just picking a place on the map. Here are some questions that are worth spending some time mulling over before you really get started…

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WHERE?

Where do you WANT to go?
That should be easy enough – make a list of all the places you really want to see, however far fetched and impossible to get to they seem, and for whatever ridiculous reasons. I mean, to start off with, I only wanted to go to New Orleans to explore some of their more macabre history, myths and legends, even though it was on the other side of the world (and a damn expensive airfare away), and we all know how that worked out!

WHY do you want to go?
Similarly to the last question, work out WHY you want to go. Why you REALLY want to go. You want to walk through the cemeteries in New Orleans? Eat at the oldest restaurant in Rome? Visit that city your favourite movie was filmed in? The only person who needs to know the why is you, so be honest. Once you start asking yourself this question and answering honestly, you’ll be able to work out if your reasoning is good enough reason to warrant the time and money that’ll go into the adventure.

Are you compromising on destinations?
Once you’ve answered your first two questions, you can start putting a rough “itinerary” together – it may be nothing more than “London, Paris, Rome” at this stage. Once you have that list, ask yourself if you’re compromising on any of your destinations. For example, maybe in Italy you actually really wanted to go to the Amalfi Coast, but it looks way too hard and complicated to get to, so you compromised on Rome instead. When I catch myself thinking like this, I always stop; if I’m taking the time off work and spending that much money to get across the world anyway, I may as well do EXACTLY what I wanted to do, difficulties be damned. Because it’s never not been worth it, in the end 🙂

How much is it going to cost?
Some destinations are just expensive, even if you’ve budgeted carefully and stay in cheap accommodation. London, Tokyo or Geneva, for example, are all going to cost a lot more to spend a week in than Phuket, Hanoi or Goa. Ask yourself if you are going to realistically be able to save enough money to actually enjoy yourself in your chosen locations – there’s nothing worse than finally getting there and being dead broke and unable to make the most of your time away.

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WHEN?

Are you taking paid or unpaid leave?
This is a big one to consider and weigh up, because it can have a huge impact on your trip. For example, you may be able to take paid time off with restrictions around the time of year you take off (but you’d still be getting paid) versus unpaid time off any time of the year you please. Ultimately, that’s a call only you can make!

What’s going on in the world at that time?
Is it school holidays? That can drive prices up quite a lot. Are there going to be public or religious holidays on? That can limit opening hours of certain attractions and transport options. Are there any special events like major art exhibits or sports games on? That may mean accommodation will book out super early.

What’s the weather going to be like?
Again, this is a pretty individual one; I’m a winter girl, myself. I’d rather risk a flight delay due to a snow storm than risk missing a few days of my trip due to sun stroke. There’s also the consideration that certain places and attractions can have seasonal limitations – for example, driving around Iceland, we’re having to be quite aware of road closures during winter months, but there’s also a much better chance of seeing the Northern Lights at that time of year, so it’s worth it for us.

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Don’t let these any of these things put you off, but don’t go in blind, either; weigh up the pros and cons. And now, your turn to get planning 🙂 If you have any ideas for trips you dream of taking one day, feel free to share them here, too – more ideas for the bucket list is never a bad thing!