Budgeting for Travel Shoots
Shooting video in a beautiful city like San Diego is great but we still love to travel for shoots. I can definitely think of worse things than getting to see the world while doing what you love. At the same time, if you're not careful travel can quickly drain your nice budget if not properly accounted for. So here's a quick list of travel line items to remember when putting together your initial proposal.
Yes, probably the most obvious but also one of the most dangerous. Early on we would just ball park a number for our flights. Huge mistake. If you under estimate, and we have, you could lose thousands. Jump on a site like Expedia or Travelocity to get a more accurate guess. Flight costs change from day to day but this will at least decrease the risk. A lot of clients will be happy to cover the overages if your original figures were pretty close.
Same general rule of thumb as airfare. Don't just ballpark it. Even though this is a less costly mistake than under bidding on airfare. Coming in low on your hotel budget usually leads to you sleeping at a Motel 6. There's nothing more important than a good nights sleep after a 12 hour shoot day. So plan accordingly. We like to try to package our airfare with our hotels when we book to get better rates.
Make sure to reserve a car that's big enough to fit all of your gear. When we travel light we've actual started to UBER to save a little cash. Usually hotels will charge insane rates for overnight parking. So if you don't have to park there all the better.
4. PER DIEMS
You're leaving the comforts of home behind for this job. So things like food need to be covered. Depending on client budget we'll usually charge around $75 a day per person.
5. TRAVEL DAYS
Yes you should be charging for your travel days. Your time is a valuable asset. You figure every trip will fill 2 full days of your time (there and back). We'll usually charge half of our day rates for travel days.
6. BAGGAGE FEES
These can be a KILLER. Most airlines will charge you a fee per bag (except for Southwest). On bigger shoots you'll be bringing a lot of bags. Many of which will be over the 50lb weight limit. So that $35 per bag now jumps to around $100 per bag. Remember you have to pay these fees on both the way to and from your destination. Budget accordingly. Most airlines will give you a free carry on. We try to bring our camera bodies with us onto the plane.
No, you can't charge the client for your gifts but don't forget to grab them! Our families are very important to us. The only downside to leaving on these shoots is that we can't bring our families. They miss you and you miss them. Don't forget to show them you were thinking about them while you were away!
Thanks for reading our quick list and happy travels!
P.S. Don't forget to take pictures!