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In 2016, Australians took 8.5 million overseas trips. We budgeted an average of $4,607 AUD per trip, according to the Visa International Travel Intentions Survey, which also ranked Australians fifth in the world for spending on international travel.

With so much money involved, creating a good travel budget is essential. There are many things to take into account, but these tips should guide you.

Know Your Spending Limit

Before you even pick the place you want to travel to it’s important to know your spending limit. Figure out what you want to spend and then plan your holiday accordingly: not the other way around.

Australians owe over $41 billion on credit cards, with each person owing an average of $4252 (source). If you want to avoiding adding to that total, you should figure out a realistic amount that you can save for your holiday.

Have a Buffer

Once you have the magic number, subtract at least 10% from it to put aside as a buffer. Unexpected expenses always come up, and some unplanned costs require you to have some money put aside.

Put the money in a place where you can access it if you need it, but it is clearly put aside.

Decide on Your Non-Negotiables

Now you have your total budget, it’s time to make a few decisions. Consider what are the non-negotiables for your trip. Is it trip duration? Resort facilities? A particular destination or event?

Once you have identified the things you won’t compromise on, you can search for the best deal. Maybe you’re set on a trip to Japan but don’t mind which time of year you travel? Maybe you want to lay on a beach in a fancy resort somewhere, but don’t really mind the destination as long as it’s warm.

Almost everyone who travels has to make at least some compromises to save money, so figuring out the must-haves helps you then decide where you can make savings.

Keep Track With Spreadsheets or Apps

Ah, the humble spreadsheet: friend of budget planners everywhere. Building a good travel planning spreadsheet can help you make sure you don’t exceed your budget as you try different combinations of flights, hotels, durations and meal allowances.

You can event save it to your tablet or phone and track your actual spending against your budget while you’re away. ASIC MoneySmart also have some great tools, including the TrackMySpend app, that can help you set your budget and track your spending.

Look For Bargains

Taking time to shop around can save you hundreds of dollars. Even after you’ve decided on a location and time, there can be incredible variations in price.

Once you’ve got the specifics locked in, search online for voucher codes, speak to travel agents, and look for other deals: you never know where you might be able to free up a bit of your budget.

If traveling is on your top priority and your finances are not allowing you to fulfill this passion, some times a cash loan can come handy (as long as you are able to pay them back).

Remember to Factor in Travel Insurance

When you’re planning your expenses, don’t forget to include travel insurance. The biggest travel budget disasters can happen when you don’t have coverage and face massive expenses.

That broken leg in the middle of a hike could put you back tens of thousands of dollars once the medivac is factored in. Don’t risk your financial future when you travel: make sure you have appropriate cover, and do your research to make sure you know the best value travel insurance options.


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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.


  1. Yep you will spend a lot of money on 5th Ave Meg ;) We just wrapped up a Central Park West house sit last week. We have another one in 2 weeks, Uptown. Budget, but have that buffer in place. I always find hot deals food and entertainment wise, wherever we go. Max value at a good price. That’s the goal. Smart tips here.

    • Haha yes you can :D! Central Park house sit sounds fab – what a wonderful location for it! Re budget, totally with you on the importance of having a buffer – have had to fall back on that a couple of times – really helpful to have a safety net for the unexpected. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. I dont believe in travel insurance, but using an expense tracking app is a great idea!

    • Ahk, I cringe when I hear people say that lol – insurance in my mind is one of the most essential things a traveler can have – you can easily replace lost luggage or deal with cancelled flights, sure, but it’s the health insurance which is most important, and medical bills can land you in so much debt overseas. I hope you might reassess :)

  3. I just came back from a 9 day trip with my son. I spent more than I had thought, but it didn’t really blow my budget. We elected to eat nicer dinners (almost every night) than I had planned- which, as anyone knows, is the most expensive meal of the day. But, for 9 days, first class air, reasonably good hotels, 4 countries, $ 3600 apiece isn’t bad.

    • $3600 for a luxury trip is quite good – nice budgeting! Sounds like quite a wonderful father son trip!

  4. Wow, over $4k for trip sounds like alot when you read it! But I totally believe it. I totally agree you need to plan for a cushion or buffer for incidentals. We also love using money tracking or recording apps when we travel. It keeps us in check and keeps us from spending money on things we really don’t need!

    • It all adds up! Between flights, accommodation, tours, food, and shopping, people spend a lot of money on a single trip.

      Yes on money tracking and recording apps – they’re the best! And super easy since our smartphones are often glued to our hips anyway :D

  5. Ah, the spreadsheet. I’m such a fan! For some reason that always works better for me than apps, but maybe I’ll get there one day. I think remembering to build in the buffer is super important because there really is always something that we either didn’t or couldn’t plan for. Great tips!

    • I’m a spreadsheet NERD :D Love them! They work better for me than apps too. But I know people who swear by apps, so it’s always a what works best for you thing :)

      And for sure on the buffer – I’ve had to rely on that quite a few times, and don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have it there.

      Happy travels Patricia :)

  6. I’ve always been pretty good at budgeting and could always use more tips and help. That TrackMySpend app sounds like a great tool to have. I’m gonna have to download it and give it a try! And I totally agree about factoring in Travel Insurance. It’s a must for me.

    • Let us know what you think of the TrackMySpend app – it’s truly amazing for staying on top of everything.

      And glad to hear that travel insurance is a must – not something I ever want to leave home without – too much could go wrong.

  7. Planning for holidays is a top priority in my life. I plan some far out, some near and save for spur the moment travel. Since my travel schedule can change at the drop of a hat I try to keep a reserve and always maximize travel rewards and CC points

    • Awesome to hear that you save for spur of the moment travel too Nicki – always tough to do a budget for spontaneous trips, but if you’ve got a buffer there for that very thing, it definitely helps!

      Clever utilizing travel rewards and CC points too – sounds like you know what you’re doing! Happy travels :)

  8. These are really great tips. I love setting a general daily budget goal, personally. While I usually already pre-pay for hotels and flights, I like to set a number for food, food and transportation. I really helps me stay within my set budget and it’s almost a fun challenge in itself :) I always leave a little wiggle room, too

    • Thanks Natasha – it’s a great idea to cover hotels and flights, even some activities too, and then only have to worry about paying for minimal stuff when you’re on your holiday. Lessens the stress when you actually get there. Smart approach!

  9. My husband and I are very fortunate to be out of debt completely. It makes for a nice feeling when you’re taking off on big adventures. We’re about to take off on a year-long (minimum) trip, so we’ve had a tough time planning for that financially. Luckily, working away, we’re able to keep adding to what we’ve saved in place of that buffer. Travel insurance is a HUGE must for us! That’s a tip many forget!

    • Congrats Paige! It’s definitely nice to know that trips aren’t contributing to debt, and nice to be able to pay for them up front. Can enjoy the experience more that way, with a lot less stress.

      A year long trip is definitely going to require some careful budgeting and financial planning, but you can do it! Tackle sections in small parts, and before you know it it’ll form one awesome year long budget!

      Travel insurance, especially for a trip of that length, is a definite must, so glad to hear you’re on top of that.

      Have a fabulous trip! I’m sure it will be an epic year :)

  10. These are some great tips. I am always guilty of not locating money for travel insurance. It is a must if traveling overseas and sadly overlooked. I am in shock to find out the amount of many spent and the large debt owed by Australians. I guess overspending is not done just in the USA. Thanks for these great tips.

    • Thanks Joella – yes, overspending is quite the global problem, so definitely not limited to the USA! I’m glad that we could remind you about travel insurance – really is one of those things where the benefits could well outweigh the initial cost.

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