Standard currency to keep record
To keep record of our Thailand and Cambodia backpacking costs, we decided to use the Thai baht since we were starting off in Thailand. When traveling, we tend to “think in South Africa Rands” while spending Thai Baht. Once we crossed the border to Cambodia, we were sometimes spending US Dollars and sometimes Cambodian Riel. Then you buy in USD and receive small change in Riel. This can all get quite confusing, so it is best to standardize all record keeping back to one currency. Also, setting online booking pages’ currencies to the chosen currency helps too.
The application I used on my android phone was an exchange rates currency convertor that I liked and can be downloaded from the app store. It can also be used without an internet connection using the last conversion rates that it saved when a connection was available. You can select all the currencies you want on one screen, so that you can see your spend converted into your home currency as well as chosen others all at once. Also great for checking your change quickly when, for example your spending in Dollars & getting change in Riel.
Recording Thailand and Cambodia backpacking costs for 43 days
To keep track of our Thailand and Cambodia backpacking costs while on the road, we used a free app called “Expense Manager”. This app makes it fairly fast & easy to input travel costs on an Android device. There are different categories as well as sub categories that you can create as you wish. It also has a few summaries, graphs and other useful budgeting report features. You can also save the expenses from phone to a laptop or email the csv sheet to yourself to later format as you wish. Here is the link: Expense Manager
Having the right apps on your phone and being familiar with how they work is invaluable. We used a handful of resources that made life so much easier when traveling. Not sure how we would have managed without these. Check out our resources page for more useful apps that new travelers will find easy to use and are the basics we required.
Here are our summarized costs for 43 days:
Accomodation: 33930 Baht, $980
Transportation: 15129 Baht, $437.51
Restaurant meals: 8785 Baht, $253.48
Snack meals: 2270 Baht, $65.57
Take out meals: 3697 Baht, $106.66
Groceries & other: 1573 Baht, $45.40
Drinks: 10212 Baht, $295.16
Tours: 5192 Baht, $149.80
Miscellaneous 6022 Baht, $173.77
Personal clothing: 2629 Baht, $75.99
Personal care: 4045 Baht, $116.86
Total: 93489 Baht, $2700
This is a daily average of 2174 Baht/$62.80 per couple per day (857 ZAR)
(Compare this with our costs for our 2015 trip)
Opportunities for savings.
It would not be accurate to divide this by 2 to try and get to a cost per person, as obviously the single traveler would need to budget for more than when with a partner & sharing many costs such as accommodation & motorcycle for example. It’s fair to say that we stayed in rather luxurious accommodation, so could have saved quite a bit there. We also traveled fairly large distances from Bangkok to South Cambodia, back up to North Cambodia, back to Bangkok, to South Thailand, as well as a few islands. So where we could have saved on those, we could have spent more on tours & experiences for example. Restaurant meals are also fairly pricey compared with food bought from street vendors & markets.
Knowing WHAT you spend, helps you to know HOW to cut costs
Whatever the case may be, we could have spent way less, or way more, but this is only our 2nd trip abroad, and we are getting way better at traveling further, for longer at a budget cost. This is especially true for travelers of our age. Being midlife backpackers, we have seen that we do not need to spend a fortune on holidays. We needed to keep a close watch on our Thailand and Cambodia backpacking costs. What we have also notice, is that a lot of young backpackers seem to be a lot more gullible and likely to spend more than they should. Getting conned into expensive transport options like tuk-tuks & taxis, or whether wasting money drinking from expensive bars and eating western style food. Young backpackers often seemed to be spending way more extravagantly they we were. I suspect many of them are merely spoiled kids traveling the world on funds that wealthy parents provide.
Of course, with age comes the wisdom of knowing the value of hard earned wages, and keeping those in check and stretching your funds. The main thing though is keeping record, as if you don’t know where the money is going, there is not much opportunity for cutting cost. We improved our budgeting with our Thailand and Cambodia backpacking costs in 2016.
Detailed breakdown of our Thailand backpacking expenditure:
For a complete breakdown of our day to day expenses, have a look at the detailed pdf document by clicking & opening the following link. We hope this is of value to you: