Elyse Popplewell

Recently I was looking for travel destinations near Australia, but very different to home, and not too expensive. I was drawn to India for the bright colours and spicy curries, and to Nepal for its famous Chitwan National Park and magnificent scenery. Both countries were relatively inexpensive destinations. But as any traveller should know, the planned budget of the trip is only one of the many financial considerations in a trip. To help you with essential items to pack for budget travel, Lisa provides her best tips here.

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Currency requirements

It only takes a quick Google search to find out the official currency of a nation. There are countries that only use their own national currency, like Ecuador or El Salvador. Then there are countries who request official payments to be made only in a different national currency, like Nepal - who request that at-the-border visa applications are paid in US Dollars instead of the Nepalese Rupee. There are also countries who accept a foreign currency as well as their own, like Indian Rupees being largely accepted in Nepalese shops. You could save yourself an unnecessary conversion cost if you’re travelling between countries – so be sure to research this properly.


Forgotten cost - vaccinations and medication

Ahead of my trip to India and Nepal, I needed typhoid and cholera vaccinations, as well as a booster for Hepatitis B. When I combined this with sanitisation products, Panadol, anti-diarrheal medication, simple first-aid items and Hydralyte, I’d spent over $200. Health shouldn’t be compromised ever, but especially when travelling. Factoring in these costs is essential to planning your trip.

Cost of visas

Visas might seem like a mandatory expense, but for some countries you can save money on your visa application process. Remember that when applying for a visa, there is usually the initial cost of the visa, a processing fee, a courier fee if your passport needs to be mailed, and if a trusted third party is processing the application for you then that will likely incur a fee as well. You can save on the cost of a courier fee if the country offers an e-visa option, like India does for Australian nationals. For some countries, you may be able to apply at the border like I did for Nepal. This eliminates a courier fee as well as a third-party processing fee.

Etiquette of bartering and tipping

Not only does each country have different customs around bartering and tipping, but each state, or even town, can have unique ideas surrounding this topic. It’s well known that tipping is far more common in New York than it is in Perth. And bartering is more common in Chiang Mai than it is in Sydney. It’s best to research your destination before going in order to not offend the locals. If you’re looking for some general rules regarding bartering, here are my suggestions:

  • You should first remember to take a happy personality and friendly approach into your bartering negotiations. You’re going to have a lot more fun this way!
  • Remember that sometimes you are bartering over mere cents, so be sure to do a mental currency conversion as you go.
  • Have an idea of how much you would reasonably pay for this somewhere else and how much you are willing to pay now, before entering the negotiations.

street markets

Your emergency fund

Life on the road isn’t always smooth. Any situation could flip on its head at a moment’s notice. Your health could quickly compromise, a freak weather warning could fill the media, or there could be an emergency back home. Therefore, the rule of thumb is that you should have an emergency fund  in case something goes wrong. I’d suggest having at least enough money to get you a plane ticket home just in case. If you have enough money to do that, you may just have enough money to cover some other emergency expenses.

Eftpos cards

It’s best to speak with your bank about the exact fees you might incur while you are overseas if you continue to use your usual eftpos card abroad. You might face a conversion fee, a local ATM fee, as well as an ATM fee from your own bank. Or using your own credit card might even provide you with the best rate – which is why it’s important to research this part and get the best deal for yourself! You could also explore getting a travel money card through your bank or alternative provider, if you’d prefer to limit access to your bank account while overseas.

Remember to always let your bank know you will be travelling overseas and disclose which countries you’re headed to. You can usually do this through your bank’s phone app or website. Even if you are intending to use a travel card while you’re abroad, you need to let your bank know your location so that they don’t confuse an emergency transfer for fraudulent activity and block access to your card in a time of need. And remember – even if you’re not going somewhere particularly remote, you can’t assume you’ll have the same level of access to eftpos and ATMs that you do in Australia.

city atm

Storing your cash and cards

You’ve been told not to put all your eggs in one basket, and now it’s time to make sure you don’t put all of your cash and cards in the one wallet. If you’re using a travel card, it’s best practice to keep your primary and secondary card in very separate locations. Perhaps you might keep enough cash for the day in your wallet or money belt with your primary card, and then your secondary card and extra cash in a secure place at your accommodation like an in-room hotel safe (that only you have the PIN to!).

Travel Insurance

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Travel tips for backpackers

If you're travelling on a budget or backpacking around the world, check out these tips from a Cover-More case manager.


Elyse is a writer with a magnetic attachment to adventure. She loves to read, travel, and drink coffee. She’s happiest when all three of these are happening at once.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.