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Budgeting for International


Beginner (10+ posts)
Hi, I hope this is in the right place, sorry if not.
I'm planning my first international and am currently looking at the budget. How much of a contingency do you take? If it's any help, there will be approximately 30 people going and we will be away for 4 days.
Any help greatly appreciated, thanks


Regular (50+ posts)
Are you travelling independently or with JEKA/a similar company? I am starting to think about doing a JEKA trip in a couple of years and am thinking 5-10% of the value of the non-JEKA bills. On the basis that the JEKA fee is fixed, but the activities and extras are where the variables are.


Veteran (100+ posts)

I'm doing an international in August. I would say when you add contingency, you can always say to the parents that you will reimburse/ do something special with the remainder. You can always get them to vote/ decide on this at your parents meeting...


Veteran (100+ posts)
Staff member
I think you need to consider what it would be for, an extra night's accommodation if travel plans are disrupted, additional meals if plan A doesn't work out.. A lot of things could be covered by insurance in the long term and paid by plastic in the short term but you need to consider, who's plastic, would the individual be reimbursed before the insurance stumps up, ( if not who pays the interest and charges) and who will cover the cost if the cost isn't insurable.

I wouldn't necessarily ask the parents but I'd certainly explain what your policy will be especially on possible refunds. It's easier to fundraise more and reimburse than trying to get funds out of them after the event.


Veteran (100+ posts)
Staff member
I'd start with 10% ....... but the actual figure will vary depending on what you might think you'd need a contingency for, what unplanned costs Venture Abroad would expect to pick up and what your insurance arrangements are. As Quack mentions, you'll have to think of how you'll pay for the unexpected in the first instance; flights / meals / spare clothes I'd expect someone to have to pay out then reclaim; larger hospital bills you might expect to pay an initial fee then insurance covers it all. But, what does your insurance specifically mention?

Think about the circumstances in which you'd be spending the contingency & how much that would reasonably be - e.g. you'd potentially need to pay for 30 extra meals one day; but it's unlikely that flights home would be for more than 2-3 people (e.g. one ill plus chaperone).

Do some sums about your specifics e.g. 30 people paying £150 for the trip would give you a £450 contingency (based on 10%); that's enough to buy 30 basic meals in most places...... but wont go far if you have to fly 3 folk home. If you've got someone happy to put cost of flights on a credit card in the hope of reclaiming from insurance later, then maybe you don't need to worry about that.
Obviously if your trip is costing £500pp, then you'd have a £1500 contingency, which makes a difference.

Are you also including pre-trip items in the contingency budget? Some may be offset against your payment / deposit policy. I.e. costs incurred pre-trip should equal the deposit / payment logic, so you're not out of pocket if someone cancels.

And yes, don't mention explicitly refunding the contingency - it's a cost that you need to budget for like all others. You can have a general rule if there is an excess leftover once all bills are settled, which is refund / into general account etc


Guide Guider
When I did my trip to St Lucia 7 years ago I was told by the Region international adviser that you should have a 10% contingency fund. Oh boy was I grateful for the 10% when the Icelandic volcano caused huge disruptions and delayed our return by 9 days. Initially Virgin put us up in a hotel including food but after about 2 days they withdrew the funding & said we had to pay then apply for the refund on returning to the UK. That caused a lot of stress, however after a day making phone calls to the British Consulate and the Virgin manager (who fortunately had been a Guide leader in the past) they reinstated the free accomodation and food, however we still had to keep the girls entertained & this included transport.
My advise is definitely don't allocate less than 10% contingency fund.
Good luck with the planning.


Also - how many of your bills are in sterling, and how many in the local currency? If a lot of the expenses are in local currency, then you need to allow for movement in the exchange rate, which could be to your benefit, but could as easily be to your disadvantage.