If you’re going for budget travel like us, every dollar counts. When planning your trip, of course the big things like plane tickets and accommodation cross your mind as major travel expenses. But don’t under estimate these must-haves that often go forgotten because the little things surely add up.
Note: We are Canadian and travelling from Ontario, so everything is in $CND and expenses and requirements will vary from other provinces / countries.
1. Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is definitely not an optional thing. So don’t argue it and just shop around for the best rates early. We used World Nomads, which is great for budget travel and it is spoken highly about by many reputable sources such as Lonely Planet and NatGeo. Most coverage covers all the basics, including health coverage while flight cancellations / lost baggage may be considered premium coverage.
We paid about $380 per person for 5 months of our travels while we were quoted about $500 – $600 from banks, CAA, and other insurance companies. Good rates, good coverage.
This will vary depending on where you are travelling, for how long, and which immunization you already have. We suggest that you consult with your doctor, and they might even refer you to a travel specialist. Depending on the clinic just the consultation can cost anywhere from $0 – $50 per person, so do lots of research on your own and possibly avoid this. Doctors use the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention as their online resource and it is simple to use. Just find the country that you’ll be visiting and all the information will be available.
For a 5 month trip around South East Asia, we got:
- Hep A + Thyphoid: $110
And were recommended (but we did not get):
- Japanese encephalitis: $262/ each and you need two (Recommend buy low risk)
- Malaria: $6.65 per pill once a day to be taken once a day in malaria risk areas
- Hep B Boost, if your immunity is low: $40
- Dukoral (for food poisoning): $100 for 2 doses
- Yellow Fever: $85 (Mandatory through many countries in Africa, South America & the Caribbean, or traveling from these areas)
As you can see, these can add up quick depending on what you may need. You may have some coverage depending on your benefits, but OHIP does not cover the cost of any of these medications.
3. Equipment & Backpacks
Depending on the climate and activities of your travels, you may need to buy gear before you leave, such as traveling pack, hiking shoes, power adaptors, etc. The two big things that we purchased for our 5 month South East Asia trip were a good travel/hiking pack will ($100 – $300) and UV Water purifier ($115).Other gear you may find yourself needing to buy could include camping gear, hiking boots, rain jacket, camera, power adaptors, among a million things you may need.
A tip on packing: don’t worry so much about bringing everything plus the kitchen sink, you can buy pretty much anything that you forgot overseas.
4. Passport Renewals
Make sure your passport is up to date before you leave! Some countries may even require your expiration date to be at least 6 months away from your date of travel. A 10 year renewal in Ontario is $160 and passport photos will be about $7-$20. I’d book a whole day off for this because those renewal offices are usually packed and wait times are long. Make sure you fill out all the paperwork properly before hand. Bring coffee and be prepared.
Depending on where you’re going and for how long, acquiring the right visa for your purpose will vary greatly. Certain countries will let you though their boarders free of charge, while others will feel like they are taking and arm and a limb, plus your first new born son.
Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan, we got through the boarder unscaved, good for 30-90 days.
Cambodia Visa and Sri Lanka visa cost $30 USD visa on arrival good for 30 days.
Vietnam is another story, you must apply ahead of time. But it’s easy to apply from a neighbouring country that you’ll be entering from (I’d suggest it because its much cheaper than applying from overseas). We got our Vietnam Visa from Cambodia and it costs us $45USD to process it.
Laos was the most painful. For a Canadian to enter it cost $42USD. And if you’re unlucky to enter on land at a corrupt border crossing, be prepared to dish out more $$ for stupid fees like photos, tourism fees, processing fees, stamping fees, etc. It’s all a big scam. But what can you do? If you’re entering via airport, it’ll probably be more regulated.
Do research into the specifics needed for each country that you’re planning to visit.
Simply be aware of your spending and we suggest tracking everything in an app like Expensify so that you can keep within budget. Remember, more money = longer travels.
Budget travel can be easy, it just take a little more work. Let us know what other unhappy travel expenses you have run into. Happy travels!