A Life Engaged

Travel Budgeting Part 2: Pre-Trip Expenses

In our previous post, we walked through budgeting costs of a trip abroad. In this post, we’ll talk about some items you may need to purchase before you embark on your adventure. You should be able to source most clothing items and accessories from your closet; however, tourist visas and a good backpack are examples of essential pre-trip expenses. Below is a list of specific travel items you may need to purchase and how much you should expect to spend. 

Backpack & Pack Cover

We each have an Osprey Porter 46 backpack and we absolutely love it. It’s amazing that it fits so comfortably on both of us as Dan is 5’10 and Jessie is 5’0. It is also carry-on size so it fits in the overhead compartment on most airplanes. We highly recommend this bag for its quality and great price range. We recommend spending between $100-150 on a pack that suits your needs. Also, don’t forget a pack cover for those unavoidable hikes in the rain. It is better to err on the side of caution and get a slightly larger pack cover than needed. You never know what extraneous items will be strapped to the outside of your pack. You can get an adequate pack cover for $10-$20.

Osprey Porter 46

Sporting our Osprey backpacks before embarking on our adventure

Trip Insurance

Trip insurance is essential. You can never predict what is going to happen on the road. We are fortunate enough not to have needed to use it yet, but it’s great comfort in case of an emergency. A popular (and reputable) option is World Nomads. We’ve been happy with the service we received at a smaller local insurance company that partnered with IMG for their Patriot Travel Medical Insurance. If you have someone you trust, it is always good to support local business.

Insurance can be complicated and it is useful to have professional help weigh your options. We recommend comparing World Nomads to two or three local insurance companies in your area. As a couple on a six-month trip, World Nomads quoted $582 and $804 for the for the standard and explorer plans, respectfully. For one individual, World Nomads quoted $335 for the standard plan and $483 for the explorer plan. With IMG, we were able to choose from a number of options based on a premium maximum and deductible amount.

travel insurance

Don’t let the lack of insurance keep you from a great adventure!

First Aid Kit

You should be able to gather some ibuprofen, Tums, Band-Aids and other basic essentials from your medicine cabinet. Whatever you don’t have at home, make sure to get a small dose at your local pharmacy. To save on costs, we recommend making your own first aid kit versus buying a more expensive pre made kit. You probably won’t need to spend more than $20 here.

first aid kit

You never know when you’ll need something out of your first aid kit!


We were fortunate not to have to pay any visa fees on our trips based on our itinerary. However, some countries require a visa fee in order to enter their country. Do your research based on the locations you have picked to see if you will need to apply for any tourist visas.


If you’re planning to travel to India or Africa, it is likely that you will need to get some immunizations to prevent from getting sick on the road. No matter where you are traveling, make an appointment with Passport Health to get an idea of what immunizations you may need.

Travel Power Adapter

A travel adaptor is essential if you will be traveling outside of your home country. Try and find a reliable travel adaptor that works in every part of the world. It’s also great to find one that also has a USB port so you can charge your phone and your laptop at the same time. This will likely cost you between $20-$30.

Travel Adaptor

Hiking Shoes/Sandals

Comfort is the absolutely most important factor when picking out shoes for travel. You will be walking A LOT. Check out brands like Merrell, KEEN, Teva, and Chacos to get you started. Shoes can range anywhere between $50-150 per pair. We recommend checking out sales at your local REI or DSW. We were able to snag a pair of Merrell walking sandals at 75% off at REI and a pair of Merrell hiking shoes at 50% off at DSW.

Travel Towel

A quick-dry microfiber towel can be a very handy item in your pack. When you are staying on a budget, not every accommodation provides towels.These towels are small, easy to pack and dry very quickly when you need to skip town.  Also, it’s super convenient for the beach, the park, etc. This will likely cost you between $10-$30 depending on the size.

Download this spreadsheet and adjust based on your specific trip to help estimate your pre-trip expenses. Include this as a separate tab in the excel workbook started in Part 1: Trip Expenses. It’s helpful to keep all of your budgets in one place.

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It’s important to obtain what you need without going overboard. Remember that your money is better spent on your trip adventures and excursions! What do you think is necessary to have before embarking on a trip? Let us know in the comments below.



DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Yep, that’s right we’re not here to hide it. This basically means that if you click on a link and purchase a product we recommend, we get a few extra bucks at NO cost to you. If we don’t personally use or believe in a product/brand, you won’t see it recommended here.