Submitted: Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 18:30
ThreadID: 69955 Views:2633 Replies:8 FollowUps:11
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Heading off this Saturday on our lap of oz and want to record all travel costs on laptop for easy review and to keep track of what we are spending etc etc. I have put together an excel spreadsheet to do this and was planning to enter our expenses daily itemising as I go. Would be interested in other travellers ways of tracking costs effectively?? Any other useful tips on tracking costs would be appreciated. Mainly costs such as fuel $ vs kms travelled, accomm fees, food and misc. items (such as tourist activities).

Thanks in advance!
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Reply By: Member - joc45 (WA) - Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 19:07

Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 19:07
Hi, just goin,
I did this when we travelled Europe/USA back in 2002 and it worked well, but one has to religiously update it every day.
Before we started, during the planning stage of the trip, I created a daily calendar in the first column, then set up columns for predictions, both income and various outgoing categories (accom, fuel, food, transport, misc, etc) then put in estimates for daily expenditure. When broken down into categories, it's not too difficult to estimate. This told us whether we were going to go broke or survive over the next 4 1/2 months!
Then, for the actual trip, I had more columns to be entered each day for actual expenditure, and of course for actual income. By applying formulae, it showed us whether we were on track or not (and whether we could eat out or only afford bread & dripping).
I used the credit card mostly, and used the spreadsheet to calculate the monthly debit total at the monthly cutoff date, then transfer that value down to the pay-by date so we knew how much to put in to the bank to pay the card off on the pay-by date. This way, we didn't have to keep checking the internet banking to see what the balance was. We always overpaid a bit in case there was some small error.
After a bit of fine tuning along the way, I got all keen and created graphs on a linked page, showing in living colour our financial progress. I recall I had 3 linked pages on the spreadsheet; one for estimates, one for actual and one for graphs.
Interestingly, at the end of the trip, there was a $100 error somewhere, which I couldn't pinpoint.
Too much trouble now....
AnswerID: 370742

Follow Up By: Rossc0 - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 09:29

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 09:29
We do much the same with the credit card however have it set up to automatically pay from the cash account.

That way we don't have to worry about trying to get internet/phone banking in remote areas.

FollowupID: 638115

Follow Up By: Member - joc45 (WA) - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 11:31

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 11:31
Hi Rosco,
Yes, the automatic transfer is a good idea and I'd suggest that if you're going to be away from internet banking access for some time.
At the time, I had just retired, and was sailing pretty close to the wind, financially, and had to know pretty accurately just how much money I had and how much I owed, with the possibility of not paying the full credit card amount at the end of the month (bank charges for not having enough funds at transfer time can be horrendous!).
To make matters worse, I had a tenant who stopped paying me as soon as I left the country. I really needed that money. That was another story....
The bottom line was that the spreadsheet was able to stop us running blind financially, taking the stress out of the holiday (apart from the sleazebag tenant issue).
Despite the abovementioned $100 error, the good news was we came out of the trip under budget. And we never had to under-pay the credit card, so no charges were incurred.
FollowupID: 638135

Reply By: Member - Peter R (QLD) - Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 19:16

Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 19:16
My spreadsheet summarises the daily expenses for major items on a summary sheet and splits them up between cash and credit card.
It also has an itinenary sheet and a budget plus fuel consumption

If you joined exploroz you could send me a pm and i could send you the spreadsheet.

AnswerID: 370747

Follow Up By: Member - Kroozer (WA) - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 02:14

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 02:14
2nd that, awesome spreadsheet. Off on my trip in 2 days around Oz and Peters hardwork has really helped me out.I think i have just about narrowed it down to the last dollar. Becoming a member has endless possibilities and rewards. It seems each week i find something amazing on this site since becoming a member. Thanks again Peter.
FollowupID: 638092

Reply By: tim_c - Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 19:40

Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 19:40
Unless you have the computer on all the time (eg. running OziExplor or sim.), you'd be better to carry a little notebook & pen (you know, the old fashioned spiral bound one!) and you can keep it in your pocket and just write things in straight away.

