Pre-Travel Routine of an OCTP* – Part I: Budgeting And Destination

Bare with me, pictures are yet to come in Part II!

And here is for Part III

Travelling combines probably most of my strengths and passions: The love for geography, history and just good old general learning. I love maps and spend a lot of time on Wikipedia, going from one article to another. It’s amazing how much we can learn when we are not trying to do so.

After posting about some of the places I have been, I have never posted about the part that, in my opinion, composes of about 75% of the trip: The planning. I will post these in a series of three posts to show you how the mind of an Obsessive-Compulsive Travel Planner* works.

These posts will be based on my almost 14 years travel “career”, where I kept a budget of all my expenses for most of my solo trips and studied their/my average pattern. As most of you probably know, budget and choosing a destination are not independent of each other, so here is how I work:

  1. Setting my holiday dates

This is probably the most stressful of them all: I need to ask for holidays about six months in advance, but I hate asking my boss for the time, but it gives me plenty of time to choose the right place. I guess everyone has to go through it, after all, most of us are not lucky enough to be able to do this for a living. Six months in advance may be too long for some? Well, I really can’t do it any other way. I need a very good excuse to make me travel at short notice (< 2 months), otherwise, how can I learn about the place? (topic yet to come). And if I need to travel at very short notice, most of the time it is not for a good occasion, which I need not go in to.

  1. Matching my budget and choosing the “right” place to go

As soon as I get home with the dates at hand, it’s time to check the travel fund and see how far I can travel. Budgeting and choosing where the place is never easy, but I have a rule of thumb: Including all expenses (plane tickets, accommodation, food, entertainment etc), I summarize my budget to £50 per day (€63/US$85). It doesn’t matter where I go, this is my budget. To what does the £50 break down? Here is a pie chart to roughly illustrate the point.


This is just an estimate, based on a trip where I don’t know anybody, am going by myself and based on hostel dorms in cities like New York/Paris/London (expensive stuff, but there are very good options if you do your research). If you have travelled before, you know that prices can vary. The destination is constrained by how long my holidays are, which makes sense. If I don’t have a lot of time, I go close by. You won’t see me taking a two-week holiday to Vietnam or China!

Deciding the place is then relatively “trivial”! Take the daily travel budget, multiply by the number of days and check how far you can go!

Once the place has been decided, JUST CHECK that there are plane tickets available within the budget, then arrange the place to stay FIRST. Avoid buying the plane tickets before accommodation, because once you commit to the plane ticket, you HAVE to go, regardless on how much your accommodation will cost you.

Most times, there is money left over, I never spend it. I add it to next trip’s budget.

Part II of this post will be published very soon, thanks for your audience! Stay tuned for more!

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3 thoughts on “Pre-Travel Routine of an OCTP* – Part I: Budgeting And Destination

  1. Pingback: Pre-Travel Routine of an OCTP* – Part II: Planning My Trip | The World is a Windmill

  2. Pingback: Pre-Travel Routine of an OCTP* – Part III: Visas, Packing and… Getting the Word Out | The World is a Windmill

  3. Pingback: The Money-less Tourist and Homeless Man: A Short Story | The World is a Windmill

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