12 month world trip

So, I'm basically packing up my whole life and travelling the world for a year. 

 

Has anyone used ynab to manage their finances while backpacking? I want to make my money stretch as far as it can and be smart about it. Tips on managing money on multiple currencies? What worked? What didn't?

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  • Heya! I was searching for the exact same answer a month ago, and no luck in the ynab Facebook group. My partner and I left for an identical trip 2 weeks ago, and this is what we’ve deduced so far...

    - Since each budget can only have one currency, we created a seperate budget for each currency, ie. Travel (AUD) and at the moment, Travel (CZH) as well.

    - AUD is our home currency, and in this budget lists our travel debit card that has all our money for the trip that we saved up for, so we can track, ultimately, how much funds we have left. We chose a card that had zero fees or transaction conversions, so look out for one like that! We use Citibank, but they might not be available where you are.

    - out of this account we track all the big purchases - Airbnb, flights, etc, but also atm withdrawals as an expense.

    - in our CZH account, (we are in Prague at the moment), it just tracks cash.  This is like the normal day to day budget. When we withdraw from the atm, we treat it as income in this budget. Our categories are much like they were in normal life, groceries, activities, public transport, etc. But we don’t budget to zero, because the cash we have at hand isn’t all we have available, it’s sitting in the card on the other budget. But we still budget the categories based on what we are planning on spending for that month, or however many days in that country if we’re planning on leaving mid month. The big number at the top of the budget is in the red therefore, instead of zero as normally recommended, but that’s not of concern, since the money is still available, just tracked in the other budget. We’ve been reconciling the budgets (both cash and debit card transactions) every couple days to keep on top of things and keep it a habit while travelling. This is my first trip tracking every transaction, and it’s actually a lot easier than I feared.

    - we’ve got seperate categories for a bit of fun money each (in case you are travelling with someone) so we can spend some guilt free cash on things one person likes but the other doesn’t, and we will create seperate budgets for each currency we come across, but it shouldn’t be too many with many of the countries we’re visiting using the euro.

     

    Not sure if any of that is of any use to you, but wanted to write it down just in case! Would love to hear if you come up with a good system yourself so we can learn too, at the moment it’s very much hobbled together based on what we could think of on day one, and making a few changes as we go.

    When ar you off, and where are you heading? Great to hear from another person with a similar mindset!

    Reply Like 4
    • Blue General (f4d769973642) thanks so much! AUD is also my home currency!

       

      I haven't really planned so far exactly where I'll go. For sure the most amount of time will be spent in Europe. I have family in Serbia and Croatia so I'll spend a bit of time around there. I have traveled SEA before but would love to go to Vietnam again because I made friends with some locals who I've stayed in contact with and I'd like to visit. And for sure India!

       

      I probably won't leave until June when my current lease runs out. But I'm excited!

       

      I've thought about what kind of categories I want. 

      Emergency for sure (just in case!)

      Groceries

      Restaurants (I think I would keep these seperate so I can report on my eating in vs eating out habits)

      Activities 

      Accommodation

      Travel (train, bus, etc)

      Phone credit

      Gifts

       

      And I imagine in my home budget I'll still have those things that I have long term goals for (I have a goal in set aside for to renew my licence for example, and to replace my reading glasses in 2 years.)

       

      Maybe post again in a few weeks and let me know how your budget is working out for you?  I'm travelling solo so it's all me in control of my dollars.

      Have fun on your travels! Hope to stay in touch and hear and how much better or is to travel on a budget 😁

       

      Aleks

      Reply Like 1
    • Cyan Mare (ce737379ade7)  Definitely have a separate budget for emergencies! At least enough to rebook a plane ticket if you get stranded would be my recommendation. 

      Reply Like
  • Hey  Cyan Mare , I'm incredibly jealous and will probably google places to travel right after this post! :)

    I think  Blue General 's suggestions are spot on. Creating a separate budget for each of the currencies you will use is key! Then "fund" those budgets from your home currency budget (ie. an outflow from the home currency budget is an inflow to your current currency budget). 

     

    If you're in the research/planning phase right now, maybe one suggestion would be to have estimated amounts you think you'll spend in those countries (14 days in Germany will equal X amount of Euros). So that when you get there, you can make the initial deposit into your Euro budget and budget to 0. Obviously, Rule Three: Roll With the Punches gives you the liberty to adjust on the go, but having a baseline objective budget, to begin with, will not only help you to save enough before you go but help you know that spending more money in Germany means you have less to spend in the next country. 

     

    Look forward to hearing where you plan to go and how you're managing along the way! Maybe this is great fodder for a budgeting Journal

    Reply Like
    • ISuckatMaths
    • Where Budget and Math collide
    • ISuckatMaths
    • 2 yrs ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    I always use ynab for travelling. However, my trips hop currencies, so creating different budgets for each currency does not work for me. What I do is write the amount in the notes in the currency of the country I visited. Then I see what the credit card is charged when it convertes it to $. Usually my cc app tells me immediately the charge in $, so I am able to type it in right away. But I still put the amount I spent in the country I visited as I like to see the conversion. 

