Budgeting a Travel and Leisure Video

Sunscreen? Check. Maps? Check. Handy pocket dictionary for basic conversations in the local dialect? Check.

And off you go to Eastern Baklavia, a delightful country where every March the rare white bobtailed wolverines engage in a migration from the valleys to the jagged peaks of the dramatic Baklavian mountain range. If all goes as planned your crew will get plenty of video of the majestic spectacle for your new travel show.

Passport to success: know what to include in your travel video budget

Passport to success: know what to include in your travel video budget

All does not go as planned. You arrive only to find that if you’re going to be doing any filming for commercial purposes, you need a business visa instead of a tourist visa. But customs agent Svetlana Ruchenko is very accommodating once a little cash changes hands. About ten percent of the ready cash you brought along.

Hours later you arrive at the village where you’re staying. Within five minutes your on-air host slips and fractures her ankle. The doctor would accept traveler’s health insurance, but no one thought to purchase that. Fortunately your audio operator got basic medic training in the military. Unfortunately the doctor charges you a hefty sum for the supplies needed to bind up your host’s ankle. More ready cash out the door.

Chin up, you start shooting the next day, and your host can do her shots from a chair. You’ll just show her from the shoulders up. Now all you have to do is make sure the camera batteries are charged…

Charged. The plug doesn’t fit into the outlet. What do you mean it’s different here? It’s electricity! It doesn’t come in different flavors!

Dawn comes, the wolverines march up the mountain, and you miss the shot. The cameras are dead, the project is dead, and you’re dead in the water because you pre-paid for transportation to and from the remote village, and the return transport won’t arrive for another five days. You don’t have enough cash left to hire cars to take you back to the capital right now. In fact, your cash is going at a much faster pace than you thought because there’s only one inn, which can charge whatever it likes for your meals….

Welcome to Eastern Baklavia. Otherwise known as Hell.

Don’t let this be your story.

There are a lot of things you have to budget for when doing travel videos, and this means serious research. In fact, you pretty much have to plan every step of the trip in detail before even starting a budget to ensure you don’t miss anything. Here are some of the important factors:


For your trip, for your equipment, for your health. Get it. It could literally save your life in a worst-case scenario. Travel insurance can help offset the costs of pre-paid expenses if you have to cancel the trip for any reason. You can also be covered if a natural disaster forces cancellation of your flight or damages your accommodations.

Make certain your budget includes health insurance for emergencies abroad

Make certain your budget includes health insurance for emergencies abroad

Getting coverage for health emergencies while traveling is crucial, because it’s likely your regular insurance doesn’t cover expenses abroad. If it’s a true emergency situation, the costs of getting from your location to a decent facility can be extraordinary, but this insurance will cover emergency evacuations. And last but certainly not least, make sure your equipment is covered in case it’s lost or stolen.

Visas and Permits

Most countries have embassies in the U.S. and many also have consulates, both of which can tell you what sort of documentation you may need for your trip. You may need a business visa since you’re technically not there as a tourist. Getting the wrong visa can be a costly mistake, as they don’t offer refunds or exchanges. You also may be required to get permits to shoot in certain areas. These also cost money, so make sure you have this included in the budget. And if you plan on doing aerial photography, make sure you have any permits you need to operate the equipment.

Make sure you factor in the costs of any permits needed for shooting your video

Make sure you factor in the costs of any permits needed for shooting your video

Power Converters

If you do a lot of travel programming you may have enough on hand, but if this is your first project make sure you find out what sort of converters you need. If you have a lot of equipment that needs regular charging, the cost of converters can quickly add up. Some hotels may offer them, but you can’t count on it and they won’t have many.

Emergency Cash

Because you just never know. You may need to hire cars to take you somewhere or get you out of somewhere. You may have an unforeseen expense, like replacing clothing if luggage is lost (travel insurance will eventually reimburse you, but not right away). This should be separate from “fringe” expenses you sometimes see on budget sheets, which are a set percentage of overall costs for each sub-category of the shoot. Be aware that you may not have access to ATMs in some areas, and even if you do, would-be thieves may be lurking around waiting for an obvious non-local to take out a wad of cash. It’s better to have some safely tucked away.

Ready cash, emergency cash, and gratuities all should be reflected in your budget

Ready cash, emergency cash, and gratuities all should be reflected in your budget


The key here is to know when you need them and when you don’t. Oh yes, there are times when gratuities aren’t needed. If the people funding your shoot know that, it could make you look uninformed or, worse still, absolutely shady for including them in the budget. For example, in Japan there is no tradition of tipping. The idea there is, you are always expected to get prompt, top quality service as part of the pricetag. Servers in restaurants in Japan have been known to run down the street after a customer who “forgot some of the change.” That’s how seriously they take it. Taxi drivers, hotel valets, room service, restaurant servers… they don’t expect a tip. On the other hand, you may need gratuities for portions of the trip that take place outside Japan, including restaurants at U.S. airports you’re going through. It’s best to be specific about what portions of the journey, and what services, may require gratuities in your budget.

Local Travel

Budget enough for local travel like taxis, or you may end up hoofing it

Budget enough for local travel like taxis, or you may end up hoofing it

This can absolutely shred your finances if you don’t do thorough research ahead of time. You really have to know what’s available for every step of the trip from the moment you step outside the destination airport to the moment you step back into it. For example, casual research may reveal that taxi travel in some countries is cheap. What you may not learn from casual research is that there are official (regulated) taxis and privately owned cars that look like taxis, but have no regulations on the rates they charge. If you have a lot of equipment, taxis can be problematic because they may be small and have little space for your gear. Busses are probably out for the same reason, not to mention that they aren’t the most efficient mode of transportation. You may have to rent or hire a car, both of which can be costly.

Admission Fees

These can also add up quickly if you’re shooting a lot of popular attractions. Make sure you do your research on every spot you plan to shoot. That scenic mountain range you absolutely need to show in your video might require going to an admission-only area to get the best, or most convenient, shots. By the way, this applies to budgeting for shoots within the U.S. as well.

Guides and Extra Hands

What’s that? You used Google Maps to plot a route from Lima, Peru straight to a remote village high up in the Andes? And you’re just going to rent a jeep or two at the airport and drive there yourself? That’s cute. May we suggest a slightly less insane plan, which involves hiring guides to take you there and people to help with your equipment. First, your map is unlikely to show you if the route has recently been blocked by a rockslide, or whether there’s an alternate route to your location. A local guide will likely know about both. And once you’re up in that mountain village, you may realize the gear that was already cumbersome has become unbearable to lug around because of the thinner atmosphere. A few extra hands certainly are welcome in those situations. Know the conditions you may encounter, and make sure you have funds to help you deal with them.

These are just a few of the important factors to take into account when budgeting for a travel shoot. Thorough research is the key to ensure you really do travel along happy trails. Hencar will take care of this legwork for you, so that all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride. Even if it’s to Eastern Baklavia.