“It’s not about the money” – Spending Money at the Jamboree

Hi everyone.  I’ve been snooping in a couple of the Facebook groups and the question of spending money seems to be popping up so I thought it’s worth weighing in with my tuppence worth.  First of all, if you’ve received specific information from your Unit Leaders, that takes precedence over everything I’m going to say.  Please don’t ignore them because some “random person” off the internet told you to.

The question of spending money comes up before every Jamboree or Moot and frankly there is no right or wrong answer.  Everyone you speak to will tell you something different – even when we were discussing writing this post, Lyndsey, Matty and I had different opinions on what was the right advice.  With this in mind I’m going to guide you through my thought processes when thinking about how much spending money I want to take.

The first thing to consider is that from the moment you appear at the Summit till the moment you leave you will not have to spend any money.  All your meals and activities are paid for in advance.

Any expenditure at the Summit will be voluntary – things like Jamboree merchandise, cold drinks, ice creams, food from the food houses etc.

I normally budget this at around £10 a day (depending on exchange rates etc.) plus a lump sum for Jamboree merchandise.

A lot of the Jamboree merch is already on sale at the organisers website, so you can get an understanding of prices.  I tend to collect event hoodies (and knives…) so for me, I know on my hit list is the purple zippy hoodie with the jamboree logo which retails at $39.99 or approximately £31.  So, knowing this is on my hitlist, I’ll budget for this.

Ain’t it pretty?

It’s also worth sticking in a contingency, I’d come up with your budget, then add another 10-25% for unexpectedly hot days where you need extra cold drinks or ice-cream, or for a bit of kit breaking and needing to replace it in-country, even for things you might not think about right now, like buying a drink or a magazine at the airport or running out of sun-cream or toothpaste and needing new bottles.

This strays a little bit into packing, but I tend not to take toiletaries when I travel.  I leave my shampoo/shower gel, deoderant, toothpaste and sometimes toothbrush behind to save weight and buy them when I arrive in-country.  To buy these for the time I’m in America will probably cost about $10, but it’s something I need to budget for.

Where it becomes difficult to guess surrounds the pre- and post-events.  I’ll split this into 2 sections because there are specific Top Tips for Participants/Unit Leaders and IST, then back together for some final thoughts.

Participants & Unit Leaders

You start your journey to the Jamboree in New York, New York.  Exactly what you’ll be doing there is down to individual units, so I can’t comment on how much things might cost.  Think about what you’ll need when you’re there, probably like the Jamboree site, drinks, snack-food, ice-creams.  Do you want to get a souvenir from the biggest city in the USA?

As you are then coached down to West Virginia, there will be stops, and let’s face it, we’re all going to want to try the service-station food.  There are fast-food chains that dominate US Service stations that either don’t exist over here or are limited in their locations, things like Taco-Bell or Wendy’s or Dairy Queen.  Unfortunately, these things cost money and you’ll have to budget for them!

After the Jamboree you have the same considerations. During your time in Washington you’ll be looking for drinks and ice-cream and maybe wanting to try the street food etc.  At the baseball game you’ll probably want to try the concession stands to get the fullest experience!  Travelling to your hosted hospitality you will likely want to get a drink to have on the way, whether it be bottled water or coca-cola.  On your hosted hospitality you’ll have the same considerations again, cold drinks, ice cream, souvenirs, Tim Horton’s if you’re in Canada. (I promise I’m not obsessed with Tim’s…)

A typical Tim Hortons!

You’ll probably be sleeping on the plane home so there’s no need to worry about a magazine for that flight!


Similar advice for a lot of the IST really.  Think about travelling to the US, any unexpected occurrences (like forgetting your headphones or travel charger!) and stops between your entry point and the Jamboree site.  Washington, I know our meals are covered, but you might decide to eat-out at lunch, or try the street food. There might be a cost associated with your adventure, I know the group I’m in have been talking about going to the crime museum which has a $20 entry fee we need to budget for.