    Reply Like 2
    • ISuckatMaths  Thanks! I don't do anything as ambitious as travel around the world, but every year I do one or two trips to other countries. The currency has always been an issue; it was a motivation for me to switch to a different money management app that handles multiple currencies better. I just came back to YNAB because I need it for budgeting purposes.

      I like your solution of simply entering the purchases in the home currency, but what do you do about cash payments? I guess one method would be to minimize the use of cash (though sometimes it's necessary), and then record the entire withdrawal as a "spend", without tracking where it all goes. Or just record it in a little notebook or in some other app.

      Reply Like
      • ISuckatMaths
      • Where Budget and Math collide
      • ISuckatMaths
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Silver Boa Hey sorry for the delay.  Christmas has been crazy and planning another few trips!

      Well, if I get cash, I never bother getting cash from the bank at home, because my bank has relationships with other banks around the world. If I withdrawal money from a partner bank's ATM, I do not get charged international w/d fees from the bank.

      When I w/d cash from the ATM, I note the cash amount in my Travel Budget - But because the bank apps tell you everything at once - I can note it in $. Again, I note the amount in the currency that I converted it to, so that I can keep track.

      I should add that I have a vacation category in my normal budget.  That money is what I use to 'pay' the credit cards, cash withdrawals etc. So, the travel budget will have all the information of spending , while my normal budget vacation category will indicate a large withdrawal.

      Reply Like
  • Good to see the Aussies upholding the travelling tradition !!  YNAB wasn't around when I back-packed.   I did however use YNAB4 to budget for a "trip of a lifetime" to New York to see Billy Joel then vto Ecuador & Galapagos Islands.  I just kept it all in a separate category in my normal budget and saved like mad into various sub-categories before I left home. (eg NY Food  / Cash / Accom; Quito Food / Cash / Accom etc)  Once travelling, we used a fee-less debit card from my Credit Union, and when I had the time in the evening I accessed my CU and did manual transaction imports into YNAB, adding into the memo column comments like "the Met" or "Highline" which are also nice to refer back to.  My only recommendation - not re YNAB - is to be sure to let your bank know which countries you plan to visit and approximately when.  I do hate it when the fraud team repeatedly call and email me, don't listen, don't refer back to my written advice before I leave, and cut off my card.  Hence, also advice is always travel with a spare card kept carefully separate from your main card.

    Reply Like
      • Whereforart
      • Mostly traveled.
      • whereforart
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      toddy100 I agree about notifying your banks.  My credit union actually lets me do this online - you can add your trips in a special section (up to 30 days travel) to your account.

      Another thing to check is the daily limit from ATMs.  I was in Italy once and needed extra cash for my room.  I had withdrawn $200 the day before but went to get another $200 the next day. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that because a holiday was included, I couldn't w/draw any more money until the next business day.  So I was forced to do a cash advance at a bank, which cost me money.  Now I always make sure that my daily withdrawal limit is at least $500, and always plan ahead for withdrawals if possible.

      Reply Like
  • I was reading about Trail Wallet, which is geared towards budget travelers. No android version yet - just IOS -  and is free for up to 25 items.  If you want more than that, it's a one-time fee of $4.99.  So you can try it free and see if you like it, then pay the fee and input unlimited items.  Lifehacker had an article about it and so did Lonely Planet.  I'm planning on using it for my trip to the Netherlands next year.  Here are some of its features:

    1. Easily work with multiple currencies
    2. Easily update currency exchange rate
    3. Categorize your purchases
    4. Set an average daily budget for your trip
    5. Interactive pie chart to visualize your spending
    6. Spread purchases out over multiple day

    Your trip sounds like a wonderful adventure!  Good luck and have fun with the planning!

    Reply Like
      • ISuckatMaths
      • Where Budget and Math collide
      • ISuckatMaths
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Whereforart That sounds interesting, if Android comes before I leave, I'm will check it out. Though, there is something calming about waking up and having my hot chocolate with all my receipts out and ready for me to upload on Ynab.  Perhaps I'm old school, but, I think manually typing it in, makes you more aware of your spending and forces you to stick with your budget.

      Reply Like 1
      • Whereforart
      • Mostly traveled.
      • whereforart
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      ISuckatMaths I can certainly see that.  When i plan for trips, I do a lot of online research but I write all my travel info down in a dedicated notebook.  There's nothing more satisfying than planning on paper. :) 

      Reply Like
  • Sounds like an awesome adventure! I like to do a separate budget per currency, but then so that my annual vacation tracking and reports in my main budget are still relevant I will do a few summary entries there.

    For example, when I pull out cash or exchange to CZH (or JPY, or whatever), I have an entry in my main budget saying the amount. I can track how I spend it in the other budget, and at the end of that segment of the trip do a mini report to see how much of it in September was for food, entertainment, accommodation, transit to/from airports, other transit, gifts, personal care (laundry and blister bandages, etc). Those few totals can be moved back into the main budget - usually I will update the original cash entry or make a new one for the relevant month that is split up for those trip categories, with just one entry per sub-total.  5 countries later (over 2 years, with lots of time at home too) and it's working out good.

    Reply Like
  • Okay, I have never even wanted to try this!  You are so brave. I have thought of working while I travel cause I don't want my pocket to take the burn. 

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