When I first started trip planning for my year long adventure in Southeast Asia, I planned a pretty tight budget. I did a ton of research and took into account each flight, accommodations, food, tourism, etc. I knew I would be on a strict budget and that there wasn’t room for many extras. Before I left though, I realized I was spending a ton of money before I even booked my first flight. These are the five things I never really thought about while planning.
Passport / Visas
Luckily, I already had a passport for my first trip, but I recently filled all the pages and needed to get a new one. In the USA, a passport costs $110 (plus shipping both ways). I recommend getting the 52-page passport no matter what because it’s the same price. Not only is the passport expensive, but I actually spent $435 on visas in Asia during 8 months of travel. It ended up costing a lot more than I thought it would.
Consider getting travel insurance if you’ll be planning a long trip. Depending on what your trip entails, you may be okay with basic coverage or you may need a more in depth policy. Some travel credit cards come with a basic insurance if you pay for your trips with your credit card, so check out your options in advance and read your policy thoroughly. My first trip in Asia was 8 months long, and I paid $1,100 for coverage. I was planning to do things like high altitude treks, bungee jumping, muay thai, and more which made it more expensive.
I had no idea how expensive vaccines were and feel extremely lucky that I had insurance when I got mine. I got all of my basic shots updated which was covered by insurance. That being said, I had to pay out of pocket for a few. I spent $270 on Typhoid and over $500 on Japanese Encephalitis. Obviously, this will depend on which country you are going to and for how long. I actually had to turn down getting a rabies shot because it was $2,000 in the U.S.
As a long term traveler, I couldn’t afford to keep my NYC apartment. All of my stuff had to be moved to a storage unit. My storage unit cost a little over $100 a month. For an eight-month trip, it came out to almost $1,000.
If you plan on going backpacking, you’ll need some gear (See my full packing list here). I actually got my backpack as a gift which was really amazing because it would have cost $180 to get the one I really wanted. I also invested in a good pair of hiking sneakers which were $150. Each year I try to upgrade a few items at a time so that I stay on budget.
All of these things add up so fast, and I felt so discouraged by the cost of everything. It seemed like a never ending list of expenses before I even arrived, and they were all things I hadn’t planned for. Make sure to really think about everything you might need before planning your budget so that you aren’t as surprised as I was when it comes time to hand people your credit card.
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Michelle Della Giovanna
Writer at Full Time Explorer
I’m just your average New Yorker who quit her job in the fashion industry to explore the world. Come find out what it’s like to trade in five-inch heels for squat toilets.