Monday, 28 June 2010

Money, Money, Money!

This is something that has been a constant issue ever since I decided I wanted to quit the day job, pack my bags and head off round the world.


I’m still only in my first ‘proper’ job since graduating from university so though I may be getting a fairly acceptable wage, I have no savings (or rich parents), I’m paying off my student loan every month and I travel into London every day which, although I’m still technically in zone 6, is a lot of money!

This, coupled with my uncontrollable addiction to shoes and ‘all things pretty’ means it has been rather a challenge to save for this trip. I had originally intended to have £5K total for the 4 months I’m away, but since paying for all the necessary tours and excursions (so I’m not a complete loner) and the ridiculously priced Malaria tablets and injections, I’m left with only just £4K.

So, as I’m a first time traveller and stupid looking for advice, I wondered if anyone else could advise me. Will £4,000 be enough to cover my accommodation, food and living costs while I’m away? I have an emergency overdraft just in case (I get mauled by an animal, decide to elope, see a nice pair of shoes etc) but I don’t really want to use it unless I have to! And I don't really want to end up like these guys...

Also, what’s the best way of taking this money about with me, ie credit card, cash card, travellers cheques etc?

Any help appreciated :)


  1. which countries are you going to? I went backpacking a few years ago for 4 months and took around £4k for 2 peoples spends (excluding flights) and this was plenty for Asia but it did not go so afr in America/Australisiax

  2. £4k ought to last you the whole four months, you will be saving a lot doing the SEA bit first. That is £1k per month - I don't even spend that much here (I also used to live in Msia nearby Thailand, and could easily get by half of that)!! Then again I don't buy shoes every week! :D

    Might even be enough for excursions into other countries! ;)

    But it really depends what sort of accomodation you'll be looking for. Avoid the luxury hotels and stick with budget backpacking hostels and you'll done just fine.

    As for method of carrying money, split them up.

    Cash for every day use like food (nom) and prepay credit card. Do not exchange in the UK especially at the airports (friggin rip-off). Travellers cheques are the safest, but the exchange rate isn't the best and may not be accepted in rural places. You will be charged a fee to change back into cash, so get them in higher denominations first.

    You can also use your debit card to withdraw money over there but there's a transaction charge on top of whatever levy your bank may impose.

    Finally keep an eye on the exchange rate. One year ago the sterling was worth a lot more. Now it has taken a right good hammering (rightly so sadly), but has been strengtening slowly. Don't bother changing to US$ first, you'll be paying commission twice!

  3. - Miss H: I'm doing SE Asia, Australasia and Fiji, so probably about the same! I'm hoping 4K is enough but I've still got lots of costs like visas and flying from vietnam-laos-chiang mai etc!

    -Jon: Amazing advice, thank you! I'm up for roughing it so will be hostelling it up the whole time to save dollar!
    I don't have a credit card :( I'm torn between getting a credit card or STA cash card, still need to weigh up my options on that one.

  4. Visa aren't that much really atall for Asia. I think we paid about £20 each time we had to move across the border and back (tourist visas are only valid for 6 weeks from what I remember)

    Australia is expensive when you’re backpacking unfortunately what with all of the accommodation costs and the buses/coaches around from each town to the next. How long are you planning on being there for and away all together?

  5. Miss H- I've already paid for my Oz Experience bus, so hopefully it'll just be accomodation and excursions to pay. I've got exactly a month in Aus, and 4 months in total for the whole trip! :) Thanks for helping! x

  6. £4k is plenty then. You'll have a fab time on that, especially in Asia! I'm jealous. I want to go travelling again..let me know if you want any tips on oplacs to stay/go etc x

  7. Ah amazing, thank you! :D x

  8. Isn't STA cashcard a prepaid credit card? Heard from people that they've had trouble topping up, so probably best to check out their competitors.

    The ever reliable moneysavingexpert's take on prepaid credit cards:

  9. Wicked, I'll have a gander tonight!

  10. I just went travelling in South and Central America for 2 months - do not take traveller's cheques. Nightmare to cash and takes a long time (I went to Japan a few years ago, took soooo long). Anywhere where you can cash traveller's cheques, there are ATMS. I used a Nationwide debit card, really good as their exchange rate is not bad and it's easy to get money out of ATMS which are in all cities and most towns (often with armed guards nearby). Do not use Lloyds TSB card - I couldn't get money out, they tried to call me but as I was in Ecuador I had no phone reception. They didn't cancel the card either, I used it when I got back to the UK, which seems a bit dodgy given they wouldn't let me take any money out and it could have been stolen!

    As for price, I spent about £1500 in 2 months, not including the 10 days I spent on a tour. We stayed mostly in double rooms and whilst we ate from supermarkets for breakfast and lunch generally, we didn't skimp massively and I bought pretty things to bring back. 4k should be enough, obviously depending on where you're going.

  11. Aw Claire you're back! How was it? I bet you had an amazing time! Thanks so much for the advice- definitely v useful. Did it not charge at all to take money out abroad? I've never been able to do it because I'm with Abbey and they charge a ridiculous amount so I always just make sure I take enough cash- obviously I can't do that this time round!

    Did you not have a cash card as well, or did you just pay for everything by taking money out using your debit card?

    Thanks again!