Next time you've got the computer on you can update your spreadsheet which can categorise and total the amounts far quicker (ie. how much did we spend on accommodation, food, fuel, etc.).

Unless you carry a little pocket notepad, you could easily forget to include those ice-creams for the kids, or gas bottle top-up as whatever you don't end up with a receipt for... (not sure how worried you are about a few little things you may miss?!)
AnswerID: 370751

Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 19:45

Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 19:45
Agree there Tim , we just write everything down as it comes in a little notebook , keeping reciepts as well , and when we get time or PC is running we formalise things more into lists etc.

Robin Miller

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FollowupID: 638030

Follow Up By: just goin - Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 19:58

Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 19:58
Hey Tim,

Yes will have the little notebook and pen thing happening for sure. I have a pencil case usually in the glovebox of the vehicle and usually take it in my handbag with me when we are out of the vehicle. I put receipts etc in it as we go and will enter them into the laptop when I have it on.

I am going to try and track everything as best I can to get a REAL idea of costs but maybe the odd newspaper etc may go unoted but that would be about it..

It seems that most people agree that a simple spreadsheet with formulas is the way to go. Just need to fine tune my columns specifically so that I can quickly get a quick individual sum for the big cost items to date such as fuel, accomm and food I guess. After 4-6 months on the road we will have plenty of lines to be summing up totals of so best to get the layout user friendly from the start I am guessing....

Thanks again
FollowupID: 638037

Follow Up By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 10:11

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 10:11
Showing my age here I guess (54).........

I started to get excited when I reached this reply, wherein the respondant mentioned a pen and notebook (you know.... "notebook"; as in a booklet filled with paper made from a tree...... not some fangled new name for a damned computer).

So, then as read the reply, the respondant suggests that the info be written in a old fashioned notebook and THEN later gets transferred to a computer program.

My question is: WHY do this second bit?????

Are we sooooo intent on having everything in our lives maintained electronically that we can no longer use our scone to keep some relatively simple records on paper?

I'm sorry, I just don't get this whole obsession with electronic records. Sure, digital cameras are a great way of recording history WITHOUT the massive cost associated with taking a 35mm film to the chemist shop to be developed. That's one instance where I do agree with electronic recording of information.

I've recently taken up the SUDOKU thing, in an effort to try and keep my brain active.

If you're out on a trip around the block for 12 months or so, keeping manual (ie: paper notebook) records would be an ideal way of keeping your brain alive and active etc.

Bah Humbug: computers are getting to be far too much relied-upon IMHO.


FollowupID: 638118

Follow Up By: Member - joc45 (WA) - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 11:49

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 11:49
Yeh, Roachie, you're showing your age :D (I'm nearly 64)

I find it like the philosophy of climbing a mountain - you do it coz it's there. I found it quite fun putting together the spreadsheet, and seeing it come up with accurate results in an instant. Finding the errors while initially putting it together was a bit taxing, but still fun! And I kept fine-tuning it along the way.

And the lappy was needed anyway to store all my digital camera shots, so this was just another reason for lugging the damn thing around...

Robin's right about the notebook. During the day, I instead carried a plastic zip-top bag into which I stuffed all my receipts for the day, and at the end of the day, over a drink, punched the data into the lappy. (best you do this before you get too sloshed, and don't leave it till the next day).


FollowupID: 638137

Reply By: Member - Barnray (NSW) - Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 21:43

Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 21:43
Have a look at Nomad Notes, there is all sorts of input areas. Barnray
AnswerID: 370780

Reply By: stevesub - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 07:29

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 07:29
Don't, it will scare you too much with the amount you are spending.

We tried it a few times and gave up after a couple of days.

Our credit card company keeps a good record of what we spend.

A notebook is the most practical way, then input into a spreadsheet if you wish later. I travel a lot for work and use a notebook all the time, then into the PC when I get home.

