Eardex, or more evocatively, the Earth Index, to the rescue. Eardex is a tool that provides a comparative overview of costs for traveling essentials in cities, regions and countries all over the world, allowing an objective perspective on how much to expect to pay for things when you’re there, ultimately providing an intuitive understanding of day-to-day expenses.
Eardex takes the simplest of questions, “how much is a Coke in Thailand” for example, and expands on it by finding out how that item (or activity, or necessity) compares in price to that same thing where you live, giving you a relative set of numbers to calculate your budget.
The application is savvy, allowing you to select various currencies, calculate costs in different units such as 16 oz soda, pint of beer, or cup of coffee, even break down your search by region and city, letting you compare a place with other places if you’re trying to get an overview of a trip with several countries in it.
According to their about page:
All products and services in their entirety should allow to draw conclusions – beyond aspects with relevance for travelers only – about the overall price level and, therefore, the cost of living in a certain city, region, or country.
Finally, and very handily, Eardex does something I haven’t seen other budget calculators do very well: tally up a per day cost analysis from a “backpacker” or “tourist” perspective, which can make a big difference in the budget over a longer period of time.
To keep the information relevant, current and extensive, the data on Eardex is supplied by users – travelers who know first hand how much the items cost, and the prices are linked to currency exchanges to keep the figures accurate down to the penny.
The service is free, but if you register (a small means of entering your name and home country) a number of other features become available, such as setting your preferred units of measurement and currency for future visits.
Overall Eardex works very well, in my opinion one of the more user-friendly travel budget planning sites out there, with information that goes farther than a simple dubious “daily budget” number provided by some unknown algorithm. If you’re deep in the mire of the travel planning process, go over to Eardex and see if it works to help you out.
If you don’t know where in the planning process you are, you may want to look at the Great AirTreks Planning Timeline for help in managing your time all the way through T-minus zero.