Where it gets particularly complicated for the IST is the independent travellers or those doing tours after the event.  I can only speak from experience here, so what I have to say may not be representative of best practise (or even a particularly good idea…)

I have, as I’ve said before, independently travelled to a lot of events now, and this Jamboree is no different.  Matty and I are flying out almost a full week before the date we have to be on site.  We are flying into New York, New York and have a hotel booked.  I’ve only paid our deposit there so we still have most of that cost to deal with.  We need to budget for meals whilst we’re there and any activities we want to do.  We’ve been talking about catching a broadway show or visiting any number of museums or attractions.  We even need to consider travel cards for the subway/bus system before we fly on down to North Carolina.

The Big Apple, NYC, So good they named it twice!

I can only suggest you plan your travel.  I know how many meals we need to have and can sort of budget for them.  I know how much the hotel costs and can budget for that.  I can look online at how much a subway card will cost me.  I can sort of plan which museums we want to visit and come up with a cost that way.  It may feel prescriptive or lack spontaneity, but it makes sure you don’t run out of cash midway through your holiday.

Totally in the face of what I’ve just suggested, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing after the Jamboree.  I have three or four options open for the couple of days I have between finishing up in Washington and flying home, one of which involves visiting Canada, one of which involves going back to New York, New York.  In Iceland, I did pretty much the same thing.  I didn’t have a plan on the basis that I was self-contained, I had a tent and a wee stove so I could pretty much go where I wanted, tying in with whoever had the most exciting plans – I don’t quite have that flexibility in the USA, so I’ll need to do some careful considerations.

Bringing us all back together, I think there’s a few points I should raise.

Firstly, cash or card?

What I mean by this is, should I calculate the sum I’m going to take and take it all as cash?  Or should I look at some sort of cash-card that allows me to withdraw what I want, when I want and not run the risk of my wad of cash being lost or stolen?

This is personal preference, backed up by the insurance considerations (see below…)  I think personally I’m going to take a card loaded with cash – principally in this case my Monzo Card, with my bank-card held in reserve.  I will take some cash – my sister who visits the USA more frequently than I do has given me a bag of quarters for launderettes and vending machines, and I’m intending on getting some more cash for places that don’t take card.  I am in no-way sponsored to say this, but Monzo is fantastic because it’s linked to a mobile app that keeps me updated with what I’m spending, when I spent it and where.  The downside of Monzo is that the full account is for over-18s only.  They have launched a 16/17 account that has some more limitations on it.  Monzo is entirely online so you have to apply through their app for a card.  It can take a while to get to you because it’s become somewhat popular.

An example of a Monzo card

Other banks offer other accounts, from Post Office cash cards through things like Caxton, a Revolut account or even some of the high street banks “Young Adult” accounts.  I can’t comment on these because I’ve never tried them.  For the over 18s, I can’t recommend Monzo strongly enough.


If you decide that cash is easier, or you withdraw a large sum from your cash-card, you need to keep the insurance in mind.  The insurance is provided by Unity (underwritten by Allianz) for the duration of the Jamboree.  Independent travellers are only covered for the Jamboree and associated bits, any independent stuff isn’t and we need to either cover ourselves or get in touch with Unity (not relevant to what I’m about to say, more a personal reminder).

The summary document is pretty clear on what’s covered, Money wise, there is a strict £100 excess and the cover i.e. the maximum you will be reimbursed (not counting the excess) is:
– Up to £1,000 for Unit Leaders
– Up to £500 for persons aged 16 and above (All IST)
– Up to £250 for persons under 16

In reality, the value is £100 less for the excess.  This means, as a member of the IST, if I had £1000 with me (I won’t! don’t get any ideas!) and I get mugged going back to the hotel in New York, New York, I would only be able to claim £400 back from Unity.

We will talk about safety and security at a later time, but yeah, keep your stuff close to hand and be careful!

So, to conclude, I hope this has been useful to you, if only to make you think about what you might need.  I can’t give specific advice because my Jamboree is very different to yours, but I’ve tried to cover the process I’ve been through in my mind to set a budget for the event and how I’m going to take my money out there.

As a closing remark, way back in 2013, one of my friends had £200 worth of Canadian dollars when she boarded the flight to Ottawa.  When she got on her flight back to the UK she had £125 worth and had survived the two weeks on just £75 worth of Canadian Dollars.  How?  I have absolutely no idea, I went out with about £500 and came home penniless.  We both had absolutely fantastic experiences which suggests, as they say, it’s not about the money…

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