AnswerID: 370826

Reply By: HGMonaro - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 09:19

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 09:19
I keep seperate sheets for fuel usage which includes distances, travel time (and a host of other 'irrelevant' items!) and expenses (where I also record the $ amount for fuel). The expenses one I categorise items into broad categories (fuel, accomodation, groceries, take-away, etc) and use a pivot-table to add them up. You can get as anal on the categories as you wish!

For example, here's the summary from our biggest trip...

Category : Amount : Share
Petrol : $5,256 : 29.6%
Accomodation : $3,052 : 17.2%
Groceries : $2,543 : 14.3%
Tours : $2,530 : 14.2%
Evening Meals : $953 : 5.4%
Miscellaneous : $674 : 3.8%
Souvenirs : $662 : 3.7%
Lunches : $506 : 2.8%
Equipment : $392 : 2.2%
Snacks : $315 : 1.8%
Car : $300 : 1.7%
Correspondence : $164 : 0.9%
Presents : $157 : 0.9%
Park Entry : $99 : 0.6%
Clothes Washing : $89 : 0.5%
Internet : $41 : 0.2%
Ice : $40 : 0.2%
Total : $17,772 : 100.0%

Cheers, Nige
AnswerID: 370841

Follow Up By: just goin - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 16:42

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 16:42
Hi Nige,

This is really interesting and the level of calculations I hasnt considered taking our trip costs too but having seen your results I think I will for my own interest sake. I am capable of getting these percentages out of spreadsheets as you have so thanks for that.

We were interested to know if you were willing to share how long ago you did this big trip that these figures were based on. Also how many adults (& kids if any went as well). Vehicle and rig details would be good for us to make a comparison to what we are doing....

One more sleep and we are off on the lap so will have more time away from the packing and getting organised stage to do some finer tuner of the spreadsheet(s) I plan to put together.....

Look forward to hearing more from you if possible
Thanks Again
FollowupID: 638197

Follow Up By: HGMonaro - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 23:42

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 23:42
was during 2007. 2A & 2C. Petrol Prado towing a Goldstream wind-up camper.

Have a great trip!
FollowupID: 638284

Follow Up By: HGMonaro - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 23:49

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 23:49
I probably should have added we were away 97 nights and did about 20,000K's
FollowupID: 638285

Reply By: Ruffstuff. - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 13:24

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 13:24
The wife & i have always kept a diary that we completed every evening with where we had been & what we had done that day, in a side margin we record all of our expenses be it for fuel or entry fees etc for tally up along the way.
we also included all of our kilometer readings etc to work out the vehicles economy over the various types of terrain which assists for future planning. even a few years on, the diary makes for a good read and brings back alot of memories. also another tip if you dont download your digital photos often is to make a note of pictures you have taken during the day..
AnswerID: 370891

Follow Up By: just goin - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 16:47

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 16:47
Sounds like a fanastic idea. With my wife being from a clerical background she is a whizz and far quicker typing notes and anything for that matter so I think we will keep a daily diary in a word document that is ongoing and updated each evening as you suggest.

We plan to be away for a minimum of 4 months to up to however long depending on funds and the kids but we have budgeted for at least 4 months with no work. When we find work and therefore create additional funds this will allow further time on the road so who knows - time will tell.

FollowupID: 638200

Reply By: Member - Troy and Kate - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 22:35

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 22:35
G'day just goin,

We have just gone, left last week for a lap around the block ( about 12 month's).
I have been keeping a daily log book of all expenses spent in a day.
I then tally them up each day and also at the end of the week.
I write down every thing we spend, from a cup of coffee to filling up the tank.
I can then work out what every item/items are costing. etc food, fuel,accom.
This also lets me know how the budget is going every month.
Some weeks are good, other weeks not so good, but it all evens out.
This might sound like a bit of a bore but it takes me less than 5 mins a day, and the log book cost me a couple of bucks.

Hope this helps,
Might see you on the road somewhere.

Happy days and safe travels.

AnswerID: 370978

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