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Travel on a real or unreal budget?

Travel on a real or unreal budget?

Whenever I plan to travel I always consider an estimated budget for that planned trip. Expenses for the round trip airfare plane tickets, passport/visa fees, the food expenses and daily allowance. After I have saved enough money and then some for the entire trip, that’s when I start buying the plane tickets for the flights that I have reserved (after getting the best fare between 3 or 4 comparisons of airline fares). The very first step in planning your travel trip is choosing your destination and other places to visit and then consider it a dream vacation and also the company. Are you going by yourself, with a family member or a friend or on a group tour? You also chose what season of the year and whether it is a peak or normal (low) season to travel?

 

When I have chosen Europe and England as my final destinations for the trip on a group tour package, during the Autumn and not peak season to travel; I had to make sure that I can go to all the cities and towns of the countries that I have dreamed about (like France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Holland, Belgium and England) and added a side trip to Lourdes, France for a 2-day pilgrimage to the Shrine and Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes. Liechtenstein, Monaco, the French and Italian Rivieras were included in the tour package that I have chosen. Having booked with a trusted travel agency, I was able to get the best price for the round trip airfare and also one of the best European Tour Packages from Gateway Tours on a 21 days all-inclusive trip to Europe and England. We were to travel in Europe by an A/C motor-coach and all meals included except in Paris, Rome and London (the most expensive cities in Europe). The entrance fees to attractions were also included except Moulin Rouge Theatre and even if Monte Carlo Casino entrance was free, you’ve got to spend money on bets and drinks. The Tour Package costs over $2500 plus taxes and gratuities. That’s about 10 countries in all, 1 to 2 days in each city plus traveling time took 21 days and lots of hours on the round trip flight over the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Sample of European Tour Group Map

The entire trip was a bargain for less than $5000 including pocket money allowances. Everything on that particular trip was pre-arranged so we didn’t have to worry about hotel reservations or checking in or out because the Tour Director and Tour Travel Agency were in-charge of all those mundane tasks. All we did was travel, eat, sleep, wake up, ride the bus and walk, walk, walk for miles. In Europe their gardens and parks are huge, bigger than football fields and literally we had fun walking. Well, we also took lots of photos and we are given extra time to roam around and take beautiful pictures. Sometimes we even get an afternoon or morning off to explore the town or city on our own or with some tour group members. We visited museums, churches, palaces, galleries, towers and all these included on the tour expenses for admission entrance but some attractions are free. We even had a Dinner Cruise at the River Seine one evening after we visited the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

EIFFEL TOWER in PARIS in BW

EIFFEL TOWER IN PARIS

Paris, the City of Lights, is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been. If ever I move out of Toronto, Paris would be my next destination. I’d move there and rent an apartment overlooking the Eiffel Tower and walk around the city, paint the beautiful sights, sit by the open cafe for hours and lazily watch the world go by and then be amazed by all those lovely things in life. Wake up, *pinch* myself, you are on a tour I reminded myself, not on the lookout for another city to live there. Now, back to the real world!

My flight from Toronto to Paris was a direct flight via Air France and the return flight via Air Canada from London to Toronto cost me $499 plus taxes for the round trip airfare and additional airfare for the round trip flight from Paris Orly airport to Toulouse airport for an additional cost of $100 plus taxes. Then I allocated US$100 cash each city/town visited for the daily travel expenses for food and also for souvenirs. After I have spent my allowance on food and souvenirs, then I am done for that day; so no more shopping for me. I will only use my credit card for unplanned & luxury expenses in nature like buying a few Swiss watches for me, for my family members and probably a 1carrat diamond at the diamond factory in Amsterdam. All expenses are in cash and exchanged in denominations of the currency used in that country and converted from US$100 dollars as my budgeted expense allowance.

I almost survived the whole trip without any cash replenishment until we arrived in Brussels where I was down to my last dollar. There were extra other places we went to that were not included in my budget like the Monte Carlo Casino and the night at Moulin Rouge to watch the show Las Vegas Style and very expensive admission to the night club. This eventually happened while my trip was being monitored by me so that my pocket money would last until we get to London, but unfortunately it did not get done. So I had to get additional funds from my credit card in cash advance for 2 more days (for Brussels and London expenses) and then I am home free.

That was the ‘unreal’ budget spent on my European Holiday Tour vacation. It should have been a real one had it not exceeded my budget amount by a couple of hundred dollars. Thanks to the emergency cash advance from my credit card otherwise I would have been broke all the way going home. Always keep a few hundred bucks (cash/credit card/or traveller’s cheques) for emergency purposes and you will thank your lucky stars if you do, like I did mine.

If you are traveling with a group, it’s quite an advantage because you can share the expenses and save along the way. You can also share room expenses and don’t have to pay extra for single room accommodations. Calling collect back home for cash transfers via banks or other services that offer money transfers to foreign countries would be a good alternative instead of going broke. Imagine being in a foreign country and being broke, it’s not a good combination to even think about but it can happen to anyone so be prepared always for the unthinkable to happen.

Always have a plan A or plan B for that matter. Also make sure you’ve got money belts to hide your money and safeguard it from getting lost or stolen. Then have a separate copy of your passport and ID’s in a safe place away from your purse preferably hidden and don’t forget where you hide it. There’s too much to think about when you travel so make sure you have a check list of things to do before you leave town. With all this said and done, have a safe and happy trip on your next dream travels!

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