Planning and managing a budget is a difficult endeavor in general, but add to that the excitement and unexpected adventures you are sure to encounter while abroad and creating and sticking to a budget just became ten times more difficult. Not to mention that you will be responsible for managing trip costs for every student who accompanies you! As a faculty leader, creating purposing and sticking to a budget is essential but defiantly not the most glorious of aspect of traveling. Following are some tips and trips to guide you through the budgeting part of your trip to keep your students and your university administration in the green!
First thing is First:
Hit the internet! Doing some research on what the trip might cost in general will give you an idea before approaching your university Education Abroad Office. This could include searching flight information, as this is probably the most expensive part of the trip.
- Check out flight information for many date ranges of your trip (if you have timeline flexibility).
- Look at different airlines and see if they have any promotional or group discounts
- Consider looking at other universities websites and seeing if they run similar trips to the one you are planning. This could give you an idea of expected costs and even itinerary. (Reaching out to faculty at other schools is also an option, many people will be happy to share their abroad experiences!)
Once you have a general idea about trip cost is best to seek the help of your education abroad office as they can help you create and secure a price to advertise and then assist with changes based on actual enrollment in your trip. TIP: Do not advertise the cost of your trip until the final budget is set, giving a range is fine but you do not want to give students false information that could deter them from signing up.
Now that you have estimated costs and an itinerary planned it is time to pay for all your exciting activities! The most important thing to remember here is RECEIPTS!
- Most universities will not reimburse you or credit the budget without a receipt or invoice. NOTE: It is best to have an itemized receipt to make reimbursement easier.
- There are a few ways to handle making deposits on activities and it is wise to plan how you will be paying for each expense before leaving. Remember: Be sure to factor in any currency conversions as well as the possibility of limited access to cash, daily ATM withdraw limits and fees.
It could also be helpful to seek out an on-site coordinator to handle the planning and organization of activities, transportation, accommodations etc. But having the university or you (the faculty leader) directly pay the merchants is an option as well. NOTE: It is also an option for the students to pay directly for services on the trip but this could slow down the trip as it could take a while to process each payment individually. This strategy could work the best for optional activities.
- Try to pay for as many services as you can before you leave.
- Keep an accurate and up-to date log of all expenses, this could include bringing an additional file folder for receipts.
- Be careful not to mix your personal spending money with program funds, keeping a separate card and cash stock is strongly advised.
- Bring back a record of exchange rate that you used, it will make getting reimbursed easier
- Do not permanently mark any of the receipts until you have to submit the to the university as you could obscure the readability. This includes using a highlighter – it is best to use post-its or a separate sheet of paper to make notes.
- Make sure you have a plan with your university as to how an emergency should be handled and how you can access emergency funds if needed.
- Finally, break down your budget each day by knowing what is covered for that day to make it easy to stay on track.