Building our travel budget – 2 years to go

Collage of International Currencies

I have to come clean. I love finance and budgeting. I “waste” hours a week on personal finance. I thought this part of the trip planning would be easy. It is in my wheelhouse. I have failed. Even with preliminary placeholders I just can’t get the left side to equal the right side.

When I started on this process, I threw out a nice round number that I “budgeted” for the trip. What I was really doing was putting down a number that I would be “comfortable” spending on the trip. Unfortunately, it seems like each week of research unlocks a new expense I had not considered.

The following is my current approach. First, I take the budgeted number and divide it by the number of days of the trip (400). That gives me an idea of what our per day spend can be. One caveat is there are some “sunk” costs that need to be spread out across the entire trip. Determining these costs is what I have focused on the last week. Full disclosure, I always put the hypothetical maximum amount. That way if an expense comes in below expectations we get a nice windfall. I often forget it is four of us and am often met with some “sticker-shock”. I am beginning to appreciate that my days of budget solo backpacking are long behind me.

These are the “fixed” or “budgeted” costs right now. Accommodation, local transport, food and entertainment is what the remainder of our dollars will get allocated to.

$4,000 – Health Insurance. Being a very fortunate and employed Canadian, I have never really paid attention to this. We’ve either been covered by our government or our employer’s program. This is a cringe-worthy expense but not one we are willing to skimp on.

$18,000 – Airfare. I hope it comes in less but it can end up more. The current weakness of the Canadian dollar hurts us on this front. We have decided to not do an around the world ticket. Instead, it will be a bunch of one-way tickets. It will give us a little bit more flexibility in case of a major change in plans. Based on current marking pricing I can make a relatively complicated trip work with this dollar allotment.

$1,000 – Vaccinations. This is a complete stab in the dark. I remember being shocked at the cost of them a decade ago. Hoping this will cover off the family. More research is required on this front.

$1,200 – Cell Phone Charges. I hate paying cell phone charges and hopefully this will cover off some sort of package. More research is required on this front to see what is available from our current provider.

$2,500 – Ferries down the west coast of North America. In an earlier post, I shared an ambition to go from Alaska to Vancouver Island by ferry. I did not pretend it was going to be cheap. This is currently one of our biggest indulgences on the trip.

$400 – Provincial and National Park Passes for Canada. This does not include the cost of camping but rather just the costs for monthly or annual park passes. The National Park pass is about $150. Without it, we would be paying daily visitor rates in many scenarios which would add up in the long run.

$2,000 – Rail Pass. I love trains and at some point on the trip I want the kids to ride the trains with me. Whether it be Japan or Europe, it is a planned sunk cost. I will share more on this front but moving around a family of 4 might make sense with some well planned out rail passes.

$1,500 – Visas. An entry visa for one individual can be costly but when multiplying by four, it can add up quickly. Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam totals $750.

$2,000 – Ice Cream. Yep you read that right. Four ice creams every second day at $10 Canadian. Multiply by 200 days. We know it is going to happen. Makes sense to plan for it.

Less than two year to go!

Ciao for now,


3 thoughts on “Building our travel budget – 2 years to go

  1. Kandice July 28, 2020 / 7:39 am

    I’m here for the ice cream budget and would like a detailed accounting, complete with reviews and rankings (specifically of most creative flavours), upon your return, please.


  2. Mariam Al Dahhan July 16, 2020 / 8:16 pm

    That’s one impressive ice cream budget!


  3. Marija Cannataro July 16, 2020 / 3:55 pm

    Love this budgeting exercise. Ice cream would definitely be a fixed expense for my kids too!


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