You’ve decided to plan and book your dream vacation and are ready for take off. Or you are trying to figure out how to turn your bucket list into reality and have the finances to pay for your dream trip. Whatever the case, creating a travel budget should be a priority.
You may be really good with your money, and are frugal and cautious to make sure you don’t overspend while on holiday. Or you may be the polar opposite and enter major vacay mode when you’re away, and don’t want to stress over what you’re spending while on vacation. No matter what type of traveler you are, having a budget will help you stay on track, and stress less when you’re away, or worse, when you get back to reality. Because let’s be honest, how many times have you got home from a holiday and didn’t regret the experience but regretted the debt you now have to pay off?
Working towards getting the maximum value for the money we spend while traveling is something that everyone should want. We also want to be able to take vacations without having to worry about money. So GoDay has you covered with tips on how to develop your travel budget.
Who needs a travel budget
Anyone who wants to travel, is traveling or will be traveling, needs a budget. If you’re in the planning stage, a travel budget will help you be more realistic for your travel plan. If you’re saving for your next dream vacay, a budget will act as a guide to help you reach your savings goals. Lastly, if you’re ready to leave on your vacation tomorrow, a budget will help you make the best choices while abroad.
The best part is creating a travel budget isn’t rocket science. It’s made to be a guide, not a strict liste of rules. You’ll set an estimate, you may make mistakes while setting those estimates, and you won’t have to beat yourself up over it. A budget doesn’t need to act as a bible, it’s more guidelines to help you have some sort of guide so you don’t spend outside of what you have.
Steps to building your travel budget
Think of how you’ll get there
One of the biggest expenses you’ll incur when you travel is often the cost of actually getting to your destination. Depending on where you’re traveling, your choices of transportation will vary, and so will the costs. For example, a road trip, where you can take your own car, is going to be cheaper than having to fly to somewhere further away.
Start your research in advance and look at all your available options. If you do have to fly, look at if it’s cheaper to add a layover to your flight, and set a tracker to track the price of the flight so you book it when it’s at its best price. Websites like Kayak and Skyscanner allow you to easily do this by pulling flight prices from various websites and pulling in the best and lowest prices for your flight route.
Determine the costs of taking a flight, bus, train or car, to your destination (or at least the different options you have available for where you’re traveling). If you plan to travel to multiple destinations on your trip, estimate the cost of each leg of your adventure. Add this up to allow for you to have an idea of how much this expense will set you back in your budget.
Where will you be staying?
Another big expense that you can’t avoid when traveling is where you’ll rest your head at night. The good news is there is always cheaper and more expensive options when it comes to accommodations that can fit any budget. Take a look at:
- Hostels (both dorm and private rooms)
- Hotels (both chain and boutique)
- Friends and family (the best and most inexpensive option)
Hostels can be a great budget option for backpackers, however, they often have a bad stereotype that they are grimey, with 12 people in each room, and everyone is partying all night long. However, although this is the case for many, you can also find more mature, nicer hostels that have strict rules around partying and noise. Lots of hostels also offer private room options for cheaper than hotels.
Everyone likes different things from their vacation, and if you are a traveler who knows you want the comfort of a higher end hotel, or be able to cook your own meals and have access to a kitchen in an Airbnb, then take a look at what your options are and what the average costs are to add to your budget.
How will you get around?
Every destination is different, and so is the comfort level of every traveler. So the next step is to think about how you will get around once you’re in your vacation destination. Some destinations are very walkable, especially if you book hotels in key/central areas of the city. Whereas some destinations may be more spread out and require you to use a bike, public transportation, taxis or Uber’s.
Take a look at the transportation available in your destination and what the best, and safest, way is for you to get around. Also take a look at the payment options available. For example, if you decide you’ll be taking public transportation while away, there may be a daily or weekly pass available that is cheaper than paying for the transit each day.
What sort of meals will you be having?
Are you a traveler who likes to eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Or would you prefer to cook your own meals back in your hostels communal kitchen or Airbnb? Making a budget for food can be challenging when you don’t know how much food will cost in the place you are visiting, but at least setting some sort of limit of how much you are willing to spend per day, you’ll have something to go off of. Places like Lonely Planet can give you a ballpark on the cost of the average meal in your destination.
Here are some tips that will help you save money on food while on the road:
- Share each course with your travel buddy to be able to try more foods, while not breaking the bank or wasting the leftovers.
- Opt for a hotel that includes a free breakfast so you eliminate one meal a day that you need to pay extra for.
- Pick-up snacks from the local grocery store to hold you over, replace meals when you’re just looking for a quick snack, and to save money.
- Pick-up sandwich ingredients from the grocery store and pack a picnic at a local park.
- Dine like a local by finding where the locals eat versus tourists. Touristy restaurants usually have high-jacked prices
- Visit the local markets or visit street food stalls for a meal versus a sit-down restaurant.
- Make meals in your hostels kitchen, or stay at an Airbnb.
What will you be buying?
Gifts and souvenirs are a great way to remember your travels and bring something unique home for your loved ones. It’s hard to know what you’ll want to purchase while away until you’re there, but jotting down a list of the people you want to pick up gifts for will save you time, keep you organized, and prevent you from overspending. Put an estimate on what you’d like to spend on each person on your list, and make sure you keep track of what you pick-up and for who so you don’t accidently over spend or bring back one too many souvenirs than you need.
A few tips to save money in this department is to buy in bulk. Buy everything the same thing so you can barter and make a deal with the sales person. Also, while shopping, shop in less touristy, more local areas, this will help you save overpriced tourist prices.
What will you be doing?
It’s cool to not have a strict plan when you’re traveling, and naturally, things will come up as your traveling. However, if you have a vague plan on what you want to do, or at least a list of your must-dos, you’ll be able to budget those in. Plus, often times museums, and attractions offer cheaper ticket prices when you buy tickets in advance and/or online. If there is a certain amount of attractions you want to see, it may be worth looking into a hop-on-hop-off bus service or a tourist card if available in the city you’re visiting.
What if there’s an emergency?
The last thing you want to think about when going on vacation is if a disaster or emergency strikes, but being prepared will help you know what to do if it happens. What if your plane gets cancelled and you miss your connecting flight? What if you or a family member gets sick while abroad? What if you get caught up in a scam? Do you have travel insurance? Thinking about these things may seem like you’re being a worst case scenario thinker but being prepared can help you save in the long run.
Keep aside some money in your budget for emergencies or extra expenses. This emergency fund doesn’t even always have to be for a bad emergency, the extra cash can go towards a last minute event or experience you stumble upon while away too. If you’re not sure how much to put aside, two to three days worth of living expenses per person is a good start.
Traveling and vacationing can be an incredibly exciting time. Not only have you been working hard and saving for this, but you also get some time away to recharge. Whether you’re traveling abroad or staying local, having a budget in place for your adventures can help make sure that you have the best time while away without worrying about breaking the bank, or spending out of your means.
What are some of your best travel budgeting tips?